Social media is often referred to by marketers as a “gold mine” of customer data; in other words, interests, hobbies, and online behavior can be gathered through social to develop a more complete customer profile.
For direct marketers, this information can be considered the so-called “backbone” of their direct marketing strategy. With more than 1 billion reported social users on the web, direct marketers should use social media to not only encourage interaction across channels (such as email, newsletters, direct mailings, etc.), but also to leverage known data to better target their customers and prospects with relevant, timely messages.
In essence, the 4 defining elements of direct marketing can be supported by social media efforts, including:
- Being delivered to a carefully targeted audience (identify the right customers and prospects through social behavior combined with other customer data)
- Containing a motivational offer, a call to action, and a response vehicle (offer discounts or promotions through social channels, as well as target contacts captured from social via other channels)
- Collecting the responses in a database (capture and enrich addressable contacts via social opt-in; leverage analytics to track cross-channel responses and behavior)
- Expecting the results to deliver a measurable ROI (quantify socially-driven leads and revenue to calculate social marketing ROI)
Social media has the ability to support each of these components of direct marketing. Let’s take a further look at how:
How Social Media Data Benefits Today’s Direct Marketer: While nearly all companies (90%) use social media for marketing purposes, 60% do so for the sole reason of driving engagement with customers. Social media should be used for more than just driving engagement, as it provides a way to get glimpse into the everyday life of customers or prospects. From clicks on posts, links, ads, etc. to simple conversation or interaction, direct marketers can use social media to paint a better picture of their target.
Facebook’s Graph Search is an example of how social media offers more to the marketer than meets the eye. The Graph Search feature collects information about every user, page, place, photo, post, etc., and correlates these pages with interactions such as friendships, likes, check-ins, tags, relationships, ownership, attributes, etc. to not only create a comprehensive customer profile, but to show who is interacting with this user as a means of additional prospect targeting.
Another beneficial aspect of social data for direct marketers is the cost effectiveness of the process. A well-established social engagement and analytical strategy can be implemented for nearly no cost, making it the ultimate ROI tool as low integration costs result in invaluable data.
Cross-Channel Integration: Once a clear picture of the customer has been created, it’s time to implement social efforts across all channels based on the data received. Social media can be used as a supplemental, multi-functional tool within your cross-channel strategy. For example, if emails are sent out and the marketing team notices a trend that the recipient has a low open rate, marketers could then send out a direct message through preferred social channels to remind customers of the content in your email. Or, for those customers who are opening emails, simply integrating social media icons within the body of the email may encourage a social share about the content of the email or further brand engagement or interaction.
Cross-channel social engagement is not restricted to digital channels, as social inclusions within direct mailings could even see some value. Social allows for interactions with customers that prefer direct mailings potentially through interesting tidbits of information being shared across networks to keep the direct mailing customer in the loop with your brand. Conversely, social media can benefit from direct marketing. Direct mailings could include a call to interaction with social profiles, but be sure to tell the recipient why they should be interested in following your company profiles (potentially offering coupons, discounts, etc.).
The data social media provides to marketers makes it a very powerful tool for direct marketers. Direct marketers who mine the social data “gold” will likely see increased customer engagement rates and possible sales as the recipients receive more personalized and relevant content.