Catalog Doctor: The Doctor Is In to Help You ...
Prescription: More circ tests. Test your timing. With the availability of the Web and frequent e-mail contacts, some catalogers don’t need to mail as often as before. So try testing one more week between mailings, then two more weeks between mailings. Check how fast the mailing “tail” drops off — you may experience less drop-off than you historically have.
Also, check your Web sales curve. If your e-mails or search (paid or organic) are doing more to lift Web traffic than in the past, you may not need to rely as much on catalog mailings as in the past.
Test your mailing frequency on folks who are Internet buyers and those who receive e-mails. Some tests have shown that these groups respond just as well with fewer catalog mailings.
Test frequency for regular catalog buyers, too, starting with lower-value names. If return on investment (ROI) is more important to you than marginal sales, try cutting mailing frequency to some groups.
Circ testing can be complex and irritating, and it requires good matchbacks. But testing will help you budget into the most productive paths.
Symptom 3: Uncomfortable With the Internet
Many marketing managers are old catalog pros. They’re whizzes at printing, paper, pagination and circ, but lack that Internet-related comfort zone. So they often leave their Web, e-mail and search staffs more or less alone to do their own thing.
But you can’t manage what you don’t know. Unmanaged departments will be suboptimized departments, not delivering the ROI they should.
Prescription: Learn enough to manage your Web staff well. The key to learning more about the Internet is knowing you don’t need to understand it all; just understand enough to manage your online channels. You didn’t have to know how to run a press to manage your print jobs, right? And you didn’t have to know how to run a camera or set lighting to manage your photo shoots. Similarly, you can manage your Internet channels without being a total techie.