As I observe many major brands’ social media strategy to gain “likes” and followers on platforms such as Facebook & Twitter, I see a number of correlations between Direct Mail & Social Media marketing.
First, some grounding. I have been in direct mail & franchising for the past 16 years and here’s what I see:
• Direct Mail arrives in your physical mailbox whether you asked for it or not.
• Social Media requires your permission.
• Direct Mail can be most effective when used to either acquire new or retain existing customers.
• Social Media can be most effective to retain existing customers and perhaps ask for referrals.
• Direct Mail has a physical & resource cost.
• Social Media has a resource cost.
• Direct Mail incentive strategy typically is to try the product/service.
• Social Media incentive strategy typically is to gain permission to market to or branding.
So it seems to me there is a fair amount of effort for Social Media to get to the same place Direct Mail starts!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Social Media marketing, I simply believe that there are significant considerations that need to be made and thus opportunities to use both more effectively and in concert with one another.
Let’s look at it from a consumer perspective: They are conducting their normal digital life and they stumbled upon the “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” messaging that, by the way, EVERYONE is asking for. If there is a relationship and at least positive sentiment, the click may occur and the marketing can begin. If there is no relationship, perhaps an incentive might get them to click. A discount, a coupon, a cause, etc. Many marketers have gone to this tactic and the research indicates this can work, but with potential negative consequences if not done correctly. Here’s another crossroad with direct mail. If you can incent the consumer to try the product (remember this is critical), have a positive experience, and then tell people about it, you’ve won the day.
I believe consumers are becoming fatigued with liking or following brands, having them show up in their social media streams, and will only do so with products they love. So you better show them the love when they do sample your product.
Opting-in-to-be-marketed to is so 2011. Get your holistic strategy together and use a combination of marketing tools to achieve the ultimate goal of having a large, loyal, and loving customer base for your product or service.
Here’s what I would do:
Launch a direct mail campaign targeted (did I mention I work for Valpak). Put a good incentive together to get people to try your product. When they do, ask them, no REALLY ask them to follow you on social media. Ask them to do it right there on their smartphone. Give them a follow up (lesser) incentive to do so in combination with the incentive that brought them in. Or give them a business card or magnet to remind them to do so when they get home.
Then with these new found customers, begin to add value to their social media lives by creating content that doesn’t try to sell them anything but remind them of your product or service. Ask them occasionally to refer you to their friends within their social media graph. Depending on your type of business, offer them an incentive to pass along to their friends. Schedule this out and stagger the marketing messages with normal social media content. For some examples of how to schedule these, read the Engage121 blog or watch this webinar.
At the same time, of course, you are doing the fundamentals of listening and responding to customers who use the platforms to talk about your product/service or the category you operate in.
If you have a customer, you’re much more likely to get them to “like” or “follow you” and the way to get customers, is through acquisition marketing strategies. Direct mail of course is just one tactic to use.