Catalog Spotlight: Naughty or Nice List?
Squeeze the most sales and profit from your catalog circulation this upcoming holiday shopping season using these tactics:
- Segment your customers that came from affiliates, Facebook, Amazon.com or eBay, and key code them separately from your other catalog buyers in those specific RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) segments. Also, consider suppressing these customers, mailing them less frequently or mailing them later in the holiday season because they will respond less than your traditional catalog buyers. Be very cautious mailing one-time buyers acquired online. They may be “one and done” buyers and prove to be unprofitable housefile names.
- Consider scoring your web buyers by working with one of the cooperative databases. You’ll be able to flag poor catalog-buying households and identify some unprofitable housefile circulation with more precision.
- “If they ain’t browsing, they ain’t buying.” Recent browsing activity is an attribute that indicates a person’s propensity to buy. Lack of recent browsing activity strongly suggests that a person isn’t ready to make a purchase. If you have access to browse behavior, flag your RFM segments and measure the difference in response.
- If you know your digitally acquired customers have softer response than catalog-acquired customers, try mailing them closer to Christmas and skip early season mailings. Why? Digitally acquired customers have a strong tendency to order merchandise closer to Christmas.
- Have one of the co-op databases score your older housefile to find both suppression and reactivation opportunities.
- Run mail vs. no-mail tests to see how frequently you should mail your housefile buyers. You may be able to cut one or two early season mailings to your house buyers.
- Mail your best customers a postcard in mid-December. Divide your best customers into mail vs. no-mail segments and measure the incremental sales from a last-minute December in-home date. Your very best customers will respond profitably to an offer in the days before your last possible ship date!
- Use email offer extensions. “Thanksgiving Sale extended for 48 hours,” “Black Friday offer extended for the weekend!” “Cyber Monday offer good all this week!” These types of offer extensions generate additional incremental sales.
- The Monday after Cyber Monday has become established as another key promotional date in the holiday selling season. And this year Thanksgiving is early (Nov. 23), so the Monday after Cyber Monday falls on Dec. 4. Make sure you have an offer that’s equal to Cyber Monday’s deals!
- Get “balance model names” from your co-op databases to target recent buyers who are “hotline” prospects. Co-op databases can almost always provide 10,000 or more profitable balance model names.
- Always get your own buyer hotline names into your late-season mailings.
- Don’t rely on last year’s daily order curve to plan for this year’s holiday sales curve. The election last year hurt November sales and ended up resulting in hypervelocity for many catalogs in December. Don’t count on that same late season hypervelocity this year.
- Ensure all your digital programs are fully funded and ready to deploy. The dynamic for catalogers is increasingly that catalogs create demand and email offers and digital programs harvest that demand.
- Do a gut-check comparison that your break-even points for catalog circulation and digital programs have the same profitability. Ensure that you’re not leaving profitable catalog circulation or profitable digital programs underfunded because your profitability metrics for catalog vs. digital are different.
- If you’re competing with Amazon (and which brand isn’t these days), be sure to test coupons in order to keep your pricing competitive. Sure, while Amazon’s engine will almost always have the lowest price, you can use coupons — and Amazon can’t see the added discount coming from your coupons. Also, be sure to have a price-matching guarantee in place if you’re competing on price with Amazon.
- Have an early-season guarantee that this will be the best offer. It’s always a good idea to get your customers to buy early rather than have them wait for a stronger offer later in the season.
- Have a post-Christmas Day sale. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is often a busy week. Email is the preferred way to advertise post-Christmas sales because catalogs mailed right before Christmas simply get thrown away.
Jim Coogan is the founder and president of Catalog Marketing Economics, a consulting firm focused on catalog circulation planning.