What Facebook and Salesforce’s recent acquisitions mean for email

Before we closed the door on 2020, a couple of last-minute changes swooped in to shake up the marketing world. You know, along with the other big changes that already made waves in the past year.

First, Salesforce acquired Slack, a business communication platform – its biggest acquisition to date. And Facebook acquired Kustomer, a CRM platform.

Curious about what these changes mean for email and growth marketers?

Us, too.

Here’s what’s going on.

Email is here to stay for marketers

Slack has ambitions to replace email, but it’s not likely to happen. Sure, the platform connects colleagues and helps them collaborate on teams and projects. But when it comes to interactions with brands and publishers, if anything, Slack is making email stronger.

As Kerel Cooper, LiveIntent CMO, told MediaPost: “Email remains the top-performing channel for brands and marketers, but their marketing efforts can get buried when inboxes become overloaded. [As] the adoption of productivity tools like Slack lighten the email load and make work more efficient, the opportunity for publishers who send email with marketing units in them or brands who send marketing messages grows.”

Consider this: During the workday, people spend an average of 3.5 hours checking their work email and 2.4 hours checking their personal email. Also, less than half are able to clear their inbox and reach that elusive state of “inbox zero.” With Slack promising to handle many of the workday interactions, there’ll be more room in the inbox for customers to engage with their opt-in content and consume messaging from their favorite brands.

Email is still the best for driving loyalty and retention

Facebook may be investing in chat apps like WhatsApp and Messenger. But its acquisition of Kustomer proves how much the social media platform understands the power of email in building customer loyalty and engagement.

Cooper said of Kustomer: “Their CRM dexterity is built on top of the email address, the workhorse of CRM and the fulcrum of identity in a world where the third-party cookie is going away. Facebook’s efforts to bring commerce and advertising to their messaging system looks a lot like email, the original people-based marketing channel. What’s old is new again.”

As eMarketer reported, email is consumers’ preferred channel for receiving messages from retailers, beating out apps, social media, websites, and texts. Even (or especially) throughout the chaos of 2020, people clung to email, driving up subscriptions so they could access quality content, informational news updates, and helpful deals from brands they’ve built relationships with.

“As we’ve seen with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and essentially all holiday promotions since October,” Cooper said, “Email is the tried-and-true tool that brands and marketers turn to re-engage their customers, offer support, and drive loyalty.”

Channel diversification is important

More than ever, channel diversification is essential. Even a giant like Facebook realizes that, as evidenced by its purchase of Kustomer. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you set yourself up to fail if that one basket (i.e. channel) changes its algorithm, owns your audience, and keeps your data locked inside a walled garden. Channel diversification also helps you reach customers across touchpoints and build a more comprehensive view of their experiences.

That’s why leveraging email as a first-party data source and communication channel is critical. It allows you to collect data that you own and then use that data to reach customers with personalized content.

So, basically, there’s a hidden message within the news of these two acquisitions: Email remains an incredibly valuable channel for building customer experiences and growing audiences. Acquisitions may come and go, but email is forever.