8 Ways to Make Your Catalogs Stand Out

Even though online buying is becoming an everyday practice, shoppers and retailers alike are showing that paper is still the way to go in terms of marketing. Because, while they are bombarded with online ads that they rarely trust or click on, consumers consistently show a strong attachment to physical mail that they can interact with on their own time.

Print marketing might mean more time and money than digital, but catalogs that positively engage your customers are worth the investment. Follow these eight best practices when creating your next catalog campaign.

  1. 1

    Inspire Your Customers

    First and foremost, your catalogs should inspire your consumer. Gone are the days that a catalog is a simple product list. Now–through thoughtful design, photography, and copy–you can tell the story of your brand and connect with customers that have the same aesthetic tastes.

    In an age where people are curating their lives through social media, brand images can now be aspirational rather than just advertisements. Make a goal of creating an emotional connection through your catalogs in addition to being informational.

  2. 2

    Personalize It

    When designing your catalog, it is important to design with your audience in mind. Visuals can go a long way and, from start to finish, should reflect the aesthetic of your customer. Even if the product comes from the same category–say fashion–a catalog for young professionals will look much different than a catalog for mothers.

    Consider personalizing catalogs to show items based on previous purchases or to show items that are available in nearby stores. This level of personalization will set you apart. Consider working with vendors that offer variable data printing.

  3. 3

    Present a Strong Brand Identity

    Catalogs are always competing for space in a consumer’s mind. However, many of them look so similar, it’s difficult to differentiate between the companies. In order to create brand loyalty, you need to stand out among the crowd, and you can do that by creating and showing a strong identity.

    A catalog should be an extension of your brand and should support whatever messages you stand for. A successful catalog will both display products and present a clear individuality. Don’t let your catalog get bogged down with product details. Use the unique voice of the brand to carry your products forward.

  4. 4

    Focus on Quality

    Hand in hand with a strong brand presence is quality. This means quality in design, size, and type of paper – everything that goes into a catalog should be purposeful, and it should represent your business in the best way possible. These small details can enhance the overall appearance of your catalog and ultimately say a lot about your brand.

  5. 5

    Make It Easy to Navigate

    Catalogs should have a user-friendly layout and be designed in a way that naturally leads from page to page. Readability and scannability are both essential in clear design.

    There should be a clear hierarchy to each page, with one or two items standing out and other elements lending support. Remember: using different fonts can be confusing, white space is your friend, and important information should always be clear and up front.

  6. 6

    Use Impactful Photos

    Catalogs that are image-heavy give a sense of brand personality and allow customers to scan through with minimal effort. In general, environmental photography–that show products in a surrounding where they would naturally be–is most effective, especially when the people in the photos are interacting with your products.

    However, don’t group too many products in one photo as it will be distracting to the viewer. It is best to show items individually or in very small, related groups. Make great photos the centerpiece in your catalog. They’ll do the work to keep your reader engaged.

  7. 7

    Make Ordering Easy

    Think beyond aesthetics, as well. If a reader can’t figure out how to place an order or what items they want to purchase, then you stand to lose out on sales. This is why it is essential to organize your catalog to make ordering as easy as possible. Often top-selling products are lost among similar items. Focus on these items and position them with products that would go well in addition to rather than instead of. Any opportunity to cross-sell companion products through copy or callouts can increase sales up to 15%.1

    As a customer browses the catalog, it should be clear how they can place an order. Include website URLs and a phone number that are easy to find within the design, and then push orders with promotions and time-sensitive offers.

  8. 8

    Test Frequency

    Successful catalogs will help lead your customers online to make purchases, but should only be sent with controlled frequency as to not overwhelm or annoy them. While 53% of consumers like the number of catalogs they receive and 25% want even more, a fine line exists between more catalogs and too many.2

    For consumers that desire catalogs, once a month should be the maximum frequency. However, quarterly or seasonal catalogs are optimal for most effective brand-customer interaction.

In Conclusion

Engaging catalog marketing has been a proven method of boosting online sales. By following these best practices, you can provide your customers with a memorable experience that makes them feel inspired, connects them to your brand, and drives them to shop.

Q&A: PebblePost® Executive Adam Solomon Talks Customer Acquisition

Mail has the power to drive business and convert customers in different stages of the marketing lifecycle. It’s an especially effective medium when it comes to acquisition. Countless companies are leveraging mail and working with USPS® in new and exciting ways to do just that. Since finding new customers is a major goal for any business in any industry, we sat down with Adam Solomon, an advisor at PebblePost, to get a better understanding of acquisition marketing and the role mail plays in that equation.

PebblePost is the inventor of Programmatic Direct Mail™, which transforms real-time online activity into dynamically rendered, personalized direct mail that’s sent out every 12-24 hours. The company leverages data, proprietary advertising technology and mail to win new business and drive their digital marketing partners’ ROI. Though their solution is a digital platform, mail plays a crucial part in their campaigns’ success.

Read on to see what Solomon had to say about the ways technology, messaging and personalization can help convert new customers.

From your perspective, what are the benefits of using mail for programmatic advertising and customer acquisition?

At PebblePost, we solved a very interesting problem for both brands on the one hand and for consumers on the other. From the brand side, there’s been a lot of innovation when it comes to using data and programmatic technology to understand what consumers are doing in real time on their websites.

The challenge in digital has been the delivery vehicle, whether it’s desktop sites, mobile sites or mobile apps. It’s become a very busy Times Square experience, where ads are just jumping up in your face and really aggravating consumers. This has been proven out by the rise in consumers using ad blockers and all the news we see about consumers getting frustrated with advertising.

Not only is the digital ad experience lacking, there’s also a challenge over whether consumers are in the right frame of mind and in the right modality to receive those messages. Are they ready to transact and take action at the moment that the digital ad or technology is delivered?

Tangible media sent to [the] home is a very polite, respectful and effective vehicle. Consumers check their mail maybe once a day. There’s some ceremony they go through to collect the mail and sort the mail. And if it’s a relevant and compelling offer, they’ll act on it on their own time. So the combination of using a strong real-time signal, which is a digital action that shows consumer intent, and other capabilities of digital and programmatic, in addition to the effectiveness of sending tangible media to home—literally delivering digital with feeling—that’s something that we brought together. We’ve found it in practice, in the last year, to be highly effective.

How does PebblePost leverage its technology to acquire customers?

In Q4 2016, we launched what we called our Website Prospect Remarketing solution. These are prospects already visiting the marketer’s site, but the marketer doesn’t know who they are. They’re not logged in; they’re not existing customers, but they’ve already raised their hand in some manner. There’s some call to action somewhere that has brought them to the site. So they’re already moving in the right direction as far as the brand is concerned, but the brand still needs to seal the deal.

We pick up on that signal. We recognize the fact that someone is not a customer, but a prospect or “new to file.” We have the same ability to use a strong real-time digital signal to qualify a user for a campaign. Then we leverage the power of the proprietary technology on our side that allows us to create connections between an individual visiting a website via a cookie and where to send the mail and find their postal address.

We’ve seen a lot of success with that solution, because this is a prospect [who’s] already moving down the funnel and we use this very effective tangible media vehicle to push them over the finish line and convert them into a customer.

You mentioned three things that I think are important to touch on: messaging, personalization and behavior. Let’s start with behavior. What kind of online behavior are you looking for when you’re seeking out new customers for acquisition?

We have a set way that we think about a user journey on a marketer’s website. If you think about book ends, on one continuum, someone visits the homepage. On the other end of the continuum, someone puts something in their shopping cart. That’s one step towards conversion.

Since we’re mostly focused right now on retail and ecommerce, the in-between pieces are when a user searches for something, maybe goes on a category page. Then they go a little deeper, they’re on a product detail page, then they put something into their carts and they convert. We have a set methodology that we go through, in terms of using a human effort and also machine learning and technology. The deeper someone goes, the more qualified they are.

However, even if someone is going deep and looking in a shoes category and looking at a particular pair of shoes, it doesn’t mean that they want to get a postcard or catalog in the mail just with that pair of shoes. They may just be in the shoe category in general or that might be completely wrong. You may want to promote a cross-sell. If they’re looking at shoes, you may want to promote belts, for example.

When it comes to customer acquisition, would you say that your messaging typically includes offers or is that just one tactic you take?

It really depends on the brands we’re working with and what their goals are. If a brand’s goal is customer acquisition, then we highly recommend as best practice that they have a very strong call to action and a very attractive offer. If it’s a Programmatic Postcard™, the offer should be displayed on the front and back. It should be perceived by the consumer as something being highly valuable, whether it’s the offer itself, or it’s the inclusion of a promotion code or a custom promotion code just for them. “Summer30” is clearly to a consumer a promotion everyone gets, but if it’s a specific number, they know, “Hey, it’s just for me.”

Another interesting thing about creative and the messaging of the offer is we can drive individuals from online to home back to online. We can also drive individuals from online to home to store. This is something you cannot do with a banner ad. People are not printing banner ads, putting them on their fridge and walking them to a store. That’s just not consumer behavior.

When it comes to mail, or what you’re referring to as tangible media, consumer behavior is completely different.

Right. If you get a card in the mail that’s a special offer that you can walk into a physical location that you can hand to a cashier and you get your $15 off or a certain percentage off, that is being perceived as very valuable to the consumer. It also affects behavior in a way that traditional digital cannot. We think PebblePost has a unique opportunity here, because over 90% of strong digital signals picked up today comes from online as people are surfing around websites, searching and taking action. All this signal is being generated.

About 90% plus of all purchase decisions are made in the home. And, though ecommerce is growing, about 90% of all commerce occurs in the real world, in physical store locations. So PebblePost connects through Programmatic Direct Mail™, the strong signal which comes from online, the purchase decisions which are made in [the] home, and then we have the opportunity to drive back to digital, but most interestingly drive individuals to physical stores and complete that loop which is very compelling to marketers.

Final Thoughts

As PebblePost has shown, mail can be a powerful tool for customer acquisition. Though the company is a digital solution with data-driven decisioning and programmatic principles, it uses mail to get segmented, personalized messaging into customers’ homes. Leverage these principles to acquire more customers than ever before.1

6 Ways to Measure Direct Mail Success

Every marketing campaign gives a company the chance to learn and improve, and more importantly, find the tactics that spell out success. Today, companies employ a number of popular methods in order to measure and fine-turn their direct mail efforts to improve response and engagement rates. They include QR codes, activation codes, social media and more. Discover which options work best for you.

Tactic 1: Personal URL (PURL)

Create a personalized website dedicated solely to your direct mail campaign. Include this PURL in your direct mail collateral only. That way, the unique visits, sessions and page views the site amasses will directly correlate to your campaign. Go one step further by adding a form to your PURL that allows customers to share their information, then measure the amount of responses you get.

Tactic 2: QR Code®1

Connect with your mobile customers through easy-to-use QR codes®. By scanning the codes, customers can access a special PURL, where you can measure their web activity, or track their activity through the QR code® companies themselves.

Tactic 3: Business Reply Card

Add a pre-paid, coded business reply card to your direct mail. This popular marketing method makes it easy for customers to respond to direct mail campaigns. Not only will you be able to measure the amount of responses you get, you’ll also gain valuable leads and customer information.

Tactic 4: 1-800 Number

Include a phone number in your direct mail that’s used exclusively for the campaign. Incentivize your customers to call it for special offers or more information about your products, then measure the call volume that comes in.

Tactic 5: Unique Offer or Activation Codes

By adding individualized activation codes for in-store or online offers, your business can track how many codes shoppers use, where and for what products. Get more out of this tactic by utilizing variable data printing. By printing different images and copy in direct mail, your company can also find out which content is the most successful at driving sales.

Tactic 6: Link to Social Media Accounts

This one’s simple. Include your social media accounts on your mailers. Once they’re sent and the campaign begins, use the analytics tools on each social media site to track the up-tick of new fans and followers.

In Conclusion

When measuring a direct mail campaign, businesses have the opportunity to refine their strategy. By adding one or two tactics to a mailer, any size company can understand the strengths of its campaign. Better yet, it can use the information to create a more potent marketing strategy in the coming year.