How to collect email addresses with Twitter cards

Update - February 2017

Twitter recently announced they have withdrawn support for Twitter cards as described in this post.

As an alternative, try this article on other ways to collect email addresses on a blog without really annoying readers.

You might also like this article on why you should collect email addresses on your blog.

So this week I’m playing agony aunt. I was talking to Karolina at FBIZZ Entrepreneurs Hub London, about how to collect emails using Twitter cards. And she said, “That’s a lovely idea, Emily, but how do I set one up?”

I was going to write her a long email to explain. But then I thought, maybe other people would like to know the same thing. So - for Karolina and anyone else who’d interested: here’s how to collect email signups from people right inside Twitter.

What is a Twitter card?

Twitter Cards are a feature that Twitter offers to advertisers, to make their promoted tweets more powerful. You can use Cards to get people to visit your website or download your app, but the kind we’re going to use is a Lead Generation Card. It looks like this.

An example of a Twitter Card for collecting emails - a Lead Generation card

What you need to get started

I suggest you gather these things together before you start setting up the card on Twitter. It saves a lot of faffing later.

  • A Twitter account (obviously).
  • A Twitter Ads account. Sign up here. You need to go as far as adding a valid payment method to your account. You don’t need to hand over money to use Twitter cards, but you can’t access them until you put a card on file.
  • A JPG or PNG image 800 pixels by 200 pixels. This goes on the card to attract attention and get people to sign up. I’ve found that in the main Twitter stream only the central part of the image shows, so if you’re using text, put it in the centre.
  • A description (50 characters) and call to action (20 characters) for your card. Don’t panic that these are so short - your card will be shared as part of a regular tweet, so you have a bit more space there to persuade people to sign up.
  • A link to your privacy policy. If you collect emails on your website, you should already have one of these. If you don’t, now’s the time to get one. You can’t create Lead Generation Twitter cards without one. I used Lawbite to create mine. You can also find examples all over the web.
  • A fallback URL. This appears for users who aren’t able to view the card. For instance, if they’re using a third-party Twitter client that doesn’t handle cards. A link to your signup page on your website would be a good option. If you want to redirect users to your site after they’ve signed up, you’ll need that link too. But as the whole point for me is getting people to sign up without leaving Twitter, I don’t use this option. I do add a thank you message, though.
  • An email service to store the emails you collect. I’ve given instructions for Mailchimp and Convertkit below. This isn’t compulsory - you can just collect the emails on Twitter and download them in a spreadsheet later.

And finally: if you’re running Ad Block Plus, turn it off for Twitter. It prevents the image upload working (well, it does for me). This may also apply to other ad blockers, so if you’re having image issues, try turning off any blockers.

Sign into Twitter Ads and create a new card.

You’ll arrive on the campaigns dashboard. Skip this, go to the menu, and choose Creatives > Cards.

Choose  Creatives  from the Ads menu

On the Creatives/Cards screen, you’ll see a list of cards you made earlier (if you have any). There’s a series of radio buttons across the top that let you filter by the different types of card. Some promote a website, some let you download apps.

We’re interested in the first option: Lead Generation cards. Make sure that’s the option that’s selected, and hit the big blue button to Create Lead Generation Card.

Press the button to start creating a Lead Generation card.

Set up your card content

Twitter is pretty helpful in walking you through this part. Many of the fields have suggestions for the kind of text you need to add. As you enter text and images on the left, the preview updates on the right so you can see how it’s working.

Twitter walks you through the detail of setting up the card content.

Note that the main text at the top of the preview - where it says “The card for your Promoted tweet will look something like this” - is not part of the card. It’s where your tweet will go when you send the card out.

There are two expandable headings under the main card content: Destination URL settings (optional) and Data settings (optional). Lets expand and deal with Destination URL settings first.

You can control what happens after people sign up in Destination Settings

If you want to send people to your website after signing up, add a Destination URL. Otherwise, just add a thanks message.

Hook up your email list - Mailchimp

Now we’re going to do the clever bit: connecting your card to your email software. Hold tight. However technical it sounds, it’s basically copying and pasting text into boxes.

Let’s start with Mailchimp.

Open up the Data settings section. You’ll see fields for a Submit URL (you’ll enter text here in a minute). There’s also a box for HTTP method - change this to say POST.

Then there’s some stuff about about user information to be collected and custom key names for that user info - this makes sure Mailchimp can interpret the data. In the Custom key name for Email, type EMAIL in capitals.

You’ll also see a button at the bottom saying Add hidden field. Press this button to reveal extra Key and Value boxes. You’ll fill these in a minute.

In another tab of your browser, open up your Mailchimp Lists page. Pick the list where you want your emails to be saved, and use the drop-down arrow on the right to go to the Signup Forms page for that list. Scroll down that page and choose Form Integrations.

You need to go into the signup forms for a Mailchimp list to collect the text you need for your Twitter Card.

This is the text you need to copy and paste into your Twitter Card.

Mailchimp tells you exactly what to do to set up the Twitter card.

First, copy your Submit URL from Mailchimp into the Submit URL box on Twitter.

Then enter ‘id’ into the Key box for your hidden field, and copy the key from Mailchimp into the Value box of the hidden field. Like so:

This is how you set up the Twitter card for Mailchimp.

See here for Mailchimp’s instructions.

Hook up your email list - ConvertKit

Now for ConvertKit.

Open up your ConvertKit account in a new tab, and create a new form for collecting Twitter signups. (You can reuse an existing form as well if you want.)

Go into the form settings, and choose the Twitter Cards tab on the left. Copy the Submit URL you’re given into the Submit URL box on your Twitter card.

We just need to copy one field from ConvertKit into our Twitter Card

You also need to set the HTTP method on your Twitter card to POST.

Then there’s the stuff about custom key names for the user information to be collected - like with Mailchimp, you need this to be right so that ConvertKit can interpret the data. Set the Custom key name for Name to first_name, and the one for email to email. Like so.

This is how we set up a Twitter Card for ConvertKit

Finish your card

All you need to do now is name your card (just for your reference), check the box for the terms and conditions, and press the Create Card button.

Twitter will immediately test your card, and show you a screen like the one below. You need to check your list and make sure you’ve signed yourself up correctly.

Twitter tests your card as soon as you create it.

Be careful if you were already a subscriber to your own list before you tested the card. Most email services won’t subscribe you to the same list twice. You’ll need to unsubscribe from your list before testing, and again in the future every time you want to test the card.

So you have a Twitter card. Now what?

You can tweet it. I prefer to tweet cards from Twitter itself, as I’m convinced it works when I use Buffer. You can schedule tweets in Twitter if you want it to go out several times. You can also use the same card with lots of different tweets.

Once you’ve tweeted your card, you can pin the tweet to the top of your Twitter profile so everyone who visits is encouraged to sign up.

You can also promote tweets including that card, using Twitter Ads.

You don’t have to just collect emails either. You can offer all the usual bonus content in exchange for an email: ebooks, workbooks, brochures, or an email course - as in my example above. Just set up the content delivery using an autoresponder like you would normally. (Tip - ConvertKit is MUCH better for this than Mailchimp.)

If you have a ‘how to’ question you’d like me to answer, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to help.