January 13, 2014
Improvements Catalog: a Shining Example of Remarketing

The year of 2013 saw a momentous shift towards retargeting initiatives, with dramatic innovations in database marketing technologies. No one is debating the critical importance of these remarketing efforts, but it is also critical that you do not allow digital tunnel vision to obscure the importance of remarketing in other channels as well. Improvements, a dual-channel direct marketer based in Cleveland, shows us just how meaningful remarketing can be to catalog customers.

Improvements is a specialty catalog retailer whose product selection encompasses everything from outdoor furniture and gardening equipment to garage maintenance, storage essentials, pet products, and more. About one week ago, I received an order I had placed through the Improvements Catalog. Yesterday, much to my pleasant surprise, I received a large envelope in the mail from Improvements. Directly below the return address was a black and white graphic that read, “20% off your next purchase of $100 or more! details inside.” Across the bottom of the envelope’s face was a friendly thanks: “Thank you for ordering from improvements (we have special savings for you…look inside!).”

Clearly, my name had ended up on the Improvements Catalog hotline mailing list. Hotline refers to those names most recently added to a mailing list, and is most typically segmented into 30, 60, or 90-day adds. By specifying this recency, as opposed to, say, a 12-month active name, marketers are able to reach customers at highly relevant times and, in doing so, boost their response rates. Note that the low end of average is to segment hotline mailing lists by 30 day adds. The Improvements Catalog is segmenting their hotline mailing list with twice that frequency!

When I opened the envelope, I found two items inside: the Improvements Catalog holiday issue, and a package insert thanking me for my order and offering a discount code for 20% off any order over $100. Campaign marketing success is becoming more and more dependent on the ability to drive customers between channels and screens, and Improvements seems to know it. To redeem the discount code, customers are directed to visit Improvements’ online catalog or to call a 1-800 number and order via phone. Also included front and center on the package insert are prompts to sign up for email updates and the Improvements Catalog Buyer’s Club.

Using one piece of well-timed direct mail, Improvements has effectively encouraged recent customers to interact with its brand in other channels, make repeat purchases, and enroll in its loyalty program. Many catalogers do this type of marketing via emails; “trigger” emails will send out an email with a promotional offer to drive repurchasing at a set interval. What’s unique about Improvement’s approach, is that it did this with a direct mail piece. That’s an expensive approach, to be sure, but it is also something that very few direct mailers are doing now, so it stands out and gets noticed.

When it comes to building brand loyalty, booting brand affinity, and demonstrating real brand relevance, the Improvements Catalog hits it on the head.


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