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Publication date 1/30/2018

How does email fit into the world of walled gardens and diverse channels? Pretty well, according to Matt Conlin, president of Fluent LLC, a company that specializes in digital marketing and customer acquisition. Fluent found in a survey that “email is the preferred place to receive marketing messages for a majority of Americans,” Conlin says. Fluent, a publicly traded part of Cogint, is headquartered in New York City and has about 120 employees.

MediaPost: What is the state of email marketing?

Matt Conlin: We just did a survey of 2,667 American consumers, and found one pretty shocking thing: how effective email is in driving sales. We asked: after receiving a marketing message, have you made a purchase, and 50% have gone on to buy on mobile sites, 35% on desktop, 27% went in-store after receiving that email, and 24% through a smartphone app.

MP: What does that suggest?

Conlin: That the email marketing world should be happy. Email’s here to stay, among millennials more than any other age group. The younger demographic that has more staying power is highly engaged in email marketing. That newer generation is savvier than any previous generation. Marketers need to respond to that and have the right cadence, reach, frequency, and relevancy. Millennials are quicker to unsubscribe. They’re quicker, God forbid, to hit the spam button if you’re not on point with your messaging. But even with physical mail, TV, SMS, mobile ads and native advertising, there’s always a place for email.

MP: You mentioned native advertising. How does email stack up against something like that?

Conlin: Three out of five people are checking their email multiple times a day — they’re not checking native experiences multiple times a day. One thing that email has over native is that you control the cadence, you control the relevance. Native is whatever that publisher and/or the real-time auction is dictating. It’s certainly not the cadence you can get with email. With the inbox, I can curate the brands I want to communicate with me.

MP: Do you see any threats on the horizon?

Conlin: Marketers have an interest in leveraging all available channels, but internal politics and bureaucracy get in the way of having a unified strategy. Sometimes the CRM team is working in isolation from the search team. This is not the case with more sophisticated marketers, but silos still exist, and with everything becoming more addressable, it’s more important than ever to have a unified strategy across all addressable channels. And Google and Facebook have created walled gardens. Google owns one of the biggest ESPs out there, with 60% of the market. Google could decide to overstep their bounds, and in a future state make the inbox a pay-to-play scenario.

MP: And you see email as we know it holding up under this?

Conlin: The email address continues to be the primary identifier, the core identification across digital ecosystems. There are many Matt Conlins, but only one Matt Conlin at Gmail. We want to leverage that capability. There’s a massive increase in demand for acquisition efforts and to reach addressable channels like email. That trend will continue.

MP: Where does Fluent come in?

Conlin: Fluent is a data-driven marketing services firm. We offer performance-based solutions that connect digital consumers with the products and services they are in market for today. We’re building out the piping to get the right offer to the right customer in the right channel, be it email, Facebook, native — at the right time. It’s people-based marketing, centered around addressable platforms.

MP: What’s Fluent’s next move?  

Conlin: This is the year we’re going international. We’re very intently getting ready for the UK market to start, and we’re investing heavily to make sure we stay ahead of GDPR. We’ll be offering performance-based solutions in international markets very soon.