Is Twitter the New Mailing List?

by randulo on June 8, 2010

in General

Guest post by @randulo

It’s particularly interesting for me to observe what Clos Pepe is doing on Twitter (@clospepe), because we’ve been to their amazing annual events at least twice. Wes Hagen and his wife Chanda are both charming and hospitable people, and they make a more than decent (some might call it cult) Pinot Noir, too. The folks at Clos Pepe are so nice, that even the 1997 web site design doesn’t dim my great feelings of their barbeque/tastings at their Sta. Rita Hills home and winery. In fact, I think their Twitter feed is more enjoyable to follow than going to the site which has, among other turn-of-the-century features, centered texts and multiple Quicktime videos on auto-play.

Take a look at what Clos Pepe is up to on Twitter:

If I were living in the area (or even in a location where they could ship me their wines), I’d prefer to be following this Twitter stream than to have the same events and announcement arrive in my mailbox. This seems to be an ideal way to get news of Clos Pepe.

  • Subscribing and unsubscribing is a snap on a Twitter client or mobile or even using the Twitter web page.
  • I can see who might also be interested in Clos Pepe, possibly follow them and compare notes, etc
  • The news doesn’t come into my email stream, which I protectively reserve for high priority messages (like the vi@gra offers and Yale diplomas I deal with daily).
  • The channel works both ways, so they can also get (and hopefully respond to) feedback

Using Twitter in this way goes against traditional wisdom of “engagement”, aka “Don’t Blurt!”. In the Clos Pepe example, I know Wes has his own Twitter account as well, and we can see plenty of personal engagement there. I know that the winery’s production is small enough to require you to be on an allocation list if you want to buy some. This is an enviable position for any winery to attain. I wonder how many people who are on the list are also on Twitter? I know at least one person. I wonder if he follows @ClosPepe?

Eve disagrees with me on this one, I think of Clos Pepe as a brand. What do you think and why?


1 dean guadagni June 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Excellent post!

Taking the ideas and questions a step further. . .

1. “I wonder how many people who are on the list are also on Twitter?

A: This is a huge opportunity most wineries are missing. We perform data appends, with a simple email address, that returns up to 25 social network urls for that email address.

2. “I know at least one person. I wonder if he follows @ClosPepe?”

A: This is the key. If a winery has club members or consumers who do not follow them on Twitter but have a Twitter account, this a perfect opportunity to create an offer. Twitter is another touch point but it is not being measured and perceived as the direct marketing and sales channel that it is becoming.

Facts about Twitter Evolution:

1. It is a direct marketing and sales channel that can be keycoded and measured

2. It is a huge list building opportunity
3. List segmentation is available for those who understand how to segment
4. New touch point for consumers
5. Prospecting tool leading to real time conversations which can be converted into tasting room traffic, new relationships, sales offers, and list adoption
6. List “fatigue” can be averted by utilizing messaging on Twitter rather than blast emails

2 randulo June 9, 2010 at 6:55 am

Great points, Dean, thanks for adding these more developed thoughts. You didn’t address the question about whether you think Clos Pepe is a “brand” as such, but you added some very useful notions.

3 Wink Lorch June 9, 2010 at 8:22 am

Yes, Randulo, I do think that any winery with a name is a brand and that increasingly, we as invidiual self-employed writers or consultants are also a brand.

Regarding your hypothesis on twitter being the new mailing list, I agree with the arguments for this and even personally like the idea. However, I fear that too many twitter users may be disorganised (like me) if they end up following lots of people and don’t have them properly grouped or time enough to monitor everything. This may mean they miss certain important messages unless they come through on email as well (not that I’m much more organised with my emails). There’s an awful lot of noise out there from brands, both big, small and personal.

4 randulo June 9, 2010 at 8:39 am

Wink, thanks for the input. The average Twitter user may not be dealing with thousands of people like you and I do for business reasons. In fact, there are figures on this somewhere, but typically, people are dealing with under the Dunbar number of 150. So, if they’re following friends, family and a few wineries they are really into, Twitter is the RSS for the masses as well as the new mailing list. Then, if the wine folks are really big fans of a lot of wineries, bloggers and wine buddies, they also are probably into the tools that can group activity such as TweetDeck and many others.

Also, it’s clear that traditional mailing still needs to be done for major operations, such as Wes Hagen’s BBQ events (although these exceptional happenings may be word of mouth) , allocations, new web sites, change of phone number or price lists. However, what Wes and others do on a weekly or even daily basis on Twitter can disseminate tidbits on a timely basis, rather than the big lump of stuff that one receives typically in a mailing. To this last point, ever wondered if people who send out mailings don’t think about the ones they receive? They are all too long! No one reads through them, if we did, we’d spend all day on email, literally.

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