What is an email parser?

An email parser is a service or software program that takes input data, usually in  email form, and extracts relevant/usefulstructured data.

So why do I need one?

Email is the most common medium for transferring data in the 21st century. However most emails, at their very base level, are simply text. However they often communicate important information which can be used to either automate other tasks or drive third party processes. For example:

A travel company receives an inquiry through their contact request form on their website and wants to put that into their CRM. An email parser can take that information and add it automatically to their CRM so that whether they receive 3 or 300, there is no extra effort on the travel company.

Can you give me a few more use-cases or examples of email parsing?

Sure. Many companies receive purchase orders and invoices which really belong in their accounting systems like Xero or MYOB.

An e-mail parser can be used to extract the relevant data fields (eg. Purchase date) from these emails.  More advanced parsers such as Parserr, allow users to extract information from tables and also email attachments in PDF form.

Other uses we see at Parserr include

  • The automation of order fulfillment in ecommerce
  • Automating lead capture and generation
  • Centralising data which is sent by e-mail from different web-forms.

How do you use it?

Once an e-mail is parsed and extracted into useful data, the data is made available in an useful format such as CSV, XML, JSON for download or can automatically be forwarded to 3rd party apps such as Salesforce or Office 365.

Is e-mail parsing like web scraping?

Yes, e-mail parsing is very similar to scraping the web. E-mail parsing works like web scraping but instead of extracting data from HTML websites, it allows you scrape data from e-mails.

How does e-mail parsing work?

Most e-mail parsers allow you to either pull specific e-mails directly from your mailbox or provide you an e-mail address to which you can forward the e-mails you want to parse. Once the e-mails are available to the e-mail parser, a parsing algorithm will extract the data fields you are after from the e-mail. Most e-mail parsers are rule based and allow you to create custom parsing rules. Creating a parsing rule is usually straight forward and no coding is required.