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6 Ways to Optimize Catalogs in 2023

Personalized Digital Catalog Reporting_web
By Chris Nolan September 26, 2022 No Comments

Direct to Consumer brands have relied on catalogs for customer acquisition and revenue growth for decades. Catalogs have a strong track record for driving sales, but with costs for paper, fuel, and labor on the rise - marketers are looking to ensure they are getting optimal customer engagement and ROI on their Direct Mail and Catalog campaigns. Here are 6 ways to optimize your catalog investments in 2023:

Have a clearly defined Catalog Journey & Customer Experience

Today, the primary call to action for a catalog is to drive to web for conversion - so rethinking the "old school" approach of filling every page with SKUs enables marketers to build a relationship with their customers from their couch. Your catalog shouldn't be an endless scroll of products - you have an e-commerce platform that is purpose-built to showcase every color, option, and size you offer. A catalog is an opportunity to present your products and brand to your customers and prospects in the comfort of their homes. Clearly defining the catalog customer journey involves thinking through emotions, actions, and takeaways you want for the audience as they navigate your catalog.

The catalog customer journey should involve a blend of brand storytelling, information, and product curation which inspires purchase promotes new products, and builds brand affinity over time. Feature an interview from a brand ambassador, show real customers using your products, highlight involvement in social and environmental causes, or include informational content on a topic related to your audience - this is a chance to create an emotional connection with your brand beyond pushing products and discounts.

Implement Data-Driven Personalization

Brands have more 1st party data than ever and are eager to apply it to improve customer engagement and marketing results. Direct Marketing empowers brands to harness 1st party data from customer data platforms and communicate on a 1-to-1 basis with customers. While catalogs have primarily been "one-to-all" marketing strategies, brands are now migrating to data-driven catalog personalization to create 1-to-1 communications. Personalized Catalogs contain fully variable images, copy, promotions, and product offerings based on purchase history, demographics, and customer interests. Personalization is proven to create lifts in response, spending, and customer engagement, and is now being leveraged by catalog marketers to improve customer experience and catalog marketing performance.

Use a Digital Marketing Platform for Catalog Execution

Most marketing today is digital, and catalogs are no longer the exception to the rule. Direct Marketing automation platforms empower marketers to adopt a digital operating model for catalog personalization, deployment, and reporting. These platforms enable powerful levels of personalization to create 1-to-1 catalogs that can be output for traditional print, and/or digital engagement on mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. Personalized Print catalogs are now created with digital direct marketing automation platforms that output production-ready files which are uploaded to high-speed, fully variable 4-color digital printing presses. These platforms also create digital versions of the print catalogs which can be sent as part of a multi-channel catalog strategy, or as a solo effort to test new offers and creative, or to expand reach further into the marketable universe.

Incorporate Digital Touchpoints with Print Catalogs

Multichannel marketing boosts campaign results and improves catalog marketing performance. Solo catalog efforts are now being replaced by thoughtful multichannel strategies involving a mix of print, digital catalogs, email, and social media. Email is an inexpensive and easy channel for "door warmer" messaging to consumers to check their mailbox for the latest print catalog, and for providing a digital version of the catalog before it arrives in the mail. Digital catalogs can be distributed through targeted digital display ads and social media campaigns to reach prospects, promote product lines, and drive brand engagement. QR codes included on print catalog product pages create a mobile path to purchase and an easy checkout process for consumers who can purchase with a click through ApplePay, PayPal and others.

Take advantage of USPS Incentive Discounts

"I wish I paid more for postage," said no one ever. Discounts in the catalog channel have historically been limited to long-term and inflexible paper contracts, postal presort discounts, and logistics optimizations. Now, the USPS offers a series of promotional discounts brands can qualify for by testing new USPS products and incorporating digital touchpoints in print marketing campaigns. These discounts do require coordination and pre-approval but are a logical method for lowering postage expenses by 2-4% - a considerable sum for most catalog marketers. Smart brands are planning for 2023 to take full advantage of these promotions to test new ideas and save money on postage.

Develop & Distrubute an Analytics Dashboard

While catalogs drive sales, measurement, and performance reporting have been slow to come by. Marketing executives are looking closely at their Direct Mail and catalog investments to ensure they are still keeping up in an age of powerful digital and social media marketing platforms. Long gone are the days of waiting weeks and months for the "match back" process to run and provide insights - in today's digital world, executives need answers and insights from their teams immediately. Catalog Dashboard analytics are tables stakes for 2023 to provide and distribute insights on campaign performance, audience engagement, testing results, customer insights, and product sales.

2023 is almost here, and the market is more competitive than ever. Progressive direct-to-consumer marketers are overhauling outdated, offline catalog tactics in favor of data-driven, multichannel digital strategies. 


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