Working with Sendgrid Webhook for Events: Made Easy

on Data Automation, Data Integration, Email Analytics, Email Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Analytics, Sendgrid, Webhook • October 19th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

Email Marketing is a low-cost, targeted, and personalized Marketing Service that benefits every Business, large or small. Unlike other Channels, Emails facilitate faster Conversion Marketing by allowing Customers to move from seeing an offer to purchasing the item in as few as two clicks. This blog will show you how you can work with Sendgrid Webhook to make the most of Email Marketing.

Sending Marketing Emails using a Cloud-based SMTP Server like SendGrid is advantageous in various aspects. If your organization uses Sendgrid to organize and send out its emails, you can implement Sendgrid Webhook to simplify your Email Analytics. Sendgrid uses Webhook to deliver real-time updates about the Emails you send to your customers/clients.

Table of Contents

What Major Function does Sendgrid Automate? 

Sendgrid Webhook: Sendgrid Logo
Image Source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

SendGrid is a Cloud-based Customer Communication Platform that makes Transactional and Marketing Emails for your Customers a priority.

Sendgrid provides SMTP services on the Cloud on the SAAS model. Using Sendgrid you can drive your Email Campaigns, maintain Contact Lists and Templates, take action on Email Events and view Data Analytics of your Email Campaigns. 

In the background, Sendgrid manages all the hassles of an SMTP server farm, like Routing/Scaling/Reputation/Whitelist services/Encryption, etc. Sendgrid can ensure that your Email does not land in the Spam folders, and you get real-time updates and analytics on your campaigns, to ensure transparency and facilitate appropriate action. 

How does Webhooks figure in the picture?

Sendgrid Webhook: Webhooks logo
Image Source: www.socital.com/resources

Webhook, also known as a web callback or HTTP push API, is a method for an application to deliver real-time information to other applications. It is sometimes referred to as “Reverse APIs,” although in reality, it allows users to skip a step involved in the API concept.

To deliver real-time updates about the Emails that you send, like Bounced Emails, Clicked Links, Replies, Unsubscribes or Spam Reports, Queries, Orders or Affirmative Actions, etc., Sendgrid provides Webhooks that will notify a URL of your choice and intimate to you about the event that took place. So, if someone places an order by clicking a link in your email, Sendgrid’s Webhook will send a message to your prescribed URL. 

You can select which events you would like to be informed about, and Webhook will send you a properly formatted JSON array of your selected events on one request. If your receiving URL does not give a 2xx response, the Sendgrid Webhook will try a few more times to send the POST request.

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Capabilities of Sendgrid Webhook

Webhooks can be of three kinds. 

  • Push Webhooks: This type enables users to receive event data in real-time.
  • Pipe Webhook: Users can take actions based on the events that are received.
  • Plugin Webhooks: Proper Two-way communication between sender and receiver, enables sharing of data in a 2-way relationship and actions based on events that were reported.

Sendgrid supports all the above three types of Webhooks.

Events can be categorized primarily into Delivery (indicate the status of Email delivery to the recipient) and Engagement (indicate how the recipient is interacting with the Email) events.  

Delivery events also include Processed, Dropped, Delivered, Deferred, and Bounce.

Sendgrid Webhook
Image Source: www.docs.sendgrid.com

Engagement events also include Open, Click, Spam Report, Unsubscribe, Group Unsubscribe, and Group Resubscribe.

So, in all, there are 9 key Email events that Sendgrid Webhook addresses.

1. Using the Event Webhook

This is a simple Push Webhook, which will notify you about any events that occur as SendGrid processes your Email. 

To configure it in the SendGrid UI, go to Settings >> Mail Settings.

Sendgrid Webhook: Event Webhook
Image Source: www.docs.sendgrid.com
  • Turn on Event Webhook.
  • Specify the URL where you would like to receive the Webhook Event notifications.
  • Select all checkboxes in front of the events that you want to be notified about.
  • To “Save” these settings, click the checkmark in the top corner. 
  • Test your integration, by sending a sample Email to your specified domain/subdomain. 

After a few seconds, Sendgrid Webhook will send an HTTP POST request, containing a JSON array of your selected events, to your specified destination URL. 

Using this Webhook you can:

  • Act on a recipient’s Affirmative Action, like an Order, Query, or Click.
  • React to Spam Reports.
  • Plan your further strategies based on inputs that you receive.

2. Using the Inbound Parse Webhook

This is an example of a Plugin Webhook that enables two-way communication. 

Sendgrid’s Inbound Parse Webhook is very powerful, it can intercept all/selected incoming Emails, parse its contents and attachments, then either POST multipart data to a URL of your choice OR post your Replies, Support Tickets, or Uploads. 

Broadly speaking the steps would be as follows:

1. Setup your MX record.

Sendgrid Webhook: MX Record
Image Source: www.docs.sendgrid.com

2. Next, specify your Hostname and URL, via Settings >> Inbound Parse >> Add Host and URL link.

Sendgrid Webhook: Add Host and URL
Image Source: www.docs.sendgrid.com

First specify the receiving domain/subdomain, all Emails received on this domain will be parsed by Inbound PArse. 

If you use the same return path (subdomain) as your authenticated domain, disable Automatic Security on the authenticated domain. This will avoid messages getting bounced due to a cyclic CNAME > MX loop.

3. Next, specify the URL where you want your parsed data to be posted. 

If you want Sendgrid to check for Spam Email, and include Spam Report and Spam Score in the payload, check the Check incoming Emails for Spam checkbox. 

If you want to receive the full raw MIME message, check the Post the raw, full MIME message checkbox. 

4. To test, just post an incoming Email with attachments, to your own specified Email address (as specified in  Receiving Domain). 

The inbound parse webhook supports many parameters like dkim, to, cc, from, Sender IP, attachment, attachment-info, Sender Policy Framework, etc. 

Once you setup the Parse Webhook, you can use the parse API to implement complex behavior like: 

  • Report any Successful vs Failed Payments, Cancellations, and Refunds. 
  • Generate Approvals, Requests, or Other Affirmative Actions on behalf of your customers/employees. The recipients just need to REPLY to these Emails to confirm or negate the content. 
  • Update your Income and Expense Tracking System, based on contents of the Email (e.g. <i> payment received, purchase initiated, etc.).

Some Best Practices for Sendgrid Webhook

1. Pre-plan the events you want to store or get informed about, these events are generated very quickly, every 30 seconds, or when the batch size reaches 768 kilobytes, whichever is earlier. That could be a lot of events, and they would consume considerable space. 

2. Storing data about events consume space within your Sendgrid instance as well as your Web Server that hosts your receiving URL. Depending on the size of your campaign and the volume of your Contact Lists, your Webhook URL may receive hundreds of posts per second. 

3. Sendgrid Webhook integrates very well with other partner applications like Keen, Snowplow (stores data in Amazon Redshift), and Heroku. So plan your integrations accordingly. 

4. You should test your Sendgrid Webhook integration with 3rd party tools, like RequestBin or Postman, to make sure they work as intended.

Conclusion

Overall, Sendgrid Webhook is a crucial functionality extension for Businesses relying on SendGrid’s Powerful Email Service Provider. As a matter of fact, working with Email Marketing means you’re dealing with a large number of data sources. Having all of this data in one location like Data Warehouse facilitates analysis and speeds up the decision-making process. Hevo can bring email activity data from your SendGrid account into your Destination.

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Share your experience of working with Sendgrid in the comments section below.

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