email-tricks

Email Marketing Isn't Just About Sending Email

  |  July 17, 2013   |  Comments

Email marketing is about the email address - the CRM targeting power of this unique identifier.

When Salesforce.com bought Exact Target for $2.5 billion in May you might have assumed that the world finally valued the art of email marketing.

Did everyone miss the real story?

Email marketing isn't about sending email. Email marketing is about the email address - the customer relationship management (CRM) targeting power of this unique identifier. That's what Salesforce.com bought.

Email marketing companies aren't hot because they send email. They're hot because of the most unique and persistent piece of CRM targeting data in the universe: the email address and its hexadecimal derivative: the MD5 hash of the email address.

Send-based email marketing is almost an unnatural act: brands become publishers of a single-topic magazine (the first-party branded newsletter). Now Walmart.com might be the largest publisher in the United States. Brands send these newsletters hundreds of times a year. Most brands run this effective play with some small variations. Repetition is the formula.

Because email hasn't supported iFrames and JavaScript, making it difficult to buy and sell advertising in other email newsletters, retailers and brands have had to create and manage their own single topic newsletters.

But thanks to Facebook - and now Twitter - brands discovered that email marketing is not just about sending emails to your own first-party newsletter (opened only by 10 to 15 percent of its recipients).

What's the solution? Use the MD5 hashes of your customers' email addresses to reach them outside of your own newsletters. How does hashing an email address work?

Hashing takes an email address like dave@liveintent.com and turns it into a 32-character string like "43307bb5a669b247270a4d81cce6f3ff." This algorithm is a one-way cryptographic function that produces a unique and repeatable 32-character hexadecimal string. No algorithm translates a hash back into its original email address, hence its popularity for securely exchanging data.

For CRM purposes, the email hash string is an improvement on the cookie. Unlike cookies, email-based hashes are very effective on mobile because we use our email addresses on all our devices. You check your email on all your devices, but cookies don't follow you around, they live where they are dropped. So unlike email, cookies are not great for cross-channel campaigning.

This realization has led Facebook, and recently Twitter, to create what are known as "Custom Audiences" advertising exchanges designed to use the hash.

Custom Audiences allows retailers to safely "hash" their subscriber lists into targeting segments, pair them with display creatives/URLs, load them into Facebook, and bid for their customers. MD5 hashing has enabled customer targeting on third-party sites and newsletters without exchanging explicit email addresses.

So rather than wasting valuable dollars advertising to existing customers via cookie pools, brands can show one kind of ad to their customers and another one to prospects by using MD5 hash segments.

Ad exchanges are now being built (full disclosure: my company runs an email hash-based ad exchange with more than 300 publishers as members) to take advantage of this incredible capability. Brands using these exchanges can leverage the power of the email address without sending any email campaigns of their own.

Email marketing, long forgotten by agencies because it couldn't be bought like traditional web display, has now leapfrogged its competition - the cookie. When you combine the CRM powers of the email address with real-time bidding, you have something that promises to be both effective and consumer friendly.

Brands - start your hashing!

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

Tags:

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Hendricks

As president of LiveIntent, Dave Hendricks has overall responsibility for revenue, finance, legal, and operations. Prior to joining LiveIntent before its 2009 Series A, Dave was EVP of operations at PulsePoint (then known as Datran Media), where he worked with LiveIntent founder and CEO Matt Keiser and ran Datran's ESP StormPost. Before all that, Dave held senior roles at data management companies InfoUSA and Experian. A member of the founding executive team at ExperianCheetahMail, Dave began his email adventure at Pioneering ESP MessageMedia after running global partnerships for Oracle Corp. Dave was named one of Silicon Alley Insiders Top 100 technologists in 2011 and is active in several IAB Committees including Mobile and Email. Follow him on Twitter @davehendricks.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Fort MillWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager to join the...
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...