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A year ago, Twilio acquired SendGrid to gain the company's cloud-based APIs for transactional and marketing emails. In Twilio's terms, SendGrid offers programmable email, which enables developers to add email sending and receiving capabilities to an application without the need to install email servers.
At the time of the acquisition, the question was whether programmable email could be considered part of a communications platform as a service (CPaaS) portfolio or if Twilio was entering a new product market. Now that a year has passed, the answer has become clear. Email has its place in the CPaaS and communications API space.
CPaaS vendors, as well as contact center vendors, have increased their focus on omnichannel communications. Omnichannel enables a business to communicate with a customer across multiple channels. This communication was once limited to calling and text messaging because of customer behavior and CPaaS vendors' focus on integrating telecom with business workflows.
Social media brings email into the CPaaS fold
Today, social media dominates most consumer interactions. The richness and level of engagement of social networks often surpass any telecom service. Businesses want to be part of these interactions, and social networks are enabling them to be by introducing API integrations.
A CPaaS offering's main benefit is to aggregate and simplify telecom services globally. CPaaS provides a single API that's easy to use across tens or hundreds of carriers and countries. Omnichannel CPaaS extends this benefit to offer an API that's easy to use across multiple social networks. A developer integrates the API once to make it work with the CPaaS vendor's social network implementation.
The focus today with social network APIs is to add voice and text messaging to social messaging services, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Email fits right into that focus.
Email isn't going away any time soon; we still rely on it for so many business interactions. This was the case even before Twilio acquired SendGrid. As such, sourcing email services from the same vendor that provides voice, text messaging and social network integrations makes a lot of sense.
Considerations for email integrations
CPaaS is headed toward tighter integration with the enterprise. This is why no-code approaches, such as visual drag-and-drop tools, make sense these days. They make communication tools accessible to larger audiences beyond developers.
Enterprises will look to apply the capabilities they have in email and marketing automation software, which automate services like social media postings and email campaigns, to other workflows, such as A/B testing, bill payments, onboarding and service alerts.
On the other hand, email is becoming just another channel and should be wrapped under the folds of CPaaS vendors. For now, other CPaaS vendors haven't made big moves to address email communications. Some have added simple email-sending capabilities. In response to Twilio's SendGrid acquisition, Nexmo partnered with email marketing platform Sendinblue to gain access to its email API.
Will API partnerships for email capabilities be enough? Only time will tell. CPaaS vendors must consider email as an integral part of their omnichannel messaging strategy. Enterprise customers are going to expect it and look for it.