Twitter vs. Email

With Twitter growing at a dramatic clip in 2009, I thought it might be worth a note about how this platform compares to – and compliments – an email marketing program.

This missive was inspired by a Tweet from Simms Jenkins of Brightwave Marketing, who wrote:

another difference between email & twitter is marketers think about what their audience wants b4 sending via email but not so much 4 Twitter

The nature of Twitter lends itself to quick-send behavior.  How much thought can you give to 140 characters anyway?! But to send an email to your list without planning is folly.  It’s also just as silly to think that Twitter and email is an either/or proposition.  It’s possible that Twitter could be used in place of email, but I think that time is still in the distant future.

Cost: Twitter is free monetarily, but there is a price to pay for irrelevant tweets. You alienate your followers and eventually cause them to lose interest, possibly to the point of removing themselves from your list.  Hmmm… this sounds an awful lot like what happens when you send inappropriate emails.

Audience: Your list of Twitter followers can fluctuate in size rapidly – someone can easily follow and un-follow your messages with one click.  But there’s no segmentation capabilities to tailor your tweets to different audiences. So everyone gets the same message – come one, come all.

Use Twitter and Email for same campaign

Cookware and cake-decorating accessory company Wilton has used social media and email in tandem to grow their audience.  Here’s a link to the Marketing Sherpa case study, which delves into their program further.

They used email to grow their social media fans (on Facebook and Twitter) and social media to drive subscriptions to their email newsletter.  Before a product was launched, they use Twitter to tease its release and developed a traditional email campaign to promote the product.

Promote your emails in Twitter

It’s also a good idea to send a Tweet of each email campaign by shortening the web URL of your message (the “view this as a web page” link that should always be at the top of your email) using a service like bit.ly.  When doing that, add a # and a keyword for your product or service. This will help your content be discovered by other Twitter users who have set up a filter for keywords of interest to them.

Twitter in place of email?

A recent ClickZ article suggests that tweets could replace subject lines in e-mails to drive potential customers to offer pages.  With Twitter’s ability to have offers pushed to you like e-mail, without exposing your e-mail address, this article suggests it “could threaten the e-mail marketing channel and reinvent the world of affiliate marketing.”

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