Use Virtual Catalogs to Leverage Your Web Marketing, Part 1
This is part 1 of a multipart series on how virtual catalogs can be a valuable tool for marketers looking to build their online presences. This week I examine the costs of publishing a virtual catalog, as well as the features it offers. Part 2 will take a look at the metrics that need to be tracked to measure the effectiveness of virtual catalogs, as well as what those metrics can tell you and how virtual catalogs compare to “email on steroids.”
Digital catalogs have been around for a long time, but they've suddenly become a valuable tool for marketers. The technology has dropped in cost to the point where marketers are almost forced to learn how to use digital editions — not to mention the fact that they've become very user friendly, too.
Now that the technology has arrived, marketers are learning how to leverage their catalog creative and use it much more widely to generate revenue beyond traditional print.
How much does it cost to publish a virtual catalog? Prices range from $6/page to upward of $30/page; so a 52-page catalog could be as inexpensive as $312. Even an average cost from your printer to provide a virtual catalog at $20/page totals $1,040, which is peanuts compared to your total bill for printing, paper and postage.
How can the cost be so low? Vendors take the same PDF files marketers use to print their catalogs and simply convert those files into digital editions. Minimal work is required to turn those files into virtual catalogs, therefore costs have really dropped.
Printers (led by Worldcolor, Quad/Graphics and Brown Printing) have really committed themselves to building out virtual catalog solutions as part of their pre-press package of services because virtual catalogs represent a value-added service that can distinguish one printer from another. Stand-alone providers like Movado have solutions with all the bells and whistles at almost the same cost as the lowest-priced solutions from printers.
How have the features evolved? Virtual catalogs have finally caught up to their potential as web applications that shoppers can embrace. Consider the following:
- Virtual catalogs link seamlessly back to online shopping carts.
- Virtual catalogs can be included as links on emails, allowing your catalog to reach your email file.
- Loading time for virtual catalogs is almost instantaneous.
- Virtual catalog features are intuitive, so you can either flip the pages, scan the thumbnails of the pages or scroll through the table of contents and get to the products you want to see quickly.
- A big change has been the ability to convert Flash to HTML search-enabled text so spiders and bots can search your catalog, as well as users via keywords.
- The ability to access catalogs anywhere or anytime — whether on your mobile device, at home or the office — without having to search for the actual printed copies.
- Marketers can capture email addresses as a first step for viewing virtual catalogs.
- Thumbnail previews and easy-to-use toolbars allow for effortless page navigation; bookmarks; post-it notes; sharing through email and social networks; and razor sharp text, zoom and digital rights management.