The new Facebook Messages offering unveiled this week brings true inbox message convergence and relevance control to consumers by prioritizing messages based on a user’s individual relationships. Facebook Messages will allow consumers to get SMS/text, instant message/chat, e-mail and Facebook Messages all in one place, turning disparate touch-points into one threaded conversation. Consumers will see entire conversation histories with their friends in one thread regardless of channel. I discuss all of Facebook Messages features in detail here. Given the changes that Facebook will roll out in the coming weeks, I’ll explore here the tactics that marketers should be addressing to prepare for the reality of message convergence.
1. Establish a Presence on Facebook Immediately
An April 2010 survey of 674 marketers in the U.S. and U.K. conducted by my company revealed that just 44 percent of e-mail marketers stated their company currently has a Facebook fan page. Another 32 percent said they were planning on doing this within the next 12 months; the remainder said they had no plans to do this. Marketers, the time is now to launch your Facebook fan page. Why is this important? Message disposition including if it is going to be accepted or bounced, as well as the folder placement inside the inbox, will be determined by a user’s privacy setting. A person can select to receive messages only from friends, friends of friends, or everyone. This is the same scheme that currently exists in Facebook. Clearly if a user has fanned your brand, she will have access to your Facebook inbox. Marketers must push a dedicated e-mail campaign promoting their Facebook fan page. Make the “Like” button the call to action. The Facebook fan page should also allow individuals to opt in to your e-mail marketing campaigns and your e-mail subscription center should promote your Facebook fan page.
2. Make Your E-mail Content Shareable to Facebook
In the same survey, 42 percent of e-mail marketers said they are sharing their content on social networks, such as Facebook. Rather than allowing the subscriber to share the whole e-mail, allow the individual to share individual pieces of the e-mail, such as a specific offer. Consumers are fickle about which content elements that they share within their profile, or even which brands that they like as these actions define who the individual is to their friends. That is, this notion of brand badging or content posting is akin to a digital tattoo. While the subscriber may truly be a fan of your brand, typically only the most loyal subscribers will want it to be publicly known that they “Like” your brand. Nonetheless, make it easy for consumers to share content and become fans/likers of your brand.
3. Make It Easy For People to Change Their E-mail Address
It remains to be seen how many people may abandon their current e-mail address for a new @facebook.com address, but I’m sure we will begin to see at least 10 percent of the online population make that switch immediately. Ensure that your e-mail preference center allows subscribers not only to opt out, but to change their e-mail address. Even if Facebook e-mail adoption is slow, it could still represent subscribers churning off your list. Marketers should include links in their e-mail creative to make it easy for subscribers to update their e-mail addresses. My company currently is surveying consumers on these switching attitudes and behaviors, so stay tuned for that study in the coming weeks.
4. Watch For Subscriber E-mail Address Churn
Our survey found that just 38 percent of marketers segment subscribers by click-through behavior. Marketers must begin to look at e-mail click behavior and segment by it in order to spot trends of which addresses might be churning. From there, they should target that segment with win-back campaigns and a mechanism to update their e-mail address.
5. Create a Connected Marketing Strategy and Connected Company
Message convergence is clearly upon us, underscoring that consumers increasingly view an organization as one brand – regardless of channel. E-mail marketers must work across corporate silos to collaborate with their social marketing peers as well as front line call center and retail store employees. Now more than ever, organizations should be capturing and confirming e-mail addresses at every customer touch-point.
I don’t think we’ll see massive wholesale migration by consumers just yet. But it’s important to recognize that this is just another way to reach your customers and be relevant to them. E-mail marketing complexity continues to increase, raising the table stakes on the knowledge that we as marketing professionals must possess.