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Twitter changes its email notifications

By default, every time someone new follows you on Twitter, you get a notification via email (which you can turn off in the Settings, as I have). Yesterday I saw a bunch of people in my stream talking about a newly designed email notification so I decided to look into it.

Here’s the old notification that you’d get for any new followers:

It’s a text-only email that’s short and to the point. The message is clear and the two necessary links are provided (to the user’s profile and to the Settings).

Now here’s the new design:

It’s an HTML email which means that (based on my email settings) the images don’t come in automatically. First I have to hit the “Download Pictures” link in the yellow bar at top. Then once I do, the email looks like this:

Twitter is now providing some additional information about your new follower:

  • Avatar
  • # of Followers
  • # of Updates
  • # Following

Still the only two links provided are to the user’s profile and the notification settings.

While the graphics now allow the emails to be branded, I really don’t see the value beyond that of having made this change. I don’t believe that a user can somehow evaluate the new follower without reading his/her latest updates (which you can’t do here), so you’ll need to go their profile anyway to decide if you want to follow back — and you’d see the user’s stats from there.

In my opinion it’s just unnecessary clutter. I wish Twitter would spend their energy making valuable improvements instead of “me too” parities.

Take a look at what others are saying about the new Twitter emails, and tell me your thoughts in the comments.

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  • http://www.mattjmcd.com Matt J McDonald

    I'm actually a fan of these new emails. I see your point about the clutter, and images can be a pain, but I still think there are some benefits.

    It's made it much easier to find a spammer without clicking through and wasting time. Hot girl picture? Following a ton of people? 2 updates? Easy. I used to have to waste time on the profile pages, but not anymore.

    That being said, it would be nice if they'd put the bio in the email as well. Doing that would give you the best idea of who they are without actually having to see their updates.

    Rock on.

  • http://www.joshshear.com/ Josh

    Totally agree with Matt on this – in evaluating whether to follow back a new follower, first thing I look at is followers/following/updates. If you're following 900 people and 4 people (auto-)follow you, sorry.

  • http://erielookingproductions.info Stephen Michael Kellat

    I initially thought it was a phisher rather than Twitter. Pretty e-mails are nice but text-only did convey what was really needed. Even though the new, pretty e-mails give some details you still cannot resolve things from there.

    This e-mail upgrade only seems to be fuel for the Apple takeover rumors relative to Twitter, I suppose.

  • http://www.johnnyhugel.com Johnny Hugel

    I agree with everyone above me, and add that a “common friends” feature would also be helpful in determining whether it's worth following the user back.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Johnny, I love the common friends idea. In the meantime, check out my friend
      @Yoni's app TwinCommon (http://twitter.infinityplusone.com/TwInCommon) –
      lets you see which friends and followers two usernames have in common.

  • dilini

    I also like the new email format. You can definitely tell if its a spammer from the number of followers, following and updates.

    It would also be nice if they included the last few updates in the email.

    So personally, I think its an improvement.

  • http://www.rachelhpeters.com Rachel

    Agreed. I use the new info to determine if the user is a spammer. I like Matt's point about including the bio. That would be really helpful.

  • http://blog.michaelleis.com mleis

    Making the email more visual is just okay. At least it's a little more information with the same amount of speed in the readability as the text emails.

    Most of all, I think it's about collecting data on the email usage. Hopefully, the analytics that come back now will help them see some patterns and help them make changes that are really beneficial to the experience.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Mike, that's a really smart point. It could very well be about analytics
      that they have enabled now that it's an HTML email. I didn't think of that!

      • http://blog.michaelleis.com mleis

        Since that comment, I actually clicked on one of the links in the emails. The web URL is appended with a UTF tracker (can't remember which analytics package appends with UTF). So they're not only looking at email metrics, like deliverability, opens, and clicked links, but they're also tracking paths into site usage.

        Will be interesting to see how this affects future service iterations.

  • http://www.ditindia.com Tejas Shukla

    Agreed with Matt. They could have a Bio and also why not including last 3-4 tweets that makes me decide whether or not to check the profile.

  • http://www.lonscohen.com obilon

    I like the new email format. Makes it better branded and nicer to look at. I also would like to see the bio and say the last five tweets they sent listed as well. But the follower info is useful to see if the person is a spammer. But most important is the fact that I now get the persons avatar, which to me is big. I like to “see” my new followers. For the command line set of peeps out there who like plain text, they should add a text only option.

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      Yes, I think the option for a text-only email in the Settings would be very
      nice.

  • martinpolley

    I think the new mail is an improvement. But it could be better. Which is why I like @topify (http://topify.com). Its visual design is nothing special, but it contains that extra info that saves you having to visit the profile page.

    It also lets you block or follow back right from the mail. Definitely worth a look.

  • http://www.cragbaby.com WasatchGirl

    I agree fully. I still have to visit the person's profile to see if I have any interest in following them back. The biggest pain, in my mind, is I have two different profiles, one for work related tweets and one for my climbing tweets (as I am currently on a 10 month climbing road trip). They have removed which profile the notification is for, meaning that I have to look at which email it was sent to (as both are forwarded to the same inbox) in order to know if the new follower is following my WasatchGirl account or my CragBaby account. Frustrating!