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BY RUDDERSTACK TEAM

How to load data from SendGrid to Snowflake

01. Extract Data

  • 01. Extract Data
  • 02. Prepare Data
  • 03. Load Data
  • 04. Update SendGrid Data
  • 05. Extract Data

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This post helps you with loading your data from SendGrid to Snowflake. If you are looking to get analytics-ready data without the manual hassle, you can integrate SendGrid to Snowflake with RudderStack, so you can focus on what matters, getting value out of your transactional email campaign data.

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Extract your data from SendGrid

There are two main methods to get our data from SendGrid, the first one is to pull data out from it and the second one is for SendGrid to push data to you whenever an important event is triggered. The second solution is also offering a real-time aspect to the analytics we can perform with SendGrid. We will see how we can access data from both.

In order to pull data from SendGrid, we need to access its HTTP API. As a Web API following the RESTful architecture principles, it can be accessed through HTTP.

As a RESTful API, interacting with it can be achieved by using tools like CURL or Postman or by using http clients for your favorite language or framework. A few suggestions:

  • Apache HttpClient for Java
  • Spray-client for Scala
  • Hyper for Rust
  • Ruby rest-client
  • Python http-client

SendGrid maintains a number of officially supported clients or SDKs that you can use with your favorite language to access it without having to mess with the raw underlying HTTP calls. These are the following:

There’s also a huge list of community-supported libraries that you can use if you wish. A complete list can be found here.

SendGrid is currently maintaining 4 APIs that can be accessed.

  • SMTP API. SendGrid’s SMTP API allows developers to specify custom handling instructions for e-mail.
  • Web API v3. The latest version of the SendGrid API is completely RESTful, fully-featured, and easy to integrate.
  • Web API v2. The previous version of the SendGridAPI was still maintained for compatibility reasons. It is recommended that v3 is used instead of it as soon as possible.
  • Webhooks. Webhooks are an easy way to get push notifications from SendGrid.

For this guide, we are considering the v3 of the Web API and Webhooks.

SendGrid API Authentication

Authentication for accessing the SendGrid Web API happens through API keys. You generate an API Key that then you can pass together with your requests to the API, and your application will be authenticated. Additionally to the creation of API Keys, SendGrid also allows the creation and management of API Key permission lists.

So you can create Keys that will have different levels of access to SendGrid for your account. API requests you make to the Web API v3 must be authenticated by including an Authorization Header with your API Key.

SendGrid rate limiting

There are limitations to delivery rates imposed by recipient mail servers. Exceeding these limitations results in a practice referred to as throttling. Throttling in terms of email means that a recipient mail server has accepted all the mail it is willing to accept from your IP for a certain period of time.

Apart from throttling that can occur depending on the recipients’ server, SendGridis also limiting the number of emails that you can send on a per month period, based on the plan that you have purchased, for more information about this you should consult the pricing page of SendGrid.

About SendGrid

Sendgrid‘s mission is to help you to deliver your transactional and marketing email through one reliable platform. It is a transactional email platform offering services similar to Mandrill and mailgun. Although there’s a belief that SendGrid is more for newsletter like email services, it can also be used for on-boarding, registration, and any kind of personalized and targeted one-to-one e-mails to your customers. Some of the benefits that SendGrid offers are,

  • You can select which protocol to use for sending your e-mails. It can be either SMTP or HTTP, so it offers flexibility on the protocol level.
  • Scalable SendGrid offers an infrastructure capable of scaling up and down just as your mailing needs do. No matter if you send 100 or a billion e-mails, SendGrid can handle the load transparently for you.
  • Guaranteed mail delivery. Compliance with CAN-SPAM and management of spamming and reputation for mail servers can guarantee a much higher delivery rate for your e-mails. You can be sure that your e-mails will not be mistaken with spam from the recipient mail server.
  • Easy and fast integration. No matter what kind of e-mails you want to send, transactional or marketing, custom integration with SendGrid is extremely easy. Different APIs exist to cover different needs together with a large number of SDKs and libraries that can ease even further the integration process. You can have SendGrid integrated, up and running in a matter of minutes.
  • Security. All emails send via SendGrid utilize opportunistic TLS encryption, so as long as your recipient servers are configured to use TLS you can be sure that all mails will be sent via a secure channel to them.
  • Powerful and actionable Analytics. Everything related to your marketing campaigns or transactional emails that can be tracked is reported by the SendGrid platform in real-time. Analytics can be either used through the dashboards that SendGrid has or can be pulled by the API to be used as part of custom analytics solutions, which is also the scope of this article.

Just like every platform that offers programmatic access to email, SendGrid has been built from the ground up as an API company. This means that in order to gain full access to its capabilities, you will need to incorporate some technical skills. Nevertheless, SendGrid also offers an intuitive web environment that can be used by marketers to manage and execute marketing campaigns without the need for technical support.

Endpoints and available resources

Some of the most important endpoints that SendGrid exposes are the following, you can also find the complete list of endpoints the Web API v3exposes here:

Operations related to your users.

  • Marketing Campaigns. Campaign-related operations about loading in contacts, create segments, create and send campaigns, view your stats, and much more.
  • Operations related to white label lists of domains and subdomains, IPs and URLS.
  • SendGrid email statistics.
  • Spam reports. Operations related to spam reports that SendGrid generates for your emails and campaigns.

And much more can be found on the link given above.

Not all of the provided endpoints are useful for pulling out data that can be used for analytics. The most important for this job are the Stats and reports endpoints that SendGrid exposes. As an example, let’s assume that we want to fetch data from the Global Stats endpoint. To do that, we need to perform a GET request to the following URL, providing a valid API key:

JAVASCRIPT
GET https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/stats?start_date=2015-01-01&end_date=2015-01-02 HTTP/1.1

If you pay attention to the above URL you will notice that we are also providing two parameters, the start and end dates for which we would like to fetch statistics for. The response will be in JSON format and will look like the following:

JAVASCRIPT
HTTP/1.1 200
[
{
"date": "2015-01-01",
"stats": [
{
"metrics": {
"blocks": 1,
"bounce_drops": 0,
"bounces": 0,
"clicks": 0,
"deferred": 1,
"delivered": 1,
"invalid_emails": 1,
"opens": 1,
"processed": 2,
"requests": 3,
"spam_report_drops": 0,
"spam_reports": 0,
"unique_clicks": 0,
"unique_opens": 1,
"unsubscribe_drops": 0,
"unsubscribes": 0
}
}
]
},
]

Statistics consist of the following metrics:

And there are a number of sub-endpoints that you can access for more specific metrics and statistics, these are the following:

Another way of retrieving metrics and statistics from the SendGrid API is by requesting it to push data to our system every time a new event occurs. We need to use the Webhooks API, which sends events to a predefined URL using POST requests. Events that the SendGrid API sends have a structure like the following:

JAVASCRIPT
[
{
"sg_message_id":"sendgrid_internal_message_id",
"email": "john.doe@sendgrid.com",
"timestamp": 1337197600,
"smtp-id": "<4FB4041F.6080505@sendgrid.com>",
"event": "processed"
},
{
"sg_message_id":"sendgrid_internal_message_id",
"email": "john.doe@sendgrid.com",
"timestamp": 1337966815,
"category": "newuser",
"event": "click",
"url": "https://sendgrid.com"
},
{
"sg_message_id":"sendgrid_internal_message_id",
"email": "john.doe@sendgrid.com",
"timestamp": 1337969592,
"smtp-id": "<20120525181309.C1A9B40405B3@Example-Mac.local>",
"event": "group_unsubscribe",
"asm_group_id": 42
}
]

These events can be stored in your data warehouse solution like Snowflake for analysis or they can be used to trigger specific actions as they arrive.

About Snowflake

As you will be generating more data on SendGrid, you will need to update your older data on Snowflake. This includes new records together with updates to older records that, for any reason have been updated on SendGrid.

You will need to periodically check SendGrid for new data and repeat the process that has been described previously while updating your currently available data if needed. Updating an already existing row on a Snowflake table is achieved by creating UPDATE statements.

Snowflake has a great tutorial on the different ways of handling updates, especially using primary keys.

Another issue that you need to take care of is the identification and removal of any duplicate records on your database. Either because SendGrid does not have a mechanism to identify new and updated records or because of errors on your data pipelines, duplicate records might be introduced to your database.

In general, ensuring the quality of the data that is inserted in your database is a big and difficult issue.

Prepare your Sendgrid data for Snowflake

The first step, before you start ingesting your data into a Snowflake data warehouse instance, is to have a well-defined schema of your data.

Data in Snowflake is organized around tables with a well-defined set of columns with each one having a specific data type.

Snowflake supports a rich set of data types. It is worth mentioning that a number of semi-structured data types is also supported. With Snowflake, it is possible to load data directly in JSON, Avro, ORC, Parquet, or XML format. Hierarchical data is treated as a first-class citizen, similar to what Google BigQuery offers.

There are also one notable common data type that is not supported by Snowflake. LOB or large object data type is not supported. Instead you should use a BINARY or VARCHAR type instead. But these types are not that useful for data warehouse use cases.

A typical strategy for loading data from SendGrid to Snowflake is to create a schema where you will map each API endpoint to a table.

Each key inside the SendGrid API endpoint response should be mapped to a column of that table and you should ensure the right conversion to a Snowflake data type.

Of course, you will need to ensure that as the data types from the SendGrid API might change, you will adapt your database tables accordingly. There’s no such thing as automatic data type casting.

After you have a complete and well-defined data model or schema for Snowflake, you can move forward and start loading your data into the database.

Load data from SendGrid to Snowflake

Usually, data is loaded into Snowflake in a bulk way, using the COPY INTO command. Files containing the data, usually in JSON format, are stored in a local file system or in Amazon S3 buckets. Then a COPY INTO command is invoked on the Snowflake instance and data is copied into the data warehouse.

The files can be pushed into Snowflake using the PUT command, into a staging environment before the COPY command is invoked.

Another alternative is to upload the data directly into a service like Amazon S3 from where Snowflake can access the data directly.

Finally, Snowflake offers a web interface as a data loading wizard where someone can visually setup and copy the data into the data warehouse. Just keep in mind, that the functionality of this wizard is limited compared to the rest of the methods.

Snowflake in contrast to other technologies like Redshift, does not require a data schema to be packed together with the data that will be copied. Instead, the schema is part of the query that will copy the data into the data warehouse. This simplifies the data loading process and offers more flexibility on data type management.

Updating your SendGrid data on Snowflake

As you will be generating more data on SendGrid, you will need to update your older data on Snowflake. This includes new records together with updates to older records that for any reason, have been updated on SendGrid.

You will need to periodically check SendGrid for new data and repeat the process that has been described previously while updating your currently available data if needed. For example, updating an already existing row on a Snowflake table is achieved by creating UPDATE statements.

Snowflake has a great tutorial on the different ways of handling updates, especially using primary keys.

Another issue that you need to take care of is identifying and removing any duplicate records on your database. Either because SendGrid does not have a mechanism to identify new and updated records or because of errors on your data pipelines, duplicate records might be introduced to your database.

In general, ensuring the quality of the data that is inserted in your database is a big and difficult issue.

The best way of loading data from Sendgrid to Snowflake

So far, we just scraped the surface of what you can do with Snowflake and how you can load data into it. Things can get even more complicated if you want to integrate data coming from different sources.

Are you striving to achieve results right now?

Instead of writing, hosting, and maintaining a flexible data infrastructure, use RudderStack to handle everything automatically for you.

RudderStack, with one click, integrates with sources or services, creates analytics-ready data, and syncs your Sendgrid to Snowflake right away.

Sign Up For Free And Start Sending Data

Test out our event stream, ELT, and reverse-ETL pipelines. Use our HTTP source to send data in less than 5 minutes, or install one of our 12 SDKs in your website or app.

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