I can’t save Twitter, but I can help their lazy email marketing

This is his final chance. If he messes up, he’s history.

Joe is part of the marketing team that’s tasked with increasing ad revenue at the popular social media company.

His director shouts out: “You bring me at least one customer by tomorrow or you’re outa the door, Chicano”

So Joe quickly gets cranking. He decides on an email campaign to his 150,000 odd subscribers. Email may be the dinosaur of communication, but it has a reputation to bring in leads like no other.

To make a compelling pitch, Joe could:

  • Show stats of businesses that have achieved success using Twitter ads
  • Tell a detailed story of one such business
  • Talk about the savings to be made when compared to old fashioned print ads
  • Offer a trial coupon and some help in getting started

But being the lazy marketer he is, and the reason Joe’s in this predicament in the first place, he chooses a Mailchimp template, edits the placeholder text, and blasts this generic-looking email to his subscribers:



Surprise, surprise – the email bombed. And Joe brought in no new sign-ups. He was crushed – anxious and panicked about his future, already imagining the worst…

But wait, let’s see if we can help Joe keep his job, and support his young family!

What’s wrong with the email?

Apart from it being as charming as Donald Trump in dancing shoes at a matric ball you mean? Well whenever I get these emails, which is about every three days, I’m like….




So let’s try and fix Joe’s email, using old and modern marketing principles.

First we’ll see how a few classic copywriting techniques can transform this email into a message with a purpose. And secondly, why in today’s crowded internet landscape, the one who shares most – wins.

1) Classic Copywriting

Claude Hopkins, in his classic book, Scientific Advertising says it nicely – designing ads for print (or email in this case) is salesmanship. It’s principles are the same as selling. With a prospect standing in front of you, half sold on your item, what would you say? You sure as hell wouldn’t say “Buy from us ‘cos we’re the best!”

So why do it in print?

The best salespeople don’t ask to buy anything. And even if they do, it’s after doing the hard legwork. A good salesperson will befriend the customer. They’ll educate and lay the best options on the table. And once trust and rapport is built up, the only option left, is to buy.

According to Hopkins, the above is an essential ingredient to successful advertising.

Repeat after me: Good advertising is good salesmanship.

Coming back to our beleaguered marketing intern, Joe.

Let’s re-word his email a little and gauge the difference.

You choose, as a customer:


Grow Your Business

With hundreds of millions of engaged users, Twitter can help you connect with your customers or find new ones


How Fiona’s Florist Tripled Sales in Just 2 Months!

We helped Fiona grow her business with Twitter  ads, and she’s never looked back. Read her full story below!


As a business owner wouldn’t your curiosity be aroused enough to check out Fiona’s story? She’s a real person, just like me. And if she’s done it, why not me!

See, there’s a few human emotions at play here, curiosity (an interesting story), greed (more money) and some education (learn new tactics)

In years gone by, marketers understood these concepts and used them to great effect. Mail order legends like Gary Halbert made millions with “simple” sales letters. No fancy templates. No graphics. But he was a keen student of human psychology used this understanding to craft compelling sales letters that worked, over and over.

Decades before the internet went mainstream, these guys were already running A/B tests on their ads, using methods like mail-in coupons. Gary Halbert would run a small test campaign on a list of sample addresses. If the response rate was up to expectation he would then scale to a larger list. This dude understood open rates of ENVELOPES! Yes, envelopes. He stated that by keeping the look of the envelopes personal rather than business-like, his mail stood a better chance of being opened.

And once the letter was opened, he’d tape an attention grabbing device like a dollar bill, or a packet of sand to the top, to build his readers curiosity. (Note: These were not random items, but tied in with the rest of his attached letter)

His reader would start reading the copy, almost unconsciously, to satisfy the curiosity generated. From there onward it was down the slippery slide of the copy into his sales pitch. This worked like crazy for him. And 25 years later, it still works.

Give his newsletter archive a read here: I found the similarities between old-fashioned mail order and today’s email marketing absolutely fascinating. (Thanks Neville from the Kopywriting Kourse for sharing this uber-valuable copywriting gold mine)

cta graphic

Old School Ad

I was keeping tabs on our sorry cricket side, the #Proteas on Twitter today (the irony!), and I really, just stumbled across this ad from…1912!

That’s over a hundred years ago dudes and dudettes. But notice the persuasive language in use. The advertiser could have inserted a drawing of just the car, listed the features and added a call to action.

But with context and a vivid story, the ad comes to life. That’s all it takes. An insight into your customer’s wants, needs and dreams – and demonstrating how your product will get them there.



2) What about Inbound Marketing

So what is this inbound marketing then? It’s a lot of things. But at the core, it’s all about sharing. Sharing anything and everything that you feel your customer would be looking for online. When they go online researching an issue, that’s related to you or your product, you need to be there. There are literally millions of regular people already teaching everything from “DIY car servicing, to cooking, to martial arts.” Just tap the Youtube icon on your smartphone it’s already there. Free, quality answers.

For a more intense dive into the new “sharing” economy, check out one of The Guardian’s most read articles of 2015: “The end of capitalism has begun”

So how does this tie into Twitter?

Well for one, Joe Marketer’s email is saying “buy me” – when it should rather be saying “Here you go, we have something you’ll enjoy”

Think about it. Who are the clear leaders in online advertising right now? That’s right – Google and Facebook.

Come I tell you another thing. About 5 years ago, Google emailed me one their now trademark R500 Adwords coupons. I had recently also designed my first e-commerce site, for my Dad’s work-wear business. So I thought, “heck lemme try this Adwords thing”. Fast forward 10 years today, just have a look at my spend so far. That screenshot does not even take into account, other clients where I have ads running off a separate Gmail account. (note: I started tracking conversions only recently so the rates are skewed a little.)

Without the coupon, I may have still used Adwords sooner or later, but the coupon certainly made the decision easier for me.

Similar case with Facebook ads. This time, it was a combination of other people’s content enticing me to finally try it out.

I use Leadpages to create high-converting landing pages for a motor dealer. Leadpages has one of the most effective lead nurturing campaigns I’ve ever seen. And on one of their emails, they included a free video course on generating leads via Facebook ads. So I tried Facebook ads, and still use it up to now. But the hard work was done by Leadpages who over time had built up credibility, by sending me cool marketing content that educated me. I quite honestly, looked forward to their next email.

FYI – you can check out the Leadpages Facebook ad course here. Totally mahala! (free, in Zulu)

Have you checked out the link? Just how awesome is that course! And Leadpages went through all the trouble of developing it, when it’s none of their business. Stupid? Hardly, Joe.

You see, they have a policy that their product, Leadpages is a [loaf of bread]. And the [bread-crumbs] that leads customers to their loaf is – the killer content they create. So someone interested in online advertising would typically go on Google and start searching.

Imagine they typed: free video course on Facebook advertising

Well I just did, and see what came up.

Now imagine I click that link, and watch the entire course. I’d learn everything there is about advertising on Facebook. But at the same time, I’ll learn all about how Leadpages can help me capture those website visitors as leads with their wonderful landing pages.

Does it work? You betcha! I’m now a Facebook ads and Leadpages customer, and they both are working great for me.

So Joe Twitter, if you want some of my hard-earned money, don’t just tell me how good your product is. Show me, inspire me. Entertain me. A R500 coupon may just do the trick as well!



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I can’t save Twitter, but I can help their lazy email marketing

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