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The integration of social and direct marketing is creating larger-than-life results for marketers.

I recently came across a great illustration of how businesses are using direct marketing and social media together to achieve immediate results and ongoing “viral” benefits. I’d like to share this story in narrative form…

The Setup: New Marketer Seeking Reliable Results

The owner of a local franchised restaurant decides to increase business by spending some money on advertising, and a friend suggests she should use an e-mail blast to promote her restaurant. She considers this—she is an avid Internet user and has had a Facebook account for awhile. But she knows how much she hates getting intrusive e-mails and how few of these she ever actually reads. Everyone else probably feels as bombarded with electronic media as she does. So she goes into her franchisors’ marketing storefront to research direct mail postcards.

She anticipates a ho-hum corporate marketing postcard that gives her no ability to tailor the postcard to her needs. Instead, she is delighted that the system provides multiple options and best practices.  She is also surprised to see information on using multiple channels, including options for utilizing social networking along with direct mail postcards to not only increase restaurant traffic, but also establish a customer data base for future use.

The Drama: Testing Traditional Tactics, With a Social Flair

After careful consideration, she selects a customizable campaign that allows her to create a targeted mailing list, postcard and personalized URL (PURL).  Attractive postcards that direct users to a PURL are mailed to area families with a coupon offering a complimentary children’s dinner with the purchase of an adult dinner. List selection is easy with the demographic and psychographic targeting tools provided by the franchisor and it happens intuitively with a few of clicks of her mouse.

At the PURL users validate their information, answer a few questions, and are given the capability to effortlessly share the offer on Facebook. As an incentive, all recipients who share the offer with friends are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win 10 free family dinners. After completing the process, users are able to print the coupon and bring it into the restaurant for redemption.

The Resolution: Direct Mail + Social = Perfect Match

Results for multi-channel marketing campaignIn this example, using PURLs to encourage social media sharing pushed response rates above the mail quantity (see sidebar at right).  That is impressive and formerly unheard of in the direct marketing world.

What’s Next? Using Direct Marketing Know-How to Create Social Media Engagement

Watch out for new features that combine direct mail, email, PURLs, QR Codes and social media to engage consumers with personalized images that can be initiated and created on-the-fly within Facebook and Twitter.  Fostering the social media engagement with a personalized experience will create a profound change in the marketing industry. What a grand time to be affiliated with direct and interactive marketing!

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