For those of us watching the email industry, the last twelve months have been very exciting indeed. High profile acquisitions of specialist email businesses by some of the biggest players in CRM, such as Oracle’s purchase of Responsys, or IBM’s purchase of Silverpop are proof that email is still the most vital element of any digital marketing strategy.

The world’s biggest CRM providers have now woken up to the need to integrate email into their marketing propositions, and their purchasing of existing solutions rather than taking the time to develop their own shows just how urgent this need is.

The reason for this urgency? These businesses have realised what I have believed all along – that without email, targeted marketing simply does not and cannot work. There is no other way to make sure the right content goes to the right person at the right time that is cost effective.

After all, everyone has an email address. To not have one is the digital equivalent of being homeless. Without an email address, you cannot shop online, bank online or engage with social media. Furthermore, iOS and Android devices now require an email address to set up and it will surely not be long before this a requirement on all internet connected devices.

Therefore, email should underpin any digital marketing strategy, partly because it is so universal. A very small percentage of people do not have one and this figure will continue to shrink over the next decade to almost zero.

Furthermore, digital marketers need to understand that email has effects beyond open rates. Email creates brand impressions by their mere presence in an inbox, not just when they’re opened or when links are clicked. Consumers can create associations with brands based on subject lines alone. For example, a consumer might get regular emails with money off discount codes; they might not open these emails, but when they come to think about making a purchase later on, they will have already made the association between the brand and its key message, in this case offering discounts.

Emails not opened are in no way wasted, particularly when you consider how the way we interact  with our email has changed. Ten years ago, most people will have checked their personal emails on a desktop computer only a few times a day at most. Today, however, the explosion in smartphone ownership means that consumers have their emails delivered instantly to their pockets. In most cases, emails can be read from the home screen. Even where they aren’t, people are checking their emails far more frequently, and every time they do they form new subconscious brand connections. Finally, while reading personal emails is still blocked in many offices, smartphones mean most people do anyway, and those who do not work at a desk regularly now have an email checking device with them at all times.

Email is universal and is now accessed far more frequently. For any digital marketer to ignore the importance of email would be mad. It should underpin any digital marketing strategy. After all, only email can provide hyper-specialisation, allowing brands to send personalised messages to every person, all of the time.

Dela Quist

Dela Quist


Dela Quist, CEO of Alchemy Worx.