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.”

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