To Spam or Not to Spam, that is the Question

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I just had an amusing exchange with Jordie van Rijn with two profound email statements which ended a little Shakespearian inspiring this:

To Spam or Not to Spam, that is the Question
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The complaints and blocks of outrageous spamming,
Or to take arms against a sea of non-permission,
And by opposing end them? To segment: to target

Too long for a tweet, so it ended up here. Feel free to add more of the script tweaked to email in the comments.

This is how we got there:
@jvanrijn “Social media doesn’t work! People work. They work the channel, making social media success or failure.”
@getintheinbox: “Deliverability to decided on by your recipient’s reactions to your sending practices”.
@getintheinbox: “maybe with the 2nd word as ‘is’ and not ‘to’ oops :-)”
@jvanrijn: “To is or not to is that is the question!”

For another great email twist on classic writing see “The Email Geeks poetry slam The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe from The Email Guide.

Edit Feb 14th 2011:

Mark Brownlow of has just published Romeo’s Inbox on his awesome Famous Inboxes site.

What if Facebook did let Brands do bulk email marketing to their Fans

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This bit is what I’m sure a lot of marketers have been wanting clarification on.

With the introduction of Facebook Messaging giving users an Inbox inside their own account, brands who put a lot of work into their Facebook Fan pages might have been thinking that they could now do email marketing to their fans inside Facebook.

Alas no. Facebook have confirmed via ClickZ that metrics and bulk messaging is not a feature. They did say that metrics is not available to marketers ‘at this time’ so maybe it will be in the future.

As an Email Marketer, I was hoping for something a bit more to allow brands to send the same message to each fan.

As an ESP I’m glad you can’t because I want people to use my software to send the emails.

As a Facebook user I’m also glad you can’t because no matter how much I love email marketing, there are still too many spammers and too many brands out there that are not inclined to do it right and I know if Facebook opens that door, everyone will get hammered with email and go back to MySpace or something :-)

If Facebook did consider it what would they have to do in order to avoid recipient rebellion?

Well, seeing as you ask:

This would fit into more of a publishing model with an awesome preference centre.

A brand would be able to write a message, personalise it and hit go to email all of their fans. This first email will have to be an opt-in for people to actively ask for them and then the would be preference options in everyone’s account.

Each recipient would then be able to manage their preferences per brand, ie: frequency, optin/out.

Facebook could then charge the brand per fan & anyone who stops being a fan is opted-out automatically.

The metrics Facebook could have would be awesome: they could even know when a person is most likely to login and charge more for an intelligent time send.

Then with integration, if someone had linked their Facebook account to a web-shop for instance, the dynamic content could be pretty good too. There could be a lot of money to be made.

But I expect it will rob Facebook of any integrity it has and they would become such a commercial marketing portal people will quickly move on.

So in conclusion, I’m glad they won’t be doing it… interesting thought though

Amplify’d from

FB: Inbox analytics are not available to marketers at this time. Messages are private and Business Page owners can send messages to their Page fans, but only to one person at a time as before, and it will go to ‘other messages.’ But the recipient can move this message thread from ‘other messages’ to main part of Facebook Messages. People can also block senders if they don’t want to receive these.


What the Facebook Messaging Social Inbox means for Email Marketing

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Before the announcement, Email Marketing as we knew it was going to end and we were going to be pawns in the battle for the internet between Facebook and Google.

Last night Facebook announced all and we found out that Facebook Messaging is not all about email, it is about messaging and communication between friends on the internet in more than one medium but from one spot, ie: Facebook…read more.

Now we know it’s not a directly competitive inbox, but it is still an inbox and people will be able to read emails in it.

So we know it will have some affect but what kind of affect could it have on Email Marketing?the messages you want

I can see three core variables:

  • The Social Inbox will apparently be able to plug into and import email from your existing POP email accounts.
  • The Social Inbox does not have any complex organisation tools like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail has.
  • The Social Inbox makes it easy to separate personal from commercial email and prioritises personal by automatically prioritising messages from your friends who you are also friends with on Facebook and will allow you add your own friends very easily.

So, a user in the Social Inbox will be able to see all of their normal emails, but it will not be organised or organisable apart from their friends.

For an email marketer this could be good because if you time it right, you’ll pop right in the top rather than risk a filter and go off into a folder for later – like Amazon emails in my Gmail.

However, there is also the chance that all commercial email will be ignored from by the user in the Social Inbox who will live in the ‘Friends Inbox’.

For commercial marketing emails, this is not a good thing because it makes ease of access to their content even worse. Not unlike Gmail’s Priority Inbox but focussed on Facebook Friends – an even smaller group!

On a positive note, it might be hard to read all of the commercial email from the perceived Social Inbox, but people actually want that email, that’s why it gets into the inbox in the first place. People can then assign a priority to it and often even set-up a filter to file it for them.

I for instance, I put Amazon emails into one folder; I put twitter, facebook, youtube and linkedin email into another folder and go through them all in one go once a day – except the DMs, they go straight to the inbox because they are generally urgent apart from those salesy twitter auto follow DMs.

Subsequently the fact that the Social Inbox does not organise your email thus making it harder to read, will be the same thing that keeps people engaged to their existing email accounts, thus changing Email Marketing very little!

I cannot believe that people will be tempted to use their address for their on-line shopping accounts and out side of digital marketing agencies, I cannot perceive why any business would use an account for their business emails. So existing email addresses will still stay.

So it should not really make a big difference, it just means that peoples Facebook experience will be enhanced.

There was a rumour that Facebook email will also be POP ready, so your Webmail and Outlook email clients could let you read your email from there but along wit the rest of the ideas and thoughts, we will have to wait and see.

What Facebook Messaging is

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As you may have heard Facebook was rumoured to be releasing it’s own Email client with email addresses that would directly compete with Gmail, change email marketing forever and destroy deliverability as we know it.

Well, yesterday Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took the stage and presented ‘Facebook Messaging’ – codenamed ‘Project Titan’. The basis of this is to deliver the next generation of messaging via Facebook.

Facebook Messaging is based around 3 main concepts.

1.Seamless Messaging, 2. Conversation History, 3. Social Inbox

Seamless Messaging

“The next evolution of Messages”: People just want to communicate, they don’t want to have to worry about how their friends gets the message: SMS, Email, IM, just that they get it and in the most convenient way for them. This new platform can decide for you, depending on how your friend(s) communicated with you – it will obviously still give you the chance to override but it’s likely it will make the right choice. This will remove the complication of how messages are sent, all you need to is send it to them via Facebook and Facebook will make the right choice of how your friend gets the message. This is also where your email address will come in, so people can email you at Facebook making it easy to have conversations with your friends over email and multiple mediums.

Conversation History

Keeping track of conversations with friends in Facebook has been testing at best. In response Facebook have built a messaging interface that will give you each conversation with each person in an easy to read single stream, like a conversation! The history will track back to the very beginning.

The Social Inbox

This is what was being called the Gmail killer…

Facebook will provide an inbox, with 3 sections: Friends, Other Email and Junk. You should never need to go to the junk one – but you know will!
The friends inbox will be all of the people you are friends with in Facebook:

An email comes in, Facebook sees that the email address is the address of one of your Facebook friends and will put it in the Friends Inbox.

Another email comes in but the address is not that of a Facebook friend and it will go into the Other Inbox. If they actually are a friend, the act of moving that email to the top folder and all future emails will go there.

The New Messages in Facebook

As you can probably tell, I don’t think Gmail’s worried.

Mark himself stated that this was not about email, it was about messaging and communication between friends, it not about email.

The inbox itself will not have the complex rules, filters, tags, labels and folders that our existing email clients have, so this could never replace my existing Gmail or Thunderbird. I’m sure that there is more to come though…

and there is: next post picks up where this left off…

What the Facebook Messaging Social Inbox means for Email Marketing…read on

– – –

Watch the Facebook introduction to Facebook Messaging
Watch the full Presentation from Facebook
Read the Facebook Blog: See the Messages that Matter

Who might move to Facebook Email? – Poll

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With Rumours of Facebook email emerging, there is a chance that many of the big inbox suppliers will lose users but who will lose the most? – poll

Statistically Gmail users are the most web savvy, followed by Yahoo, Microsoft then AOL.

AOL was found to have the least web savvy users and this is not surprising because historically it has been the choice for new internet users with its self contained web and email client, Joanna Lumley voiceover, free telephone support and more AOL installation CDs than anyone will ever need.

Microsoft was the next one up, any newbie who didn’t go with AOL would use what Windows provided them so that was Hotmail and now they also have MSN and Live domains.

Before Gmail, Yahoo was the choice of the more web savvy and people who knew what they were doing – out of the big 3. Yahoo has a far more open email service, allowing you to plug into any dedicated email client, where as Microsoft would only allow you to plug into Microsoft clients.

Gmail usage grew organically using invites from staff inside Google, so all of the early adopters were very web savvy. The invites then bled into Universities’ IT courses and then other courses using each users’ invites. This made most Gmail users pretty web savvy in comparison to the other big 3 email providers.

The fact that Gmail recently crept into 3rd place of the biggest inbox providers, above AOL, was a statement that people are getting more and more savvy and they want intelligence from their inboxes along with more protection from unwanted email.

Users of Facebook have a wide range of internet experience and seeing as some people will be on Facebook more than anything else on their computers it may be an easy shift for many of them. They may be more likely to move from their own ISP’s email service, eg: Virginmedia and Sky etc. in UK more than any of the established inboxes.

I predict that Gmail will lose the least users to Facebook and AOL & Hotmail will lose the most out of the big 4.

Myspace got themselves into the inbox field a few years ago and I didn’t even notice but I think I’ll notice Facebook email.

Much like the online Gmail inbox, people will be able to do more within their Facebook world and Facebook will be able to find out more about their users, have more pages to advertise on and get better and more accurate ads. Couple this with the possibilities of a Facebook search engine and Microsoft on-line office integration, it’a all getting a big Googly!

Who do you think would lose the most users? – vote here.

Will Facebook Email make Email Marketing Shexzy again

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According to just about all of the major media sources Facebook intends to launch it’s own fully featured email client as part of the Web 2.0 Summit on Monday 15th of November.

Facebook calls it ‘Project Titan’ and Tech Crunch & the Guardian are calling it the ‘Gmail Killer’.

The email account name will most likely be your own vanity url. So if you haven’t got one already you’d best hurry up in case someone gets the name you want! Some rumours have already confirmed that has already been purchased by Facebook, presumably for this purpose.

This biggest effect on Email Marketing is the rumour that it will be 100% permission – you will only be able to send email to people who have already given you permission. Things like being friends or fans on Facebook will decide senders’ permission to email a Facebook address.

Challenge for Marketers

Many people have stated that this new level of permission will be the biggest challenge to email marketers ever. With the emergence and popularity of web-apps like Otherinbox which sit in front of multiple inboxes to protect the users of non-permission emails, Facebook’s uber permission stand should not be a surprise.

Recipients are voting with their clicks and they only want email that they have asked for. With Facebook already being a central hub where people have a lot of control over who can see and interact with them, it is likely that many Facebook users will welcome this.

I don’t see this as a challenge, people should know early on that people who are fans on Facebook are people that have gone out of their way to engage with you and are real fans.

Users will have the control over permission, so there will be a larger consequence to getting it wrong and marketers will have to keep the content good to keep the fans in.

The email community who already struggle enough to segregate well should welcome this kind of automatic targeting and now Facebook might do a big chunk of it for you!

Shexzy Email

All of the press is all about Facebook, Twitter Google, Apple and Microsoft. With Facebook getting into the email domain, there will be more focus on Email Marketing in the main stream media and those who hold the purse strings will once again be interested in email marketing.

Thus making it shexzy again.

I’m personally very intrigued as to how it will all actually turn out.
Also: the Facebook Search Engine which will apparently use friends’ preferences as well as the user’s to provide results & FBmail will also apparently integrate with Microsoft’s Office Online.

Moving out from to the rest of the internet would put Facebook head to head with Google. This could be a very big leap for Facebook, hopefully not too big in one go but if all of the rumours are even close to right, digital marketing could change a great deal and Email Marketing will be right in the shexzy middle of it.