The first quarter of the year is a natural landmark that prompts many small business owners to pause and consider the trajectory of their marketing strategies. Which promotions performed better than expected? Did any campaigns fall short of their projected targets – or, even worse, get written off as abject failures? And, ultimately, how can companies maximize the hits of last year and minimize the misses?
To make this year’s marketing strategy the best that it can be, engage in cross-media marketing with a focus on audience segmentation, promoting each outreach medium using the others and testing different tactics to narrow down what’s most effective.
How to begin your marketing strategy
When you’re trying to gauge the success of your 2014 direct mail, email or social media-based promotions, one of the first questions to ask is whether these marketing efforts were launched independently or as part of a bigger, integrated campaign. Single-channel campaigns typically have less than stellar results. If your sales numbers, web traffic, conversions or returns on investment left something to be desired last year, putting together a cross-media marketing strategy that combines direct mail with email and social could be just what your company needs to take its outreach to the next level this year.
So, how can your business go about creating a campaign that combines direct mail with digital channels to maximize customer engagement and boost ROI?
Make audience segmentation a priority
If last year’s consumer preferences are anything to go by, customization and personalization are set to be two of the biggest trends of 2015. To get in on the action, you must segment your customer base. There are several criteria you could use to increase response, such as tailoring marketing messages to consumers using their:
- Family size
- Purchase history
- Level of satisfaction with your business
- Whether they are past, present or prospective (future) customers
The specific way you go about segmenting your audience isn’t as important as the fact that you have the ability to break down your client base into categories you can then target accordingly. Don’t have all the necessary information to segment your database yet? Use your marketing outreach to start collecting information immediately:
- Ask customers to fill out basic questions on the back of a mailer/coupon that they’ll hand in at your location
- Post an email collection form on your website and promote the special offers customers will receive in return for subscribing
- Have a stack of email collection cards at checkout so customers can provide their info
- Run a contest on social media to learn more about followers’ interests and then market to them accordingly
- Scour your POS system for any and all potential goldmines of information
However you gather information, be sure to reach out via more than one channel to get the maximum effect. Consider sending mailers with family discounts to those who have children. Follow it up with a reminder email or targeted Facebook ad. Send a birthday card to customers who are celebrating each month and bolster response with an email as well. Run a Facebook ad offering a customer appreciation discount to those with a strong purchase history and send a thank you letter with a coupon too. The more data you collect and the more your promotions coordinate between Print & Digital channels, the better response you’ll see.
Use each social media channel to promote the others
Are your direct mail recipients aware of your social media presence and email list? If not, it’s time to change that – and the same is true of your email list subscribers and social media followers. Place a heavy focus on cross-promoting your various outreach channels this year to ensure maximum awareness among your customers.
Connect your digital initiatives by sending emails announcing social media contests or posting email signup forms on your social media pages. Always include links to social platforms in every email marketing message. Cross-promote your social channels as well! Share your Instagram pics to Facebook, tweet about your Facebook contests on Twitter and ask your Instagram followers to contribute to your Pinterest boards.
Don’t forget to tie your Print marketing in too! Include social icons on direct mail pieces – an easy way to let visitors know which social networking accounts your company utilizes and what its username is on each.
It might inspire recipients who may not have otherwise considered following you on social media to follow or “like” your page. Provide a place on your coupons for customers to jot down their email, too. That way, when they redeem your offer and hand over the coupon, you have a way to reach back out to them in the future.
Bridge the gap between the traditional and the trendy
Introducing new tactics into your marketing strategy may seem like a lot of work, or to some, downright terrifying. But the marketing landscape is constantly changing, and brands who don’t (or won’t) adapt are the most susceptible to failure. Finding new ways to connect your traditional methods of outreach and the latest and greatest trends may yield your most profitable returns yet.
When tying together various media, it’s important to keep in mind that different channels require different approaches. Say you put a URL on a piece of printed collateral to drive some traffic to your website or social media pages. An approach like this likely won’t produce the same results as including the same URL in an email, a tweet or a Facebook post, which are all clickable. Not many people will take the time to type a long URL on a mobile device, and even fewer will make it a point to type it in later when they’re back at a computer.
So what’s an easier way to tie your print campaigns to your digital ones? Behold: Bitly. This link-shortening service came onto the scene in 2008, and is now shortening an estimated 600 million links each month. You essentially plug in a full URL, and the site spits out a shorter, user-friendly one for your material or posts.
And what if you want to eliminate the need for typing a printed link altogether? Check out Quick Response Codes. More commonly known as QR codes, these look like a cross between an alien language and the bar codes you find on everyday products. While they didn’t take off like some had hoped, they’re still around and will redirect customers to online content right then and there, without a single keystroke. Customers will need to download a QR code-scanning app on their smartphones though.
Making it all work
Evaluate what you’re currently doing and draw up a plan that outlines some new initiatives. Think about what you want to accomplish (sales growth, more web traffic, a stronger social media presence, etc.), and examine the ways in which your marketing can meet those goals.
Do you need to ramp up your email marketing? Tie your direct mail and social media campaigns more closely together? Develop a cross-media campaign that creates more excitement for your special events? Try a few of these tactics, measure your results and continue doing whatever produces.
Think you need some expert guidance? Contact us—we’ll get you going in the right direction.