MULTICHANNEL INTEGRATION TACTICS FOR 2007
Most catalogers these days sell via two or three channels. It’s how they use each channel that determines their success. “The Web made mail order accessible to many, who didn’t need to invest in a big catalog infrastructure,” says Susan McIntyre, president of Portland, Ore.-based catalog consultancy McIntyre Direct.
But the resulting glut of Internet pure plays and new catalogers makes standing out from the crowd tougher. Below are McIntyre’s directives for making your catalog stand out.
1. Keep service consistent across channels. Effective multichannel marketing includes both the capability to take orders from multiple channels and the ability to provide the same level of service through each channel, McIntyre says. If your call center reps answer on the first ring and are friendly and helpful, but your Web site is hard to navigate, you’re not providing an equivalent experience in each channel. Find out where the gaps are in your customer service by talking to customers, McIntyre says, then fill them.
2. Establish a cross-channel task force. “If your chief marketing officer isn’t concerned with consistency across channels, then create an interdepartmental, cross-channel marketing team,” she notes. Production staff must be aware of e-commerce; and e-commerce staff must know what’s going on with the catalog.
“To provide a single consistent experience for customers across channels,” McIntyre says, “everyone needs to talk to everyone else at your company. There’s no other way to manage a multichannel organization effectively.”
3. Employ faster, clearer and easier communication. The Internet has trained your customers to respond to short and powerful communication, McIntyre says. The more clearly you can communicate, whether via e-mail or catalog, the better your customers will respond. “Well-crafted and catchy e-mail subject lines can double your open rate,” she notes, “And the same is true in your catalog.”
Whether online or in the catalog, McIntyre recommends layered communication. People want to flip through the catalog, get the main message, and decide if they’re interested enough to go back and delve more deeply into product categories, she says. Use short, punchy copy for product headlines that are easily visible on quick read-through. “You don’t have to eliminate copy to make the catalog scannable,” McIntyre adds; “just make it easy to absorb quickly.” —MG