Quantum Mechanics of Email Marketing

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Email Marketing, Email Validation, Metrics    


Can a single email message ever be in 2 states at the same time? Can it be delivered and undelivered simultaneously?

In quantum computing, a qubit (ˈkjuːbɪt) or quantum bit is a unit of quantum information—the quantum analogue of the classical bit. In a classical system, a bit would have to be in one state or the other, but quantum mechanics allows the qubit to be in a superposition of both states at the same time, a property which is fundamental to quantum computing.

Schrodinger equation - email marketing

Confused Yet? Let’s consider Schrödinger’s cat.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger, an Austrian physicist, devised a ‘thought experiment’ which is known as “Schrödinger’s cat”. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects, resulting in a contradiction with common sense. The scenario presents a cat that may be both alive and dead, depending on an earlier random event. Although the original “experiment” was imaginary, similar principles have been researched and used in practical applications. The thought experiment is also often featured in theoretical discussions of the interpretations of quantum mechanics.

Schrödinger’s (theoretical) experiment:

The experiment revolves around a principle of quantum theory called “superposition”, which basically claims that if you don’t know what the state of any object is, then – as long as you don’t look to check – it is actually in all possible states simultaneously.

Erwin Schrodinger proposed a theoretical experiment in which a cat was put in a steel box along with a vial of hydrocyanic acid along with a tiny amount of a radioactive substance. If just one atom of this decayed during the test period, it would trigger a sequence in which a hammer would break the vial and kill the cat. As long as the box stayed closed, you wouldn’t know whether this had happened or not, so according to quantum law and the superposition of states, the cat is both alive and dead at the same time. It’s only when you take a measurement, (ie. look in the box), that the superposition ceases to be and the cat is either alive or dead. The paradox is that observation (=measurement) affects the outcome, so the outcome doesn’t exist until the measurement is made.

So how does this relate to email marketing?

OK, so now that we have our lesson in quantum mechanics out of the way, how does this relate to email marketing and how can an email be delivered and undelivered at the same time?

When you send an email to a recipient, as part of a larger email campaign deployment, you have no idea if the email was accepted by the recipients email server, was rejected for a multitude of reasons or was actually delivered to the end user’s inbox or junk folder. So in essence, the email – once sent, can be considered delivered and undelivered at the same time. The obvious goal you are trying to reach is to deliver your email message to the recipient’s inbox and have them take action in response to your message. This action could be a click to your website, having them call you or respond in some way to your message. There are also unwanted actions such as deleting your message, unsubscribing from your list or worse yet, complaining to your ISP about the contents of your message.

The point of this article is to encourage any email marketer to review the results and statistics, in depth and understand how your recipients react, interact and respond to your email marketing messages and campaigns. The more information you have, the better you can tailor your campaigns to encourage your recipients to react in a more favorable way to your messages. Just as sending to a dead, abandoned or invalid email address will ensure that your message will never be seen by anyone, validating your email list will ensure you only send to valid and deliverable recipients. Dive deep into your email campaign metrics and reporting to ensure you know who and how your recipients are treating your messages and adjust and tailor your email campaigns to deliver better results.

Just as never opening the box to determine whether the cat is alive or dead, not reviewing the results and statistics of your email deployment is tantamount to never knowing if your email was delivered, undelivered, deleted, junked or reacted to in some fashion. Understanding the outcomes of each and every email you send will enable you to better interpret whether your customers and messages are viable and working or not and allow you to distinguish what needs to be changed to improve your results.


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One Response to Quantum Mechanics of Email Marketing

  1. Tracy says:

    Interesting approach to looking at your stats for email. It’s funny, but I always look at my clicks, open rate, bounces, unsubs, time of day, day of week, and subject line to see what’s working and what’s not. It surprises me that more people don’t do this because it’s a missed opportunity. Also, sometimes you can have the right email address and it will still bounce b/c of spam filters and your email client. I always debounce those and send them again.