Design Solutions © ExactTarget All rights reserved 01-03162011 .Meet the contributors Chip house Senior Director. Privacy and Deliverability 13 CONCLUsiON Jen ribble Marketing Communications Associate Jeff rohrs Principal. Marketing Research & Education Chris studabaKer. Industry & Relationship Marketing What's Inside? 3 A Brief iNTrODUCTiON OVerVieW fUNCTiONALiTY: HOW iT WOrks DeLiVerABiLiTY issUes 3 5 7 Kristina huffman Senior Design Consultant 10 emAiL DesiGN & reNDeriNG al iverson Director. Supervising Consultant.

November 15. As Facebook Messages continues to grow and evolve. OVerVieW The new Facebook Messages (FBM) platform has been promoted as a single inbox that consolidates private communications from a variety of channels—including email.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. Will Facebook Messages revolutionize email marketing? Or. does it have the potential to become an email killer? In this Snapshot.” — Mark Zuckerberg.exacttarget. we’ll assess Facebook Messages as it stands today* in terms of functionality. 2010 Keeping up k with Faceboo ld be changes cou b! a full-time jo * Note: This report was published in March 2011. Launched as an invitation-only add-on to Facebook accounts. Facebook positions the new platform as more casual and personal than email. marketers have questioned how this new platform could impact their ability to communicate with subscribers. In the early days of this new platform. We all know how quickly the world of interactive marketing can change—especially where Facebook is concerned. conversely. chats. We’ll also provide insight and advice to marketers regarding the current challenges presented by Facebook Messages. speculation was rampant that FBM could spell the end of email as we know it. as quoted in Business Insider. 3 . deliverability. with a format that more closely replicates real-life conversation. Facebook plans a gradual rollout to all users with the eventual goal of replacing the current “Messages” functionality. despite this quote from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a press conference announcing the FBM launch: “This is not an email-killer… This is a messaging system that includes email as one part of it.com. Material changes to Facebook Messages after that date will be covered in our blog: http://blog.com exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages A Brief iNTrODUCTiON Since the launch of Facebook Messages in November 2010. and design issues. and texts.ExactT arget. we’ll do our best to provide updated assessments and advice.

The difference between FBM and Gmail is that Gmail offered robust email functionality with never-before-seen features. 2010 While there’s no way to predict the growth potential of FBM. Gmail grew to be the third largest web-based email provider. (Reliable numbers for more recent dates are hard to come by. on the other hand. but there’s enough widely-available information to graph an approximate growth chart: GROWTH OF GMAIL OVER TIME Number of Unique Users (US) 40 M 35 M 30 M 25 M 20 M 15 M 10 M 5M 0 3/04 4/06 1/08 1/09 7/09 be Gmail grew to est the third larg ail web-based em provider in just five years! Like FBM. For example.” — Sheryl Sandberg. there are no official statistics tallying the number of users for web-based email providers. Gmail still lags these “old school” email providers by a wide margin.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www.com Some of the uproar may have been fueled by conflicting comments from other Facebook insiders. including this quote from COO Sheryl Sandberg: “If you want to know what people like us will do tomorrow. By comparison. Date 4 . In that five year period. Facebook. Yahoo! Mail had approximately 106 million unique users (US) in July 2009 and Hotmail had about 47 million. June 15. you look at what teenagers are doing today. the platform was opened to the public in February 2005 and finally ended its beta testing period in July 2009.ExactT arget. as quoted in FastCompany. Gmail was initially offered by invitation only. Email… is probably going away.com email address. it is helpful to consider the history of other online giants. stresses simplicity and contends that its messaging platform is not an email service—despite the use of a facebook.) So despite its rapid growth since 2004. Google was dominant in the world of search engines when it launched its Gmail platform in March 2004.

which can be used to send and receive messages. ou’ll Here’s where y s”.” the “other” folder. including bulk mail and anything from individuals from outside the user’s Facebook circle.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www.com address are routed to one of two places: • • the “messages” folder.. Although not technically a “junk” or “spam” folder. Messages sent to the facebook. “Other” you’ll only see the after clicking der. Facebook Messages appears to function exactly like any other web-based email platform. This is roughly equivalent to Gmail’s “Priority Inbox.com” email address. the user receives an “@facebook. it’s 5 . “Messages” fol hidden! Until then..com fUNCTiONALiTY: HOW iT WOrks At its most basic level. this is clearly a less desirable spot for messages to land due to its somewhat hidden location.ExactT arget. find “Message But and “Other”. After being granted access to FBM. which is reserved for messages from Facebook friends (and friends of friends). which is the repository for all other messages.

and chats all appear in one feed. consumers will also discover that some features they’ve come to expect are completely missing from FBM. If you have multiple unread messages from a given sender. • no way of knowing how many unread messages you have An unread message count appears next to the folder name (Messages or Other) when you have new messages. texts. the subject line appears in bold text as the first line of the email. but it disappears as soon as you open the folder—regardless of whether you actually open any messages. The user can also send messages via FBM to recipients on any platform—email. this could be kept for years and become a modern version of old letters saved in a box. When the user has several emails from the same sender (displayed in a single thread). claiming that this enhances the casual nature of the platform. THe CONs. ges You like messa ends from your fri rketing more than ma t? messages. there are some advantages to this unusual format. regardless of whether you read any of their messages. texts. and the user can respond via the channel of their choice. • no subject lines Facebook has eliminated email subject lines in FBM. From a consumer perspective. you’ll also see an unread message counter displayed next to the sender name—but this also disappears as soon as you open the thread from that sender. or for separating messages from the same sender. THe PrOs.com FBM consolidates all messages from the same user into a single thread. Unfortunately. especially considering there’s also… no way to file or organize messages FBM provides no functionality for organizing message threads into folders.ExactT arget. it’s impossible to separate messages from your spouse regarding weekend errands from those related to your summer vacation. Emails. For example.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. If they’re all from the same person. text. And the division of messages into the Messages and Other folders does promote Facebook’s stated objective of making this platform more personal—it’s reasonable to think that a consumer might value messages from Facebook friends over messages from acquaintances or brands. they’re all in the same thread. and chat—FBM creates a complete history of conversations with that individual. When a traditional email with a subject line is delivered via FBM. theoretically. righ • “ Some features consumers have come to expect are completely missing from Facebook Messages. right below the sender name. or chat. it can be extremely difficult to find a particular message. By bundling all messages from the same sender into one thread—including email. ” 6 .

” As mentioned previously. Messages fold ind if they can f n menu. It’s reasonable to think that in the future. and no analytics to help marketers determine where messages are being delivered. Everything else is lumped together in the Other folder—even messages from companies the user has “liked” on facebook.) So if you begin to notice facebook.com email addresses popping up on your subscriber list. romote” A user can “p the your brand to er.ExactT arget.. asking them to “promote” your brand to the Messages folder. Facebook currently offers no support for bulk senders. “MessAges” Vs. only messages from a user’s Facebook friends (or friends of friends) are delivered to the Messages folder.” but this functionality is not currently available. this drop-dow 7 . consider targeting these customers with periodic messages. So we’ve done our own testing and analysis to find out what happens to marketing emails in FBM. (Messages can be “demoted” to the Other folder in the same way.. When it comes to Facebook Messages.com DeLiVerABiLiTY issUes Consumer functionality is all well and good. It is possible to have your brand’s message delivered to the Messages folder—if the user “promotes” your brand using a command in the Actions menu. “OTHer. Facebook may give priority placement to brands that users have “liked. you need to know whether your brand’s messages are going to get through.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. the answer is… maybe. but as a marketer.

this makes it extremely difficult to give your brand any visibility.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www.com To add an additional layer of complexity to the “Messages vs. your brand only gets one spot in the messages or other folder—regardless of how many messages you send. ts one Your brand ge essages spot in the M er or Other fold that’s it! 8 . as they aren’t recognized as the same sender. This is yet another reason to follow best practices and send all your marketing messages from a single address. Messages sent by one person from different addresses aren’t grouped together.ExactT arget. So if you use multiple send addresses for your marketing emails. in an effort to simplify the user experience and create a platform that more closely mirrors real-life conversation. delivery to these two folders can be somewhat inconsistent. Other” issue. Facebook groups all messages from the same sender in a single thread. But from a marketer’s perspective. this system is extremely problematic. OrgANizATiON. Because all of your messages are grouped together. Combined with the lack of a true subject line. it’s possible that some of your messages might arrive in the Messages folder while others are relegated to the Other folder.

it’s far too early to sound the alarm on FBM. com email addresses for opt-in programs. and even fewer are likely using FBM as their primary or sole email address. As of right now. But it’s likely to grow as Facebook enables FBM functionality in more user accounts. One suggestion that could make sense in the long run. (Crocs and Digital Evolution Group do a great job with this on the Crocs Facebook page—see example at right. That’s nothing more than a rounding error. In surveying some of ExactTarget’s largest retail clients.com addresses. it seems like an overreaction given the minute number of current FBM users. Here’s a great example of a subscriber opt-in screen 9 . While that would certainly work. however. as a way to avoid FBM deliverability issues altogether. is to make it easy for subscribers to opt-in to your messaging through your facebook page.) Interaction through Facebook seems a likely path to having your messages delivered to the Messages folder in the future. for those keeping score at home. although this isn’t currently the case.001% of subscribers are currently using facebook.com One more organizational quirk of note: when a user clicks to view the message thread from a given sender. a very small number of people have facebook.ExactT arget.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. New messages are sent to the bottom of the list. OUr ADViCe… Despite significant barriers to deliverability.com addresses. messages are actually displayed with the oldest on top. we found that no more than . Some have suggested simply refusing to accept facebook.

their initial view of the message does not include images or links.ExactT arget.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. the user will see a scraped version of the HMTL code. If the message was sent with a text version. Facebook Messages has done some unexpected things in terms of email design and rendering.com eMAiL DesigN & reNDeriNg As part of its dedication to simplicity. 10 . FBM will initially display approximately the last 40 lines of the text-only message. Here’s what e subscribers se when they open your message. When a user clicks to open a message in FBM. If no text version was included.

exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. the user must click “View As A Web Page. the user must click “Expand” (in the upper right corner of the message). For consistently clickable links. In terms of links.” ” view The “expanded Links shows images.com To view the full email message. ve. which opens the full message in a new window.ExactT arget. while others had problems. we saw some messages functioning correctly in the expanded view. but should be acti sistent this was incon in our tests. Rendering in the expanded view was quite reliable in our tests—even for messages up to 900 pixels wide. 11 .

FBM is more of an email reader than an email client. While the system has the capacity to view HTML email. But this doesn’t have to be a problem. FBM’s current functionality still makes it somewhat more complicated than the average email client.com In summary. Engage them on their own turf. the interface clearly hasn’t been engineered with this style of interaction in mind. “ Facebook Messages is more of an email reader than an email client. plain text messaging. make sure you send messages in multi-part mime. and this becomes even more important in FBM. multi-part M 12 . so don’t waste time and resources optimizing your email program to work with FBM. there are some simple things you can do to improve the user experience for FBM subscribers. OUr ADViCe… FBM is designed to encourage simple.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. why not spend a few extra minutes creating a text version? ” always Our advice: essages in send your m IME. you should probably be communicating with them primarily through facebook status updates and wall posts—not FBM! Email is likely not the channel of choice for those consumers. In truth.ExactT arget. the user must click “View As A Web Page” While this is only three clicks from the Messages folder to the full HTML version. A multi-channel approach is essential to your interactive marketing program—but that doesn’t mean you send the same message across every channel. and capitalize on the unique strengths of Facebook to reach that segment of your audience. which may be at the bottom of the thread A plain text or HTML version of the message is displayed The user must click “Expand” to view a full version of the message with images To activate links consistently. ExactTarget has always recommended including a text version with your HTML messages. You wouldn’t compose a Tweet and then spend hours optimizing it for use on your Facebook wall… The same holds true for email and FBM. Consider this: If you have subscribers who are so firmly entrenched in Facebook that they’ve made FBM their primary email address. First and foremost. At a more tactical level. it’s a multi-step process to view a fully-functional email in FBM: • • • • • First the user must click on the message thread from a given sender Then they must locate the current message. You spend hours building an email.

you need to look at this from a cost-benefit perspective. its usefulness as an email platform is clearly limited.* But like everything else.” April 19. *Source: The Radicati Group. it seems likely that group texting functionality could soon be added to fbm. interpersonal communication.ExactT arget. November 16. announcement that Facebook has acquired Beluga. so keep your content under 40 lines (approximately 50 characters per line) to avoid scrolling. And finally. In this way.com email addresses. Inc. Consider the fact that a user must have an external email address in order to sign up for Facebook and it becomes clear that—at the present time—facebook does not anticipate fbm becoming the primary email platform for most users. 2010 Remember quires Facebook re il ema an external rder to address in o unt! get an acco 13 . Even if FBM’s adoption rate over its first three years were to double that of Gmail. “ Facebook has made it clear from the start that Facebook Messages is not intended to be a full-blown email client. Continue to monitor your subscriber list and be ready to adjust your strategy if facebook. ” CONCLUsiON While Facebook Messages may be an exciting new channel for casual. as quoted in the Daily Mail. You send an email. While it’s not yet clear what plans Facebook might have for this acquisition. release: “Email Statistics Report 2010-2014. because there’s no expectation of an instant reply.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. This position is clearly supported in this quote from Mark Zuckerberg at a November press conference announcing the FBM launch: “It’s true people are going to be able to have facebook. Subscribers will see only the bottom 40 lines of your message. the FBM audience is far too small to warrant significant re-work of your email communications. remember that at this point in time. email is far less intrusive than other channels—one of the key reasons it’s been such a successful platform for marketing messages. 2011. This focus on real-time seems to be solidified with the March 1.com addresses become a sizeable part of your subscriber base. 2010 Instead. but this is not email. Email is one way people are going to use this system. Facebook seems to be focused on the idea of real-time communication—a trait that frankly isn’t very important for email.8 billion email accounts projected by 2014.com Keep the limitations of FBM in mind as you build plain text messages. but we don’t even think it’s going to be the primary way. and the recipient may or may not open it right away—which is fine. In fact. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise—Facebook has made it clear from the start that it’s not intended to be a full-blown email client. one of the strengths of email is that it typically doesn’t require an immediate view and response. a standout in the quickly-developing field of group messaging. it would still have no more than about 30 million users—less than 1% of the 3.” —Mark Zuckerberg.

history shows that Facebook is constantly changing.S. complex messaging that consumers have come to rely upon. consumers will only tolerate so much change before becoming frustrated. Otherwise features like Messages. But as these younger users mature. at the moment. As we discussed in SUBSCRIBERS. personal messaging platform that includes email as one component. fo on Email for great in nd Twitter: Facebook. FBM remains largely unsuitable for dynamic. and then quickly fades away. not a marketing channel. FBM could draw a significant number of users away from Yahoo. 2 3 hese reports Check out t . FANS. Facebook needs to consider its users’ needs and provide easy-to-use interfaces and appropriate user support as it adds functionality. and other emails clients. fbm has a brief moment in the sun.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. fbm remains essentially as it is today and fulfills Mark Zuckerberg stated expectations—a casual. and may even be viable as a primary messaging resource for some—particularly the younger users who rely heavily on text messaging and social media to communicate.com/sff ww. If users can’t find their “voice” on FBM.exacttarg w With all of that said.com As we see it. We all compartmentalize our communications. there are three possible paths that FBM could follow. Gmail. unsuitable for the robust. Group Texting. In this scenario. Hotmail. out of the nearly ” 14 . Another important point to remember—consumers think of Facebook as primarily a personal channel. a et. and our communication style varies by channel. In this scenario. The messaging platform of today may bear little resemblance to what’s available six months down the road. it could end up being nothing more than a footnote in the history of the social media giant. Facebook could be forced to develop a fully functional email platform or risk continual loss of users as they “outgrow” FBM’s capabilities. 1 fbm develops additional functionality and becomes a more robust messaging platform.ExactT arget. And while there’s no denying Facebook’s growth and ability to innovate. their needs may also mature. and whatever comes next will have a hard time reaching their significant potential. “ Consumers think of Facebook as primarily a personal channel. (Remember Google Wave?) We suspect that. Facebook may be trying to be too many things to too many people—cramming email. & FOLLOWERS #8: The Social BreakUp. and chat into an interface that wasn’t built to support them. visually intensive messaging such as marketing emails—and remains a secondary messaging resource for most consumers. texts. not a marketing channel. online consumers have “liked” at least one company on Facebook. only 43% of U.

online consumers who’ve created a Facebook profile. and respond as needed—without overreacting. be aware of new developments. FBM is just one small cog in the giant interactive machine. stay vigilant.com/sff. and Twitter? Download the entire SUBSCRIBERS.exacttarget snapshot: Facebook Messages www. We’ve got yo Want more information about how consumers interact with brands through Email. & FOLLOWERS research series at www. For now. We’ll do the same.exacttarget. FANS. Facebook.com three-quarters of U. Our overarching advice is to deal with the here and now. This ambivalence toward marketing is likely to apply to FBM as well. We’re keeping a watchful eye on FBM. 15 . and don’t spend too much time worrying about the future impact of FBM. Instead. and you should treat it as one small part of your overall interactive marketing strategy.ExactT arget. as we anticipate consumers will view FBM as an extension of Facebook rather than just another email address—regardless of any functionality that might be added to FBM in the future. ! Don’t panic ur back.S. and we’ll provide updated guidance as new developments emerge.

With CoTweet available in the Interactive Marketing Hub—and integrated seamlessly with Facebook— you can monitor and track conversations about your brand in one combined stream. Visit www. Mobile. integrating your email and social strategy has never been easier.Consumers don’t isolate channels. Why should you? ExactTarget’s Interactive Marketing Hub™ is the only tool that gives you a single view of real-time conversations across Email. © 2010 ExactTarget.exacttarget. From scheduling Facebook and Twitter updates to making assignments for real-time responses. and Sites. . Social.com/hub to learn more and register for a LiVe DemO! This document may not be copied without the prior written consent of ExactTarget.

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