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What Facebook Insights Can Teach Us for Direct Mail

Want to help your customers improve their direct mail marketing? Help them market on Facebook. Here’s how you can use insights from Facebook’s business pages to introduce your clients to demographic targeting — for free — and enable them to reap the benefits.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: August 29, 2017

Want to help your customers improve their direct mail marketing? Help them market on Facebook.

This might sound crazy at first, but when you set up a business Facebook page, you gain access to a lot of insights about your customers that transcend marketing channel. You can use this information to strategically and cost-effectively target direct mail marketing, too.

Facebook Insights do not replace the creation of customer profiles and other analysis of your customer database, but it can be a quick and highly helpful supplement, and it’s free.  I will use our own side business as an example.

My husband and I started Flying Pig Farmhouse & Industrial Décor, which sells upcycled and custom built furniture, and we use Facebook as part of our marketing. We have been actively marketing our FB business page for several months now, and through the Insights tab, we’ve learned a lot about who engages with us.

Every few days, I update the page with new projects we have completed. Then I look to see how many “organic” reaches we get. This is the number of people who have liked our page and who have seen our page in their news feeds. When we are displaying at a local event, we also create a post specifically for that event and pay to reach additional people. This is called “boosting” a post.

The first time around, we paid to reach women 18-65+ in Harford County, MD, who liked home decor. This got us our first big wave of “likes.”

The next time around, we had the option of using the same or a new target audience, including the people who had liked our page and their friends. Since the latter had already self-selected as liking our product, and since birds of a feather flock together, we figured this would give us the biggest bang for the buck. We have continued to use this target audience, and the more new “likes” we get, the more our reach multiples exponentially. For every new like, we gain access, not just to that person, but to that person and everyone they are connected to.

Stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this. 

Now, several months later, we can look at the Facebook Insights page and get some very interesting information about our target audience. At first, we targeted a fairly wide group of people. But as time goes on, we are increasingly focused on people who like our page and who share our posts with their friends . . . and their friends share with their friends. This is the active audience—the one we really want.

So what have we learned?

In the Insights tab, when I look at Flying Pig “fans,” here is the demographic breakdown:

 Age Bracket

Women

Men

 18-24

.6%

.6%

 25-34

17%

.6%

35-44

28%

.6%

 45-54

27%

3%

 55-64

18%

1%

 65+

2%

0%

While we have targeted a fairly broad audience, this tells us that the people most likely to engage with us are Millennials and Baby Boomers, and overwhelmingly women.

Next, let’s look at the demographic breakdown of the people who get “reached” with our posts, whether they are reached organically or through boosts:

Age Bracket

Women

Men

 18-24

5%

1%

 25-34

17%

6%

35-44

20%

7%

 45-54

15%

4%

 55-64

15%

2%

 65+

6%

1%

Now I have learned something about our advertising. Even though we have targeted women, our posts are reaching men as well as women. This is interesting, but is it worth it to expand our advertising to this audience? For that, we turn to the engagement numbers.

Our engagement numbers include anyone who has actively engaged with our page in some way, such as having commented, liked, or shared the content. Here is the demographic breakdown of this audience:

Age

Women

Men

 18-24

2%

2%

 25-34

10%

0%

35-44

29%

2%

 45-54

24%

2%

 55-64

22%

0%

 65+

6%

2%

Now we have a fuller picture of our marketing sweet spot. Those who are not only viewing our content, but actively engaging with it, tend to be Millennials (25-44), but on the older end of the scale (35-44). Secondarily, they are Gen Xers (45-54).

Using other elements of the Insights tab, I can also see where our audience lives. While we have people engaged with our page from all around Maryland, the bulk of engagements are coming from people living in Bel Air. Engagements from this location are more than twice as high as those engaging than from other locations. 

Now, if I’m going to create a direct mail campaign, I have a really good idea of where my direct mail dollars would be best spent.

  1. I’m going to start with female, older Millennials and GenXers living in Bel Air. That would be my biggest bang for the buck.
  2. Next, I would move to female, older Millennials and GenXers living in the next two most popular locations, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace.
  3. The third largest group of “fans” comes from the Baby Boomers who, while they are the third largest group, are disproportionately engaged with our page—nearly as engaged as the GenXers. If I have the budget, I would consider mailing to Baby Boomers in Bel Air, as well.
  4. If I have the budget left over, I’d add in Baby Boomers in Aberdeen and Havre de Grace.

All of these insights are free. We just paid a few dollars for each event to boost each post, which gave us more likes and a larger pool of data to draw from.  After several months, we have learned a lot. This doesn’t tell us who of these are buyers, but since all of our sales are in-person, I can say that the actual sales we make reflects the demographic breakdown we see from Facebook.

If we wanted to apply these insights to other channels, we certainly could. Not that the audience for each channel will be identical. Different demographics interact with channels differently, but it is a great starting point. Then using testing, the campaigns can be refined from there, both now and over time. 

Especially for small marketers with limited budgets, this is a great opportunity to get dynamic, real-time information about their best demographic targets. This is information they might not otherwise have access to that they might not otherwise invest in. As their MSP, this is an opportunity to introduce them to the value of demographic targeting . . .  and be the hero when they reap the benefits. 

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

 

 

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