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Integrated Marketing Tip 6 - Direct Mail and Social Media

Mar 04, 2011

Combining the Best of Direct Mail with the Best of Social Media

If you're like many mid- to large-sized businesses today, you're probably experimenting with online customer communities - whether you're hosting those communities on your own site or developing them on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But have you considered the power of combining your social media strategy with your direct mail strategy? It's sort of like taking the best of the old and the best of the new to create an even more powerful way to communicate with your customers and prospects.

If you're not sure where to start, we've laid out below some ways to mix your direct mail and social media efforts to spread your message and achieve your goals. First off, remember that in social media, community is content (and content is king). By leveraging contributions from your customers and promoting interactive features on your website, you can develop powerful user-generated direct mail content. Here are ten ways to make that happen:

1. Create a direct mailer with a membership card to your exclusive community (or an exclusive part of a broader open community). Mail your customers and best prospects a unique code they can use to gain access to a members-only area of your website, with exclusive offers and helpful information.

2. Drive members from the computer to the mailbox by obtaining their mailing addresses in exchange for special offers that they can't receive electronically, such as product samples.

3. Make it easy for consumers to share the content with their friends. Facebook and other social sites have "like" features that make sharing your website and content really easy. Your website should also have an option for visitors to share it with a friend. Expand on that idea by mailing your community members direct mail pieces that they can hand out to their friends. (One bank did that kind of refer-a-friend promotion and their response was ten times higher than they had expected.) Online and off, referrals are still the best marketing.

4. Turn contest entries into direct mail. Have members of your online community vote on content, such as new marketing slogans, web designs, or photos submitted by other members. Publish winning entries as a flip book, calendar, or event follow-up piece and send out via direct mail.

5. Stage special online-only events. Drive direct mail recipients to an interactive webcast or chat session with your president, CEO, or a prominent speaker. Only visitors with the special tracking code on the mailer can participate. That gives the event an exclusive feel and gives you a way to track responses.

6. Rock the vote. Customers like to learn what other customers are thinking. Launch a survey or poll and promote it to your mailing list. Recipients can vote online and register to see results. Or you can distribute results as a mailer and take that opportunity to promote other events, products, etc.

7. Tease them. Post a "Top Ten Tips" list and promote some of the items via direct mail. Drive recipients online to see the tips they missed. You can do the same with winning entries to a contest.

8. Use multimedia. Start a series of audio or video podcast interviews with thought leaders in your field. Burn a few of the videos to CDs and mail them out as promotions. Invite recipients to visit your website and register to subscribe to future programs.

9. Promote guest bloggers. Similar to the podcasts, recruit a star expert in your field to blog on your site. Promote these online events via direct mail, offering mail recipients a special code that gives them wider access to the blogger and/or other exclusive content.

10. Thank your community members. They're a part of your community in large part for the sense of belonging, so let them know you care. Send them a greeting card on their birthday or during the holidays offers them that tangible "belonging" feeling - which keeps them a part of your community and, most importantly, a repeat customer.

Remember to look at your growing online community as a source of material for your future direct mail campaigns. The two should feed off one another to create a stronger presence and more effective vehicle for your core marketing messages. To get started - with postcards, reply cards, flyers, letters, and other direct mail pieces you can send to your online community - visit today.