Is Twitter replacing Email for marketing updates and offers?

If, like me, you use twitter all the time – could it be a better way of recieving news and offers from your favourite brands instead of email?  And if so, what does this mean for online marketing streategies?

I recently had a clear out of my email inbox and made an interesting decision based on how I consume marketing from my favourite brands.

I am lucky in that I don’t recieve too much junk mail, but I still get about 5 emails an hour from various social networking sites updating me, and shops and brands that I have chosen to receive emails from.

But I never read these emails.  Ever.  Even though I’ve opted in for them.

So I settled on two solutions… iPhone notifcations, and Twitter.


iPhone notifications

With the OS5 update, push notifications are now super effective on the iPhone.  Most importantly they don’t get lost, so if you have 10 come through at once you can still look at them all.

Because of this, I’ve now cancelled all email notifcations I receive from Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, and set them up on my phone instead.



I want updates from certain brands – The Body Shop, Mountain Warehouse, Little Pink Book etc.   Sometimes it’s to know when sales or offers are on.  Others are newsletters that I want to keep updated with but often don’t have time to read.

The problem is, there are that extra few clicks to get into an email (especially if you want to see the pictures).  Plus the fact that it remains there until you delete it (another few click).

Tweets however, stay there but aren’t your responsibility to delete. Plus, if you look at Twitter often then there’s no extra clicking through.

So I unsubscribed from all my email updates, made sure I followed them all on Twitter, then made special lists for ‘Offers’ and ‘Newsletters’.  I now can browse these when I have time, and especially with the offers, when I actually want to buy something.

It has already worked – I used to receive Mountain Warehouse emails all the time, with the latest discounts.  However, the subject line often wasn’t long enough to get to the point of the offer.  Plus I wouldn’t make the click through.   One week later, after my email purge, one of their offers caught my eye as I was scrolling through Twitter.  I noticed it because the whole offer was contained in the one tweet.  And just by one click I was through to the full website page compete with all the pictures and information.  (Not adapted and condensed for an email which assumes/hopes for click throughs).

(And if you happened to be interested, I’m very happy with my £49.99 snow boots down to £22!)


Marketing implications

I may be rare in finding all the above a more effective way of being updated.  But if not, this shift in how we consume marketing could have massive implications for online marketing strategies.  It is often said that it is bizarre how email is one of the oldest features of the internet, and yet despite the massive changes over the past 20 years, the structure of email has barely changed.

Does this mean email updates and newsletters will become obsolete? I doubt it mainly because I think it still comes down to how people prefer to consume the information – I think companies need to give people all the options.  And I would argue they need to standardise these options so that people can choose their prefered method of communication safe in the knowlege that they won’t miss out by not receiving information in another way.

This also has implications for the people who criticize companies who use Twitter purely for marketing. Because, to be blunt, I don’t care about who’s made cupcakes in the Mountain Warehouse marketing office today.  I just want to know the offers in my local shop or online.

Maybe that means companies need two separate Twitters?  I’ve always seen social media as comunication and not marketing anyway.  So why not have one twitter for your communication and PR – to chat to your customers, see what they like, give them a sense of the personality of your company, resolve issues. Then have another twitter for purely marketing – to update people on whatever sales, events or news you have.  Because I don’t think the latter is unwarranted.  If like me, Twitter is now where you go to be informed (as well as communicate) then I’m very happy to see marketing updates from people I have chosen (and that’s perhaps the key word) to follow, rather than recieve a stream of emails that, simply because of how I use email now, I will never read.

We know it keeps changing, these are just a few thoughts on how I’ve recently changed the way I interact with marketing.  Please comment if you have any thoughts or experiences related to the above!

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