Facebook Messages is rolling out to more and more users, making its impact on your e-mail program imminent. Even if you haven't seen the first @facebook.com e-mail address enter your list yet, there are some items you can consider now to help ensure your e-mail program is not negatively affected. What should you consider in the early stages of the Facebook Messages roll out?
Identity and measure: You and your e-mail partner should be on the lookout for the volume of Facebook.com e-mail addresses that will be added to your opt-in database.
Segment and explore: For many, segmenting and communicating by e-mail address should be on the table, @facebook.com or not. Much like Google's Gmail Priority Inbox, this could impact a portion of your subscribers' messages and how they view them. Be sure to test some messaging unique to them and their new inbox.
New dynamics of the message: With no subject line, @facebook.com subscribers will need to see the tease, call to action, or something that grabs their attention early in the message. It appears that by default, Facebook will show the plain text part of your e-mail and only the HTML version if you hit an "Expand" link in the top right of the message. This will shake things up for many in how they build, test, and send e-mail messages.
Get priority slotting and win new fans: Facebook states "With new Messages, your Inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into an Other folder where you can look at them separately. If someone you know isn't on Facebook, that person's email will initially go into the Other folder. You can easily move that conversation into the Inbox, and all the future conversations with that friend will show up there."
Segmenting your messages can encourage your subscribers to move your message out of the "Other" folder. You can also ramp up efforts to ensure your e-mail subscribers like your brand in the hopes of avoiding the "Other" folder.
Database shifts: According to BrandGlue, Facebook fans see only 1 percent of the messages that brands they like post, therefore this presents an opportunity to better communicate with a coveted audience. This also presents a viable option to grow your e-mail list through Facebook in a more significant fashion. Ensuring your current subscribers have the ability to easily change their e-mail address and making sure new subscribers have the opportunity to sign up in a clear manner will be critical as well.
Think digital targeted messaging, not just isolated broadcasts to your fans and subscribers: Clearly, the digital world is converging and e-mail's place as the head of the communication table remains firm. However, don't have your e-mail team and partners isolated from your social folks. This brave new world means you need to collaborate, innovate, and integrate your communications with some of your most valuable customers and prospects, as they often will be waiting for you on Facebook and their inbox (whatever one(s) that may be).
Permission rules: The beauty of permission marketing is that your subscribers have asked for these messages, which, in theory, means they want your messages and will be expecting them. Like an e-mail to any inbox, the best and most relevant ones are those that have value in them, no matter their destination. Therefore, best practices and common sense with our collective e-mail strategies should continue to prevail.
Timing and how to sign up: Messages is expected to roll out across the next few months. Users can request an invite here.
I would welcome any feedback from those who have a Facebook.com account and other opinions on how Messages will shake things up.
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Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave Marketing, North America's leading email marketing-focused digital agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing and digital messaging programs that drive revenue, cut costs, and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave Marketing in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Phillips66, Porsche, and Southern Company. The agency was recently ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine.
Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY 2010 Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.
Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing (published by Pearson's Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top 21 information sources for email marketers.
He has been featured in Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine, and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences.
Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave Marketing, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.
Jenkins serves on the eMarketing Association's Board of Advisors among other civic and professional boards. He is also a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.