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How Rockwell integrated direct marketing with social

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While social media is seemingly on every marketer's lips these days, a challenge lies in making sure social efforts are blended into other campaigns.

“The best way is to power traditional marketing with social media, and vice versa,” said Beth LaPierre, chief listening officer at Eastman Kodak Co. “Social media can be used to get people on board and to get the word out through channels like Twitter, but also to power traditional pieces like direct mail, other websites and print ads, all driving people to follow you.”

Industrial automation company Rockwell Automation has worked hard over the past year not only to develop a strong social marketing outreach, but also to make sure its efforts are well-blended with other marketing programs, according to Neil Rongstad, the company's global database marketing manager.

“Ten months back at Rockwell, there was a lot of dabbling in social media by various marketing groups,” Rongstad said, in a presentation this month at the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference and exposition, in San Francisco, titled "Integrating social strategy into B2B Demand Generation: Rockwell Automation's story."

“Some of our people had Facebook sites, and others were actively using Twitter to drive demand for certain events,” Rongstad said. “But there wasn't a formalized strategy or even results. We were surrounded by various marketing groups, each doing their one-offs. It increasingly became evident to me, since I was involved in b-to-b direct marketing work that we needed to get ahead of this.”

For help, he turned to agency Mason Zimbler, Austin, Texas, a division of direct-marketing company Harte-Hanks.

“It was a really interesting assignment for us,” said Kevin Kerner, managing director-U.S. with Mason Zimbler. “The foundation was to audit the social space to get clues to start.”

The agency's audit examined not only what already was happening within Rockwell, but also how the broader social market was talking about, say, industrial safety. The audit also examined what Rockwell's competitors were doing in the social space, and worked to identify social influencers in Rockwell's areas of expertise, which include programmable controllers, manufacturing software and safety products, among many lines.

Mason Zimbler came up with descriptions of how Rockwell should interact with its social community, ranging from relatively passive communications like “pointing” (sharing information), “nodding” (agreeing with social participants) and “bowing” (recognizing excellence), to more involved communications, such as “shouting,” meaning a social conversation that is more promotional in nature.

The agency also came up with a social calendar where each of these activities was programmed and plotted.

“At first, we found that we were ‘shouting' all the time,” Kerner said. “We had to force ourselves to listen more.”

The social outreach program was complex—it was carefully calendared so that official Rockwell social participants would blog or post at certain times and modes (pointing, nodding, shouting, etc.). But it also was blended into the company's more traditional direct-marketing outreach. For example, while posting socially on a certain topic, the company is e-mailing on the same topic, perhaps a couple of hours later.

In addition, social media is being used for outbound promotions. A Rockwell campaign using webinars, for example, has been promoted via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, discussing the webinar topics and urging registration.

According to Kerner, one webinar that was promoted on Twitter produced 386 followers, 59 click-throughs and seven registrants.

“All the work we're doing to build and grow the social community is really to get people to click and convert,” Kerner said. “Yes, we want to have value in the community, but ultimately it's to drive people where you can convert them into an opportunity.”

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