“Don’t overlook the important role print can play in the marketing mix.”
Business Development Manager at Creative Direction
Use of social media sites has exploded in the last several years. In February 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted the first of six surveys as part of the Internet & American Life Project. In 2005, only 2% of adults who used the Internet were using a social media site. That number has increased to over 75% in 2016.
Along with this growth, social media sites have evolved from purely personal to commercial use – a way for people to connect to a business and its fans. Businesses find they can use social media sites for marketing purposes, such as engaging in a dialogue with customers, building brand awareness, making offers, providing coupons or samples, and alerting customers to upcoming promotions or product launches (sneak previews).
Social media offers an entirely new way for businesses and organizations to form a relationship with customers and to leverage customer loyalty to attract prospects. As explained by author Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: Psychology of Persuasion, the idea of tapping into the wisdom of the crowd is based on a principle of social influence. Instead of making a decision (such as what brand to purchase or where to eat dinner) based on the rational measures of traditional economics, we instead turn to outside influences. Cialdini calls this social proof, defined as “a means we use to determine which is correct by finding out what other people think is correct.”
Print is Still Relevant
Does the popularity of social networking sites mean that businesses and organizations can drop print and direct mail as marketing tools? Research suggests not. ExactTarget, a global interactive marketing provider, surveyed 1,481 American online consumers regarding their communications preferences and how they prefer to receive marketing messages. They asked how acceptable it is for companies to send unsolicited marketing messages through various channels (e-mail, direct mail, text messaging delivered via Facebook). Direct mail was the only channel where an unsolicited message was not viewed as inappropriate.
ExactTarget also found that 65% purchased a product or service after receiving direct mail while only 20% made a purchase after receiving a message delivered via Facebook, and only 16% made a purchase prompted by a mobile marketing message.
The Internet Advertising Bureau commissioned a study to examine how consumers interact with various marketing channels. The survey consisted of 1,851 respondents aged 18 and older. Results showed that 75% of consumers discover new products from off-line sources like word-of-mouth, direct mail, catalogs, and television. After the initial purchase, by a slight margin, consumers preferred to be sent catalogs and direct mail as a way for companies to keep them informed.
The basis of social media is fostering a sense of community where fans can build relationships and share with others. This is very different from traditional marketing which emphasizes products and services. At a social media site, too much emphasis on selling rather than providing something of value risks alienating fans and provoking negative posts.
Social media sites also require consistent effort to demonstrate to customers that there is something valuable to be gained by connecting to your business. How much effort? Idealware, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Portland, Maine that provides information to help nonprofits make informed software decisions, estimates that it takes at least two hours per week per social media tool to see significant marketing results.
Combining Print and Social Media Marketing
If you can only afford to use one marketing channel, we believe it should be direct mail. Here’s why:
• The marketing message gets to the customer or prospect. You are reaching out, not
waiting for someone to find you.
• You control the message. At a social media site, anyone can say anything, even if it
• You are competing with fewer messages. These days there is relatively little
competition for your customer’s or prospect’s attention in a mail box.
• Mail is a physical media. The brain responds differently to physical and digital media.
According to a study by Millward Brown research company, physical media like a
direct mail piece leaves a “deeper footprint” in the brain, involves more emotional
processing, and produces more brain responses connected with internal feelings.
• Longevity. Investing in print and/or direct mail can provide you with a marketing piece
that your customer will keep for years.
• Trust. Marketing is all about perception and conveying trust. According to a DMA
(Direct Marketing Association) study, 56% of consumers found print marketing to be
the most trustworthy of media channels. In fact, the study showed that you’re 10%
more likely to get a response from mail rather than email.
• Inspires Action. According to the same DMA study, after receiving direct mail, 44% of
consumers will visit a brand’s website and 34% will search online for more information
about the product or service.
Here are a few tips for making social media and direct mail work together.
• Create a Facebook page for your company, for a product or service, or an event. Mail
a post card with the address to the Facebook page.
• Create a forum on Facebook, and encourage participation via direct mail.
• Start an interest group on LinkedIn, and advertise it via direct mail.
• Monitor Twitter conversations on your product or services. Use the topics in a direct
• Post videos on YouTube demonstrating your product or providing an explanation or
• Make your direct mail piece interactive by adding a QR code. The code can lead to a
mobile web site, a YouTube video, or a short survey form that offers a reward for
• Include social media icons such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn logos on your
direct mail piece. This gives your target audience more options for learning about
your company, especially if they are interested in customer reviews.
• Post links to a general, non-personalized landing page containing something
desirable (information, an offer) on social media sites. Measure how respondents are
getting to the landing page to determine the most valuable source.
• Since people like to share valuable information with others, make it easy for visitors to do so. Provide a “like” button for Facebook or a “mention” button for Twitter.
According to Stephen Brown, Chief Innovation Officer at Cookerly Public Relations, “A great printed piece is one you want to spend time with. It has more value and permanence. When it is passed on to others, it is a sure sign that the content is quality.” Brown goes on to say that postcards are one of the staples of Cookerly’s public relations strategies. For events, they are still a great way to cut through the clutter and are very helpful when timeliness is a factor.
Successful businesses are embracing a multi-channel approach to marketing, using both print and digital.
We’re Direct Mail Experts
Call on us to help you integrate social media marketing with print and direct mail. We have been providing print services to our customers since 1997, and we are good at what we do. For more information or to set an appointment, call us today at (781)337-0002.