The following is a guest post by Scott Krauss, Director at LiveIntent.
Don’t call it a comeback, but email is sexy once again. We went through some tough times as marketers sought to find the next big thing, flocking to social networks. It was all about Social, Social, Social! And poor old email felt a little left out. For all its promise, however, Social has never come close to delivering the ROI of email. Email’s not only the most widely used application across any device (the average joe spends 11.2 hours/week reading emails); it’s also the single most preferred channel of communication – a major double whammy. And nothing touches email on ROI (70% of email marketing companies rate email as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ for return on investment)- so let’s call that a triple whammy.
Throughout the ups and downs, email continued to do its thing, making brands a ton of cash, while Facebook struggled to figure out how, in a post-IPO world, it was going to create new ad products that got marketers excited. Then, a funny thing happened….
Facebook, once heralded as THE email killer, not only didn’t kill email, it actually made email the crown jewel of its advertising services. Just two years ago, every pundit declared over and over that email was dead and Facebook was the way of the marketing future. Well, that never quite came to be. Some brands actually soured big time on Facebook (GM, anyone?) while email volumes continued to increase. Now we have Facebook actually creating a sort of email renaissance. Just like Justin Timberlake, Facebook brought sexy back…to email.
It’s pretty simple actually. Facebook recognized that brands have rich 1st party CRM data sitting inside their databases. With email, they can unlock those data sets and allow marketers to use them for targeting. As it turns out, the large majority of Facebook users log in to Facebook with the same email address they use to subscribe to brand emails. It’s a match made in heaven.
Since the introduction of Facebook’s Custom Audiences product, Zuckerberg’s crew have continued to innovate ad solutions that leverage email for targeting. Most recently, for instance, Facebook bundled Custom Audiences with 3rd Party offline data. Working with partners like Acxiom, Epsilon and Datalogix, marketers now have the ability to target their own customers using 3rd party data to get additional insight into their customers’ purchase interests and the feedback has been outstanding. It’s email innovation at its finest, brought to you courtesy of Facebook!
If you’re thinking, ‘Wow, 3rd party data overlays are pretty darn cool,’ one, you’re right, and two, let’s talk a little about how exactly Facebook was able to accomplish this. How do you marry offline data to an online profile? Email, of course. And guess what? This isn’t cookie data, this is matching hashed emails to bring data sets together which is, by its very nature, extremely accurate. So email turns out to be even more important than we thought and we thought it was pretty important in the first place.
We’re doing the exact same thing at LiveIntent. Not only do we allow the same functionality that lets brands and marketers upload their 1st Party CRM (and 3rd Party) data; we use IAB standard display units that serve across our entire network of 350+ publishers. In other words, you can target your audience in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Conde Nast, etc, etc. And, if you’re a publisher, you can sell this solution to your advertisers. The premise is the same as Facebook’s: marketers want to target their best customers…which are also their subscribers!
By the way – Rapleaf is a crucial partner that helps drive what we do.
A tale as old as time: Facebook and email, once mortal enemies, now star crossed lovers…