AMP

How Goibibo Got Started With AMP For Email – And How You Can Too

Email

Editor’s Note: the following article was originally posted on Medium by Varun Kumar, Full Stack Developer, Goibibo

Email is still the preferred method of communication for marketing campaigns, transaction alerts, handling customer grievances, mass communication, etc. According to The Radicati Group Inc., the number of worldwide email users will increase to over 2.9 billion by the end of 2019. Over one-third of the worldwide population will be using email by the end of 2019. But can it be even more powerful? Can we make email more engaging and interactive as if someone is browsing a website? Can we serve real time dynamic data no matter when an email is opened? Can we collect information from within the email itself without leaving our Inbox?

Yes, yes. With the AMP Project introducing AMP for Email, all these things are now possible.

What is AMP for Email aka dynamic email?

It is a new technology introduced by the AMP Project in 2018 which lets you use a subset of AMP components in your email to make it more engaging. It is part of AMP Project (open source project to provide a user-first format for web content, supporting the long-term success of every web publisher, merchant, and advertiser) and it offers Javascript-like functionality for email. 

Wait, I have heard about AMP

You must have. But AMP for Email is different from AMP for HTML, though both are open sourced and part of AMP project. AMP for Email has a few more rules than AMP for HTML in order to ensure a smooth email experience for users; for example, file upload using <input type=”file” /> is not supported (as of now) in AMP for Email but it’s there in AMP for HTML.

Okay, but how is it going to work?

Email consists of MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension) parts such as text/plain for plain text email and text/html for an HTML email. To make the email clients recognize the AMP for Email, a new MIME type text/x-amp-html was introduced. This MIME part will contain AMPHTML markup.

Most email sending libraries and services already started support for this new MIME type e.g. Nodemailer (a library to send emails in node.js) put support in v6.1.0.

Hmm, interesting. Show me AMP for Email in action

Yes, of course. Here is one demo in which an imaginary company “Beautiful Flowers Shop” is asking its customers to provide feedback for different flowers offered by company.

Awesome! I want to learn AMP for Email too. Tell me everything.

To develop a dynamic email, you will need the following four things:

1. A valid AMP for Email markup. This would be your email template which would be rendered in Email. You can validate your markup here at https://amp.gmail.dev/playground/. A sample hello-world markup would be something like:

<!doctype html>
<html 4email>
<head>
 <meta charset="utf-8">
 <script async src="https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js"></script>
 <style amp4email-boilerplate>body{visibility:hidden}</style>
</head>
<body>
 Hello, AMP4EMAIL world.
</body>
</html>

2. An email library which supports text/x-amp-html MIME part in email body. You can use Nodemailer in node.js. An example snippet can be found here. If your dynamic email is going to contain API calls then you will have to meet CORS requirements

Official documentation :

Gmail https://developers.google.com/gmail/ampemail/security-requirements

Mail.ru https://postmaster.mail.ru/amp

Outlook https://docs.microsoft.com/en-gb/outlook/amphtml/

res.set({
'Access-Control-Allow-Origin': origin,
'AMP-Access-Control-Allow-Source-Origin': sourceOrigin,
'Access-Control-Allow-Source-Origin':
'AMP-Access-Control-Allow-Source-Origin',
'Access-Control-Expose-Headers':
'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' +
', AMP-Access-Control-Allow-Source-Origin' +
', Access-Control-Allow-Source-Origin'
});

3. Testing dynamic email in Gmail. Gmail won’t allow dynamic emails to be rendered (it would be rendering html instead) unless your email address is officially whitelisted by the Google team (step 4). But to test your email on some particular Gmail account, you can use the dynamic email developer setting to whitelist from address. https://developers.google.com/gmail/ampemail/testing-dynamic-email

4. Whitelisting your email (sender address) by Gmail so that your dynamic email is rendered to end users. Once you are ready with your production email, you will have to send it to ampforemail.whitelisting@gmail.com for whitelisting along with filling the registration form. A complete guide can be found here.

Note that Gmail doesn’t whitelist per domain, the whitelist works per email sender (e.g. if sender@example.com is whitelisted, it doesn’t apply to all @example.com addresses).

The last two steps are Gmail specific. If you are using Microsoft Outlook, equivalent steps will have to be performed there as well. You can refer to Outlook’s official documentation. Information about AMP for Email on mail.ru can be found here.

I am overwhelmed by so much information

That’s okay! Take your time. When we at Goibibo started this Proof Of Concept, it took us only 2 days to develop a dynamic email and test it in our personal Gmail accounts, but it took us 2+ weeks to make our email use case production-ready and get it whitelisted by Google so that we could send it to our end users. We wanted to send our hotel partners a dynamic email to collect feedback about Extranet (hotelier’s platform for managing rates & inventory) and this is what we came up with:

We specifically used AMP for Email to allow hoteliers to “Reply to Reviews” from their checked-out guests. For example, after a customer stays at the hotel, checks out, and leaves a review, the hotelier has the ability to respond to the review within their email.

Earlier we tried this using a hyperlink to Hotelier’s platform called Extranet, and this used to have a B2B email open rate of 14% to collect replies to reviews from the Hoteliers (B2B). During Proof Of Concept, which we ran on 2 different occasions, we got an amazing response with path-breaking email open rates.  

Conclusion

AMP for Email is really promising and we at Goibibo are going to use it moving forward in our email campaigns. There are some initial challenges like setting up infrastructure for handling AMP API requests and training our email-design and marketing teams, but the end results are going to be really awesome.

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