Monday, August 27, 2012

Direct Mail Enhances Social Media Marketing

Use of social media sites has exploded in the last seven years. In February 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted the first of six surveys as part of the Internet & American Life Project. In 2005, only 2% of adults who use the Internet were using a social media site. That number increased to 65% in 2011.

Who are these users? According to a Morgan Stanley report issued in December 2009, 67% of 18-34 year olds use a social networking site – and so do 67% of 45-54 year old and 55% of those aged 55+. In 2007, social networking represented about 1 out of every 12 minutes spent online, while today it accounts for 1 out of every 6 minutes spent online.

Along with this growth, social media sites have evolved from purely personal to commercial use – a way for people to connect to a business and its fans. Businesses find they can use social media sites for marketing purposes, such as engaging in a dialogue with customers, building brand awareness, making offers or providing premiums, coupons or samples, and alerting customers to upcoming promotions or product launches (sneak previews).

Direct mail is still relevant

Does the popularity of social networking sites mean that businesses and organizations should drop direct mail as a marketing tool? Research says no. For its 2012 Channel Preference Survey, ExactTarget (interactive marketing provider) surveyed consumers to ask how acceptable it is for companies to send unsolicited marketing messages through email, direct mail, text messaging, and Facebook.

Direct mail was the only channel where an unsolicited message is not viewed as inappropriate. ExactTarget also found that 65% purchased a product or service after receiving direct mail while only 20% made a purchase after receiving a message via Facebook and only 16% made a purchase prompted by a text message.

An Internet Advertising Bureau commissioned study in April 2012  showed that 75% of consumers discover new products from off-line sources like word-of-mouth, direct mail, catalogs and television. After the initial purchase, a slight margin of consumers preferred catalogs and direct mail from companies to keep them informed.

The basis of social media is fostering a sense of community where fans can build relationships and share with others. This is very different from traditional marketing which emphasizes products and services. At a social media site, too much emphasis on selling rather than providing something of value risks alienating fans and provoking negative posts.

Social media sites require a consistent effort to demonstrate to customers that there is something valuable to be gained by connecting to your business on a personal level. How much effort? Studies suggest it takes at least 2 hours per week per social media site to see significant marketing results.

Combine direct mail and social media marketing

If you can only afford to use one marketing channel, we believe it should be direct mail. Here’s why:
  • The marketing message gets to the customer or prospect. You are reaching out, not waiting for someone to find you.
  • You control the message. At a social media site, anyone can say anything, even if it isn’t true.
  • You are competing with fewer messages. These days there is relatively little competition for your customer’s or prospect’s attention in a mail box.
  • Mail is a physical media. The brain responds differently to physical and digital media. According to a 2009 study by Millward Brown research company, physical media like a direct mail piece leaves a “deeper footprint” in the brain, involves more emotional processing, and produces more brain responses connected with internal feelings.
Here are a few tips for making social media and direct mail work together.
  • Create a Facebook page for your company and update it regularly with products or services, or an event. Mail a post card with a QR code linked to your Facebook page.
  • Create a forum on Facebook and encourage participation via direct mail.
  • Monitor Twitter conversations on your product or services. Use the topics in a direct mail piece.
  • Post videos on YouTube demonstrating your product or providing an explanation or instruction. Recently, Little Baby’s Ice Cream created several unusual videos that were posted to YouTube. The videos got a lot of attention and landed them on the cover of the Philadelphia Weekly.
  • Make your direct mail piece interactive by adding a QR code. The code can lead to a mobile website, a YouTube video or a brief survey that offers a reward for completion.
  • Include social media icons such as Facebook or Twitter logos on your direct mail piece. This gives your target audience more options for learning about your company, especially if they are interested in customer reviews.
  • Post links to a general, non-personalized landing page containing something desirable (information, an offer) on social media sites. Measure how respondents are getting to the landing page to determine the most valuable source.
  • Make it easy for visitors to share with others. People like to share information. Provide a “like” button for Facebook, a “mention” button for Twitter, and request a “check-in” on Foursquare.

We’re direct mail experts

Call on us to help you integrate social media marketing with direct mail or simply call us to help you integrate social media marketing into your business.  We have been providing direct mail services to our customers since 1995, and we are good at what we do. We’ve been providing social media set up, marketing and management for the last 7 years, and it’s proven to be successful for our customers. For more information or to get started, call Brigid at (215) 923-2679.

Winning Combination

If you own a business that draws its customers from the neighborhood, you can combine direct mail and social media and get people sharing with each other. Here’s how:
  • Be sure your Facebook page has good customer reviews for new visitors to read.
  • Make an offer that you know has appeal – perhaps a “buy one/get one” offer, a discount with purchase, or a free gift.
  • Develop a mail piece (postcard, flyer, brochure) that describes the offer.
  • On the mail piece, direct recipients to your Facebook page and instruct them to write a specific phrase on the page (such as “Got a gift for reading my mail”) to be eligible for the offer.
  • On your Facebook page, refer to the direct mail piece (“Our neighbors are getting free gifts just for opening their mail”).
This will start people talking. Regular visitors to your Facebook page will ask how they can get in on the offer (which is asking to be added to your mailing list), and direct mail recipients will be exposed to the good customer reviews on your Facebook page.

What’s the latest on how people are using QR codes?

According to information published in May 2012 by Scanbuy in it’s Mobile Barcode Trend Report, the number of unique QR code users increased by nearly 200%, to over 5 million, when compared to Q1 2011, and by 1 million when compared to Q4 2011. Also in Q1 2012, 13 million scans were processed – a 157% increase from the year before.

Other findings from the report:
  • The most popular QR code marketing campaigns are connecting to video, app downloads and product details.
  • QR codes from quick-service restaurants were among the top five industries for the first time. The restaurants used QR codes to offer customer promotions, deals, and other offers.
  • iPhone OS and Android OS account for 93% of the total QR barcode traffic, split about evenly.
  • More men use QR codes than women (68% vs. 32%), though the female audience is up 8% compared to Q1 2011.
  • Users aged 25-34 account for 35% of total users, followed by ages 35-44 (20%); 18-24 (16%); 45-54 (12%); 55+ (9%); and under age 18 (8%).

Communication Overload?

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the ways to stay in touch with your customers and prospects? Do you feel that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done, learn what you need to know about blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all the other social media, formulate a marketing plan that incorporates them all, prioritize, write content, take photos, create videos, meld them all into a brand identity, develop analytics and... well, you get the idea.

Don’t panic; help is on the way. As we’ve been exploring new marketing methods in issues of CreativeBrief, one thing has become clear: no matter what else you do, an ongoing direct mail marketing effort enhances the result.

If appropriate, direct mail can be the basis for outreach to customers and prospects, enhanced by blogging and various social media activities. It is a building block of customer communication. Let us help you formulate a direct mail marketing strategy that will serve as a solid base for additional possibilities. Direct mail really works!