Content Marketing, Email, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Tools, Blogging and Content Creation, Email Marketing Advice, Facebook, Social Media Marketing

What Facebook and Email Stole from Google’s Playbook

A long time ago, you could get Web pages ranked in search engines solely based on how many times a keyword was present on the page. This of course resulted in the laughably loathsome practice of keyword stuffing, where Web pages were purposefully written with “discount Easter baskets for sale” 30 times in a row.

This era was mercifully short-lived, as Google (followed by other engines) added a relevancy layer to search results, centered primarily around the number and strength (“authority”) of other Web pages linking to the page in question.

This forced Web site owners to create better content that would earn links from other sites based on the merits of that content.

That algorithmic determination of relevancy has now washed up on the shores of Facebook and email marketing, and it will massively change the success formula for both.

Content Isn’t King. Relevant Content is King

Facebook and email are more similar than they are different. Both intend to develop a relevant dialog between company and consumer, nudging incremental action and advocacy via interesting, contextually appropriate messages.

Historically, the quantity and quality of your Facebook and email messaging had very little negative consequences, unless you really stepped over the line and your fans/subscribers decided to sever the relationship with your brand.

facebook email google 300x157 What Facebook and Email Stole from Googles PlaybookBut now, the quality and context of every Facebook and email communication will directly impact your success. Are you ready?

Facebook Emphasizes Content Interactions

On Sunday, Facebook unveiled a revamped News feed, whereby consumers see pieces of content based on a Facebook algorithm that is based on presumed relevancy.

If other Facebook members (especially your friends) have interacted with a piece of content, you are much more likely to have that communication served up to your news feed. Thus, banal flotsam and jetsam that does not draw interactions and engagement will be seen by significantly fewer people on Facebook. In fact, application developers are reporting that their Facebook views are down by as much as 75% in some cases, presumably because few people “like” or comment on the breaking news that you’ve reached level 7 of Mafia Wars.

To date, frequency of updates was a Facebook best practice, as keeping your brand top-of-mind with fans and prospective fans was paramount. The revised news feed, however, values relevancy and engagement over frequency, making interesting, contextual content the key commodity.

Pay attention to your content engagement scores in your Facebook Insights metrics, and start honing (and testing) your editorial approach to deliver content that will draw likes and comments and sharing.

Spam In The Eye of the Beholder

The same principle is now unfolding in email marketing. Historically, email delivery has been rooted in the percentage of your subscribers that mark your email as spam. If you are a good email citizen, and send what people have asked for, using a reputable email service provider, chances are good that your emails will be delivered to recipients’ inbox, rather than the spam folder.

Not anymore.

All of the major Internet service providers are moving swiftly toward subscriber-level deliverability based on individual engagement. This means that whether or not you have opened or clicked on an email from a company in the past will directly impact whether you will receive that email in your inbox or spam folder in the future.

The argument for personalization, testing, and other relevancy-boosting email considerations has always been that the post-delivery metrics like click-through and conversion rate would improve (and they do). But now, if your emails aren’t interesting and engaging to members of your audience, the subscribers you worked so hard to get will just stop receiving your messages. Poof! You’re off the radar and forgotten faster than the freak voted off Project Runway in week one.

This should scare you. And it should free up some budget and willpower for rigorous testing (especially subject line and time of day), and hard core dynamic content. Maybe even the use of analytics to create emails derived from your subscribers’ Web site behavior.

Getting past batch and blast email – where everyone on your list receives the same info at the same time – has officially moved from important, to required.

(Note: my friends at Pivotal Veracity recently rolled out some mind-blowing tracking tools called Mailbox IQ to help you determine email engagement at the subscriber level. Very useful.)

You Might Want to Take That Excel Class

Our online behavior is tracked in infinite ways that not so long ago would have been unfathomable and disturbing. Yet, the future of all digital marketing is based on personalization. You’ll see different Google results, Facebook news feed, ratings and reviews, and email content than I will, based on your friends, preferences, and prior behavior.

As a consumer, this universal drive toward relevancy is a welcome relief, as the algorithm separates on our behalf the digital worthy from the less worthy like a robotic USDA meat inspector.

As marketers, however, we must now accept the fact that routine and ongoing testing and optimization of all facets of our digital communication is needed to maximize reach and effectiveness.

The Mad Men of the very near future will be masters of math, not martinis.

(photo by Bruce Turner)

  • http://blog.blisspr.com/ Elizabeth Sosnow

    I was told there would be no math. Serioulsy, a great post that reminds all of us marketers that it’s time to embrace change…before it’s too late.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jay Baer

      Ha! Thanks for the comment Elizabeth. I don’t believe I ever promised no math, coming from the testing and optimization school of online marketing. But the good news is that computers are handling most of these algorithms for us, we just need (as marketers) to see the patterns and parse the data. It’s math, but it’s not advanced math (thankfully).

  • http://blog.blisspr.com/ Elizabeth Sosnow

    I was told there would be no math. Serioulsy, a great post that reminds all of us marketers that it’s time to embrace change…before it’s too late.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jay Baer

      Ha! Thanks for the comment Elizabeth. I don’t believe I ever promised no math, coming from the testing and optimization school of online marketing. But the good news is that computers are handling most of these algorithms for us, we just need (as marketers) to see the patterns and parse the data. It’s math, but it’s not advanced math (thankfully).

  • Bob Wilhelm

    Agree…but how about math AND martinis? We need to have a little fun shaken up with our business.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jay Baer

      Good point Bob. I’m not a big vermouth guy, so maybe I’m biased.

  • http://YourWebsite Bob Wilhelm

    Agree…but how about math AND martinis? We need to have a little fun shaken up with our business.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jay Baer

      Good point Bob. I’m not a big vermouth guy, so maybe I’m biased.

  • http://twitter.com/elizabethsosnow/status/5262506228 Elizabeth Sosnow

    "The Mad Men of the very near future will be masters of math, not martinis." via @jaybaer http://chilp.it/?fa67b4

  • http://twitter.com/jlafayette/status/5263677471 Jon Lafayette

    RT @elizabethsosnow "The Mad Men of the very near future will be masters of math, not martinis." via @jaybaer http://bit.ly/3FiErb

  • http://www.exacttarget.com/ Jeffrey K. Rohrs

    Great post as usual Mr. Baer. I’m interested, however, in whether you think engagement filtering by inbox providers can and will go too far. There are a number of newsletters that I subscribe to that I may not open for weeks or months due to my schedule. However, I choose not to unsubscribe because I know that my interest remains–it’s just that I’m waiting for my free time to catch up.

    Is it right for Yahoo or Gmail or Hotmail to automatically assume that because I have not clicked or “engaged” for a period of time (that they determine) those newsletters should not be delivered to my inbox but rather to my spam folder? Shouldn’t they notify me and give me opt-out options from this practice?

    Just because I don’t “engage” for a while with an email doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. It could just mean that I’m busy or distracted or lying in a coma somewhere.

    I already see a lot of emails that I want from trusted brands get trapped in my Yahoo spam folder. My fear is that the push to elevate engagement is going to exacerbate that problem, not alleviate it.

  • http://www.exacttarget.com Jeffrey K. Rohrs

    Great post as usual Mr. Baer. I’m interested, however, in whether you think engagement filtering by inbox providers can and will go too far. There are a number of newsletters that I subscribe to that I may not open for weeks or months due to my schedule. However, I choose not to unsubscribe because I know that my interest remains–it’s just that I’m waiting for my free time to catch up.

    Is it right for Yahoo or Gmail or Hotmail to automatically assume that because I have not clicked or “engaged” for a period of time (that they determine) those newsletters should not be delivered to my inbox but rather to my spam folder? Shouldn’t they notify me and give me opt-out options from this practice?

    Just because I don’t “engage” for a while with an email doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. It could just mean that I’m busy or distracted or lying in a coma somewhere.

    I already see a lot of emails that I want from trusted brands get trapped in my Yahoo spam folder. My fear is that the push to elevate engagement is going to exacerbate that problem, not alleviate it.

  • Marta Olszewska

    Facebook News Feed is Now More Relevant – Quality Content for Users, More Optimization for Marketers.Good read @jaybaer http://bit.ly/46hZ27

  • http://www.nextlevelblogger.com/ Christian

    Important changes…thanks for sharing them and putting them in context for marketers. Many marketers, to my bewilderment, remain oblivious to this and don’t want to change. It’s curious to me how the importance of these changes can be so easily overlooked by people who are dependent upon email marketing.
    .-= Christian´s last blog ..How My Friends Handle Twitter Spam =-.

  • http://www.nextlevelblogger.com Christian

    Important changes…thanks for sharing them and putting them in context for marketers. Many marketers, to my bewilderment, remain oblivious to this and don’t want to change. It’s curious to me how the importance of these changes can be so easily overlooked by people who are dependent upon email marketing.
    .-= Christian´s last blog ..How My Friends Handle Twitter Spam =-.

  • http://twitter.com/christiantjr/status/5376516255 Christian

    RT @jaybaer What Facebook and Email Stole from Google's Playbook | Email Marketing Advice | Social Media Consulting … http://bit.ly/3oczOS

  • http://twitter.com/rob_s_college/status/5401600247 Rob S.

    What Facebook and Email Stole from Google’s Playbook http://ow.ly/xm0o [RSC: Thought-provoking, marketing-related read.]

  • http://twitter.com/jeffwidman/status/5427226071 Jeff Widman

    New Facebook news feed based on relevance similar to evolution of Google PageRank: http://bit.ly/2ZmiFX (via @jaybaer) @hnshah @justinsmith

  • http://twitter.com/jbcarver/status/5435887030 Jonathan B Carver

    RT @InnovateAZ What Facebook & Email Stole from Google’s Playbook: A long time ago, you could get Web pages ranked.. http://bit.ly/12E5Fo

  • http://twitter.com/mrakashsharma/status/5473400448 Akash Sharma

    What Facebook and Email Stole from Google’s Playbook http://bit.ly/4eykot From | Convince and Convert |

  • http://twitter.com/marketingpub/status/5540245230 Andry Rakotomavo

    What Facebook and Email Stole from Google’s Playbook http://ff.im/-ba1i9

  • http://twitter.com/wwwtopmodelio/status/5563028184 www-DiventaFan-it

    http://www.iStoreANIME.COM What Facebook and Email Stole from Google's Playbook |.. http://tinyurl.com/yg5mpvw http://www.FACEMANIA.NET

  • http://twitter.com/johnvlane/status/5567642679 John Lane

    Relevancy gets more relevant… in terms of search, email, social (media) promotion & more. Great post from @jaybaer: http://bit.ly/4wvxqH

  • http://twitter.com/makethemfans/status/5682869377 Lamar Johnson

    RT @tweetmeme What Facebook and Email Stole from Google's Playbook | Email Marketing Advice | Social Media Consulti… http://retwt.me/1Gyvl

  • http://www.magic-man.com/blog London Magician

    Great eye opening post. I had no idea that Facebook actually decides who gets to see your fan updates, I assumed everyone would. Is this right if we’re paying to advertise and get fans? Surely it’s down to the fans to decide to hide your page from feeds?
    .-= London Magician´s last blog ..What Is A Vintage Rolls Royce Car And Why Would It Be An Excellent Choice Of Car For Your Wedding Or Civil Ceremony =-.

  • http://www.magic-man.com/blog London Magician

    Great eye opening post. I had no idea that Facebook actually decides who gets to see your fan updates, I assumed everyone would. Is this right if we’re paying to advertise and get fans? Surely it’s down to the fans to decide to hide your page from feeds?
    .-= London Magician´s last blog ..What Is A Vintage Rolls Royce Car And Why Would It Be An Excellent Choice Of Car For Your Wedding Or Civil Ceremony =-.

  • http://www.easyrecovery.ie/ Hard drive recovery

    This is really a very good post.I think every search engine optimizer should read it once.

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