Email Notifications

Email notifications are HTML or plain-text emails that are sent to registered users. They can be sent via the API or dashboard.

Because setup requires configuration by Urban Airship, you must request that email notification be added to your project. See Configuration and Requirements below.

Key Terms

A workflow is a method of creating messages via the dashboard.
The dashboard is the Urban Airship web interface located at


Email notifications can be sent to your mobile, web, and email audiences from a single API. You can combine information gained from all three channels under a single named user. Send triggered, one-to-one notification emails, e.g., account creation, shipping notification, nurture, etc. Features include:

  • Segmenting and targeting users, including named users
  • Email registration and unsubscribe capabilities
  • Aggregate dashboards for real-time updates
  • Insight support to view send and deliverability metrics
  • Connect support to send deliverability metrics to a central data lake


Use Cases

  • Multi-channel Transactional Messaging

    • Urgent transactional message directed to multiple channels, e.g., send notification via both push and email
  • Notification style email

    • Promotional blast messaging: great for Retail, Sports/Entertainment, and Travel verticals
    • Breaking news alerts for the Media industry
    • Promotional mobile wallet delivery, such as coupons and loyalty cards
  • Priority Channel

    • Allow users to set their preferred delivery channel as email for certain types of messaging, so as not to alert them on multiple channels, e.g., Mobile App channel, Web channel, for the same content

Industry examples:

  • Retail: Send an email for app re-acquisition if a user churns, onboarding, coupon and loyalty pass delivery, and more.
  • Media: Send highly-segmented news updates.
  • Travel and Hospitality: Send boarding passes, day of travel updates, and reservation reminders.


Email notification metrics are accessible from the Engage Reports menu. See: Reports Menu Guide: Email.

Behavior and Appearance


Email notifications behave as any other email received in a recipient's inbox, and according to its design specifications. They can be based on a template, or you can provide HTML when you create the message. If you choose to provide HTML, the only restriction is a 250k size limit.

You can also enter a text-only version for email clients that do not render HTML. Messages are commercial by default but may be flagged as transactional. Commercial messages include an unsubscribe link, while transactional emails have the option to be sent without the unsubscribe link, in accordance with CAN-SPAM regulations. See Commercial vs. Transactional below.

Email Templates

You create email templates from the dashboard.


Choose among three layouts.

  • Text: Title, Body
  • Media: Image, Body, Button
  • Action: Title, Body, Button.


Available message elements depend on the selected layout.

  • Title: A headline for the message. Bolded and a larger size by default to stand out from the message body. Note: This appears above the message body, it is not the email Subject line. See example below.
  • Body: The main text of the message.
  • Media: An image to embed in the message.
  • Footer: Text content relevant to the message, e.g., Terms & Conditions.

Message size may not exceed 250k, so be mindful of using large images. We highly recommend keeping your emails under 100k.


You may include a logo image that appears above the message, define its alt text, and choose the header, body, and font colors.


For the layouts that include a button, provide the button's label text, associate a URL, and select its background and font colors.


  • From: Sender name and email address.
  • Subject: Subject line and preview text. Preview text is a snippet of the email body that is displayed below the sender name and subject line in a user's inbox. Note: Not all email clients support preview text.
  • Reply To: The email address that will populate the To field if the message is replied to. Leave blank if replies should go to the address already entered in the From email address field.
  • Text-Only Version: A text-only version of the message for email clients that support plain text messages only.
  • Transactional: If the message is triggered by a user's action such as a password reset request, opt-in, shopping receipt, etc., you can flag it as Transactional, and optionally include an Unsubscribe link.


The image below shows a message using the Media layout.


  • Title: "Get 15% Off Next Purchase"
  • Body: "Download a mobile wallet coupon and save today"
  • Media: Puffer jacket guy in front of a Rorschach test or maybe in the snow.
  • Footer: Not included.


Logo: Image is for the company Outfitters.


Button text: "Download"

Send an Email Notification


Email notifications sent from the dashboard can be based on a template, or you can paste your HTML when creating the message. Follow the steps in the Email Notification Tutorial.


If personalizing the email notification, first create the template, then push to the template via the Personalization API. If not personalizing, use the Push API.

Learn more about both methods in the platform guide: Email: Send Email.

Create an Email Template

Follow the steps in the Email Templates Tutorial.

Configuration and Requirements

  1. Contact Urban Airship Support or your Account Manager to provision your project for email notifications.

  2. Add your customers' email addresses to your project so you can send to them. Follow the steps in: Email: Register Users.

Commercial vs. Transactional

An email can contain three different types of information:

  • Commercial content: Advertises or promotes a commercial product or service, including content on a website operated for a commercial purpose.

  • Transactional (or relationship) content: Facilitates an already agreed-upon transaction, or updates a customer about an ongoing transaction.

Commercial Content

If the message contains only commercial content, its primary purpose is commercial, and it must comply with the requirements of CAN-SPAM. If it contains only transactional or relationship content, its primary purpose is transactional or relationship. In that case, it may not contain false or misleading routing information, but is otherwise exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Transactional Content

The primary purpose of an email is transactional or relationship if it consists only of content that:

  1. Facilitates or confirms a commercial transaction that the recipient already has agreed to;
  2. Gives warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service;
  3. Gives information about a change in terms or features or account balance information regarding a membership, subscription, account, loan, or other ongoing commercial relationship;
  4. Provides information about an employment relationship or employee benefits; or
  5. Delivers goods or services as part of a transaction that the recipient already has agreed to.

Mixed Content

It’s common for email sent by businesses to mix commercial content and transactional or relationship content. When an email contains both kinds of content, the primary purpose of the message is the deciding factor. Here’s how to make that determination:

If a recipient reasonably interpreting the subject line would likely conclude that the message contains an advertisement or promotion for a commercial product or service, or if the message’s transactional or relationship content does not appear mainly at the beginning of the message, the primary purpose of the message is commercial.

So, when a message contains both kinds of content – commercial and transactional or relationship – if the subject line would lead the recipient to think it’s a commercial message, it’s a commercial message for CAN-SPAM purposes. Similarly, if the bulk of the transactional or relationship part of the message doesn’t appear at the beginning, it’s a commercial message under the CAN-SPAM Act.

For more information, see the FTC's CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business.

Opt-in and Opt-out

Opt-in/out requirements and behavior for Urban Airship email notifications.

Commercial Emails

  • Require date of consent to subscribe (register) an email address to the commercial email list.

  • Require an unsubscribe link in the email content.

  • Customers who unsubscribe from commercial emails will still be registered to receive transactional emails (unless they unsubscribe from a transactional email as well).

Transactional Emails

  • Date of consent to register an email address to receive transactional emails is optional. If no consent date is included and the user has opted out of transactional type emails from your brand, then they will not be able to receive any in the future. If they need to be re-registered to receive these emails, then their date of consent is required and must be later than their opt out date.

  • Unsubscribe links are not required for transactional email messages, and in most cases we do not recommend including one.

Business-critical Emails

  • There are some cases where a brand would like to include an unsubscribe link on a type of transactional email but will still need to send business-critical emails, such as order confirmations or password reset emails. In these cases, the opt-out can be overridden and sent regardless of unsubscribe status (for commercial or transactional).

  • Business-critical emails should never include an unsubscribe link.

Bounce Handling

  • Urban Airship will remove email addresses that hard bounce from a brand’s list. They will not be sent any more emails, including business-critical emails. Repeatedly sending to bounced email addresses will hurt a brand’s IP reputation and should be avoided.

  • If a brand does have an email address that previously bounced but the inbox’s issue has been resolved, they can only “unbounce” this email by submitting a Support request.

Spam Complaints

  • Some end users will not want to receive any emails from your brand at all, and will show this by hitting the Spam button in their inbox. When this occurs, Urban Airship will remove the email address from your list, mark the email channel as a spam complaint, and never deliver to it again.

Real-time Event API

  • Maintaining clean mailing lists is important - not only for Urban Airship, but for your brand as well. That is why we’ve added a free API stream to send unsubscribe, bounce, and spam complaint events from our system to yours. These events should be processed and properly handled on your end on a regular basis.