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Facebook may be about to upend the rules of email marketing

Earlier this month, social media expert Meg Coffey spotted a heretofore undisclosed feature on Facebook: “Send Marketing Emails From Your Page”. 

Realizing the company was quietly testing a potentially revolutionary tool—allowing Facebook business pages to send marketing emails—she quickly shared some screenshots on Twitter.

Since then, Facebook has confirmed that it’s testing these new email marketing tools with a limited number of small and midsized businesses.

We’re testing new email marketing tools with a small number of businesses to help them more efficiently notify their customers of changes to their services and operations. We’re evaluating whether these tools are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it further.

Facebook spokesperson

Businesses in this test group can access the new email marketing tools through a Marketing Emails tab in their page’s inbox.

According to David Cohen, editor of Adweek’s Social Pro Daily, “the new tools, should they be released, will enable SMBs to create email contact lists individually or by uploading contact lists from spreadsheets, after which they can compose emails via easy-to-use tools and send those emails directly via the Facebook platform, with the ability to track their performance.”

Meg Coffey reports that there’s “New contact management as well. You can upload a contact list and new layout for how they are managed.”

“It essentially seeks to replicate CRM systems, with all of your marketing messages – including Facebook and Instagram ads AND promotional emails – coming from your Facebook business hub,” says Andrew Hutchinson, Content and Social Media Manager at Social Media Today.

“It seems more aimed at businesses that are not as familiar with email marketing, providing another way to help them connect with their audiences with simple, CRM-style tools,” he adds. 

“And it may also help them target their Facebook ads from there – once you have an active listing of email contacts, you can then also use that to build Custom Audiences, and use Facebook’s data matching tools to reach people with similar traits and interests.”

Email newsletters are tried and tested marketing tools, but they are far from perfect. 

Deliverability is low, a lot end up outside Gmail’s Primary tab never to be seen again, and many are lost in the spam abyss, based on the black box algorithm of the individual email clients, or the online “reputation” of the email sending service. 

After all of that, open rates are abysmal, around 20%, and click through rates (CTRs) hover around the lower single digits.

So even when a publisher has a sizable database of people who have opted in to receive email communications, it’s difficult to connect, thanks to the barriers above.

It’s only when an email crosses all these hurdles does it become a force to be reckoned with, with conversion rates 40x higher than Twitter or Facebook.

Facebook can upend this entire scenario. 

Marketers have already observed significantly higher open rates and clicks—up to 88% open rates and 56% CTRs—using Facebook Messenger. 

Now when Facebook itself gets into the email game—and they have the data to match most emails with their Facebook profiles—it’s easier for the company to boost open rates and CTRs using notifications, reminder mails, and other tools in their marketing arsenal.

“It’s easy to imagine how Facebook could quickly dominate the email marketing market by adding its massive collection of personal data points to improve email performance and targeting,” notes WeRSM’s Geoff Desreumaux. 

“Facebook could, for example, suggest the best times to send your emails based on the current location of recipients, just by matching emails to existing Facebook accounts.”

Menlo Park may just be about to revolutionize the rules of email marketing. 

As for publishers, the time is ripe to gain a first-mover advantage, to improve their reach and audience engagement, and as Facebook says, “reconnect with your email subscribers.” 

The often stagnant business pages may get a fresh lease of life after all, thanks to good old email, and its marriage with Facebook.

Screenshots courtesy Meg Coffey