There are many ways to think about your database of customers’ and prospects’ email addresses.
But Verizon’s exit from the email business highlights one way: by the evolution toward a few major domains.
To take one example: Over the next few months, the 4.5 million holders of an @Verizon.net email address will need to make a decision.
The giant telco has announced that it is ending its email services within the parent company. Users with a Verizon.net address can let the company know they want to keep their address, but they will have to access it within Verizon subsidiary AOL.
Or they can also migrate their email account to another email platform outside Verizon. If they do nothing, their account will eventually be deleted.
Verizon Media Relations Manager Raymond McConville told me via email that the decision was made so that Verizon could focus on its core business of broadband, TV and voice. He added that customers are being notified over the next few months, and then they will have 30 days to decide.
“We’re not in the email business,” he said. “AOL is — and, quite frankly, [it] provides a much better platform for customers.” He noted that the AOL platform “has a better layout, has more features, better spam filters [and] supports IMAP,” among other advantages.
According to The Washington Post, Verizon has said that only about 2.3 million of the 4.5 million addresses are in use, as indicated by activity the last 30 days.
We checked in with Allen Nance, CMO of B2C marketing cloud Emarsys, about how digital maketers might think about this kind of migration.
Not just an email address
The big thing, he said, is that all digital marketers should recognize email addresses aren’t just email addresses.
Effectively, he said, an email address often acts as “a digital ID,” since users frequently employ them as usernames and brands often ID their customers by their unique email addresses.
Behind the scenes, a common point of fixed data — such as an email address — often becomes the link between identifying a user’s data in one realm, like mobile activity, with another realm, like web e-commerce purchases.
Because of the importance of this piece of info, Nance noted, marketers should be proactive about protecting their database of email addresses. While some active Verizon.net users may keep their addresses, it’s entirely possible that many may decide this is a good opportunity to find another email home.
These transitioning users may be barely present in your customer records, he said, or there could be a significant number. Nance recommended the obvious first step to determine the impact: build a segment of Verizon.net customers and prospects in your records. Then, the marketer can determine how many are great customers, so an effort can be made to reach out to them for any new email addresses, possibly by offering a discount for the update.
But, even if there is no impact in your customer records from this migration, Nance predicted that “the same thing will happen in email domains that happened in site domains,” where a relatively small number of domains account for the bulk of activity. And then, that small number could eventually dwindle to half a dozen big domains.
Because of this trend, he recommended that marketers create segments of “fringe” email domains, such as Verizon.net. If you segment users with fringe email addresses, he said, you can then work to find alternative addresses or other ways to contact them by making such requests when you find them at your website or in other encounters.