Direct Marketers Got Social Media Half Right
Direct marketers are looking at social media all wrong. Understandably, the way marketers publish content to Facebook and Twitter makes seasoned direct marketers scratch their heads. It seems like all of the rules that have been developed in the 44 years since Lester Wunderman coined the term “direct marketing” have been thrown out the window. Not true. If anything, those foundational rules are more relevant now than ever.
Marketers look at social media as a great way to get consumers to share content with their friends. Sharing is awesome, but it's only the beginning. Equally as important is the ability to use the data customers are giving you to make your other direct communications better. This is the part that very few marketers are doing right.
It's ironic that social media — in many ways the most personal marketing channel — is the most impersonal direct marketing channel. Even if a customer has been loyal to a brand for 18 years, they're going to see the same tweets as a prospect. It’s no wonder that many posts are too broad (e.g., "Check out this new blog post!") or too specific (e.g., "@customer Thanks! for using my product").
The rules that direct marketing was founded on — right person, right message, right time, right channel, right promotion — seem to not apply to social, but we know these marketing techniques work. How do you work out this dichotomy? Being stuck in this mind-set is a byproduct of thinking of a channel solely as an output and not as a dialog.
Traditionally direct marketers segment their list, send their message and wait for responses. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Marketing automation introduced the concept of looking at individual responses (e.g., opens, clicks, shares, form submissions, etc.) and incorporating those responses into a follow-up campaign. For example, direct marketers retarget those who went to a landing page but didn’t fill out a form, abandoned a shopping cart and so on.
Marketing automation was a good step in creating customer dialogs. The right person to send a follow-up campaign to was the person that showed some interest but hadn’t yet converted (right person, right time).
Enter social media. You might not be able to show different tweets to prospects and customers, but you can take the data you gather to create more personalized, relevant campaigns in other marketing channels including email, mobile, web or even (gasp!) direct mail. Just because an action takes place on Facebook doesn’t mean that Facebook is the appropriate medium in which to communicate with that person. Email or mobile might be better.
Marketers need to not only think of social as a mechanism for sharing content, but also as a source of insight about their customers. If a customer uses Facebook to log into your website or "Likes" your brand, you're able to gain some insight — e.g., age, gender, email address, marital status, interests, hobbies, etc. — from their profile. This information can be very helpful in creating personalized campaigns. This information also extends beyond profiles into how customers interact with your brand by liking posts, retweeting or writing comments.
Data is the oxygen that feeds the marketing fire. Without data targeted campaigns become spray-and-pray blasts. Social media gives you both profile- and activity-based data that can be used to make your marketing campaigns more relevant, timely and effective.