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Beginner’s Guide to Direct Mail Catalog Campaigns

Written by Michelle Toivonen Director of Strategic Marketing

Contributing Editor, Charlie Brock

Create a Catalog Campaign Integrating Multiple Channels and Get Results

Retailers have been using catalogs to secure sales since the early 1800s. Today there is a perception that catalogs are expensive, difficult to produce, and nearly invisible as a source of attribution. So -- why are we recommending you add catalogs back into your most important marketing campaigns? When done correctly, with the right strategic planning and tracking in place,  you can prove your catalogs boosts sales, improve ROAS, and can be tied to the first and/or last source of attribution.


It Begins and Ends with Your Data

There’s a lot more to this than just pulling and preparing your mailing list. And when the campaign is over, you need much deeper analysis than just checking for the last source of attribution to see “what worked.” Real consumers do interesting things on their journey from discovery phase to purchase. They float between channels. And, without the right tracking in place, you’ll never know who responded, where they responded and which channels performed best. 

So, what is a small to mid-sized marketing department to do? How can you possibly track and analyze all that data?  The answer is simple, but the execution is complex. You set up your campaign to effectively track your recipient’s behavior across multiple channels and you collect, distill, and analyze all the response data for real business intelligence and actionable insights for your next campaign. Got all that?

If that sounds a little overwhelming for your team to plan and execute, we can help. Our team of strategists regularly help retailers (from small businesses to national accounts) plan, execute and analyze campaigns using channels such as direct mail, email, online advertising, and social media marketing to better understand what channels are performing best and with which consumers.

Here’s how we do that:

  • Manage data for successful campaigns, including hygiene, appends and list purchases when necessary
  • Analyze historical data for trends and insights you couldn’t reach on your own
  • Append new data where needed
  • Create customer profiles and look-alike prospects
  • Meet with you to advise you on campaign strategy and planning based on our insights
  • Segment your data for best ROI/ROAS
  • Prepare and upload data into your custom dashboard to track all channels in your campaign
  • Produce and release your creative assets; such as catalogs and the mailing, email, online ads, social media ad
  • You watch your campaign dashboard with live results throughout
  • You can export your data anytime you want
  • We export your data across all channels at the end and help you understand
    • Who responded
    • Where they responded
    • When and how often the responded
    • What your data means
    • What our recommendations are for future campaigns

The best part is you can add most of the items above to your next campaign for pennies more per piece. This adds a lot of bang for the buck while helping you to improve sales and gain real results.


Real-Life Example

SuperSeller Company sends Susan a retail catalog and sees a sweater she likes. She goes to the website and looks it up. Over the next few days, she receives follow up ads online, on her phone, and in social media. She orders it but has it shipped to the store for pickup. With your current tracking systems, can you confidently assign a first source of attribution? Do you know what your last source of attribution is? Can you easily understand each channel’s performance and your consumer’s journey from discovery to purchase?

Here’s how we can help:

Before SuperSeller Company releases their campaign using a catalog, email, online advertising, and social media advertising, we manage the data to ensure it is accurate, clean, and fully appended to reach recipients wherever possible. We load that data along with your creative assets and execute your campaign across all channels. Our dashboard tracks who does what and where. You can see all channel performance metrics anytime and in the end, you can pull full reporting tied down to the individual. If you need some help crunching numbers and analyzing campaign performance with recommendations for future campaigns, just let us know. It’s that easy.

For more information on how to plan, execute, and analyze successful catalog campaigns, contact us today! 


Use Integrated Marketing with Catalogs for Improved Engagement, Tracking, and Results

“The catalog offers an incredible opportunity to deliver a rich, tactile shopping experience to our customers,” said Wayfair’s head of North America marketing Bob Sherwin. “We send it out to high-value target customers, or people who have moved into certain neighborhoods — it’s for targeting prospects as well as existing customers.”


Case Studies and USPS Data on Consumer Behavior with Catalogs

According to the Data and Marketing Association’s Statistical Fact Book, response rates from catalogs have increased by 170%. Print catalogs are becoming so popular again that companies such as Wayfair, Amazon, and Birchbox are now switching over to print catalogs in addition to their digital marketing efforts. While emails are often quickly deleted by consumers, print catalogs lie around in their house for days and sometimes weeks, increasing the chances of being seen. Don’t take our word for it, here are two case studies to prove it:

Case Study: Nordstrom 

Recently, Co-President Erik Nordstrom announced that Nordstrom Inc. had drastically changed its sales and profits forecast after a noticeably weak performance at the beginning of 2019. Erik blames the weak performance on the decision to stop using direct mail to reach retail customers. The results were dramatic with in-store foot traffic and overall sales significantly decreased. He concluded that the “digital-first” approach that his marketing team took could not survive on its own without physical print and direct mail. To try to make up for this fluke they sent out a catalog for their July 2019 Anniversary Sale.

Case Study: J.Jill®  

Similar to the conclusion in the Nordstrom, Inc. case study, J.Jill® quickly realized that cutting out direct mail marketing was not an option. J.Jill® decided to cut their budget for direct mail and instead focus their efforts on only digital marketing instead. According to their EVP and CFO Mark Webb: “For the quarter, total net sales were $176.5 million, a decline of 2.8% versus last year’s $181.5 million. Total company comparable sales decreased 3.3%, driven by our retail store channel.” Additionally, the CEO, Linda Heasley, claimed that “In hindsight, we moved too much too soon. We made adjustments quickly when we saw the results and we were able to add back some direct mail touchpoints along some changes in digital to better support our promotional activities. That restored traffic to planned levels albeit belatedly.” Just like the Nordstrom, Inc. case study, the company recognized the importance of direct mail marketing and added it back into their marketing campaign.

USPS Statistics

In the 2017 Household Diary Study, the USPS claims “In 2017, 53 percent of households read their advertising mail, while an additional 21 percent scanned their mail.” They further explain that when it comes to catalog mailings, “46 percent of households read catalogs and only 21 percent discard them without reading them.” The bottom line is: the majority of people do pay attention to their advertising mail, making direct mail an obvious choice for companies who want to boost their marketing campaigns, especially when it comes to catalog mailings. 

Still looking for more information? Next week on the Plus Podcast we’re talking with Jean Depalma and Gary Seitz to discuss more case studies and how a partnership review can help you with analysis to inform and accelerate growth. Subscribe to the Plus Podcast now so you don’t miss this or any future episodes. 



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