June 29, 2009

Why Twitter won’t replace email marketing

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© Photosani

© Photosani

John HaydonEarlier this week, I spoke with an executive director at a large non-profit who wanted to know how she could replace email marketing with Twitter.

They have been using email marketing as the prime way to engage current supporters, but had been less than desirable results in recent months.

After spending considerable time discussing their strategy and past results, I had to break the news to her:

Twitter is not a replacement for email marketing

Just as you would never replace socks with shoes, or boxer shorts with swimming trunks, Twitter should not replace email marketing. There are several reasons for this, which I’ve outlined in the following graphic:


Twitter strengths

  • Very cheap and easy to use.
  • Highly viral – An open network that is unlike any other social media site.
  • Organize base – around events, around campaigns, Tweetups, Hashtags.

Email marketing strengths

  • Highly targeted messages that aren’t limited to 140 characters.
  • Activity can be measured, even down to the user level.
  • Messages can be personalized in response to each individual choices – people can opt-in to different lists.

How can they work together?

Twitter folks will opt-in to receive emails if your content kicks ass. Having a blog with an email list is essential. Email recipients will opt in to your Twitter feed. Make sure you include your Twitter link in all of your emails. You could also give folks a way to retweet a message directly from an email, as in this example.

Both email marketing and Twitter share one very important principle: Social web marketing is all about the opt-in. You can blast out a Twitter stream or to spam to an email list. But it won’t work. What works is creating a force, like a magnet, that draws people to you.

How have you used Twitter and email marketing? Tell us about it!
John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter or leave a comment.

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One thought on “Why Twitter won’t replace email marketing

  1. John this is an interesting post with a great lesson. Social media is a way to enhance as you have so well put. As an example I have an auto post for my blog post and when people visit there is a signup for my newsletter. Here again the blog nis like twitter- cheap,viral and organized with the newsletter being equivalent to email. So the two go hand in hand in that twitter is about opt-in, right? It does take time but the newsletter is more direct, targeted and detail oriented.