How Facebook Custom Audiences brings new life to email

By Barry Eitel

Even though email is currently the most effective digital marketing strategy available, mounting obstacles threaten to change the ecosystem. Even if you are sending out legit email promotions that consumers must opt-in for, these messages can easily be stuck in a dungeon like Gmail’s Promotions folder. Worse, your users can simply add you to a pile of unsubscriptions with programs like Unroll.Me.

Essentially, email marketing is becoming far more complicated, and users have more control than ever. Fortunately, giant social networks like Facebook have developed systems that leverage your email lists for more clicks and engagement. With Facebook Custom Audiences, you upload a list of email addresses and then target ads to the owners of these addresses on Facebook – you build on a relationship that is already formed.  

Since many services today require a verified email address, an email has essentially become a digital passport, according to Parry Malm, an email marketing blogger for Econsultancy.

“Without your email address, you can’t board FacebookAir or get into TwitterLand. And don’t even think about going anywhere near LinkedInVille,” Malm contends. “Without your email address, you effectively don’t exist online.”

The utility of programs like Facebook Custom Audiences or similar systems like Twitter Tailored Audiences and LiveIntent, which offers ad targeting in email newsletters, is that it uses email addresses to target consumers outside of their inbox.

“You have, for example, a list of disengaged email users who don’t read your emails,” Malm writes. “You can now connect with them on three disparate, third-party channels by using their digital passports as a targeting mechanism. Another quick example: Say you’ve got 1,000 people who purchased from you last week. You can re-target them with upsales and cross sales messages.”

At the Email Evolution Conference late next month in New Orleans, experts will discuss how these Custom Audiences are merging email and social marketing. At the “Can Facebook Custom Audiences Replace Email Marketing?” session, part of the Social, Content & Data track, Austin Bliss, the president of email list curation company FreshAddress, will spill his secrets. Specifically, the session will reveal how marketing firm Nautilus leveraged the power of Facebook Custom Audiences to connect with prospects they’d normally be emailing.

Attendees will hear about the process, including options and limitations, and the outcomes of the experiment. Both email append and email change of address databases leveraging will be discussed in terms of refining the Facebook custom audience, not for sending email.

Case studies abound regarding how Facebook Custom Audiences can add value to email lists that were thought to be worthless. Ray Mendis, the head of acquisition at marketing firm Elevate, used the service to squeeze life out of 2 million outdated email addresses collected by a gaming company. Mendis liked Facebook’s service over email because it meant he didn’t have to deal with high bounce rates or spam complaints that can ruin a brand’s reputation.

“The good thing was that Custom Audiences broke even within two months and the campaign was soon seen to be profitable,” he writes. “In a similar manner the email campaign would have been successful too, but the risks involved would have over-exceeded the benefits.”

While digging through his figures, Mendis believes that Custom Audiences could generate roughly $100,000 in gross profit annually, while email campaigns would top out at $15,000.

“With Custom Audiences, I was able to make an outdated email list profitable, avoid any risks by sending bulk emails and just invest as little as $1,000 for the test,” he notes. “Further, I was also able to advise the company on how to validate email addresses at first login, thereby creating a more accurate contact list.”

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Email Evolution Conference, March 30 – Apr. 1, 2016, in New Orleans.