How to turn Twitter followers into email subscribers

If you have 10 times as many Twitter followers than email addresses, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to interact with these people. My Twitter timeline is constantly scrolling and like everyone else, I get a fair amount of email. Unless you’re a spammer, your email will be in my inbox the next time I open it. If your email is something that does in fact give me something that I want, I might actually look forward to opening your email. I have never looked forward to a Tweet. Ever.

How do you get someone’s email address?

Ask for it.

Of course, not all of your Twitter followers will give it to you, but start building your list. It will grow, just like your social media following did. My email service provider of choice, MailChimp, has a Twitter integration that allows you to create a Twitter Lead Generation Card that simply adds the Twitter user’s email address to your email list when they decide to subscribe. Twitter’s documentation describes how Lead Generation Cards work:

When someone expands your Tweet, they’ll see a description of the offer and a call to action. Their name, @username and email address (which they have previously entered in their Twitter settings) are already pre-filled within the Card. With a simple click of a button, the user can send this information directly to you.

I am working with a client now to turn their strong Twitter presence (15k+ followers) into a fruitful email list that generates revenue for them. With their first Tweet of the MailChimp connected Twitter Card their list grew by 100 email addresses. As they utilize the Twitter Card integration more, their list will continue to grow.

My client found the creation of their first Twitter Card a bit daunting, so I’m going to walk through the process here. If you find yourself needing help, please shoot me an email and I can help you.

When you login to the Twitter Ads account dashboard, they make you create a campaign (even if you don’t want to). It’s annoying but understandable. They want you to advertise on Twitter and they’re happy to help you get started. At this point you can simply fill out the required fields and save the campaign as a draft. If you ever decide you do want to advertise on Twitter, you can re-visit the Campaign dashboard, but for our purposes here we just need to create a Card.

After you’ve saved your draft Campaign, click on the Ads link in the top and this is what you should see:



To create a Twitter Card that will capture email addresses for your mailing list, click on Creatives and select Cards.

Twitter Cards dashboard

Click the ‘Create your first Lead Generation Card’ button to get started. The link above describes the technical nuts and bolts and what fields you need to fill out to get the data flowing from Twitter to MailChimp. Before any of that can even happen you need to make sure that the content on your Twitter Card is on point. Your Twitter followers are used to the way that you communicate on Twitter. Be sure that all of the copy that you put in your Twitter Card is consistent with the voice that they’re used to.

Let’s walk through the different parts of the Card that you will write and how to best do that.


Short description

The Short description is to let people know what you’re all about. You only have 50 characters, so you’ll need to keep it brief. It’s best to let people know what they can expect from your email newsletter. Think about what pain or problem your emails will solve. Will they contain special offers that save people money, content they can’t get anywhere else, notifications of new content so they don’t have to dig through their Twitter feed to find you? If you don’t already know what you’re going to be sending out to your email subscribers, hopefully this is triggering thoughts in your mind about what to send out.

Twitter Cards - Adding Card Image

Card image

The Card image is a required part of Twitter Cards. This image will reinforce who you are to your Twitter followers. The image needs to be at least 800px wide and 200px tall. It’s kind of a strange aspect ratio, but as long as your image is bigger than that, you’ll be able to scale and crop your image to fit within those dimensions. Again, be sure that the image you select maintains the tone that you’ve created on Twitter. If you’re silly on Twitter, the image can be silly. If your audience is more buttoned up business types, you might want to think twice about the totes adorbs puppy image image. Just because you should think twice, doesn’t mean I have to.

Call to action

The call to action is the thing that people are actually going to click on. The rule of thumb here is to chose copy that is accurate and relevant. A lot of calls to action are simply the word ‘Subscribe’. While that is technically accurate, it’s certainly not inspiring. You’ve set the stage with your brilliant short description and image, now is when you set the hook with that perfect call to action. Think back to the pain or problem that you’re solving and speak to that with your call to action.

Privacy policy and fallback URL

These are just links to the content on your site. Be sure to have this content ready to go before you start. These are to give users a place to learn about you and what you’re going to be doing with their data.

Destination URL settings

This is the URL that users will be taken to after they give you their information. This is a place where you can give more information about what to expect and how often. As you develop that page, think of it as a ‘long description’ as opposed to the short description we worked on for the Twitter Card. You can also enter a short message that will show up after the user submits their message. This will display in the Twitter client.

Data settings

The Data settings are where the technical heavy lifting occurs. MailChimp provides you specific directions for Twitter Card integration if you login to your MailChimp account, go to the List you want people to subscribe to, select ‘Signup Forms’ in the top navigation and then select ‘Form integration’. Your data will be different, but the page looks something like this:


One thing that the MailChimp instructions leave out is that you will need to create a Merge field on your MailChimp list to hold the user’s Twitter username. You can create one called ‘Screen name’ and the default tag will be something like ‘MMERGE2′ (in my case).

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 4.31.26 PM

After you’ve done that on the MailChimp side of things, hop back over to your Twitter Card and change the Custom Key Name for the Screen name field to the MailChimp merge tag.

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 4.29.25 PM

Once you get your Twitter Card set up with the proper technical settings Twitter will try to send a test submission to your list. Open up MailChimp and make sure all the data came through. If it did, you’re all set. When you tweet you can include a link to the Twitter Card you created and your followers will be able to quickly and easily sign up to receive emails from you.