Email: The Holy Grail of the MarCom Toolbox

BY CLARK KIPLING, SVP OF STRATEGY & ANALYTICS AT DEFINITION 6

Email. This workhorse medium might not be the most glamorous tool in your MarTech stack, but underestimate it at your own risk. That’s because few channels can match its ability to drive revenue and deliver ROI. In fact, it’s so reliable that we often fail to see it as the innovative and adaptable platform it truly is.  

Email can serve as a potent incubator for experimentation, A/B testing, and generating insights that can be applied at scale to your customer experience. Your email program should be thought of as a white-glove, laboratory environment—other channels pale in comparison to email tactics, where you wield a lot more control.  

Want to know how a tactic performs against your best customers? The recently churned? Email is uniquely equipped to generate these insights across key moments of your customer lifecycle. ESPs (email sending platforms) can often natively support use cases that have applications across the larger MarTech stack, delivering the type of dynamic user journeys brands dream of. 

Email experiments can provide the proof of concept you need before rolling out a tactic to a wider part of the customer experience—giving you confidence as a marketer and alerting your team to misaligned or non-motivating messaging before it finds its way into the larger campaign. 

Email is the ideal channel for generating customer insights. While other platforms are limited by the “walled garden” effect, email is a channel where you own the data—allowing you to shed the third-party hurdles Facebook, Google, and other platforms maintain to keep you tethered to them for insights. Big social’s dogged insistence on delivering “data with conditions” produces insights that are opaque at best, while email allows you to set your own  test and learn agenda—and own your customer insights. 

Pair the transparency of email data sets with machine learning (ML), and you create a multiplier effect on your ability to parse the data and create meaningful actions off those insights. As more enterprises gain the talent and technology to support advanced analytics and machine learning, their primary challenge becomes aligning those capabilities with the right data inputs and the experience channels that can accept the ML outputs—while simultaneously positively impacting customer experience. 

The good news is that, once again, email excels in its ability to deliver on both sides of this equation. Email generates large volumes of structured data that can feed directly into operational ML models, and email platforms can easily leverage propensity scores, lead scoring, and classification outputs to help drive personalization and targeting. 

If you’re detecting a slight inclination toward email here, you’d be right. For marketers looking for a tool that delivers powerful insights and serves as an incubator for new and innovative tactics—all while driving revenue and delivering a quantifiable ROI—start by looking at email in a new light.  

Clark Kipling is the SVP of Strategy & Analytics at DEFINITION 6. He brings over a decade of experience leveraging analytics to help clients understand customer behavior across fintech, retail, manufacturing, and other industries.