Why collecting email addresses on your Facebook Page wont work

If you’ve recently launched a Facebook Page, you’ve probably heard all the great things you can do with the Static FBML application. You can display content once a fan likes your page, embed a youtube video on your custom page, and even personalize your custom tab.

One use of Static FBML is to create a email capture form on your Facebook Page.

But why would a Facebook fan join your email list if they’ve already “liked” your Page? Isn’t the act of “liking” your page a gesture of opting in to your content?

Your marketing goals don’t matter on Facebook

Like most nonprofit marketers, you have goals that need to be met and measured. And one of these goals probably includes email acquisition.

The problem is that your Facebook fans really don’t care about your goals. They care about your cause (which is different from your org), and they care about actively participating in that cause in a way that makes sense to them.

How to create an effective opt-in strategy

Why collecting email addresses on your Facebook Page wont workThe above graph shows that social media can be an effective way to enhance email marketing.

But just throwing up an opt-in form alone isn’t enough to conduct an email acquisition campaign on Facebook.

In order to be effective an acquisition strategy has to do two things:

  1. It gives the fan a compelling reason why they should join the list
  2. That reason has to be theirs, not yours

Appealing to reason on Facebook

Let’s talk about the first point. You have a blog with amazing content, and lots of readers. You tell your fans that they can join an email list and subscribe to the blog.

But then a reasonable fan ruins all your plans by asking a reasonable question: “Why should I join your email list when you could just feed your blog posts on the Facebook Page wall?”

Good question, huh.

Now let’s say you have a petition on your page. Your Facebook fans understand that if they want to participate, they have to sign the petition and/or share it with their friends. It makes perfect sense to them.

Some other opt-in strategies:

  1. Have an opt-in form looking for event volunteers
  2. Include an opt-in as part of the donation sequence during a campaign
  3. Create a mini-course consisting of a series of emails, each covering a specific lesson in the course
  4. Offering something of value (a free report) in exchange for their email
  5. Offer discounts from your cause marketing partners (fans would opt-in to their lists)

What other reasons would a fan join your email list?

Learn how one nonprofit increased their online fundraising by 1,400%!


Learn the tools, tactics, messaging, and website tweaks that created thier explosive result!


  1. Joining a fan page is the best for your readers if their not on your main list..people are looking to get everything in one place..so don’t make walking hard.

    BTW John..Can you can contact me on my contact page..Its very important..I need your help.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  2. To quote Sonia Simone, make sure each newsletter includes a cookie–a tidbit of useful or just awesome info your peeps won’t get anywhere else. Then make sure your sign-up page tells people about the cookies. “Sign up for monthly ideas for reducing your carbon footprint in ten minutes or less” is way more compelling than “Sign up for our mailing list.”

  3. Liking a Facebook page does is not necessarily equivalent to an email address. The Facebook newsfeed is becoming increasingly noisy and has very rigid formatting. The the long term value of a like is definitely less than that of an email. Many users are only ever seeing a small subset of the overall activity within their Facebook network partially due to design of the algorithm that elevates content and partially due to the volume.

    I’ve helped a number of clients set up email conversion “apps” that allow them to streamline the process as much as possible for their users. Since Facebook allowed applications to collect email addresses (with the users permission) the level of friction has been reduced further allowing for a two click signup process (no data entry required).

  4. I hadn’t even thought about this doubling up, so to speak, but now I’m going to re-think things just a bit, especially since I already post links to my newsletter issues on my page. Good thinking!

  5. I like some of your ideas here, but would also follow up with making sure your “fans” know what they’re getting in to when they take one of these actions. Your most effective constituents are going to be the ones that want to be engaged … not the ones that you trick into sighing up to receive more information from your organization.