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What can we learn from Twitter's email marketing strategy?

Which is the most effective marketing channel: email or social? We bet every single marketeer out there has been asked this question or has at least overheard a discussion on the theme.  Well, let's be clear on this: there is no relevance in this discussion whatsoever.

Choosing a single channel may get you a big step ahead. But the combination of both will help you make a giant leap forward. Not convinced? Well how about this: one of the most important engagement channels used by all major social networks is … email.

Twitter even went the extra mile and bought the email service provider RestEngine last year, just to maximize their return on this channel. Earlier that year they also acquired Summify, a startup that produces software to collect daily stories, and put these in a daily email summary. But why is email such an important channel? The answer is simple: it's deadly efficient in traffic and network building.

So what can you learn from Twitter's email strategy?

New follower: Every time you have a new follower, Twitter notifies you with a new email. What they smartly adapted last year, was to add the follow button. As you can see in the old design below, this button was not included. Today you can, with just one click, refollow someone. 

Why does Twitter do this? Because they rule in building connections between people (and that's extremely relevant and valuable to their advertisers). So the more their networks expand, the better they can profile you.

The new email design

New Follower

The old email design


People you may know: This email contains profiles that are relevant because they match your profile or they match the profile of the people who you are connected with.

Why does Twitter do this? Again: building stronger networks. A side story is: the more a network expands, the higher the chance of valuable interactions is.

People You May Know

Stories: Probably one of the best implementations they have done. This email contains the stories and tweets that where most talked about and shared within your network. 

Why does Twitter do this? The problem Twitter has, is that a tweet becomes outdated fairly quickly.  A tweet sent two hours ago is ‘old ‘and ends up somewhere at the bottom of your timeline. Facebook tackles this by using EdgeRank. This way Facebook determines which stories are the most relevant, and they only display these on your timeline. The result is a shorter timeline, with content that stays ‘fresh' over a longer period of time. So Twitter summarizes the best tweets and sends these to your mailbox. This will keep you engaged on your account.


Mentioned: Emails you receive when somebody has mentioned you on Twitter.
Why does Twitter do this? The simple answer is: to get the conversation going. You can easily read what the tweet was all about and reply back instantly by clicking the main CTA.

Favorite: When somebody favorites your tweet, you receive an email.
Why does Twitter do this? Again, to build networks and to let you discover new profiles. Twitter invites you to discover which other tweets that person found interesting. This way you can hook up with peers and start expanding your network.


Retweeted: when somebody retweets one of your twees, you receive an update.
Why does Twitter do this? To help you determine which of your tweets are interesting to others. You can immediately view the profile of the person that retweeted one of your tweets.


New updates: These contain new features or functions within Twitter.
Why does Twitter do this? To show that they are constantly developing new stuff, but also to activate you to engage with Twitter again.

Twitter Profiles


Email is an important engagement channel for Twitter. They mostly use email to boost new interactions, build traffic to their website and let you build and expand your own network. What's in it for Twitter? Twitter needs an active community to be interesting to advertisers, their main source of income.

Posted on
Jan 31, 2013