Susan McIntyre, president of Portland, Ore.-based catalog consultancy McIntyre Direct, recommends that catalogers look at how customers use their channels to interact with them. This often isn’t as simple as dividing customers into catalog, Web and retail buyers. The ideal strategy, she notes, considers the fact that some catalog shoppers want to be reminded to purchase via e-mail, while others will look at products online before taking their catalogs to retail locations to make a final purchase.
The solution, she says, involves in-depth analysis of an integrated customer database, and a firm partnership between marketing personnel and the IT staff who manage your housefile. It’s at that point that you can effectively create a contact strategy that includes both catalogs and e-mail, and drives customers to the channels with which they’re most comfortable.
Tim Kiss, director of enterprise direct marketing for The HoneyBaked Ham Co., this year will reinforce multiple channels with his customer base. Catalogs will be displayed at the company’s 350 retail locations, and catalog blow-ins will let direct customers know where to find the nearest retail location. And since retail customers tend to buy for themselves while catalog and Web customers tend to send HoneyBaked products as gifts, Kiss plans to give special offers to retail customers if they order gifts on the Web site.
Astral Direct’s President Phil Minix says one of Astral’s goals this year is to implement an integrated customer database that will merge Web and catalog data. This will provide a better understanding of customer lifetime value by source, and allow Astral’s catalogs to coordinate offers across the catalog and Web channels. The database should improve the productivity of marketing efforts to the housefile, which is doubly important considering the decreased level of prospecting Astral will do in 2007.
An integrated database is absolutely essential if you want to know how your customers are interacting with you, McIntyre says. “In order to maximize sales, we’re going to have to segment and code more complexly than we have before,” she points out. To that end, catalogers will need to focus more on versioning not only e-mails, but catalogs as well.