Share Widget

Friday, April 26, 2013

To Facebook Thanks For Everything, Email

Don't call it a come back - but email is sexy once again. We went through some tough times over the past few years as marketers sought to find the next big thing. Flocking to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace and on and on and on...Poor old email was feeling a little left out in the cold, still the most powerful tool in any marketers tool kit - it was getting NO love. It was all about Social, Social, Social! For all the promise however, Social has never even come close to delivering the ROI of email. It is not only the most widely used application across any device and it's also the single most preferred channel of communication - a major double whammy. Oh and yeah that pesky ROI thing, nothing touches email - so make that a Trifecta.

So all this time, email continued to do its thing...makes brands a ton of cash. While Facebook was struggling to figure out how in a post IPO world it was going to create new ad products that got marketers excited about using its services. Then a funny thing happened....

Facebook, once heralded as THE email killer...not only didn't kill email, actually went 180 degrees in the opposite direction and made email the crown jewel of its advertising services. WOW! Who would have thought that was possible? Just two years ago, every pundit declared over and over that email is dead, Facebook is how brands & people communicate. Well that never quite became reality, some brands actually soured big time on Facebook (GM anyone?) while email volumes continued YOY increases. And here we have Facebook actually creating a sort of email friends, dare I they are bringing sexy back to email?


It's pretty simple actually...Facebook recognized that brands have rich 1st party CRM data sitting inside of their databases. How could they unlock those data sets and allow marketers to use this data on their platform for targeting? The answer is simple - email! Email address is the unique identifier of the web and as it turns out the large majority of Facebook users, use the same email address to sign into Facebook as they do to subscribe to emails from brands. Creating a match made in heaven.

Since the introduction of Facebook's Custom Audiences product, the folks over at Facebook have continued to innovate ad solutions which leverage email for targeting. Look-a-like audiences was introduced and most recently Facebook's most aggressive foray in email targeting - Custom Audiences bundled 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 give them additional insight into what their customers might be interested in purchasing. The feedback thus far has been outstanding. Email innovation at its finest, brought to you courtesy of Facebook!

If you'e thinking wow 3rd party data overlays are pretty darn cool - 1. you'd be right and 2. let's talk a little about how exactly Facebook was able to accomplish this. Oh that's address. Given its status the unique identifier of the web. So how do you marry offline data to an online profile? Well email of course...And guess what? This isn't cookie data, this is matching hashed emails to bring these data sets together. So by its very nature, extremely accurate when a match is made. So....uhhh....yeah, this email thing turns out to actually be MORE important than we originally thought, which is kind of a big deal considering how important it already is. And then there's this small issue of 3rd party cookies and the rise of mobile traffic, making ad targeting even harder, unless you're using email as your targeting key that is!

Here's where I get to plug my own company since, this is after all my blog. We're doing the exact same thing here at LiveIntent. Not only do we allow the same functionality that allows brands & marketers to upload their 1st Party CRM (also 3rd Party) data but we can use IAB standard display units that will serve across our entire network of 350+ publishers. Meaning you can target your audience in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Meredith, Hearst, Conde Nast and so on....some pretty cool and powerful stuff. And if you're a publisher you can now sell this solution to your advertisers if you are working with us. We call it CRX - Customer Relationship Extension and the premise is the same as Facebook's...marketers want to target their best customers...which are their subscribers of course! Since you'll never get 100% open rates, make sure you are getting in front of your non-openers as well.

Facebook and email, once mortal enemies but now star crossed lovers....This is a storyline worthy of Shakespeare himself!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Own, Don't Rent Your Audience

Do you own or rent your audience? What do I mean own vs. rent? you own a 1:1 relationship with your subscribers or are you dependent on a 3rd party distribution channel to reach your audience?

The reason I ask is because over the last few weeks I've come across a large number of online publishers who have chosen to simply ignore email. Choosing to instead promote social channels as a way to connect with their audience...some not even including the option to subscribe via email. These aren't some mom & pop sites with a 1MM page views either. These are large, well funded digital media companies with tons of site traffic. To be honest, I'm baffled as to why...just can't wrap my head around it. Over the past two years I've seen companies that have built their entire audience strategies on 3rd parties, severely impacted when their distribution "partner" decides to make a change. We've seen this with Facebook and the absolute collapse of social readers. As well as with Google and its series of algorithm updates, which have caused sites to lose as much as 40% of their traffic, almost overnight. I

If you don't own your own distribution, the question is...why not? It's never been easier & cheaper to setup an effective email marketing program. It's crazy to me that publishers out there completely ignore email to focus on channels where the rules can be changed at any time. It's not as if email is only used within certain audience's the preferred communication channel with every single age group!

Go ask any retailer what their most valuable asset is and the answer will be 100 times out of 100, their email database. Why should this be any different for publishers? It's gotten to the point where Publishers are putting Facebook & Twitter stats on their media kit. Really...come on! As someone who was on the media buying side, I can tell you that Facebook & Twitter stats mean next to nothing. Great, so you've got 1MM Facebook likes, how many can you actually reach? 100K, maybe??? I've been let down more times that I can count hoping social promotions would help me hit my goals...never did. Guess what always delivered? Email....always.

So why this lack of attention to the most powerful tool in your media kit? I can venture a few guesses. Most view email as nothing but cost center. It costs to send and it's difficult to sell and monetize. If that's been your take...I've got some GREAT news for you!

LiveIntent has completely changed this entire dynamic. Publishers can now sell email inventory the EXACT same way they sell display, with the same features and functionality they are used to in web display. Which means you can bundle email inventory together with display to immediately increase your sell through rates. Additionally anything that you don't sell, can be monetized via the LiveIntent exchange (LFX). So now publishers with high traffic websites can begin to make email collection a priority as they can finally monetize it like they do the web.

Pretty great huh? That's not even the best part. Your email database will be your single MOST valuable asset. Not web traffic, not Facebook Likes or Twitter Followers. At LiveIntent we've seen this first give you a point of reference: across the entire LiveIntent Exchange (700MM Impressions/Month), email display inventory has a CTR of nearly .3%. That's not a decimal point error either...Click through rates are 5-10x higher than web display. So it should be valued 5-10x higher....making it easily your most valuable source of inventory.

So the time is now to start aggressively building your email file. Not only can you monetize it directly you're also going to get the ancillary benefit of clicks & page views to your site. Perhaps the greatest benefit however is ownership of a 1:1 relationship with your audience. That alone is worth the cost.

And there's much much more! However I'll have to save that for my next post.