Twitter is purchasing RestEngine, a provider of technology that enables social app publishers to send individually targeted emails to subscribers based on their usage history. Befitting an action performed by a company specializing in 140-character blurbs, neither Twitter nor RestEngine appears to have released any detailed information about the purchase or future plans, but that has not stopped widespread online speculation about the deal.

Twitter Amps Up Outbound Social Marketing

In a brief statement about the purchase on the RestEngine website (I could not find anything on the Twitter site or an official press release), the two-and-a-half-year-old company says it is “joining the Twitter flock” and “defin(ing) a new set of best practices for this brand new world of outbound social marketing.” The purchase agreement includes RestEngine’s technology, as well as three of four co-founders going to work for Twitter.

TechCrunch speculates that Twitter itself is seeking to take advantage of outbound social marketing via its purchase of RestEngine. Specifically, TechCrunch speculates Twitter could “deliver email digests of great tweets you’ve missed” and “Twitter’s got a plan to get more of its inactive users tweeting again.”

Other industry publications, such as InfoWorld and PCWorld, have noted the acquisition is clearly intended to help boost Twitter’s revenue, but have not gone as far as TechCrunch in speculating on Twitter creating its own tweet digests.

Certainly Twitter-created tweet digests aimed at spurring inactive tweeters off their virtual duffs is a viable plan of action, but not the only possible way Twitter can leverage RestEngine’s functionality and expertise. Let’s briefly review a few other possibilities.

Third-Party Tweet Digests

Twitter already enables the delivery of crude third-party “tweet digests,” created from search strings, which pull together tweets on specific topics into online versions of broadsheet newspapers. The digests, which are accessed via links in tweets, tend to be organized by individuals around interest areas and do feature some banner ads.

However, imagine how much more value this model could deliver if the digests were created at a much higher degree of sophistication by private companies to promote their brands and products, and emailed directly to targeted Twitter subscribers.

Of course, any type of service like this would need to have an easy opt-out option, but could potentially serve as a great way for companies to build on the revenue potential of Twitter brand evangelists.

Targeted Couponing

In addition to compiling tweet digests, third-party brands could also send targeted coupons (this service would best work as an opt-in for Twitter followers) to users based on their tweet and retweet activity.

A Twitter-based targeted couponing program could also be worked into an offline loyalty program, allowing brands to extend their social media presence and create a more consistent multichannel customer experience. It is worth noting that RestEngine has previously worked with providers of Facebook game apps to send promotional emails to their players.

Real-time Notification

Some brands allow followers to sign up for real-time tweets notifying them of special events and promotions. RestEngine could easily let these brands add real-time email notification as a back-up mechanism, likely increasing customer participation.

Basically, while RestEngine provides a lot of potential value to Twitter, it also provides a lot of potential value to brands that perform marketing and advertising on Twitter, which these days includes most brands that are forward-thinking and/or target a younger customer demographic. Twitter should obtain as much value from RestEngine as possible, but also figure out ways to provide more value to the third-party brands using Twitter as a CRM platform.