Once the lynchpin of every marketer’s digital strategy, email had fallen a bit out of favor for a while as the novelty and new opportunity of social media and other channels gained traction. Now, this mainstay of audience interaction is making a big comeback, forming the basis of a new approach to digital marketing that delivers precision targeting, relevancy and engagement that spans multiple channels.
So many channels = so many silos
With the emergence of new channels, many marketers have struggled with connecting the dots. AdTech and lead generation solutions like programmatic, real-time bidding and direct buy platforms have helped to bring in scores of new customers through web-based interactions. Then along came social channels, enabling marketers to engage new audiences through both advertising and their own cultivated communities.
But, connecting these AdTech efforts with MarTech—the relationship nurturing part of the equation—has been problematic. With ad targeting typically based on cookies and devices, it’s been difficult to link incoming clicks and leads to existing CRM data to continue the conversation. The only option has been retargeting—hitting the same leads with ads until they (hopefully) convert. As a result, marketers have missed valuable opportunities to gather information about potential customers’ interests and intentions until after conversion—if at all.
It’s been even tougher to connect across social media and mobile apps. The ability to recognize the same user on Facebook, on Instagram and on the web has eluded marketers, making it nearly impossible to maintain authentic and “smart” conversations with users, to engage with the context and relevance based on these cross-channel interactions. For example, recognizing a user who commented on your Facebook post as the same one who liked your Instagram post has been virtually impossible at scale, because of the inherent silos created by these separate channels.
The goal: AdTech/MarTech convergence
AdTech and MarTech both fulfill vital roles in the digital marketing strategy: AdTech breaks the ice and MarTech continues the conversation. But, historically, a seamless handoff has been elusive. The ability to send cultivated leads into the CRM funnel, where we can then gather first-hand, relevant audience data before the point of purchase, has been a critical missing link.
For years, marketers have been clamoring for a way to uniquely identify a single user across every channel—a way to connect the dots between the AdTech ice breaker and the MarTech nurturing. A singular, unique identifier would allow marketers to recognize an individual across every platform, superseding cryptic social media usernames. It would also enable MarTech platforms to perform their nurturing functions at the scale that AdTech brings in leads, delivering relevancy and personalization for millions of audience members with the same precision that existing customers enjoy.
Email: The secret weapon you forgot about
Once written off as “old school,” email has emerged as the new solution to the AdTech/MarTech convergence challenge. By providing the missing link between lead data and CRM data, email serves as the unique unifying identifier that transcends every channel, giving marketers the power to precisely personalize and target both existing and potential customers based on insightful, real-time data.
What makes email the ideal secret weapon?
- Email belongs to a real human. Between the multitude of bots and brands now permeating social media, email is a uniquely human attribute. Unlike a random user name, it’s connected to a real person, which helps reduce the number of paid impressions wasted on non-human viewers. It also overcomes the issue of multiple accounts—for example, an Instagrammer with more than one account will likely use the same email address to register them all. Using email personalization, marketers can target users accurately on every account.
- Email is trusted. Because email users guard their addresses carefully to avoid spam and other unwanted inbox clutter, when they do share their email address, it’s because they truly want to receive your messages. Therefore, the content you deliver must provide authentic value in order to maintain their engagement. This level of trust sets email apart from social and other platforms that often get cluttered with trolls, spam, poorly targeted ads, and other randomness.
- Email is ubiquitous. Virtually every platform and every channel requires an email address to get started. Modern email personalization technology can recognize the same individual across every channel by this unique identifier. This gives marketers the ability to tie behavioral data collected across each channel to the individual and to create a cohesive personalization program that’s relevant across every channel as well.
- Email personalization is accurate. Unlike browser cookies and device-based targeting, email is unique to the individual. Browsers and devices are often shared, especially within a single household or among family members, which makes it difficult to distinguish one user from another. As a result, the targeting can be all over the map—dad sees content aimed at the kids while mom sees content cultivated for dad. And, who knows what the kids might see? An email address, on the other hand, is very rarely shared. This makes email-based targeting and personalization much more accurate.
Finally, the convergence you’ve been waiting for
Leveraging email as the unique identifier provides for a better experience for both audiences and marketers. Audiences enjoy a much richer, more personalized, relevant experience, which is vital to maintaining their interest and loyalty. They get the content and recommendations they want without the clutter that annoys or turns them away.
For marketers, the email-based convergence of AdTech and MarTech improves data centralization and ensures a smooth transition from acquisition to relationship building by eliminating the silos between channels and platforms. With email as the unifying identifier, marketers can track and understand audience behavior to refine content and targeting before they ever make a purchase. This lowers the cost of acquisition and reduces friction in the engagement process, making email your new (old) secret weapon for highly personalized multi-channel marketing.
Jeff Kupitzky, CEO PowerInbox
Jeff serves as CEO of PowerInbox, an innovative technology company helping companies monetize their email newsletters through dynamic content. Before joining PowerInbox, Jeff served as President and CEO at Oversee.net, managing worldwide operations and building Oversee’s owned and operated portfolio of domain names into one of the world’s largest, establishing the company as the leader in Internet real estate. Under his leadership, the company diversified into lead generation, building several high growth and high margin businesses. Before that, Kupietzky served in leadership positions with X1 Technologies, Digital Insight (Intuit), Siebel Systems (Oracle), and Loudcloud/Opsware (Hewlett-Packard). Jeff began his career as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., developing business strategies for software, insurance, and banking clients. A frequent speaker at Digital Media conferences, he has also been featured on CNN, CNBC, and in many news and business magazines. Jeff earned an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School and graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.