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Few Trust Facebook—Are Email Ads the Answer?

Hal Conick

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Jeff Kupietzky, CEO of PowerInbox, says that Facebook scandals have left users less willing to click ads on the website

People don’t trust Facebook. A recent report from Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm, finds that after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, only 28% believe that the company is committed to privacy. This is a huge drop from 79% who believed in 2017 that Facebook was committed to privacy.

This lack of trust may show itself in Facebook’s ad benchmarks. WordStream found that although the number of Facebook advertisers doubled in the past 18 months, the average click-through rate of a Facebook ad is 0.9%. The average click-through rate for email, according to Mailchimp, is 2.43%.

A recent survey by PowerInbox, an email engagement platform, found that nearly two-thirds of respondents say that they’d click an ad in an email if they found it interesting.

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Jeff Kupietzky, CEO of PowerInbox, spoke about the role of ad trust on social media and in emails.

Why do consumers have greater trust in ads sent via email? They can seemingly curate both Facebook and email inboxes equally well.

Because consumers have opted in to receive emails from publishers, naturally that means they trust those senders and that trust translates to the advertisers that appear within those emails. That’s in direct contrast to how many people feel about Facebook—they’re skeptical of the sender (Facebook in this case)—and the content they find there, thanks to the proliferation of fake news. Therefore, they’re unsure of whether they can trust the ads they see on Facebook. And, the fake rebate scam is a perfect example of why they feel that way.

How do advertisers become trustworthy via email?

First, they advertise with publishers whose audience demographics align with their own. Second, they make sure the messages and content they’re distributing in those email ads aligns with the values, interests and desires of that audience. Email recipients are far more likely to click on ads in email when the content is relevant and of interest to them. When advertisers can work with publishers to personalize and precisely target their ads, the effective rate goes way up.


Related: The Sweet Spot in Email Marketing


What do brands and advertisers need to see from a publisher to know that they’re trustworthy?

Primarily, you’ll want to know about their subscriber engagement metrics. Do subscribers open their emails? Do they click through to read more? Or are they trashed without reading or flagged as spam? Engagement is a clear signal of trust—recipients won’t open emails or click on content or ads within them if they don’t trust the sender.

There’s been a popular hypothesis for years that email will one day die. Why does this continue to be incorrect? It doesn’t seem like email is going away anytime soon.

Email is not going away anytime soon. It remains consumers’ preferred channel for communication, especially around retail, discounts and deals, and news from the brands and publishers they trust. At the same time, it’s a channel where publishers can control the audience engagement and monetization. On social platforms, those platforms control who sees your content and therefore the traffic that comes back to your site.

Email puts publishers in control of how, when and who among their subscribers they interact with. Email also puts subscribers in control. They can choose who to share their address with, but they don’t have as much control over how Facebook shares their profile data, or the content and ads they see. How often have you missed a post from your own friends because Facebook’s algorithm didn’t deem it popular enough to show it in your newsfeed? But, that doesn’t happen with email. If someone sends it to you, you see it. It’s far more reliable.

Hal Conick is a freelance writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at halconick@gmail.com or on Twitter at @HalConick.