In today’s digitally-driven world, marketers need to create ways they can become relatable and stand out against the competition for consumers' inboxes.
One great way for a marketer to promote their brand and products is a personalized, glossy-paper catalog. It is the perfect medium to tell a story, to let a consumer peruse all of a company’s offerings, and become more relatable. I bet you would not proactively search out L.L. Beans entire website and offerings, but when you receive their catalog every holiday-season, you thumb through each and every page, passively or not. Or the IKEA catalog (the one with its own commercial) which seamlessly presents every SKU that IKEA has in North America. They give you ideas, inspiration, and a connection to the brand you might not get otherwise.
Marketers, regardless if they are eCommerce only or have a presence in both worlds, need to set aside acquisition budget for catalog marketing.
The Numbers You Should Care About
According to the American Catalog Mailers Association, every catalog you send brings in $2 for every prospective customer it reaches and $10 for every returning customer. Those are good returns on your investment. Not only that, but 22% of consumers (according to Statista), are more likely to make a buying decision from direct mail rather than email (16%).
In 2013, the Direct Marketing Association said that marketers mailed 11.9 billion catalogs – compared to the hundreds of billions of emails sent every year. You have a much better chance at getting your message viewed than an email.
According to research firm, Kurt Salmon, 58% of online shoppers got their ideas from browsing catalogs; and nearly 90% bought items they saw first in a catalog. These stats coincide with research done by Cohber Marketing Solutions that found 70% of consumers believe that direct mail is more personal than email.
Most notably, Bonobos, the online only retailer of men’s clothing, has found that 20% of the website’s first-time customers are placing their order after receiving a catalog and are spending 1.5 times as much as new shoppers who didn’t receive a catalog first.
You get the point. Catalog marketing is an effective way to generate new revenue for marketers in 2015 and beyond.
It needs to be done right, though.
I am in no way advocating you slap together a bunch of catalogs and send them out. In fact, I would say that you need to be more judicious in how you mail. Email marketing is still king in engaging a lot of consumers in a timely and cost-effective way, especially from growing loyal fan-bases. That being said, catalog marketing done right, can improve your acquisition-based marketing initiatives. But it needs to be data-driven.
One way you can be a data-driven cataloger is through the creation of personas (added bonus: personas can help you inform your entire multichannel strategy including channel investments). By looking at your entire customer database, you can create groups of personas with similar characteristics or tendencies and apply those personas when purchasing mailing lists from 3rd party data providers such as, ahem, us (see definition: shameless plug).
These personas will then help you create personalized content and help you verify specific segments of your database.
Ok, I’m sold, where do I begin?
First, see above. Find out if it would make sense to your business first. If doing a deep-dive analysis shows you shouldn’t invest so heavily in catalogs, then don’t. But, if it does, the analysis you did should help you begin to create your content. The insights gleaned from your analysis should tell you things such as: lifestyle attributes, attitudinal information, product purchasing trends, age-groupings, gender, income, etc. You can use this information to support the messaging and creative of your catalog.
Next, you need to work with a design firm and print production company (again, see prior definition of shameless plug) in order to produce and mail the catalog. The most important thing here is that the addresses you have for your segments are mailable. I cannot stress enough that you should not attempt to manage this yourself, utilize a service provider to take care of this, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Once your mail has hit the stream, it might be a good idea to use a delivery-triggered email that will hit the recipients email inbox the same day or shortly after they receive the catalog. Why? It will create continuity and relevancy.
So, in summary
- Catalogs, when used properly, are a strong medium for acquisition marketing
- Make sure your decisions are based on data. Your customer data will show you the way.
- Work with 3rd party production houses to implement
- Make sure you work it into your multichannel strategy and include an email touch-point
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