A few times a decade, a trend emerges that changes the face of marketing. Over the last couple of years, we’ve heard a lot about industry buzz topics like personalization, attribution and multi-channel engagement. As these concepts continue to evolve, and mobile usage increases, marketers thirst for more and more customer data. Like crazed information junkies, we guzzle data by the gigabyte and still want more.
Cue the next big trend in email marketing: behold the hashed email.
Depending on your background, you may already have experience with hashed emails. They’re not a new trend, per se, but the concept is relatively new to the world of marketing.
Technically speaking, a hashed email is a cryptographic function. Hashing is a way of encrypting a piece of data, like an email address, into a hexadecimal string. Each email has it’s own unique hexadecimal string that remains consistent no matter where the email is used to log in on the web.
For marketers, this means the email is the holy grail of consumer data. Since an email is essentially the passport to the internet, the hashed email can trace every logged-in action a customer takes.
From your social media accounts and online shopping sprees to your favorite guilty pleasure game app, almost everything you do online requires a login. And, what piece of information do you use to log in? An email address, of course!
As a marketer, hashed emails allow you access to valuable data on the ways in which your subscribers conduct themselves online. You can determine which social media networks your audience is most likely to use, where they go for news, entertainment preferences and even buying habits.
Great question. Up until now, marketers have received most information from cookies. There’s just one problem: cookies don’t work across multiple devices. Plus, cookies can be blocked, and don’t make a connection with mobile activity. Instead, emails are quickly becoming the most reliable method of cross-device identification.
This means you can take an email address already in your database and use this information to target the subscriber in other spaces they’ve logged in with that address, such as Twitter and Facebook, through hashed email retargeting. As this technology grows and becomes more prevalent, it could become a complement—or even alternative—to cookie tracking.
For more than 20 years, email has remained a primary form of communication. While some experts have predicted the decline and demise of email, each new year brings a steady increase. In fact, the number of email accounts are expected to grow 20% by 2018, according to Radicati Group.
The hashed email serves to position email even higher in the digital food chain. In other words, you’re email database is about to become even more valuable.
Ready to prepare your email strategy for the future? Check out our new guide 5 Easy Ways to Take Your Email List to the Next Level.