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.