Search engines have been using structured data for years to understand the information on web pages and provide richer search results. Today, we are introducing schemas in emails to make messages more interactive and allow developers to deliver a slice of their apps to users’ inboxes.
Schemas in emails can be used to represent various types of entities and actions. Email clients that understand schemas, such as Gmail, can render entities and actions defined in the messages with a consistent user interface. In the case of Gmail, this means that the emails can display quick action buttons that let users take actions directly from their inboxes, as in the following screenshot:
Using schemas to add quick action buttons to the emails you send is easy. All it takes is adding some markup to your HTML emails, together with your regular content, in one of the supported formats - Microdata and JSON-LD.
As an example, the following JSON-LD markup can be used to define a movie and the corresponding one-click action to add the movie to your queue:
"name": "The Internship",
... information about the movie ...
"name": "Add to queue",
Gmail renders the markup above with a button labelled “Add to queue” next to the email subject line. When the user clicks on the button, Gmail sends a POST request to the url specified in the action handler. Your app has to handle these requests and respond to the email client with an appropriate HTTP response code (200 for successful requests, 400 for invalid requests, etc.).
Schemas in emails currently support four different types of actions - rate/review, RSVP, one-click action and goto link - and we plan to add more types moving forward. We are collaborating with a number of partners who will launch their integrations in the coming weeks, making the messages they send more useful and interactive for Gmail users. For example, Esna is using this to inform users of missed calls and provide them with a one-click button to be called again, while Seamless is implementing the rate/review action to collect feedback about restaurants.
Other partners who are already implementing schemas in email today include both Billguard, Concur Technologies, Docusign, HelloSign, Insight.ly, Mailchimp, myERP, Netflix, OpenTable, Orangescape, Paperless Post, Spotify, SugarCRM, and Tripit.
To learn more about all supported entities and actions and to find out how to get started with schemas in email, visit http://developers.google.com/gmail.