Twitter is always a highly recommended social media channel to promote your brand online. But it’s not easy to build a following. It’s even harder to persuade followers to click through to your site—and convert.
Indeed, historically, Twitter traffic has had one of the lowest conversion rates compared to other social media giants. Yet Twitter can be a reliable source of both clicks and conversions.
If you’re looking for a quick win or hack, read something else (which—spoiler alert—won’t work). But if you want to learn a tried-and-true process that does work, here you go.
If it’s hard to succeed on Twitter, why bother?
Based on third-party stats, Twitter has around 330 million monthly users globally. For its size alone, it’s a market worth exploring. I personally love Twitter for two reasons:
- It’s incredibly open. You can reach out or connect to just about anyone. You don’t have to be friends to talk to someone, and users can discover your tweets even if they’re outside your immediate network of followers—you’re not limited by your pool of connections.
- Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Twitter still gives you organic visibility. I resort to Twitter advertising only rarely—my organic reach is pretty solid. Any person or brand, big or small, can get results from Twitter almost immediately.
That said, not everything works.
What hasn’t worked for me on Twitter
Despite over a decade on Twitter and more than 66,000 followers, I’ve never really seen an impact from the following tactics, despite the fact that they’re extolled as “best practices” in most guides to Twitter marketing:
Using any kind of hashtags. Used strategically (e.g., tweeting to trending hashtags), hashtags may help with visibility for your tweets, but I’ve never won many link clinks, even on tweets with high engagement.
That may be because hashtags are clickable, so they steal clicks from links in your tweets. I still use hashtags for tweeting my articles but keep conversion-oriented tweets (i.e., those linking to a landing page) as clean as I can.
Using tools that recommend your “best time to tweet.” I’ve used a variety of tools that monitor your activity and help you schedule updates for your most successful time slots.
I’ve failed to see any noticeable impact in tweet performance or clicks, so I ended up canceling my subscription to those tools. Either those tools are poorly made, or there is no “best time to tweet.”
Uploading native images. Like hashtags, tweeted images may help with engagement (i.e. likes, comments, retweets), but I couldn’t find any correlation between using images inside tweets and more clicks or conversions.
(I actually have a theory that tweeted images hurt traffic and conversions—they’re another click-stealer.)
Those failures aside, here’s the seven-step process that has helped me earn clicks and conversions on Twitter.
How to earn clicks and conversions on Twitter
Step 1: Spend some time building your Twitter profile
You don’t need thousands of Twitter followers to start generating traffic and conversions. “Building your Twitter profile” is actually pretty doable:
- Set up your Twitter account so it looks real and somewhat memorable.
- Start interacting and winning some followers so that your Twitter account looks active and established.
The bottom line: Your Twitter profile shouldn’t look “brand new” when you start experimenting with the tactics in the remaining steps. Otherwise, you may not get much from your efforts.
As a start, fill in as much information as you can in your profile. Basic as this may seem, you’re probably under-optimized on at least one element:
- Upload a profile picture.
- Upload a header image. (You can use Snappa to create an original, eye-catching header image to reflect your industry expertise.)
- Fill in your full name.
- Add a Twitter bio. (Here are a few tips on creating a memorable one.)
- Add your website link.
With a basic profile in place, it’s time to generate some meaningful interactions. Here’s what to do on a daily basis:
1. Participate in niche Twitter chats.
Chatting on Twitter is the most powerful way to build interactions and followers.
Twitter chat organizers are usually grateful for every participant, gladly follow them, and will put your contributions in the spotlight—bringing you likes, retweets, and comments. Here’s a list of major Twitter chats in digital marketing.
If you get particularly active and helpful, you may even start receiving invites to host Twitter chats.
2. Monitor tweeted questions and sentiment to provide help.
This is a great way to build followers and even find some initial leads. Twitter has an advanced search feature, but it also supports a couple of simple search operators that can help you find relevant discussions:
- Question search. Simply add a space and a “?” after your query, and you’ll force Twitter to show tweeted questions only.
- Smiley search. Twitter supports both “:)” and “:(” search, allowing you to find tweets containing either. Type “:(” next to your keyword (again, don’t forget to add the space) to filter tweets for those with negative comments. This works great if you use it to monitor a more established competitor. You’ll understand their weak points and even win those customers to your side by suggesting your better solution.
Both of these search results can be monitored through Tweetdeck. Simply log in once a day to check those columns and see if you can contribute to any of the tweets:
Here’s an example of a tweet that came as a result of Twitter question monitoring (and brought an engaged click, too):
Answering Twitter questions can bring you some traffic, even for a brand new account. When I started a new site and Twitter account, I got some clicks and opt-ins within the first two weeks simply by being helpful on Twitter:
Admittedly, it’s not a self-sustaining source of traffic. You need to be on Twitter at least once a day to answer questions and drive people to your site (when it makes sense). But it’s a nice way to build an engaged audience if you’re just starting out.
You can also set up email alerts for Twitter search, but I would hold off until you’re a bit more comfortable with the niche; otherwise, your alert parameters may be too loose.
To keep tabs on specific companies and influencers, I recommend using Tweet Alerts, a Twitter-monitoring platform that lets you set up email notifications. For example, to monitor the content marketing industry, I have the following email alert:
- Keyword: [content];
- Profile keywords: [Moz, Google].
This means that I receive an email alert from people who (likely) work at Moz or Google (or are somehow related to the companies) and also mention “content” in their tweets:
3. Check aggregator sites that feature tweets.
Plenty of tools (free and paid) can help you surface popular tweets. Twitter’s trending tab and search function is an obvious first choice. But there are other options.
If you work in marketing, niche sites can help you find what’s popular and grow your following. Viral Content Bee, my own platform, allows users to upload (non-promotional) URLs for others to share on a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter.
Sparktoro’s Trending list also regularly highlights industry content that’s earned popularity based on Twitter activity. The trending list may surface URLs, or it may surface individual tweets—opportunities to join an active conversation or catalog the types of Twitter content that earn industry attention.
Plenty of other tools are industry agnostic. Paid tools like Triberr can help you connect to Twitter influencers, curate content, and grow engagements. Sprout Social and Agorapulse allow you to track keyword trends on Twitter and will also surface the most popular tweets for a given time period.
4. Create and manage a Twitter list of influencers who interact with you.
The above exercises will help you do more than build an engaged following. You’ll also better understand your audience and what engages them. This is a good time to start a new list of niche influencers or peers that eagerly respond on Twitter.
I have my own list of niche influencers whom I sometimes reach out to when looking for feedback (opinion or help). Monitoring that Twitter list through Tweetdeck lets me continue to interact with them through likes, retweets, and comments:
With those strategies as a foundation for profile growth, you can start to think about ways to do something more than gain revenue-free attention on Twitter.
Step 2: Set up a Twitter-friendly conversion channel
Who needs this step? Most any business whose products cost more than $100. But this process is useful for any business.
As a rule, almost any attempt to market to social media users has one big problem: You’re interrupting their experience.
Few people browse social media feeds with an intent to buy anything, so if you push your landing page, you interrupt what they’re doing. The result? Those who do click your link aren’t ready to buy anyway.
Speaking about Facebook, Susan Wenograd put it best when she explained why so few brands see good results from social media ads:
I’ve worked with coaches trying to sell a $3k mastermind and they sell 0, claiming FB doesn’t work.
It works great if you understand you’re dealing with cold traffic that you need to develop a relationship with. $3k mastermind course out of the gate? Not likely. But…leads for under $10 each who you then sell to later? Entirely doable.
Twitter traffic—and just about all social traffic—is “cold traffic.” People may not know you, and they may not be willing to learn more. Going straight for the sale may be ineffective (unless it’s really cheap or given away for free).
So, instead of marketing your primary product right away, come up with a conversion funnel that will warm up that traffic first. Offer something your customers can get immediately (and get immediate value from), without having to pay a lot of money or go through a long registration process.
In exchange, you get their email address and introduce them to your brand. The next time you reach out, they’re likely to remember you.
Depending on your business model and products you offer, this step could involve:
- Creating a free lead generation magnet (a whitepaper, a cheatsheet);
- Giving away a freebie (like a free chapter from a book you’re selling, a t-shirt, etc.);
- Promoting a free trial of your software;
- Creating a video course and inviting your social media users to take it.
Admittedly, the last option is my personal favorite, which is why I wrote a separate article describing the process here. I prefer this approach for two main reasons:
- With video courses, you can engage your customers in a meaningful way (e.g., describing problems and gently suggesting your products as a solution).
- Video courses are powerful personal brand builders, capable of positioning you as a thought leader.
Video courses are easy to put together. You can use sites like Udemy to host it, or, if you need more control over your audience and outreach methods, you can use Kajabi, which requires no technical skills and offers an array of marketing and engagement features, including a landing page builder, drip campaigns, email automation, etc.
Step 3: Optimize your landing page for Twitter.
When it comes to Twitter-friendly landing pages, there are two tips I’d recommend:
- Use Twitter cards. These populate rich tweets that can include images and text snippets from the linked URL. Clicking any part of that information takes the user to the linked page.
- Get right to the point. It should be clear what your tweet is about from the first glance. Take a 5-second test to ensure people don’t have to wonder what your page is about and what they should do there. Here’s a good list of minimal landing page templates I often use for inspiration.
Finally, install tracking software that allows you to retarget those visitors when they return to your site.
Again, let me re-emphasize that you’re not using Twitter to sell your primary product. Social media is about introducing your brand to people who don’t know you yet and enticing them to connect with you.
Of course, because you need to sell products at some point, this is where on-site retargeting comes into play. Tools like Finteza help you track returning visitors and serve custom offers or calls to action (CTAs) based on their initial path of discovery (e.g., Twitter).
Now that those Twitter users have been introduced to your brand, you can greet them and offer your primary product:
For example, one of my Twitter lead-generation campaigns was based on giving away a free writing checklist. Using Finteza, I was able to set up a custom journey for my Twitter traffic so that they saw a relevant CTA throughout the site:
If any of them failed to opt in on their first visit, Finteza would serve them the same CTAs on their return visit. If they did opt in, they would see another CTA urging them to buy my premium content marketing course.
Depending on your landing page, you may also want to play with a traffic engagement tool called Alter. Among other features, the tool offers pretty effective exit-intent pop-ups to engage your visitor when they’re ready to leave. You can customize the settings to show the exit intent pop-up only on specific pages:
When it comes to Twitter traffic—which is usually looking for a quick fix—this could help get more value from their brief engagement.
Step 4: Schedule your Tweets far into the future.
When you have both your landing page and your conversion funnel set up, you can start promoting it on Twitter:
- Add your URL to your Twitter profile or description (with an appropriate CTA);
- Schedule 10–20 tweets far into the future, using different copy.
To diversify your copy, here are a few ideas to play with:
- Tweet stats or numbers from your research or whitepaper. Try working it as “Did you know?…”
- Use a “Download” CTA within your tweet, which often generates engaged traffic.
- If you have social proof on your landing page, quote it and, if possible, tag your client or friend who provided the testimonial. (In general, Twitter tagging is incredibly effective for getting retweets from those tagged.)
If you have a team or freelancers helping you with your project, the best way to diversify your tweets is to include them in tweet writing and scheduling.
You can do that by using a social media collaboration platform like ContentCal. Simply connect your Twitter account to the platform and add your team members as contributors. They can draft Tweets for you to review, edit, and schedule:
If you tweet a lot and have an established following, consider recurring tweets. Tools like MavSocial can help you schedule your tweets weeks ahead with one click.
I’d refrain from using recurring tweets if your Twitter profile is pretty quiet; otherwise, you’ll flood your Twitter feed with the same tweets.
Step 5: Involve niche influencers.
Twitter is an incredibly open platform, making it a perfect influencer outreach tool. I rarely have time for email outreach campaigns, but I often use Twitter to attract influencers’ attention.
Start by tagging an influencer from your list and request feedback or ask if they’re interested in a free copy (if it’s a downloadable) or access (if it’s a SaaS product). It’s easy to overuse this tactic but okay if you’re doing it no more than once a week—and always tagging different people.
Obviously, the better you know your contact, the better your chances of getting their feedback and help promoting your offer. Success at this stage is usually contingent on the past work you’ve put in to build a Twitter-based relationship. (Go back to Step 1 if you’re unsure what that entails.)
When tweeting at influencers, keep it short and sweet, but also point out why you’re reaching out to them specifically. Here’s a quick example of a tweet from a new follower (whom I hadn’t interacted with before). Their tweet drove me to the site and prompted me to register for an account.
I feel like their mentioning my article did the trick:
To find Twitter influencers—beyond those you may already interact with—use Buzzsumo. It’s the best Twitter search tool out there, allowing you to search within Twitter users’ bios, within article titles they’ve tweeted, or within tweets. It also shows how likely each influencer is to retweet or reply to your tweet!
For example, if I were to promote my writing checklist to Twitter influencers, this profile would be a perfect match!
I can also see profiles that shared related content, making it easy for me to reach out to them with something like, “Hey! I found this article though your tweet, so you may also be interested in my checklist, too! Would love to know your feedback!”
Step 6: Recycle your most successful tweets.
Once you’ve established a routine for ongoing interactions and scheduled various tweets, it’s time to start watching your stats. Twitter provides some basic analytics for you to identify your best-performing tweets:
You can also export your activity to a spreadsheet to sort your updates and find tweets with the highest engagement rate:
From there, filter for tweets that link to your landing page and put them back in the spotlight using one or more methods below:
- Pin the tweet at the top of your Twitter feed.
- Comment on your own tweet, tagging an influencer and asking for an opinion, help, or feedback.
- Retweet your own tweet with a comment.
Retweeting your own comment will bring your initial tweet back on top of your followers’ feeds. You can also tag anyone in that comment.
Step 7: Reinforce the impact with Twitter Ads.
Who needs this step? Everyone. As soon as you’ve identified your best-performing tweets, increase their reach with Twitter ads.
I don’t normally invest much in Twitter Ads for landing pages—maybe $30 to push them a bit further. But I have played with several Twitter targeting options and found these two strategies to be valuable.
- Select a “Website clicks or conversions” campaign to pay only for clicks to your site. (I don’t use the “Conversions” option because I use Finteza to target and re-target those clicks—it’s cheaper.)
- I use Twitter’s “Lookalike” audience and target my engaged influencers and profiles similar to those.
Here’s the difference lookalike-audience targeting can make compared to generic keyword targeting (for the same tweet):
And again, I don’t invest in ads too often, but if I had to deal with newer, less-followed Twitter accounts, I’d run ads at least once a week.
Even if you’ve been on Twitter for a while—and managed to build an engaged following—you may not know yet how to transition that engagement from brand awareness to site clicks and conversions.
Going through this seven-step process will help you refine and improve your Twitter conversion optimization strategy:
- Spend some time building your profile.
- Set up a Twitter-friendly conversion channel.
- Optimize your landing page for Twitter.
- Schedule your Tweets far into the future.
- Involve niche influencers.
- Recycle your most successful tweets.
- Reinforce the impact with Twitter Ads.