The Effect of Catalogs on Online Sales
In today’s digital economy, some businesses may assume that catalogs and other direct mail materials are outdated and ineffective, but studies have shown that the opposite is true. Direct mail not only reinforces a company’s brand image and reminds customers of their existence, it also has a direct link to an increase in online sales.
While it is true that many customers like to shop online, they often research or browse products offline before making a purchase. Catalogs are an important part of this process. The evidence shows that customers like to browse offline and shop online, bringing more sales to companies that use both printed and online marketing.
• Online shoppers that receive a catalog in the mail spend an average of 163% more than those that didn’t. (study commissioned by the US Postal Service)
• Households that receive catalogs are twice as likely to make an online purchase (study by comScore on behalf of the US Postal Service)
• 9 out of the 10 top U.S. e-commerce websites also have catalogs. These companies enjoy average visitor-to-sale conversion rates of 23%, compared to the industry average of 2-3%. (Lessons Learned from the Top 10 Converting Websites by SeeWhy)
• Catalogs increase both website visits and sales for both existing and new customers. (study commissioned by the US Postal Service)
Catalogs help “warm up” customers. If a customer has received a catalog, they generally go a website with a greater desire to purchase items than a customer who is merely surfing the internet. Shoppers who use catalogs also tend to be loyal and return to the same companies for future purchases.
Direct mail works best as part of an integrated multichannel strategy. That means that each of the different channels – physical store, direct mail, online advertising, online sales, etc. – support the brand’s main message and help support each other. The use of multiple channels can create brand synergy and increased sales for companies. The stores act as billboards and offer a personal connection; catalogs provide enticing reminders to buy; and e-commerce provides an ever-present storefront.