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What Is an Email API, and How Does It Work?

Angela Stringfellow

Last updated on

Email is one of the oldest communication channels used to convey information over the internet, and it remains one of the most commonly used online communication methods today. In fact, it’s difficult to navigate the internet and use various services without having an email address. This means almost all of the multi-billion internet users have a valid email address.

Email Is Ubiquitous

The ubiquitous nature of email makes it the default mode of communication over the internet. If you have a service with an online presence, it’s easy to build an email marketing list of the email addresses of your users and potential customers. An email marketing list can be leveraged to engage in direct communication with both potential and existing users, send transactional messages, nurture leads, and more.

All online businesses and services rely on email to communicate with their users. In addition, individuals also send emails to one another on a regular basis. Overall, nearly 320 billion emails are sent and received on a daily basis. Businesses that want to leverage email as a communication channel for marketing, sales, user engagement, or transactional messages must have the necessary network infrastructure to send emails in large quantities.

The Role of Email Providers

All businesses have to send emails to their user base, which requires a robust infrastructure. It’s both costly and time-consuming to build the necessary infrastructure to send emails in large quantities, and it’s difficult to find developers capable of handling the complexity of these projects. For that reason, many businesses utilize email service providers.    

Email providers are companies that build and maintain the infrastructure to send and receive large volumes of emails. Businesses can use their infrastructure as and when required, eliminating the need to build complex systems in-house. Many email service providers offer convenient pay-as-you-go pricing structures, meaning you only pay for the services you use.

The major advantage of using an email service provider is that you don’t need to put up the capital to build a custom email infrastructure. The service provider handles infrastructure management and maintenance, so you don’t need an in-house expert to handle the ongoing maintenance, either. Email services are a win-win for the service providers and the businesses that use them.

What Are Email APIs?

An API, which stands for Application Programming Interface, is a commonly used communication layer between two entities. APIs can be used for secure and authenticated communication between two entities and/or businesses. APIs are widely used for the modern paradigm of microservices.

Email APIs provide access to email infrastructure over the API layer. In most instances, email APIs are provided by email service providers. You can use the email API to perform all email-related tasks without directly managing the email infrastructure; instead, you’ll leverage the service provider’s infrastructure to generate and send emails.

How Does an Email API Work?

You have to subscribe or apply for access to an email API from email service providers. If authentication is required to use an email API, the service provider gives you a unique API key that will identify you as an authorized user.  In this case, all communication with the service provider’s servers must be accompanied by the API key. You can then send requests to the service provider using the API layer and programmatically perform email-related tasks with the API.

The requests sent to the email service provider over the email API have to follow some syntax rules and protocols. Every request should have the API keys (if authentication is required), the function to call, and the parameters required to perform the same. This is a broad overview of how email APIs work, but keep in mind that each email service provider and their email APIs will have nuances that can only be understood by reading and understanding their respective API documentation.

Email API Functionalities

Some of the common functionalities offered by email APIs are:

  • Validating email addresses - Validating an email address means checking whether the email address provided adheres to the basic syntax and protocols of an email address. Email addresses need a username on the left of the ‘@’ and a fully qualified domain name on the right of the ‘@.’ A validated email address just means the syntax of the email address is correct; it doesn’t mean the email address actually exists.
  • Verifying email addresses - Email address verification is a process for checking whether the validated email address actually exists on a mail server. This functionality is used to determine whether an email can be delivered to the address and if the corresponding mail server will accept the email to the email address.
  • Sending emails - The API layer can be used to deliver emails from the infrastructure of the email service provider. You just need to communicate the email address of the recipient, the subject of the email, the body of the email, and attachments to deliver an email with email API.
  • Automating emails - Email APIs can be used to automate email delivery, especially transactional messages. These emails are triggered by specific behavior, such as when a user makes a purchase or signs up for a service. There are also some workflows that require automated delivery of emails, which can be programmatically automated using email APIs.
  • Other miscellaneous tasks - Other miscellaneous tasks that can be performed using email APIs include email list management, subscription management, cleaning up emails lists, etc.

You have the incredible power to automate various email tasks with email APIs. But the increasing number of notifications is difficult for users to manage, making a complete notification inbox a valuable tool for user engagement. With MagicBell’s complete notification system, you can launch a cross-channel notification strategy in days to notify users wherever they are and how they prefer—without notifying users twice.