Why a PR software firm invested $169 million in email

Last month, Vocus, a marketing and PR software firm, spent $169 million to buy an email marketing company. We found out why.

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Haven’t social media gurus trumpeted email’s death? Perhaps so, but Vocus says the reports of email’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Last month, the firm announced it had spent $169 million—$91 million of that in cash—on iContact, a maker of email marketing software.

The importance of email in marketing has been a longstanding internal debate within Vocus, says Bill Wagner, the company’s chief operating officer. Wagner says he’s even found himself on the side of thinking email’s on its way out, but “the data just doesn’t support it,” he says. “I know it’s very in vogue to talk about the demise of email, but it’s just not borne out in the data.”

That comes in contrast with some executives who want to do away with email.

In November, French technology firm Atos announced a new policy: zero emails. CEO Thierry Britton told The Wall Street Journal that email creates too much clutter and that he hadn’t sent an email message in three years.

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