How Integrating Social Media Into its Marketing Mix Brought The Fresh Diet Success


By Melissa Campanelli, from eMarketing and Commerce Magazine

Integrating social media into its marketing mix has helped drive revenue for The Fresh Diet, a gourmet diet delivery service established in 2005 that delivers freshly prepared meals and two snacks directly to its clients’ doors each day.

The Fresh Diet’s newly redesigned website makes it easy for visitors to engage in social media, which creates excitement for prospects coming to the site. “There are all kinds of chicklets on our homepage where we drive people to our social media sites and blog,” says Jim Gilbert , The Fresh Diet’s chief marketing officer and frequent eM+C contributor. “Then they can see what’s happening on our social media sites to get a sense of what their peers are saying about the company.”

What’s more, Gilbert says, “we know that once we have them on a social media site, we’re pretty good at drawing them out. We do a lot of contests and we have a lot of people who are very vocal. So we’re always doing fun and crazy contests there.”

A recent video contest The Fresh Diet launched on Facebook received 15 videos from customers that ranged from heartfelt to funny, Gilbert says. “One person who loves our cheesecake did a takeoff on ‘The Terminator,’ calling himself ‘The Cheesecakeator,’ and did a four-minute video on that.”

While social media creates excitement for The Fresh Diet, it also helps drive sales. “We know for a fact that every time we run a special on Facebook, people come out in droves and order,” Gilbert says.

Social media mix
To drive people to multiple channels, The Fresh Diet sometimes introduces a contest on Facebook designed to drive people to its blog. Or, it may use Twitter to promote its contests.

“Oftenimes, we use a combination of the three,” Gilbert says. “We drive people from the blog to Facebook, from Facebook to the blog, and Twitter to both places. We really believe that the more channels people are engaged in, the more likely they’ll be our better customers.”

The Fresh Diet also uses Facebook Ads, a tool that enables it to post display ads on targeted Facebook pages. In addition to Facebook Ads, The Fresh Diet has used paid celebrities (Lindsay Lohan, to name one) to tweet about its brand and drive people to its Facebook page. But that type of campaign can be expensive, Gilbert notes.

GrouponOpens in a new window, the deal-of-the-day website, is also part of The Fresh Diet’s marketing mix. The Fresh Diet is able to strategically select the areas that it wants to promote in — e.g., new cities where it will be offering its delivery service — via Groupon.

The Fresh Diet is in the process of creating a social media app that will allow it to push its members’ meal choices to their Facebook or Twitter streams at the appropriate times, enabling its customers’ friends and followers to get an idea of what the customers are eating.

“It will be a clickable link, so if a customer’s Facebook friends click on it, they’ll see a beautiful, full-color, professionally photographed image of the meal,” Gilbert says. “Taking it a step further, when The Fresh Diet customer’s friends or followers click on that link, the customer would get points or a reward.”

Marketing beyond social media
But The Fresh Diet doesn’t only use social media for marketing. It also sends monthly direct mailers to prospects, for example.

“We work with a top-notch list broker, RMI Direct MarketingOpens in a new window, and look for lists of people that have a certain amount of income, have proven that they’ve bought big and tall or plus-size items in the past, and are all direct mail responsive buyers,” Gilbert says.

The Fresh Diet has increased its direct mail circulation this year. “We started out mailing 50,00 to 100,000 pieces, but now we’re up to 500,000 at a clip,” Gilbert notes.

Email is also a big part of The Fresh Diet’s marketing mix. To help it acquire new customers, The Fresh Diet relies on two opt-in email lists: a referral list through Catalogs.comOpens in a new window and a list of people who are highly targeted, such as those who have gone to a specific diet company’s website and registered.

As for frequency, The Fresh Diet sends out an e-newsletter to customers and prospects at least once a month, and supplements that with an email campaign regularly. “I’d say we’re touching our customers via email on average about twice a month,” Gilbert says.

The Fresh Diet is currently in the process of creating tell-a-friend and upsell-type emails to go out once people come onboard as clients, Gilbert adds.

All of this activity has helped The Fresh Diet get more visitors to its website, social media sites and blogs. In fact, every single metric that the company measures is increasing, according to Gilbert.

“Our direct mail response rates have been going up, as are our customer retention rates,” Gilbert says. “We noticed early on this year that when we do a direct mail campaign, in a matter of days after their initial order, people literally come back and buy more. Everything seems to be firing on all cylinders.”

The Postal Direct Mail Nightmare Continues: BREAKING NEWS: USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case


Note: this just in from our good friends at ACMA
October 22, 2010 

Special Bulletin: USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case
 

 

Dear Catalogers, Suppliers & Others With Catalog Interests: 

While mailers were still rejoicing over the victory on the exigency rate case, the USPS filed a lawsuit today in the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the widely heralded Postal Regulatory Commission decision. The Postal Regulatory Commission on Sept. 30 denied the USPS’s extraordinary request for a well-above-inflation-rate postage price increase that would have effectively nullified the Congressionally-imposed rate cap.

 

In its latest filing, the USPS requests a review of the PRC’s interpretation of the law that governs how prices are set and asks the Court to confirm it has the right to file an exigent price increase. It also seeks clarity regarding the rules governing how an exigency increase will be applied should it find itself in a similar situation in the future. According to a USPS statement on the matter, it is also reviewing other options open to it in light of the PRC ruling.
What does this mean to you? Right now, it is a little hard to say definitively. Courts have historically sided with regulators provided it can be demonstrated the regulator followed its own rules and practices in arriving at a decision. We know of no basis to conclude otherwise at this point, indicating the PRC decision should stand. However, clearly USPS execs have an approach they believe has merit, or they would not have gone to the cost and trouble of an appeal.

ACMA’s Approach
As it has all along this process, ACMA will monitor developments closely and may decide to intervene alone or with others supporting the PRC decision. Unfortunately, this development puts into question how much you should budget for the coming year. Until further information is available that suggests otherwise, we recommend sticking by earlier forecasts we gave to members, but you can be sure we will stay close to this matter and let you know when a clearer picture is available. 

Happily, ACMA has some money available from its Special Fund and general coiffeurs that give us options as to how to proceed. This is a great reason why it is in your best interests to make sure you have a properly resourced group to address unexpected developments quickly to protect your interests.

More to come…

Sincerely,

Hamilton Davison
President & Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association
Direct: 401-529-8183

The Direct Mail Myth Busting Continues.“preferential attitudes on trustworthiness of mail strengthened for consumer respondents in all age groups from 2008 to 2010”. Take that you naysayers!


My good friend and fellow direct marketer Evelyn Milardo posted this on Linkedin.  Some great and surprising stats about direct mail vs online here:

Young adults strongly prefer Offline to Online sources for marketing offers reveals Epsilon’s ICOM 2010 North American Research. Depending on the product category, the survey results Show 2-1 and 3-1 offline preference margin.

Six years after the launch of Facebook, North American consumers in the valued 18-34 year-old demographic prefer by a wide margin to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers rather than online sources such as social media platforms, according to national survey research from ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting.

Additionally, the ICOM research shows that preferential attitudes about the trustworthiness of mail strengthened for consumer respondents in all age groups from 2008 to 2010.The 2010 study of 2569 U.S. households and 2209 Canadian households focused on consumer preferences in regard to the ever-expanding array of communications channels for the delivery of marketing information, offers and promotions. Responses came from consumers ranging in age from 18 to 55 and above.

By the numbers, here are some of the key results from ICOM’s 2010 study of North American consumers’ marketing communication channel preferences –

For household and health products, the preference among 18-34 year-olds for receiving marketing information from offline sources led by mail and newspapers is 2 to 3 times greater than online sources such as social media. Examples of consumer preferences for offline versus online are:

Personal Care products – 62% offline, 22% online

Food products – 66% offline, 23% online

OTC medicines 53% offline, 22% online
Prescription medicines 45% offline, 22% online

Understandably,travel was the exception, where 18-34 year-olds preferred online to offline information by a 42% to 35% margin. However and this really BIG – Insurance and Financial Services followed the overall trend, with the 18-34 age group preferring offline sources 43% to 21% and 44% to 19%, respectively.

Stay tuned – more to come.

The Postal Rate Commission (PRC) Denies Exigent Postage Rate Increase … Big !@#$ Deal


Recently, The Postal Rate Commission denied the US Postal Service an exigent postage increase.

So, OK, now what?

So, Direct marketers aren’t getting slammed with another 5 percent-plus postage rate increase in January. Big whoop-de-doo. Postage is still the biggest expense in all my clients’ mail campaigns. And the cost of mailing vs. the risk of the unknown is still the biggest reason marketers shy away from the direct mail channel.

The second biggest reason? Well, everybody has heard the horror stories. All that money spent on killer creative, design, lists, printing, postage, and then the campaign bombs.  And then everybody talks about how the campaign bombed and direct mail sucks.

OK, so many of those direct mail campaign “bombs” forgot to follow the basic principles of the business — i.e., the 40/40/20 rule. They probably did the creative first and then figured out lists last like most companies I see do.

This kind of activity perpetuates the urban legend that direct mail doesn’t work. Well, except for a few companies. Those companies, you know, the junk mailers, the big companies with unlimited budgets who don’t care about results and just want to build their brand images… they are the ones who do well.

Now I won’t even get into the whole environmental argument of direct mail not being green. Believe what you want, but that’s a myth. The direct mail and paper industries are ultracautious to replenish the environment.

And let’s not forget about our internet marketing brethren, who have done such a wonderful job throwing direct mail under the bus, positioning it as passé or old school, while they prop themselves up as the future of direct marketing. I won’t even go there today.

Let’s face it, direct mail has a bad reputation. But that can change. Here’s how:

The smartest thing those wunderkinds at our beloved Postal Service can do is nurture the direct mail industry. Imagine what would happen if the USPS actually offered discounts for online marketers to give direct mail a chance? Now imagine the same thing happening with small and emerging businesses. How many companies would try direct mail if the risks were reduced? How many tests? How many rollouts?

And what about nurturing those retailers who still use direct mail as a major part of their marketing programs? Sure, the USPS has tested some “Summer SalesOpens in a new window,” which is a move in the right direction, but it’s time for the Postal Service to stop dipping a toe in the water and give volume mailers an opportunity to push their circulations up. Seasoned mailers know the results are there, they’ve just been beaten down by a constant barrage of postage increases.

More importantly, over time, how many direct mail pieces are needed in circulation to drive additional revenue for the post office? Some way the USPS is going to have to get itself out of the bureaucratic hole it’s dug for itself.

Hey, I’m not dreaming here. It’s a simple business model: high costs = less volume, lower costs = increased volume.

The USPS has traveled the higher-priced road before, and in the process did an amazing job of building up the internet and literally exploding the size of the online marketing community (to which it offers thanks, by the way).

Maybe now it’s time to think things through and encourage more mailers and subsequently more volume. And inevitably if they do it right, more (well, to be fair … SOME) profits.

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