B-to-B Cataloger Goes Digital
Searching for additional ways to interact with its customers, the Council for Economic Education, a B-to-B catalog/multichannel marketer of lesson plans for economics and personal finance education, decided digital catalogs were worth a shot. The company, which also markets to its customers (i.e., teachers) via a print catalog, e-commerce site, and at retail bookstores and teacher conferences, reports that nearly two years later, digital catalogs have passed its test with flying colors.
In a Catalog Success webinar last month, “Digital Catalogs: Expand your audience while slashing your costs,” sponsored by digital publishing services provider Nxtbook Media, Troy White, director of product marketing and sales at the Council for Economic Education, outlined how digital catalogs have become an integral part of the company's overall marketing mix. Here's the second in a two-part recap of the event; the first part included a presentation from natural nutritional goods cataloger/wholesaler Shaklee.
Make It Known
The most important factor with a digital catalog is that you make it known to your customers that this option is available to them, White said. The Council for Economic Education does this in three ways:
- Includes a link for the digital catalog in its e-mail marketing campaigns. The company bookends the in-home dates of the print catalog — which mails twice a year — with e-mails notifying customers that they'll be receiving the catalog in the mail, while also allowing them to preview it by clicking on the digital catalog's link.
- Includes a link to the digital catalog in any follow-up e-mails with customers, such as catalog requests.
- Mentions the digital catalog in the print catalog.
“Any place that you can promote the digital catalog — follow-up e-mails, conferences — take advantage of it,” White said.
White highlighted several benefits the Council for Economic Education has realized because of its digital catalog:
- multimedia presence online — the company has introduced video clips from teachers on how they've successfully used the Council's products;
- cost-effective — noting that it costs $100,000 to $125,000 per year to create, print and mail its catalogs, White said the digital catalog has proven to be very cost-effective;
- takes very little time and employee resources — the Council just sends a high resolution PDF version of the catalog to Nxtbook, and the vendor takes care of the rest, White said; and
- the ability to track the effectiveness of it — metrics such as clickthrough rates from e-mail campaigns, the amount of time spent viewing the digital catalog and the number of pages viewed are easily measured, allowing for smarter marketing decisions in the future.
So far the digital catalogs have proven to be a hit with customers, White said. Visitors on average spend more than two minutes per visit with the digital catalog. While there, they look at an average of nine pages per visit. This has resulted in an incremental lift in response.
But be careful not to abandon your other marketing channels, White cautioned. The Council for Economic Education's goal is to use the digital catalog as a supplement to its other marketing tools, namely the print catalog.
“We view it as a long-term investment,” White said, “to expand the company's outreach to customers.”
The beauty of the digital catalog is that all of the Council's products are contained in one spot, which isn't the case with its e-commerce Web site. This makes it easier for customers to shop, White said. The products are broken up into categories — elementary, middle school and high school.
And the digital catalog is tightly integrated with the Council for Economic Education's online store. For example, if you click on a product in the digital catalog, it takes you right to the online store so you can order it.
“There's a holistic view of all the products within that familiar format … which is a catalog that opens up,” White said, noting that the digital catalog is as simple to use as one in print. You just have to click to turn the page.
With its digital catalog, the Council for Economic Education hopes to attract a younger demographic of up-and-coming teachers, even those still in school themselves. “This is the wave of the future,” White said. “This is how young people are used to interacting."