How can Facebook help grow your email list?


Imagine the direct impact on supporter relations if the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge had included a way to capture email. What an amazing moment for the ALS to identify those supporters willing to further share their support, learn more or even get more deeply involved. With hundreds of thousands of people suddenly exposed to their cause, and motivated to engage with the mission, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge exemplified the power of social marketing and illustrates its potential in providing untapped opportunities to reach, capture and cultivate meaningful relationships with supporters.

For years, organizations have treated Facebook and email as entirely different channels to reach and engage supporters. But increasingly, organizations that successfully merge their email and Facebook efforts find themselves with far more benefits.


Facebook: 95 percent of notification emails are strictly secured

Whenever you get a notification email from Facebook, such as for a tagged photo, those emails can be encrypted with plain text communication protocol STARTTLS, creating a more secure connection.

In May, Facebook said that just 28.6 percent of such emails sent out were protected with STARTTLS, but now that number is up to 95 percent.


How safe are Facebook’s notification emails?


When Facebook sends out emails about notifications — such as a tagged photo or a friend request — it’s usually encrypted with plain text communication protocol STARTTLS, creating a more secure connection. The program has been around for 15 years, but Facebook heard it wasn’t widely deployed. The company wanted to test their own email systems to see how many notification emails were encrypted with STARTTLS.

Facebook found that 76 percent of unique MX hostnames that receive email notifications (which can be in the billions per day) support STARTTLS. Then 58 percent of notification emails are successfully encrypted. Certificate validation passes for roughly half of encrypted email and the other half is opportunistically encrypted. Facebook pointed out that 74 percent of hosts that support STARTTLS also provide Perfect Forward Secrecy.


Facebook to close unpopular email service


Facebook is doing away with its email service, the company announced Monday. Previously, the company had controversially listed an “” email address as a Facebook user’s default email address. Emails sent to that address would go to the user’s message box.

But now, Facebook is phasing this out — because of a lack of participation.


How well do B2B emails match to Facebook?


B2B marketers using Facebook’s custom audiences to match their email lists to Facebook often report a 20 to 30 percent average match rate. B2C companies typically report 70 to 80 percent, which says most of their audience is targetable on Facebook.

Users typically don’t associate their work email with their Facebook account, so a 20 to 30 percent match rate is normal for B2B.

Kinvey, a mobile back-end cloud service, gave us a peek into their match rates.


Facebook gives Offers emails a new look

offersFacebook has updated the design of the emails it sends when users claim an offer on the site.

The new emails, redesigned earlier this month it seems, have a more modern look with elements from the latest site redesign. The offer is presented in a module with a horizontal photo, similar to how it appears in News Feed, however it is much larger, so page owners should make sure they include a high quality photo with their original offer.

The email even includes the site’s top navigation bar, with quick links to a user’s profile and to their offers section. Offer details are also clearly listed with icons, similar to how information is presented on event pages.

This improved design could help users recognize that these offers are coming from Facebook rather than a third party. We’ve heard from users who have been wary of offers because they thought they were spam or part of some other app. The cleaner presentation of important information like expiration date could possibly increase conversions after users claim an offer. One difference page owners might not appreciate is that there is no longer a call to action to Like the page which created the offer, but Facebook might have found that few users were Liking pages from these emails.


Compare to the new email design to what Facebook had been sending previously:

offer plus redeem code

Thanks to Matteo Gamba for the tip and the screenshot.

Facebook Ads: Improved E-mail Marketing

This is a guest post by SocialCode CEO Laura O’Shaughnessy. SocialCode is a digital agency and Washington Post Co. subsidiary that focuses on social media marketing and advertising.

While helping Fortune 500 brands understand how to realize the most value from social media advertising — on Facebook, specifically — I’ve often found that it’s helpful to compare this method of advertising with a more tenured marketing technique, one with which more people are familiar. Facebook advertising is in many ways like traditional email marketing, only with more perks. Here’s how.

When trying to wrap your head around advertising on Facebook, it helps to think that you are still taking the basic steps necessary to run a successful email campaign, including:

Grooming Target Lists. Like email marketing, on Facebook brands are still building out target lists to nurture and activate over time. Only instead of actual mailing lists complete with email addresses, physical addresses and phone numbers, they instead have social communities. And now, thanks to social intelligence and profiling capabilities, advertisers are able to learn more about this list than ever before—not only general demographics, but what other brands they like, how they behave, what their interests are, what they read, how they live.

Reaching Those Who Matter. Thanks to Facebook EdgeRank score (the relevancy score Facebook uses to determine what shows up in a user’s news feed), users are often not prominent in one another’s news feed. This can happen for a number of reasons, but the primary reason is because you have not interacted with that person or page in quite some time. For brands, this means that in order for fans to see its posts, it must sponsor the most relevant ones to (a) ensure they are displayed and (b) to drive engagement. This seems like a hardship, but is really no different than inboxing during email campaigns. Remember how you always have to avoid those spam folders and test different subject lines to maximize open rates? With Facebook, advertisers also analyze who is not seeing their messages and work to improve those exposure rates.

Tracking Engagement. Likewise, while analyzing who did not open an email, any good email marketer is also looking at the overall open rate percentage, total number of opens vs. number of contacts who opened, and percentage of those who clicked through. Facebook is no different, only now after a brand’s message has gone out advertisers track its performance with likes, shares, sponsored stories and so forth. They still analyze the performance of the content once it has left their hands to find out who is engaged, how they can improve the content and if the message is resonating with their target audience.

So while the basic tactics of email marketing still stand steadfast in the Facebook ad world, there are a few aspects that make Facebook ads a bit more worth the while. For example:

Contacts are Cheap. While traditionally gathering information about an email target can be quite pricey —sometimes up to $10 each—now all brands need is a Facebook click or ‘like’ and they’ve acquired a new contact for their list for a fraction of the price—or free!

The Earned Media Component. On Facebook once a message is sent out, it doesn’t stop there. There is the possibility that it will be spread virally by fans, and friends of fans, garnering it even more attention. In the email marketing world there is no one to push through content once it is in the inbox, but once an ad hits the newsfeed, the possibilities are endless.

There is No Barrier to Entry. Facebook content is well displayed within users’ newsfeeds. Fans are instantly exposed to a page post ad without having to click ‘open’ first. While many recipients may not even see an email, your Facebook fans have a much better chance of viewing the ad content, even if they don’t act.

While Facebook has some distinct advantages over email, it is not meant to replace the email channel; email still allows a marketer to communicate more detailed or complex brand messages. However, there is strong case for leveraging the two in tandem, as we’ve seen with the recent launch of Facebook’s Custom Audience Targeting—where advertisers can target tailored messages to specific segments of their database on Facebook. Results of our early tests of this targeting capability have shown exponentially higher click-through and engagement rates.

A marriage between Facebook and email is also the perfect way for marketers to learn about their existing target lists: where they need to make changes, who is most engaged, do targets and those engaging match-up, who they can reach via social that they haven’t been able to pin down via email? We’re sure these two channels will continue to progress together—melding traditional marketing techniques with timely social intelligence to perfect the art of digital marketing.

Laura O’Shaughnessy founded SocialCode to provide brands with the tools needed to build valuable communities. She works with clients on innovative ways to achieve their marketing goals using social media. Previous to SocialCode, she ran Business Development and Product Strategy for the Slate Group, focusing on advertising product development and strategic partnerships. 

Prior to joining The Washington Post Company, Laura worked for several DC-based consumer technology companies where her purview spanned from the business planning and partner development to the management and execution of large search engine and acquisition marketing campaigns. Laura holds an M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Facebook updates messages layout to look and function more like email

Facebook today announced a new design and features for its messages product on the web. The two-paned layout and addition of keyboard commands makes the update similar to some email clients.

When users access messages from, they will see one column with recent messages and another column with an individual conversation. This should allow for faster browsing, similar to how users navigate messages in the Facebook for iPad app. Users can also search by a sender’s name or keyword at any point. In the previous layout, users could only search for names and keywords from the main inbox. When they opened a message, they could then search within that conversation.

Facebook says there will be a number of keyboard commands to make it easier to navigate messages and take other actions. Users will continue to be able to add multiple files, photos and emoticons to their messages. The “Other” folder for messages from non-friends also remains. Facebook says new product is available to a small percentage of users today and will roll out to everyone over the next few weeks.

Ads and bookmarks are not visible in the image provided by Facebook below, but a spokesperson tells us that is because the image is just a mock-up.

Although the company introduced email addresses in 2010, Facebook messages weren’t the Gmail-killer some in the industry were expecting. Much of what Facebook launched that year was aimed at making Facebook messages feel less like email at all. It created a single inbox for email, messages, sms and chat interactions. Users’ entire conversation history is included with every message, and subject lines were removed.

Those features are still in tact with the redesign, but it is interesting to see the social network move to a more traditional email layout and introduce keyboard shortcuts, which email power users tend to favor.

Earlier this year, Facebook made a change to users’ settings that hid all third-party email addresses from Timeline, displaying addresses instead. Many saw this as a way to promote its own messaging product over other services like Gmail.


Facebook says bug caused wrong contact syncing on some users’ phones

A contact synchronization bug, combined with Facebook’s latest changes to users’ email visibility settings, led some mobile phones to update with users’ addresses rather than their primary email account, Facebook Director of Engineering Andrew Bosworth told The Verge.

The social network is working on a fix following a public debacle over a change to users’ settings that hid all email addresses from Timeline. This was the result of a new “visibility setting” introduced last month. The “visibility setting” is an additional option next to the existing “privacy setting.” Facebook representatives have been trying to distinguish the difference between these settings to the press for the past week, but the company continues to receive criticism for the change and the lack of communication about it to users.

When we learned about the confusing new setting last week, we wondered whether it was meant to promote the social network’s own messaging feature over third-party email services, or if it was a move to prevent users’ contact information from being misused. Facebook still hasn’t said why it made the change.

Nonetheless, the decision affected mobile contact syncing for some users because the API was pulling users’ most recently added account rather than their primary email address. This meant that some email addresses were replaced with addresses, and users were missing messages that were routed to their Facebook “other” folder rather than getting emails where they initially indicated they wanted them sent. Facebook says this will be resolved soon.

Readers might want to check their “other” folder by visiting Facebook on the web or their phone and going to “messages.” On the web, the “other” folder is accessible from the left-hand menu. On mobile devices, it is at the bottom of the screen. Users can change their settings to show or hide particular email addresses by visiting their Timeline, clicking “about,” going to the “contact” info section and clicking “edit.”

Facebook complicates privacy settings and hides users’ email addresses, favoring its own messaging platform

Facebook appears to have hidden users’ third-party email addresses from Timeline, but left users’ addresses visible. It has also added a confusing new setting to the email portion of a user’s contact info.

Although users can choose which of their email addresses are displayed on Timeline and change the privacy setting for each address, it is odd Facebook has hidden addresses that users had previously indicated they wanted to share with friends or the public. This seems like a deliberate move to promote its own messaging service over others, but instead of changing users’ privacy settings to do it, the social network simply added a second setting.

In addition to being able to manage the privacy setting of each email address they have connected to their accounts, users now have another setting to control whether to “show” or “hide” that account on Timeline. This makes it difficult for users to understand which addresses they are sharing. As seen in the example below, the privacy setting for the Yahoo account is “friends,” as it has been for years. The address is set to “only me,” as indicated by the lock icon. But when Facebook added the second setting to the right, it defaulted all accounts to “hidden from Timeline” and left accounts as “shown on Timeline.” The social network does honor the “only me” setting so the address is not visible to anyone it wasn’t intended for, but it makes the user experience quite unclear.

In April, Facebook made a vague announcement about “updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site.” It did not say that it would hide users’ addresses. It simply said, “Now, the address people use to get to your Timeline and send you email on Facebook will be the same.” However, users’ Facebook email addresses had always used the same address as their personalized URLs, so this did not seem to be news at the time.

Now Facebook is referencing this press release to suggest that it did, in fact, let users know that it would be making a change to how email addresses appear on Timeline. It provided us and other news outlets with the following statement:

“As we announced back in April, we’ve been updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site. In addition to everyone receiving an address, we’re also rolling out a new setting that gives people the choice to decide which addresses they want to show on their Timelines. Ever since the launch of Timeline, people have had the ability to control what posts they want to show or hide on their own Timelines, and today we’re extending that to other information they post, starting with the Facebook address.”

However, the ability to decide which email address to show or hide on a user’s profile predates Timeline. Users have been able to do this since as early as 2010. What’s new is the confusing second setting we discussed above. Further, we’ve heard from users that this setting has been live for them since last Monday, if not earlier.

Facebook is most often criticized for revealing too much of user’s information, not for hiding it. But when it comes to email, things get complicated for the social network. In 2010, Facebook and Google were involved in a public dispute over the issue of how email contacts should be used. Facebook would not allow users to export their friends’ email addresses, but it helped Gmail users manually download their Gmail contacts and then re-upload them to the social network. Facebook also allowed users to import their friends’ e-mail addresses when they were using Microsoft or Yahoo services.

We wonder whether Facebook’s latest change to hide email addresses is more than just a way to promote its own messaging feature over third-party email services, and if it could be related to preventing contact importing and exporting. A Facebook spokesperson could not comment on this issue.

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