The Great Catalog Comeback – Direct-To-Consumer Marketing

More and more e-commerce companies are turning to one of the oldest forms of direct-to-consumer marketing—catalogs. Or perhaps we should say returning. Because despite the revolution in retail caused by the internet, it seems that consumers still love to flip through a well-designed printed catalog when browsing for merchandise.

And that gives us here at Marketsmith a bit of a chuckle. After all, we’ve been advising our e-commerce clients on the need to still send catalogs even as we guide our direct-to-consumer clients’ digital marketing strategies. Maybe ink is in our blood given our roots in the catalog business. But we know the numbers, and those clearly show that keeping catalog mailings in the marketing mix along with a timed cadence of emails makes a big difference to customer acquisition, retention, sales, and ROI.

A Recent Academic Survey Proves It

But don’t just take our word for it. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review proves the point. A controlled test compared sales from customers of a jewelry company who received both in-mail catalogs and email versus those who only received the emails. The results were significant. The catalog group showed a 49% lift in sales and a 125% lift in inquiries versus a 28% lift in sales and a 77% lift in inquiries from the email-only group. Or, in technical marketing speak, “Wow!”

“There really is no secret to the continuing success of catalogs,” says Marketsmith’s VP of Client Performance, Stephen Mickolajczyk. “It’s intuitive for consumers to want to touch and feel and experience merchandise. Even though the images might still be the same ones they see online, there is something soothing and reassuring about the experience of browsing through printed pages. It’s the next best thing to handling the merchandise in the store.”

The respondents in the Harvard Business Review survey would agree. Customers in the catalog group rated their ability to imagine wearing the products and the vividness of product descriptions significantly higher than those who saw the exact same images and descriptions only in emails.

Add Catalogs to Your Marketing Mix

“Catalogs should be a part of the marketing mix for any direct-to-consumer marketers. The value and quality of customers buying are considerably higher through catalogs versus any other medium,” says Stephen Mickolajczyk. Of course, what Stephen modestly calls intuition comes from 30 years of experience guiding brands create just the right mix of in-mail catalogs, email marketing backed with the industry’s most finely tuned protocols for merchandising, customer targeting, and precision list development.

Want to know more? Give us a call. Ask to speak with Stephen and his team about adding catalogs back into your direct-to-consumer marketing mix. And find out what we’ve known all along—shoppers really, ahem, flip for catalogs.