Three things that social media marketers can learn from email marketers (direct mail marketers and telemarketers too)


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As social media becomes the new “it thing” for marketers to think about, we’ve stopped talking about the previous “it thing” – email marketing and its other direct marketing cousins: direct mail and telemarketing. But, traditional direct marketing is still highly effective and remains the preferred choice of many consumers when it comes to hearing from brands. While direct marketing response rates and returns are slipping, email in particular is still considered by many to produce the best measurable return on investment amongst marketing tactics.

OK, OK. A study by the direct marketing association crowning email marketing as the most effective is highly unbiased, but still… even if it isn’t at the very top of the heap, it’s still pretty good.

All that to say, direct marketers have done and continue to do a lot of things right that social media marketers can learn from. Here are three of those things:

Be focused on numbers and refine everything

There’s a debate in the social media corner of the twitterverse / blogosphere as to whether social media marketers should measure ROI or just measure other, more upstream metrics. Personally, I think every marketer should measure ROI for any activity and that social media activities are not uniquely exempt from this fundamental business rule even if it’s a challenging and imperfect process in the social world. But that’s a whole other blog posting.

But, whether you believe the success metric is ROI, # of customers engaged or some other metric or combination of metrics, the key takeaway is that you should be measuring something. And direct marketers have been masters of the “test, measure, refine, repeat” process for years.

Like direct marketing, communication through social channels is easily manipulated to create multiple versions of messages and with the sophistication of measurement tools, it is very possible to measure the difference in impact between two tactics or two versions of the same tactic.

What’s different about social channels of course is that it is not nearly as easy or as efficient (at the moment) to create control groups to test true incrementality (this is of course one of those challenges to measuring ROI.) But we can get pretty good directional results when comparing lift in [insert metric here] pre/post tactic amongst two or more tactics.

Be relevant

Direct marketers don’t (or at least they shouldn’t) build distinct customer segments just for the sake of having them. They build them because segmentation allows them to increase the relevance of their communication and therefore drive a higher response rate and ROI.

Using social channels, brands can help customers self segment based on the content of the channel itself.

For example, Puma or Nike could have multiple twitter IDs or Facebook pages if they wanted to. And they could be dedicated to different sports. You could have a Nike Basketball Twitter ID which would probably attract different followers than a Nike Soccer ID.

Or, you might have a youtube channel that aggregates content about the soccer players that Puma endorses and one that concentrates on Puma fashion shows. Again, you would probably attract different subscribers to these two channels.

The point is, every brand has multiple segments within its audience and the more marketers can identify what segment you belong to, the more we can craft relevant messages that will increase response rates.

Be channel agnostic

Good direct marketers use a mix of channels. Credit card companies for example target customers with a mix of email, direct mail, outbound telemarketing and inbound marketing on service calls. Now, there are significant cost differences amongst these traditional direct channels so there is clear incentive to use email over say direct mail all else being equal.

But, direct marketers realize that for any given customer, all else is not equal and they make a conscious choice amongst the available channels to decide which to use to reach out to each individual customer based on the expected ROI (likelihood of a response balanced against the cost of the medium.)

A similar question of which channels to use amongst social media properties and marketers who take a channel agnostic approach to the space will find themselves delivering the right messages through the most appropriate channels.

So, if Nike finds (after measuring extensively, of course) that customers interested in basketball shoes respond better to messages in YouTube videos and that runners respond better to blog posts announced through twitter an agnostic approach enables them to match customers to the channel they’re most likely to respond too.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Nurse
Michael Nurse is a business strategist focused on digital business model innovation and managing customer relationships in the digital space. He leads the customer strategy and planning function for the Atlanta office LBi - a digital marketing agency. Views expressed in his blog posts do not necessarily reflect the views of LBi.


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