Edward Touw

Boost your email conversion with Schema.org markup

Written by Edward Touw on

Wouldn’t it be great if your recipients were able to click your call-to-actions without opening your emails? What kind of boost would that give your conversion rate? Find out for yourself by using microdata and Schema.org.

What is Schema.org?

Schema.org is a collaboration between Google, Yahoo!, Bing and the Russian search engine Yandex. The project gives webmasters the chance to use microdata in their HTML tags to make it clear what a page is about.

Let’s say you’ve written some content about the movie Avatar. For a human reader, of course it’ll be perfectly clear what the page is about. But for a search engine it’s less obvious. As far as it is concerned, it could just as well be about someone’s profile picture.

That’s why, to prevent misunderstandings, as the manager of a webpage you can enter HTML code somewhere along the lines of this:

<div itemscope itemtype ="http://schema.org/Movie">
  <h1 itemprop="name">Avatar</h1>
  <div itemprop="director" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person">
  Director: <span itemprop="name">James Cameron</span> (born <span itemprop="birthDate">August 16, 1954</span>)
  <span itemprop="genre">Science fiction</span>
  <a href="../movies/avatar-theatrical-trailer.html" itemprop="trailer">Trailer</a>

As you see, in this code not only have we made it clear that this text is about the movie Avatar, but we’ve also included information on:

  • The movie genre
  • The movie's director
  • His birth date
  • Where you can find the movie’s trailer

Email marketing

At first, it might seem that microdata and Schema.org are useless for email marketing. It appears to be an SEO tactic, and SEO and email marketing have nothing to do with each other. Right?

Wrong. For starters, the boundaries between email marketing and SEO are fading now that Google is conducting tests with including Gmail inboxes in user’s search results.

But more importantly, Schema.org and microdata offer email marketers a lot more than just better visibility in search engines.

Conversion without opens

By including microdata in your HTML code, you can tell an email client what kind of content your email contains. If you’re sending an invitation to an event for example, you can make this clear to the email client, enabling it to include your call-to-action in the subject line:

You could do the same for:

  • Collecting reviews for your webshop
  • Sending someone a confirmation link
  • Showing travel information
  • Letting someone check in
  • And much more

This’ll give your recipients the possibility to follow your call-to-action without having to open your email.


Currently Gmail is the only email provider that supports Schema.org markup. But taking in account that Schema.org is a collaboration with Yahoo! and Microsoft, it’s probably just a matter of time until Yahoo! Mail and Outlook start supporting microdata.

How do I apply Schema.org markup?

To be able to show an email client what your call-to-action is, you first have to determine which category it belongs to. On Schema.org you’ll find an overview of all possible categories, or itemtypes.

So if you’re send an invitation to an event for example, you can tell the client by referring to http://schema.org/Event and http://schema.org/RsvpAction in your HTML. These pages contain various item properties, that are assigned to an itemtype.

So for the example above, you’d use the following code:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Event">
  <meta itemprop="name" content="Taco Night"/>
  <meta itemprop="startDate" content="2015-04-18T15:30:00Z"/>
  <meta itemprop="endDate" content="2015-04-18T16:30:00Z"/>
  <div itemprop="location" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Place">
    <div itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress">
      <meta itemprop="name" content="Google"/>
      <meta itemprop="streetAddress" content="24 Willie Mays Plaza"/>
      <meta itemprop="addressLocality" content="San Francisco"/>
      <meta itemprop="addressRegion" content="CA"/>
      <meta itemprop="postalCode" content="94107"/>
      <meta itemprop="addressCountry" content="USA"/>
  <div itemprop="action" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/RsvpAction">
    <div itemprop="handler" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/HttpActionHandler">
      <link itemprop="url" href="http://mysite.com/rsvp?eventId=123&value=yes"/>
    <link itemprop="attendance" href="http://schema.org/RsvpAttendance/Yes"/>
  <div itemprop="action" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/RsvpAction">
    <div itemprop="handler" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/HttpActionHandler">
      <link itemprop="url" href="http://mysite.com/rsvp?eventId=123&value=no"/>
    <link itemprop="attendance" href="http://schema.org/RsvpAttendance/No"/>
  <div itemprop="action" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/RsvpAction">
    <div itemprop="handler" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/HttpActionHandler">
      <link itemprop="url" href="http://mysite.com/rsvp?eventId=123&value=maybe"/>
    <link itemprop="attendance" href="http://schema.org/RsvpAttendance/Maybe"/>

Or, if you want your recipients to rate your webshop, refer to http://schema.org/Rating:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/EmailMessage">
  <meta itemprop="description" content="We hope you enjoyed your meal at Joe's Diner. Please rate your experience."/>
  <div itemprop="action" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/ReviewAction">
    <div itemprop="review" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Review">
      <div itemprop="itemReviewed" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/FoodEstablishment">
        <meta itemprop="name" content="Joe's Diner"/>
      <div itemprop="reviewRating" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Rating">
        <meta itemprop="bestRating" content="5"/>
        <meta itemprop="worstRating" content="1"/>
    <div itemprop="handler" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/HttpActionHandler">
      <link itemprop="url" href="http://reviews.com/review?id=123"/>
      <div itemprop="requiredProperty" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Property">
        <meta itemprop="name" content="review.reviewRating.ratingValue"/>
      <link itemprop="method" href="http://schema.org/HttpRequestMethod/POST"/>

More example codes for adding microdata to your emails are available at Google Developers.

**Please note: ** On its Developers section, Google offers various ways to add Schema.org markup to an email. I strongly suggest you don’t use the variant where you use scripts, as this may lead to deliverability issues with other email providers. Always stick to the HTML only option.

Need help?

Need help implementing microdata to your emails? Use Google’s Markup Helper. Just copy-paste your email’s HTML source code and follow the instructions.


Google’s Rich Snippets Testing Tool allows you to make sure you’ve implemented Schema.org correctly to your emails.

Last but not least: it's worth mentioning that, at this moment, Google doesn’t give any guarantee that correct Schema.org markup will always lead to showing call-to-actions in subject lines.