Pinterest and Twitter Love Email Marketing

Email is dead.

It used to bother me when I heard someone utter that phrase or when I read a blog post proclaiming that email marketing is dead. No longer. Now I use it as a conversation starter, as an opportunity to educate folks that not only is email not dead, it’s alive and thriving.

There are a ton of studies out there proving that email marketing is far from dead. One of my favorites is from my friends at ExactTarget (read more & download the study). In fact, Jason Falls and I discuss this fallacy (and then dispel it) in the Introduction of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing.

In case you needed a bit more proof that email is not dead, check out what two of the most popular social media sites, Pinterest and Twitter, announced recently. On May 14th, Twitter shared that they would begin rolling out an email digest – The best of Twitter in your inbox. A few days ago, Mashable wrote about Pinterest’s plan to send a “curated newsletter” to users.

As it turns out, Pinterest and Twitter love email marketing.

Wait. I thought email marketing was dead? Social media is going to replace it, right? Nope. In fact, nearly all social networking sites send out some type of email marketing message to it’s subscribers. Some of them are updates (like Facebook). Others are more detailed (like LinkedIn). Now, both Twitter and Pinterest are sending curated content to users via email marketing.

This also plays into my belief that email marketing and social media go together like Batman and Robin.

The New Twitter Email Digest

Let’s say you wanted to opt-in to the new Twitter email digest. How would you go about it? Here’s what the folks from Twitter said about opting in to this new email:

We’re rolling out this new email out to everyone over the next few weeks, so keep checking your inbox for new messages from Twitter. Like other Twitter email notifications, you can manage your preferences for this new digest in your Notification Settings.

So, again, how do you opt-in? Twitter is leveraging what my friend Janet Roberts calls a “soft” opt-out approach (another “rule breaker” we address in The Rebel’s Guide). They are rolling it out to everyone. The only way to turn it off (opt-out) is to “manage your preferences” in your Notification Settings. Here is what that looks like – notice the pre-checked box in front of all email options.

The bottom checkbox – “A weekly digest of Stories & Tweets from my network” is the new one Twitter just added. So, again, if you do NOT want to receive these new weekly digest emails from Twitter, you must go into your Notification Settings and uncheck the box.

I just started receiving these email digests from Twitter and I have to say, I kinda like them. Below is a screenshot of the top half of one of these emails from this week. Note: This example is from my 2-year old’s Twitter account. Don’t ask.

Here is what Twitter had to say about the content of these digest emails:

This new email digest also features the most engaging Tweets seen by the people you follow, even if you don’t follow those who wrote them. You can see who from your network retweeted or favorited these Tweets and click “View details” to retweet, favorite, reply or view the conversation around them.

As you can see from the screenshot above, Twitter does a very nice job of fulfilling on that promise. I really love that they show me stories of what the folks I follow are saying. The emails also show other people I follow who have shared this particular article or blog post – good “social proof.”

What happens when you click?

  • Clicking on the headline takes the reader directly to the article.
  • Clicking on the avatar brings people to the actual tweet about the article.
  • Clicking on “tweet this story” auto-populates a tweet (assuming you’re logged in) with the article headline and its associated URL.

Pretty neat, huh?

However, the bigger story here, and what I really love, is that this Twitter digest is making email more social. The inbox is becoming (slightly) more interactive – a trend I see playing out more and more as email and social begin to integrate more.

I’m very curious to see what impact these types of emails will have on social sharing. Twitter is, for all intents and purposes, using email marketing to power the social media channel. They are curating content from Twitter, dropping it into an email digest, which then redirects clickers back to … Twitter. For those folks whose articles get somehow magically selected (I’m not entirely sure how Twitter decides the content), there is an opportunity for more eyeballs on their articles.  Again, pretty neat.

The New Pinterest Curated Newsletter

Unfortunately, I don’t have much to share here (yet) as this service is quite new. I have yet to receive an email from Pinterest. Then again, maybe that’s because I have Pinterest email updates turned off. I posed this question on Twitter yesterday:

Andrew Burch replied saying that he just created his account and the email digest was sent automatically. If that’s the case, it appears that Pinterest, like Twitter, is turning this feature on by default. Andrew was kind enough to capture a screenshot of how the Pinterest email appears on his iPhone (see picture here - Celebrity Breastfeeding Mamas? Ha!).

What Do You Think?

As an email marketing guy, I just love (LOVE) it when social networking sites understand the power of email marketing. Clearly Pinterest and Twitter see the value, but what about you? How are you integrating email marketing and social media?

Also, I’d love to get your thoughts on email marketing becoming more social. Is this something you see happening more and more? Is this the next trend in email marketing?

Please share in the comments below. As always, I’d love to hear and learn from you.

DJ Waldow


As mentioned above, Jason Falls and I just wrote a new book about breaking the rules of email marketing! In the book, we talk about the fact that email marketing is not dead. We also dedicate an entire section to “the power of pairs” – using email marketing and social media together. In The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win, we share with you all sorts of email marketing “best practices” individuals and companies are breaking each and every day … and still finding success.