Migrating email service providers can be a large undertaking. We want to help relieve some of that stress of moving to Postmark from SendGrid. This guide will detail some of the differences and similarities between SendGrid and Postmark, as well as give some useful tips for migrating to Postmark from SendGrid.
It includes details on differences between Postmark and SendGrid’s APIs, sending outbound emails, processing inbound emails, UI differences, and webhooks.
These are some important differences to be aware of when moving over to Postmark from SendGrid:
Postmark separates email traffic through Message Streams. Transactional and broadcast (bulk) traffic does not mix in Postmark, including IP ranges. SendGrid has a single stream for transactional and marketing/bulk where all email traffic is sent through the same IP range.
You can manage suppression lists and unsubscribes through Postmark, and add unsubscribe links to your emails. Learn more in our help doc.
Postmark’s APIs do not have XML support, all requests and responses will be in JSON.
Postmark does not have a reseller program and there are no Reseller APIs available.
Important concepts to learn when moving over to Postmark
There are a few important concepts to learn when moving over to Postmark: Servers,Message Streams, Sender Signatures, and Verified Domains. A server and a confirmed sender signature/verified domain are required for sending, so it is important to understand what they are used for.
Each Postmark account contains servers and within those servers are Message Streams. Servers can be thought of as folders you create that group together similar email activity. Each server has its own activity (inbound, transactional, and broadcasts), stats, server API token(s), a unique inbound email address, and templates. You can create as many servers as you need, there is no limit.
Some uses of servers are separating different types of emails such as transactional and broadcasts, separating your clients’ activity, emails for different environments (prod, staging, development), or separating sending for your different domains. When you begin adding more users to your Postmark account, you can also assign them access to specific servers so that they can’t view email activity or change settings across your entire Postmark account.
Postmark separates email traffic through Message Streams, meaning that transactional and broadcast traffic never intersects in Postmark. Transactional message streams are for messages that are usually unique and triggered by a user action like a password reset, opted-into weekly digest, or receipts. Transactional streams do not support broadcast messages. Broadcast message streams are for bulk messages that sent to multiple recipients at once like announcements, newsletters, or other application emails.
In Postmark you need to have a confirmed sender signature or verified domain for each email address you want to send from. Sender signatures are individual email addresses that are authorized for sending via a confirmation email sent to that address. Adding and verifying a domain using a DKIM record lets you send from any email address on that domain.
We use sender signatures and verified domains to ensure you own or are authorized to send from the mailboxes you add to your Postmark account. You can have as many signatures and domains as you need, there is not a limit. Sender signatures and domains are associated with your account, not a specific server. This means they can be used for sending across all of your account’s servers.
Each Postmark account has an account API token. Every server in an account also has its own server API token(s). Server API tokens are used for server-level actions such as sending email, getting statistics, modifying a template, etc… account API tokens are used for account-level actions such as creating a new server or adding a new domain for sending.
You can use the unique API Token for your server(which acts as both a username and password) and a Header to specify the message stream you're sending through. If a header is not specified, Postmark will send through the default transactional stream.
If you don't have an option to add a custom header during the SMTP send, you can instead use an SMTP Token. An
SMTP Token consists of an Access Key (which acts as a username) and a
Secret Key (which acts as a password).
Tip: Port 465 is not supported with Postmark SMTP. If you were using that port with SendGrid, you will need to switch over to using port 25, 2525, or 587 when using Postmark SMTP.
SMTP Endpoint for Transactional
SMTP Endpoint for Broadcasts
465 for SSL, 25, 587, or 2525 for unencrypted/TLS
25, 587, or 2525
Uses the string “apikey”
Server API Token or Access Key
API Key w/ mail permissions enabled
Server API Token or Secret Key
Unencrypted, SSL, TLS
Plain text (unencrypted), CRAM-MD5, TLS
If you need to whitelist the IPs you connect to Postmark SMTP with, you can find the full list below under SMTP Endpoints.
All SendGrid options are specified in the JSON you set in a X-SMTPAPI header. Postmark does not have a single SMTP header that you have to add all your settings to. Instead, Postmark uses individual SMTP headers that you add to the email for setting specific options.
When authenticating with the Postmark API for sending emails, you will need to use your server API token in an X-Postmark-Server-Token header. As a reminder, you can get your server API token from the server’s API Tokens tab.
Postmark and SendGrid both process inbound emails by converting them to well-formed JSON, which is then posted to a URL that you specify for receiving inbound webhooks.
Both implementations of inbound processing feature the ability to process emails sent to an entire sub-domain/domain using MX records.
Attachments are received as multipart/form-data in SendGrid, whereas Postmark will send attachments as base64 content in the POSTed JSON payload.
Manage inbound webhook settings using an API (Parse API in Sendgrid, Server API in Postmark).
You can use a wildcard in your MX record to have all sub-domains of your domain work for inbound processing.
With Postmark, you do not have to use a verified (called “whitelabled” at SendGrid) domain for inbound domain forwarding, and Postmark does not require that you set up inbound domain forwarding using an MX record in order to use inbound processing. Each server you create in Postmark will come with a unique inbound email address (ex. firstname.lastname@example.org) that you can use to receive emails inbound at your webhook URL. However, if you want to use inbound domain forwarding, and MX record is required.
Postmark does not provide the option to use XML instead of JSON when POSTing webhook payloads.
Postmark requires that you enable SMTP (if not enabled already) on your Postmark server to use inbound processing.
SendGrid retries inbound message POSTs for 3 days when a non-200 response code is received. With Postmark, a total of 10 retries will be made over a 10.5 hour period, with growing intervals from 1 minute to 6 hours. If all of the retries have failed, your inbound activity page will show the message has a processing error.
Postmark’s inbound message size limit including attachments is 35 MB, whereas SendGrid’s is 20 MB.
SendGrid sends character encoding data as reported by the email sender, and you need to manually transcode the email content, whereas Postmark normalizes email content to UTF-8.
Both SendGrid and Postmark allow you to receive notifications as JSON POSTs to URLs you specify when specific events occur. While SendGrid has two webhook types (Events, and Inbound Parse), Postmark splits up event types into multiple webhooks, which allows for some additional flexibility and separation of concerns when developing and setting URLs for receiving webhooks.
Postmark’s delivery webhook allows you to receive notifications when an email is delivered to a recipient. In Postmark, an email is considered successfully delivered when the destination email server returns a 250 OK response after delivery is attempted.
Postmark includes some additional information for bounce events that is not present in the SendGrid Event Webhook you should be aware of:
From email address
Subject of the email
Unique identifier for the bounce (used to reactivate a bounced email address using the Postmark Bounce API)
Information on whether the recipient’s email address is deactivated and can be reactivated
Whether a message dump is available. Postmark stores content for 45 days but retains bounce information indefinitely. If the message was sent less than 45 days ago, you can get a full dump of the message content if this parameter’s value is true
Not included. We recommend using either Metadata or Tags instead.
SMTP Status code
Description of bounce
Whether the recipient’s email is deactivated
Whether the recipient’s email address can be reactivated
If a message dump is available
Tip: Postmark includes an additional option when setting your bounce webhook URL to include the message content in the JSON sent to your URL. This option lets you receive the full message content when receiving bounce event information.
You will notice some spam complaint
information available with the Postmark spam complaint webhook that does
not exist in SendGrid’s Event webhook:
From email address
Subject of the email
Whether a message dump
is available. Postmark stores content for 45 days but retains bounce
information indefinitely. If the message was sent less than 45 days ago,
you can get a full dump of the message content if this parameter’s
value is true
The Subscription Change webhook is similar to Sendgrid's Suppression Management, although on Postmark's side, this webhook incorporates a few actions in one.
The Subscription Change webhook is triggered when an email address is added or removed from a Message Stream's Suppression list. These event notifications are specific to the following subscription changes: Hard bounces, spam complaints, and manual suppressions.
When you log into Postmark you are placed in the Servers page, which shows each server you have created. Each server you create has a default transactional message stream for outbound sending and an inbound message stream for processing inbound email. Each server has tabs for Message Streams, Templates, API Tokens, and Settings. Each message stream has tabs for Statistics, Activity, Setup Instructions, and Settings, which are unique for each message stream.
Servers let you separate your transactional, broadcasts, and inbound message streams, templates, and credentials based on domains, environments, customers, or any other criteria that helps organize the activity of a given application or website.
The main servers page will show you a list of your servers. You can create as many servers as you need, there is no limit. You can also pin your most frequently accessed servers so they appear at the top of the list. Unused servers will be greyed out, for easy identification of which servers you may want to delete or repurpose.
To view detailed statistics and metrics for a server's message streams, locate the server in the servers list or by using the search field. Click on the bar graph icon and select the server's message stream (inbound, transactional, or broadcasts) you are interested in to be taken to its overview page.
The Statistics page is similar to SendGrid's dashboard and stats pages, though each message stream in a server has its own statistics page, rather than an overall account view like SendGrid. Included in the statistics area for the transactional and broadcast message streams is the sending volume, link tracking metrics (if enabled), open tracking metrics (if enabled), and bounce/spam complaint metrics. The inbound message stream's statistics page includes metrics on the number of successfully processed emails and failures.
To see your inbound, transactional, and broadcast activity in a server, select the message stream you are interested in and click on the Activity tab. This area will show a detailed event view of the stream's events, including sent, delivered, open events, spam complaints, bounces, etc. Use the search bar to look for emails by subject or email address.
To see details for a particular event in a stream, click on the event. Some events included are sent emails (Processed), bounces, spam complaints, clicked links, and opened emails. Events in Activity are color coded to help you tell what occurred at a glance:
Postmark does not have list management features available. However, you can manage suppression lists and unsubscribes which we'll go over in this section.
Addresses in Postmark can be automatically suppressed for three reasons: due to a hard bounce, a spam complaint, or an unsubscribe. Let's go over some differences when it comes to how Postmark and SendGrid handle Suppressions and unsubscribe links.
Every message sent through a broadcast Message Stream in Postmark is required to have an unsubscribe link and you can do this by adding a placeholder which will then be replaced with a Postmark unsubscribe link. You can change the default text of the unsubscribe link and add your own styling. If you’re sending a broadcast message which doesn’t include an unsubscribe link, we’ll automatically add it for you at the end of the message. If you'd like to not use Postmark's unsubscribes links, please get in touch to tell us more about how you're managing unsubscribes.
When using Postmark's unsubscribe links, there isn't an option to use a custom page for when a recipient clicks unsubscribe. However, in your broadcast stream settings, it's possible to change the name of the stream and add a description which will be shown on the unsubscribe confirmation page. The confirmation page also includes a re-subscribe link if a recipient wishes to start getting your messages again.
There are no unsubscribe groups in Postmark, so if a recipient clicks an unsubscribe link, they are suppressed from receiving further emails only from the Message Stream you sent from. Remember that in Postmark, one server can have multiple Message Streams - handy for separating different types of email such as transactional and broadcasts. If a recipient clicks the unsubscribe link in an email sent from your broadcast stream, you'll still be able to send to them through your transactional stream.
Within each Message Stream in Postmark, you'll see a Suppressions tab. This tab shows all inactive addresses for that stream, as well as the reason why they’re inactive — and if possible, a button to reactivate them.
* Spam complaints cannot be reactivated from within the UI or via API. If a recipient reaches out to you or your sender and wants to receive emails again, just contact us and let us know to reactivate the recipient's address.
* Unlike with SendGrid, each email you attempt to send to a suppressed address does not consume any credits.
* Similar to how with SendGrid you can manually add recipients to a particular unsubscribe group, Postmark allows you to manually add recipients to the Suppression list (up to 50 at a time). This is done per Message Stream.
Postmark gives you the ability to create and store templates including a variety of pre-built and well-test templates for common scenarios. From the Templates tab you can create, edit, and delete the server’s templates. Each server contains its own templates but you can easily copy templates from one server to another.
Alternatively, if you'd like to build your own batch of templates, we've created and open-sourced MailMason to help you automate the process of creating, testing, and managing your own templates using partials, variables, SASS, and asset management.
The API Tokens tab shows you your server API token(s). Use this tab to generate and delete server API tokens. Server API Tokens are used for outbound sending, SMTP authentication, and making server level API calls.
The Account page is where you can add emergency contacts in case we need to reach you regarding your account and have not heard back from the owner, set up billing notifications, mange your account API tokens, manage your subscription, and other administrative features.
The Users page is where you add and manage users (called ‘Teammates’ in SendGrid) to your account for tasks such as viewing activity for troubleshooting and tracking purposes, managing server settings, creating templates, etc... Use our different roles to effectively manage the security of your account. See our help article on setting permissions for an overview of what options there are and how to control your users’ permissions.
For more Postmark specific insight on how to get started and get the most out of Postmark, make sure to look through our “Getting Started Guide” or visit our support center where you can easily search all of our documentation from a single place. API docs. Guides. Blog posts. Help docs. Labs projects. You name it. We probably have something that can help you out.
Once you've switched to Postmark, you may want to become familiar with our status page and status API. We believe deeply in transparency, and we go a step further than just system availability and share our inbox rates and delivery speeds for the five most popular inbox providers. We also offer all of the data via an API so you can monitor us and set up automation in the event something does go wrong.
You now have a solid understanding of how to transition over the core features you need in an ESP and how to move from SendGrid to Postmark, including how to send outbound and process inbound email, what APIs and webhooks to use for certain functions, and how to view your email activity and statistics. If you have any questions about where to find a setting or how to use a feature in Postmark, get in touch and we can help!