Facebook Audiences: Email Audiences

Collecting emails and email marketing once upon a time was the gold standard of digital marketing. Now the game has changed. 

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People built their careers around it and the success of businesses depend upon it. Ironically or logically depending on how you look at it, the success of email marketing (and it was very, very successful) has also led to its reduced usefulness. As more businesses discovered its power to generate revenue more businesses started doing it. As more businesses started doing it more people started ignoring their emails and many businesses saw a diminishing return to their email marketing efforts.

Gmail & the decline of open rates

Let’s face it we are deluged with emails from work to friends to family and most of all from promotions. Bad practice and spam became a real issue and email providers, notably Google’s Gmail, responded.

If your email database is anything like ours, or those of our clients then you will probably know that almost half of your users most likely use Gmail or your in-country equivalent. Why? Because as a user, Gmail is freaking awesome! It filters spam like no other and almost all commercial messaging goes straight to the ‘promotions’ tab.

Source: Joanvinallcox
Source: Joanvinallcox

As a business owner, Gmail is terrifying. If you use any commercial email client ie Mailchimp, Active Campaign, Constant Contact etc your email will go to the promotions by default. How often do you click on emails in your promotions tab? I personally click on the tab so the green ‘update’ notification isn’t there and then click back into my primary tab.

Due to this reason, many people on your email database will never even see your email. Yep, the one that you spent hours agonising over and crafting. The subject line that you A/B tested and the images that you personally created – it’ll all be ignored. Worse, when your emails are ignored enough by a user, Gmail’s algorithm feels (can an algorithm feel?) that your email must be spam – its client, your database subscriber, isn’t clicking on it – and you’re relegated to the spam folder. How often do you click into your spam folder…?

Average open rates

The categorisation of emails in this way has, in general, for large-ish databases, seen email open rates plummet. Most businesses are lucky to have open rates of +30% and click through rates of 1.5%. To visualise this, picture the following scenario:

– an email list of 10,000 people
– if you’re very lucky 3,000 people open it (30% open rate)
– of those 3,000 people 150 will click a link (1.5% click through) 

I always have a chuckle when people try to partner with The Plus Ones on the media side of the company and refuse to divulge their average open and click through rates. Needless to say, we don’t partner with them.

Are Emails dead?

So this raises the question are emails dead? No. In fact, they’re more important than ever – however the way to cut through and reach people has changed. FACEBOOK.

Facebook enables you to upload lists of people that have opted in to your email list and PRO-ACTIVELY reach them on the Facebook platform. The word pro-active is key here. 100% of people will see your message – IF you spend enough to see them.


Facebook matches the email that a person provided for your database with the email they used to sign up with to Facebook. If it matches, you can target those audiences in the Facebook system. Typically you can expect a match rate of +60%. It’s important to note that you can’t target an individual person due to a raft of privacy regulations and you usually need an audience size of ~1,000 people (although this can vary depending on how Facebook feels at the time). Emails are hashed when they are uploaded and cannot be exported out of the system which keeps everything nice and secure.

Lead Ads

Facebook has now made it much easier for people to provide you with their email. It’s an option called ‘Lead Ads’. These are one-click forms with people’s details pre-filled. This is important given most people use Facebook on mobile and don’t want to fiddle with tiny opt-in forms.

In Australia, we have the highest rate of Facebook mobile usage in the world. Furthermore one in every three minutes that people spend on mobile apps is on Facebook. Have you ever tried to fill in your details on an online form? It’s a pain. The pre-filling of details saves time. Better yet, people don’t have to leave their Facebook app to provide you the details. I don’t know about other countries, but in Aus – using the internet on your mobile is akin to going back to dial up. One click – it removes a large barrier to entry when asking for someone’s data.  

Emails are stored safely in the leads ad section of your connected Facebook page. Only page admins can export the data (never give external parties admin access to your page – editor access is just fine). You can also connect Zapier to transfer emails to your lists and automated email marketing program…

Lead Ads - facebook

Don’t forget your email marketing program – just because you target people that subscribed to on Facebook don’t forget that you should still be running an email marketing program. It’s free, you don’t have to keep paying Facebook to reach your audience. We pay Facebook when we want to pro-actively reach people that aren’t opening your emails ie the 70% of people that never see your email.

Targeting for lead ads

We use a host of creative options when targeting for lead ads. One neat strategy is to target people that visit your website and exclude your existing email list. It’s the ‘Uber’ approach in that you’re angling for growth.

Emails are yours, you own the data

We like emails because you own the data. While we can’t envisage a world without Facebook, tech companies come and go with the wind. Remember Myspace? Or that IBM was the dominant tech company through the 80s, then Microsoft in the 90s, then Google through the 00s, then Apple (albeit more of a hardware company). Now a mix of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple dominate our digital lives. Who is to say where Facebook will be in 10 years, 20 years.

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It is very important that you own your data and emails are the failsafe way to do this. Better yet, people rarely change email addresses and if they do they forward their old one to their new one. Emails are and will remain important for as far as we can see.

Emails aren’t dead but the way you ‘activate’  and engage your followers has changed.

– Rukmal
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Rukmal lives and breathes digital marketing. 

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