Facebook Bounces Email

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Facebook hits the spam button on its email program.
Facebook hits the spam button on its email program.

Facebook's effort, launched in 2010, to take on Gmail with a messaging system that links all the many ways people message each other ended this week with the company announcing it would suspend the service for lack of users.

“In the dialogs we have with our email clients, Facebook never comes up,” says Quinn Jalli, SVP of the Strategic Initiatives Group at Epsilon. “What Facebook does, it does better than anybody , but people don't go to Facebook or social media to send and receive emails. You can't be everything to everyone.”

Facebook's move comes as little surprise one week after it laid out $19 billion in stock and cash for WhatsApp, a real-time mobile messaging service used by some 450 million people a month, and with a messaging volume “approaching the entire global SMS volume,” according to Facebook.

“There are two sides to the equation that led Facebook to drop email,” observes StrongView VP of Marketing Shawn Myers. “One is that they're moving strongly towards mobile. The other is that the costs of switching email providers today is much higher than it was just a few years ago. People used to change email addresses when their inboxes got too full, but now they're more tech savvy and ISPs are making the experience better with features like filtering and Gmail's tabs. Eighteen months used to be the shelf life for email addresses. Now it's four years, and it's usually tied to big life events like graduating college.”

The Facebook email system that grouped all messaging between two individuals into a single thread proved to be not nearly as popular as chronological listing or grouping conversation threads. Because of that, it never reached critical mass with marketers.

"The adoption of Facebook email addresses was so low that I would anticipate little to no impact to a brand's program performance,” says Kara Trivuonivic, VP of strategic services at BlueHornet. “That said, I recommend that marketers reach out to their subscriber base. Find your @facebook.com addresses and send notes to those folks asking them to update their email addresses with you."

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