The email marketing sector offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to platforms, choices, and options. Factoring your needs and expectations, you can always find at least three providers that will address them. Nonetheless, as crowded as the offering may seem, there are constantly new players on the scene, while titans such as MailChimp, HubSpot or Customer.io are expanding their services to integrate better with other tools email marketers are using. But the confirmation that Facebook is testing out new email marketing features for page owners is one that has the potential to disrupt the market. Let’s discuss why you should care about this announcement and what it means for your business.
Facebook email marketing tools
Before moving forward, it’s important to mention that, according to Facebook, they are only testing the features, with no immediate plan to release them to all users. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said:
“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.”
The screenshots included in this article have been shared by Coffey & Tea managing director Meg Coffey, posting them on her Twitter account. If you want to see all the screenshots shared by Meg Coffey, head over to this Twitter thread.
Opening up new opportunities
Let’s face it: for many businesses, Facebook is the main digital marketing platform. Facebook is already great at finding customers and converting them, especially through their advertising tools. The social media giant knows a lot about how businesses that own and manage a Facebook page interact with users, prospects, and customers. They have insight into what products you sell and which are your best-performing ones. With the help of their Pixel tracking code, they also see how visitors engage with your website. But the most important question that arises is whether or not all of that data is actually valuable for email marketing efforts. Facebook seems to think it is, otherwise, they would not have a strong enough value proposition for the new email marketing tools.
Let’s try to envision some scenarios where the data Facebook collects about businesses and users would prove useful for sending out email communication:
- Better email A/B testing
There is an entire science behind deploying A/B testing campaigns for email marketing. With the additional input regarding user activity on Facebook, Instagram, and your website, the new Facebook email marketing tools could offer better segmentation for each variation.
- Integrated dashboard
Considering all marketing activities that are already taking place on Facebook, having the option to send out newsletters to subscribers or contacts is something that can lead to having more information in a single dashboard. That dashboard would allow page admins to see social engagement, advertising performance as well as email marketing metrics in a unified report. Having an integrated dashboard could mean that businesses have a greater degree of transparency without leaving the Facebook Business Manager.
- Better integration and automation
One thing that we would love to see in the new Facebook email marketing tools is the option to create actionable workflows based on social engagement. MailChimp already integrates with Facebook to allow users to import email lists for advertising campaigns, something we have described in one of our articles. Nonetheless, being able to directly point to valuable engagement and then schedule emails would be a powerful integration. If a platform can do it, Facebook is most likely that platform.
Best for social marketers
As the online marketing field is getting more complex by the day, one thing that remains constant is the need for specialists to cover more and more ground. That means familiarizing themselves with best practices, trends, their industry, as well as new tools and platforms that can help better achieve goals and objectives. If that sounds complicated, the existence of email marketing tools inside of the Facebook Business Manager can come as good news. In theory, at least, it should reduce the complexity of day-to-day tasks, while also providing an easier way of getting things done.
Sure, email marketing tools offer a lot of features that Facebook might not place so much emphasis on. But the mere existence of options for sending out emails could prove enough for some businesses. Especially for small companies, basic email marketing features are all it takes to efficiently communicate with clients and prospects. That’s why we believe that email offering tested by Facebook right now can be directed to entrepreneurs with small shops, such as photographers, jewelers, artisanal bakers, and so on. For many small business owners, email can be something that they disregard completely but allow them to easily create and send out newsletters and they will jump on that opportunity head first.
Facebook is unlikely to replace modern email service providers. The truth is they don’t even need to attempt to do that. If they are able to provide a simple service with an interface that most users are already accustomed to, they till take a considerable slide of the email marketing pie.
Not an all-in-one platform
Expanding on the point above, there are some things we need to underline. In the same way that other Facebook attempts at cloning different competitors didn’t lead to complete domination in that field, Facebook will not replace your email service provider. Based on the screenshots of its tool, they seem to focus on simplicity. And that’s just not good enough for a lot of companies that rely on heavily customizable email marketing platforms to reach their subscribers.
Facebook is unlikely to offer a lot of the automatization that is already common with tools such as MailChimp or HubSpot. They are also unlikely to include features needed by eCommerce businesses to trigger automated emails. Facebook will not be the ultimate email marketing solution. It will not be for everyone, as well. If it manages to offer a good experience to solopreneurs, it will expose a lot of business owners and junior digital marketers to the basics of email marketing. It will probably replace communicating from your inbox on a one-to-one basis with a more structured and coherent approach.
The Facebook ecosystem
Why would Facebook want to enter such a crowded market? Why are they developing email marketing features instead of focusing on what brings them a large portion of their revenue? While we don’t know the exact answer, we think we have a pretty good idea. Remember the recent advertising boycott that had Facebook’s policies regarding hate and fake news at its core? The decision of over 1,000 companies to suspend their advertising on Facebook-owned platforms exposed a vulnerability the company has in its relationship with big brands.
Considering how reluctant the company is towards making any substantial change to its policies, what better solution to address potential revenue decreases than to lock small business owners into their ecosystem? That way, even if the public perception regarding its practices continues to suffer, most users who already rely on Facebook for social media, advertising, and now email marketing will have no choice but to continue using the platform.
Building useful online services and then locking users into that ecosystem is something the social media giant has learned from successful companies, such as Amazon, Apple, and Google. The only thing they have to do now is to implement the same recipe. When users have to migrate all of their data to a new platform, they are less likely to delete their accounts. With increased calls from tech insiders to take the threat of social media seriously, building an ecosystem that offers value to users might be a great approach for escaping accountability and for satisfying investors.
Just consider the new Netflix documentary, the social dilemma, that examines the way the Facebook and Google algorithms work to suffocate users’ attention to understand the mounting criticism directed at big tech. Facebook is better off focusing on creating additional services that its core user group will find useful to be able to maintain its status quo. Do not be surprised if email marketing is only the first such attempt.