I’m rolling out an auto-DM campaign!

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Consider this your fair warning: I’m rolling out an auto-DM campaign to my Twitter followers.

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/waits out the inevitable fit of rage

You’re probably wondering why. I’m testing a belief that many people on Twitter would engage more, would get more value, would be happier followers, if they actually saw half of what I published on Twitter. I suspect that people miss just about everything because it’s very noisy. My audience consists of many folks who are marketing professionals. They in turn follow and subscribe to lots of people, which means that even blocks of updates like #the5 are gone within minutes of them logging into Twitter, so they miss the good stuff.

I firmly believe that things like newsletters are the antidote to this. Newsletters are a better archive than hitting the favorites button, they’re a more lasting archive, and they’re a more convenient archive that’s portable and self-contained.

Here’s the campaign details and how I’ve set it up to work. Everyone following me should get one and only one auto-DM. Each day, my TweetAdder software will send the maximum allowed number of daily DMs (250) out to everyone who is following me with this tweet:

Thanks for following. May I please ask you to subscribe to my newsletter so you don’t miss useful marketing news? https://bit.ly/twadm

It will get you to this Twitter landing page, which I just wrote. If you inspect the URL in the tweet closely, you’ll find that it contains a referrer field that will flow into my CRM, which will give me an idea of what percentage of the 43,000+ people following me have decided the DM was of enough value to subscribe. Of course, it also contains the usual Google Analytics tracking codes too.

Naturally, I’ll be able to track analytics as well, following down the chain of actions:

  • How many DMs did I send?
  • How many were clicked on? (bit.ly data and GA data)
  • How many “converted”? (newsletter subscriber data)

For those who do subscribe and fill out the form completely, I’ll also be able to cross reference Twitter handles and when you started following me; this should give me an idea whether newer followers are more interested in engaging in this way than older followers.

Stay tuned in! I will publish semi-regular updates about the experiment, which according to my math, should conclude in 175 days or roughly on April 16, 2012. At or after that time, I’ll share some rollup statistics on how it went. If you’re a data junkie who likes to crunch this sort of information, please check back in around mid-April and I’ll gladly share an anonymized data set with you if I can.

As I said at the beginning of the post, consider this your fair warning. If getting a single auto-DM really, really upsets you (and it honestly does to some people), please take a few moments to unfollow me now. I won’t be offended, since that’s effectively the equivalent of opting out. I’ll tweet out this post, too. However, if you miss the tweet, you definitely prove the point that the auto-DM campaign is trying to make, yes?

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


20 responses to “I’m rolling out an auto-DM campaign!”

  1. Love that you actually test this stuff, CP. LOVE.

    1. Never know until we try!

  2. Awesome. Been considering something like this myself so I’m going to be interested to see how it turns out.

  3. Great idea Chris. (And thanks for the fair warning of the inching DMs). I hope that in addition to testing the conversion rate of the single DM message that you would consider also testing 2 different messages (perhaps 2 separate benefit statements) within your campaign to not only monitor the overall effectiveness of the campaign but the the highest converting message.

    You have a unique opportunity (large follower base) where you can segment that test even further. Would help other marketers down the line!

    Looking forward to April and seeing your results.

    1. I considered that, but I think there’s enough variability as is without multidimensional factors at play. If the first run shows good results from the first thousand or so, I may add to it, but I want to at least get the first thousand results in as vanilla as possible.

  4. Mostly because there isn’t a third option. Twitter is fairly binary in its communications choices for the follow: all or nothing.

  5. Thanks for the heads up. I tend to un-follow accounts that send auto-DMs that ask me to sign up for something. But this is related to whether or not I’m actively engaged in conversation with the person. I recently followed a co-conference attendee. We had not engaged in any conversation, we just happened to be at the same event. However, as soon as I followed, I got an auto-DM asking me to sign up for her course. Her topic is of no interest; we did not have anything in common to discuss. I knew the connect was probably not going to play out productively in the long run. Disconnected.

    1. Of course, this means I’ll have to throw in some WoW stuff into the next issue 🙂

      1. Anything to keep me interested (?). 🙂

  6. I don’t recall what information you asked for when I signed up for your newsletter previously; I don’t know that I would be as annoyed by this DM if I wasn’t a subscriber as I will be when I get solicited to subscribe (but I’m already a newsletter subscriber).

    Do you have data on what % of your newsletter subscribers are already following you on Twitter?   Might be an interesting metric to see how that number changes.

    1. I don’t, actually – Twitter data isn’t something I can auto-append, though I dearly wish it was.

  7. DM away, Chris! I generally don’t like auto-DMs from new people I’ve followed, but if I see a DM from someone who is already a font of useful information, I don’t mind at all.

  8.  Avatar

    It’s not clear to me how this will help, as I’m already following you on everything you mention above. I already receive your newsletter, AND I have a column on Tweetdeck dedicated to #the5. Haven’t been able to contribute to that lately, however.

    So, I’ll probably either ignore or delete the auto DM when I receive it.

    1. No worries sir. This campaign definitely isn’t targeted at you – but there’s no way to do that kind of filtering with current tools.

      1. Oh, I totally get that, and was making sure that your data is intact. What’s your feeling on TrueTwit?

  9. 24 hours later, here’s the first results on the initial batch of 250:
    3 replies
    39 clicks
    12 new subscribers
    7 net new followers (average 15 a day, so call it -8)

    CTR: 15.6%
    Conversion Rate: 4.8%
    Action Rate (Conv/CTR): 30.7%
    Loss Rate (unfollow/DM): 3.2%

    For comparison, my last email campaign:

    CTR: 10.25%
    Conversion Rate: 0.5%
    Action Rate: 4.85%
    So far, the results don’t look good if you hate Auto-DMs. The CTR is higher, the conversion rate is 10x the last email campaign, and the action rate is more than 6x.

    The next batch is going out now.

  10. What if I’m already subscribed to your newsletter? Would I still be getting the auto-DM?

    1. Yes sir, mainly because the toolset I’m using has no intelligent way to filter that out, or I would.

  11. 48 Hours later, batch 2 results:

    250 sent
    No replies
    31 clicks
    4 new subscribers
    42 new followers (no net loss)

    CTR: 12.4%
    Conversion Rate: 1.6%
    Action Rate: 12.9%
    Loss Rate: 0%

    Combined campaign results so far:

    500 sent
    2 replies
    70 clicks
    16 new subscribers
    No net loss of followers

    CTR: 14%
    Conversion Rate: 3.2%
    Action Rate: 22.9%

    Yesterday definitely performed less well than the first batch, but overall the results remain positive. Pressing on to batch number 3 later today.

  12. I’m sending this to some of my friends who are doing consulting because I think it’s a fascinating idea, especially since auto-DMs are perceived so badly. Though, since you warned your followers in advance, I think it’s more palatable. I hope you’ll do a wrap up post with a full summary when it’s done.

    I haven’t received the DM yet, but since I follow your blog and saw this, I’ve subscribed to your newsletter now.

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