Why Catalogs Still Work in an Ever-Growing Digital Marketing Era

3 Reasons Why Catalog Marketing Still Works

Almost everyone is on a variety of e-newsletter email lists at this point, a major part of successful brands’ marketing strategy. However, there really is no replacing the look and feel of a printed catalog; a physical item that offers an offline, immersive experience of the brand in question.

Catalogs, on the surface, seem expensive compared to an email marketing or social media campaign. Yet lately, the return on investment is changing. With the digital space becoming a crowded, saturated scene for marketing, distinguishing yourself from the competition with a beautiful and well-targeted print catalog campaign can actually move the needle on revenue and generate substantial ROI.

Here are just some of the reasons why catalogs are still an effective strategy as the world goes online.

Data Offers a Better, More Targeted Catalog Marketing Experience

Catalog marketing used to rely on whatever strategies were available to get addresses for the mailing list. The potential for targeting is much higher now that online retailers can combine their print and digital strategies. After all, catalogs have the most impact on someone who has already shown a substantial interest in a retailer; a tipping point can be established that once enough product is purchased online, the shipping address also receives a catalog.

Various brands have reported success with using their catalog as a “lifestyle product,” an item that makes loyal customers place larger orders in the future because they’ve surveyed a wider variety of products. In contrast with digital ads that only promote one product at a time, a catalog can achieve its positive ROI through fewer but larger orders in many cases.

Consider using catalogs in a variety of contexts, including:

  • As a way to drum up excitement about a new product line, while still mentioning bestsellers from the past.
  • A chance to infuse your market with a seasonal buyer cycle: how can you get your customers to consider your products again during each season of the year? This is, of course, standard in fashion, but can be encouraged in many other businesses.
  • As a perk of joining an e-newsletter club, releasing info about products in print before the website is updated, to create a sense of artificial scarcity or secrecy.
  • As a way to publicize print-only promo codes or sales that bridge the gap between online and mail-order shopping. While these codes will likely “get out,” they create a community around receiving the catalog.

catalog marketing

Persistence Is Much Higher Than Digital

What would you pay for a digital ad that sits on your customer’s laptop, day in and day out, appearing in a corner of the screen no matter what they are doing? Chances are good that such an ad would be costly; most digital ads appear and disappear quite rapidly.

With a print catalog, you essentially get the opportunity to make your ad persistent. Many customers who have shown interest in a brand will resist throwing away a luxury-feeling glossy or matte catalog, keeping it around to thumb through and daydream about. Marketers have found that most effective strategies involve the customer considering the product multiple times, not just on a single occasion; one catalog can represent a variety of exposures to the product and pushes toward purchase.

Even the way we read physical products is different from how we view digital pages. Skyword reports that physical ad copy sticks with people longer than digital ads and remember them better. The same can be true of catalog items; contextualized in a beautiful photo shoot, a catalog spread may remain on a customer’s mind in a way that a tiled list of items on a screen fades away.

A Chance to Offer a Brand Customers Can Identify With Fully

Given the rapid movement from website to website that most digital shoppers perform, it can be hard to truly get a wide customer base who understand what your brand is about and fully identify themselves as a shopper that fits with your brand. Digiday discusses how hard it can be to extricate what retail boosts come from which marketing strategies, but the one thing they’ve noticed is that, for companies like Costco, sales go down when there isn’t a print catalog offered. Something about the immersive experience of a catalog seems to allow customers a chance to truly get your message and vision for your brand.

Between targeted customer outreach, a more protracted chance of exposure, and immersive branding potential, a digital catalog offers a very valuable channel for your multichannel marketing plan. Clearly, one must have a digital presence in most retail sectors, but the combination of print and digital can allow you to truly maximize your reach and retain customers long-term.

A Great Catalog Should:

  • Offer an eye-catching, highly designed cover and interior spreads, showcasing products in a very different format than a typical product on a website.
  • Showcase what matters most to your best customers: are customers coming to you for the best prices? For the most durable products? For the most beautiful and unique products? Make sure you lean on your value proposition in the market.
  • Be persistent, something that your customers will be hesitant to throw away: does this mean creating engaging product descriptions and catalog copy? Adding how-to content to make it more like a magazine? Choosing a glossy or matte cover that makes it seem more like a lifestyle product?
  • Find multiple opportunities to send your catalog customers to your website: interactive elements like QR codes for cell phones can help your client multi-task, exploring the print catalog and then quickly purchasing through a mobile-ready site.
  • Convey your brand to the customer on every page.
  • Make it very easy to start and complete an order, with policies like a money-back guarantee or free returns to quell doubts about mail-order and digital shopping.

Our dedicated catalog printing services at Dingley mean that we have a good idea of how to fit your print catalog into your digital marketing strategy. Make your catalog marketing strategy complement the rest of your outreach to customers today!