Why Email is the Unique Customer Identifier for Marketing Campaigns


As a savvy marketer, you’re probably taking steps to understand your audience on a deeper level. Maybe you gather details on demographics and purchase history. Perhaps you use modeling to take your best guess. Maybe you’ve been tracking users with cookies for years (if they allow you to).

Each of these techniques offers a glimpse as to who your audience members might be. But at the end of the day, the picture is still fuzzy. Cookies, for example, don’t work across devices and can be blocked by users at any time. Do you really understand your subscribers on an individual basis? Even if you know their history, do you know what they care about right now?

What if you could better understand the individuals on your list? What if you had access to a unique customer identifier that would give you the insight you seek? With it, you could apply these insights to your campaigns to better target subscribers across devices. You could figure out not only past interests, purchases, and online activity, but also current and future needs. The solution: the email address. Specifically, the hashed email address (more on this in a minute).

Email: The Unique Customer Identifier

Lots of people use email. According to technology research firm The Radicati Group, there are about 2.6 billion email users worldwide. What’s more, people use their email addresses to log in to just about everything online, from favorite retail sites to mobile apps and social media platforms. Not only do we use email to log into just about everything, but it is also a part of every transaction. All the while, the email address acts as a passport, secretly keeping a record of everywhere it’s been.

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Hashed Email Addresses

Through a process called hashing, your email address is encoded for privacy. When you log in somewhere online, your email address is seen as a jumble of numbers and letters. For all you techies out there, hashing is a cryptographic function that transforms email addresses into hexadecimal strings. This code can’t be reversed back to the actual email address, but all the behaviors associated with it are recorded. 

The Power of the Identity Graph

All the anonymous online data associated with a hashed email address can be combined with known customer data—both online and off—to create a comprehensive picture of your audience down to the individual. This picture, known as an identity graph, can be used to understand customers more completely. That means you can target them across devices with more precision and relevancy than ever before. Thus, the unique customer identifier.

If all this sounds a little like big brother, don’t worry. Data management platforms (like Oracle, Krux, and Lotame, etc.) help marketers connect to specific users via identity graphs that anonymize and hash data for marketers. That means you can identify the best individuals for your audience without infringing on anyone’s privacy.

Is Email Dead?

Now you might be thinking, “Isn’t email dead?” “Won’t it soon be replaced by social media or other communications platforms?” Nope. Email usage is actually on the rise. The same study from The Radicati Group projects a steady increase in the coming years—by as much as 7% for email accounts and 3% for email users.

Webbula believes all this adds up to a pretty compelling case for email as the unique customer identifier. We’re an email marketing leader that started as an email data quality company. As technology evolves, we pursue solutions to help you market more effectively. Today, we offer clean, deterministic ad targeting data to help you reach your goals.

Learn how you can use the emails in your database to take the next step in precise audience targeting or contact Webbula today.

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