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A friend of mine recently asked me to look at one of her "email blasts" for the specialty retail clothing line she runs. I immediately responded to her that she should never call it a blast. She responded "what do I call it?" Of course, I can think of a hundred different things to call her email marketing efforts, including campaign, conversation, touch, etc.-anything but a blast. However, she's not alone, even as more and more marketers turn to consumer centricity, "email blast" is still such a part of the vernacular. It's time to bury "email blast" for good.

Nothing hurts my marketing ears more than when someone refers to an email campaign as an email blast. Blast by it's very definition is a destructive wave of highly compressed air spreading outward from an explosion. As a digital marketer my goal is to build meaningful relationships with individual customers, based on their independent needs, which requires relevant conversations, not message blasts.

As a consumer, I've given a brand my email address because I want to hear from them, I love my daily emails from Jcrew's Jenna and Martha Stewart, but I want offers and communications that are important and relevant to me. Even in today's world of permission-based marketing, we have an existence proof that consumers are willing to give their email address, and opt out only because messaging isn't relevant to them. Many consumer studies indicate time and time again that customers show more loyalty toward brands that tailor marketing messages, and fatigue and harbor resentment for brands who don't.

As we've watched the email channel evolve over the last 20 years from dabbling, to full adoption and critical channel, we've also seen how measurement and success in the channel has changed. Success is no longer defined on how successful the channel preforms in clicks and opens, but instead measured on how it drives individual customer behavior and engagement.

It's impossible to think about driving individual consumer engagement when they are being blasted messages. Sure, there may still be a business need to communicate a product, service, or message more broadly, but even those types of messages can be communicated in a more personalized and customer-centric way.

Because email primarily markets to known individuals, we can use data to drive experiences at the most granular levels using segmentation, preferences, propensities to respond, and targeting to help marketers take a generic message and communicate in an individualized conversation.

Despite its wide adoption, email continues to evolve and enable marketers to take advantage of its unique offerings. Email is the best source of marketing to a known individual and remains a top-performing channel. Because each email address is now mapped to an individual, email programs are able to focus on delivering timely and relevant messages based on both stated and inferred consumer behavior and preferences.

Remember, in today's world of permission-based marketing, customers are opting in because they want to receive communications from you. That-coupled with the era of Big Data-has given marketers continual access to an arsenal of fresh, timely consumer data that should eliminate email batch-and-blast marketing for good.

Melanie Davidson is a Vice President of Digital Strategy at Merkle. Merkle is a part of the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud Partner Community in the Channel Program. Learn more about Merkle today.