Facebook Messages poses challenge for e-mail marketing: Social Media Week

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Consumer adoption of Facebook's messaging platform is challenging the relevancy of e-mail, industry experts said February 10 on the “Social Media and E-mail: A Match Made for Marketers” panel at Social Media Week in New York.

“E-mail is our digital fingerprint,” said David Daniels, CEO of The Relevancy Group, an e-mail marketing consultancy. However, he added that the variety of online communication mediums is enabling consumers to “fine-tune their preferences,” and marketers should better coordinate their e-mail marketing with other media.

Daniels also said that 350 million Facebook users have signed up for Facebook Messages, the social networking site's communications platform that compiles members' text, chat and e-mail messages. Last November, Facebook began to allow consumers to register for a Facebook.com e-mail address.

Daniels cited a Relevancy Group survey that found nearly half (46%) of consumers would create a Facebook e-mail account or move their primary account to Facebook, while 9% said they would switch their primary e-mail account to a Facebook.com account.

Sara Ezrin, senior director of strategic services at Experian CheetahMail, said Facebook Messages would deliver marketing messages to a member's “other” folder, not his or her main “messages” folder. Consumers may be less likely to visit the “other” folder, she said.

Jeffrey Carroll, a senior manager of digital marketing at Comedy Central, noted that Facebook Messages introduces another level of trust that marketers must earn with consumers.

Carroll suggested that marketers “create unique content for each [communication] outlet to benefit dedicated users" and to maintain the relevance of e-mail marketing.

“We're not sending as many e-mails as we used to, but they're performing better,” he said.

For Comedy Central's “Rally to Restore Sanity” event, held last October in Washington, DC, the cable network used e-mail to tell consumers that they could check in on Foursquare. The event was the location-based social network's largest single event check-in at the time.

Ezrin added that there are fewer than 35,000 Facebook e-mail addresses across CheetahMail's entire client base, but that number should be cold comfort to marketers. “Customer behaviors are going to change,” she said.

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