Social networking is certainly the rage today, but I'm advancing the theory that most direct marketers don't use it to its fullest capacity. A few weeks ago, I spent about four hours looking at Facebook sites for my favorite retailers, catalogers and online merchants. Many were good at initiating conversations and trying to build brand loyalty. Very few, however, followed the basic tenets of direct marketing by using that communication to either build their databases or encourage purchasing. Social networks are places to build community. But that can go hand in hand with marketing and selling.
Here are some companies I think are doing social media right. They use common promotional techniques but tailor those to build their lists, sustain ongoing communications and sell.
- Sears has more than 26,000 Facebook fans, and is working hard to get more. The company's Facebook page has an "Exclusives" tab where anyone who becomes a fan receives a $10 coupon redeemable in stores or online. The fan registration form captures personal information, including email and postal address.
- Dunkin' Donuts, with more than 940,000 fans, is certainly connecting with its audience. Under its "News/Promos" tab, visitors learn about the "Win Coffee for a Whole Year" contest. Those interested create "perks profiles" via a form hosted on Dunkin's main site. In addition to collecting personal information, the form allows individuals to opt in to receive email promotions or mobile alerts.
- Sephora's 210,000-plus fans can learn about gifts with purchases and new product introductions by clicking to Sephora.com to join the Beauty Insider loyalty club, or sign up so they can receive Sephora emails, all via its Facebook page.
- 1-800-Flowers.com claims the distinction of being the first true online store on Facebook. Shoppers can browse and purchase without leaving the social networking site, allowing 1-800-Flowers.com to bring the shopping experience where its customers already are.
- Buy.com has finished its third "Tweet n Seek" contest. To enter, enthusiasts had to become Twitter fans and then search the Buy.com site for answers to specific questions. The three promotions generated more than 250,000 site visitors, and Buy.com has "converted hundreds of them into buyers."
2 Ways to Integrate
Before I delve into the meaning of the latest acronym, SWYN (see below), here are some relatively easy ways to integrate online marketing channels.