50 Best Tips for 2015
It's a new year and the Lett Direct team has put together "50 Best Tips for 2015" that will help you increase your profits. While not in any particular order, these suggestions are being made to help you improve your print catalog and digital marketing programs. Some of our suggestions might be obvious while other tips might stimulate your thinking. Regardless, we hope our tips and suggestions for 2015 will benefit your business.
1. Ensure that your Google Analytics account is tracking properly.
2. Be certain that all traffic channels (e.g., email, paid search, display ads, etc.) are tagged with Google Analytics’ UTM parameters.
3. Review and optimize your product data feed for use with Google and Bing Shopping campaigns.
4. Stop using the misleading last-click attribution model in Google Analytics. Rather, consider "time decay" or "linear" models.
5. Content is the king of search engine optimization today; start a blog.
6. Employ some form of remarketing.
7. Pretend you're a new visitor and purchase a product on your own site. Go to your two largest competitors and do the same. Evaluate the results. Which site was the easiest to buy from? Which site was easiest to navigate to find your specific product?
8. Repeat tip No. 6 above, but this time with your smartphone.
9. When the data in a small sample looks skewed, sometimes it helps to look at a bigger sample. Don't get hung up on small fluctuations in performance. Make sure you're looking at the bigger picture.
10. Take a quick office poll: How many weekly or daily emails does it take, on average, for your group to click unsubscribe? How many emails are you sending? How does this compare to the industry standard?
11. Make revenue your primary metric; all others only act to support it.
12. Before you start link building, be sure you have something worth linking to.
13. Tell your web vendors before you make significant changes to your site (e.g., platform change, rearranging categories, etc.). They can help you navigate those changes in a way that saves (and even makes) you money, not to mention help you avoid common pitfalls.
14. Paid search is a sprint; SEO is a marathon. You really need both to achieve optimal results.
15. It's never too early to start preparing for your busy season.
16. Have conversations with your vendors — e.g., service bureau, consultant, printer, etc. They're excellent resources.
17. Experience your competitor. Get on its catalog and email lists. Place an order and pay attention to the following — wait times, ease of ordering and satisfaction of customer service. Do the same when you receive your order. Examine the packaging, time to receive, what else came with your order (e.g., package inserts). And finally, return an order. How easy is the process?
18. Mail your housefile. Prospecting can be challenging at times, but it's critical to remain steadfast in contacts to your housefile. It's your bread and butter. You spent money to acquire them, don't let them leave.
19. Use the co-ops to "prospect" from within your housefile by doing not just buyer reactivations, but also model inquiries and ship-to addresses.
20. Use RFM to pull out your "best buyers" and treat them as such. Give them special email sneak previews to new merchandise, new catalogs etc. Offer them specials that aren't available to others — e.g., "Take 15 percent off your next order as our thanks for being one of our best customers!"
21. Use your service bureau to create a "bad" prospect suppression file — i.e., prospects that look good and therefore come into the top segment but don't convert to a buyer despite multiple contacts.
22. Whenever possible, mail your merge output "super dupes." These are buyers from segments you didn't plan to mail, but that hit against your prospects in the merge. Since these names were found on two sources, they often perform well. There usually aren't many, but are worth mailing.
23. Google's Universal Analytics and Conversion tracking tags are free; the insight they provide is priceless.
24. Check your AdWords mobile spend often. Set bid adjustments at the campaign or ad group level.
25. Don't just change a promotion or mailing; ALWAYS test first.
26. Due to increasing cost of postage and/or paper, find other ways to make up the money so your bottom line doesn't take a big hit. For example, test blow-ins and package inserts, rent your housefile, use less aggressive promotions, try a different paper stock, increase merchandise, and participate in co-mails.
27. Look back at successful years and see what you may have changed (e.g., promotions, covers, merchandise, etc.).
28. Complete a competitor analysis to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
29. Do a market overview to develop promotions for future mailings.
30. Develop a strategy for reviving older buyers — e.g., new test promotions.
31. Be willing to retest an offer or promo that didn't work the first time if it's been a while. Things can change.
32. If an offer or promo was working, but isn't getting the same results anymore, don't just continue because it worked in the past. Try a new test.
33. Different promos should target different parts of your audience. Prospects, inquiries and older buyers should receive a more enticing test promo than recent buyers. This is easily achieved through a black cover plate change or a dot-whack on the cover.
34. Be willing to test other things besides promos. Paper, covers, mail dates and much more can be tested. Just try to keep it to one test at a time.
35. Obtain print and paper bids at least once a year to check the market. Don't contract with any printer for more than one year at a time.
36. Consider purchasing paper directly from a supplier. However, if you purchase less than 80,000 pounds (about two truckloads) of paper at a time, it's probably best to continue buying paper through your printer.
37. Develop a strategy to convert one-time buyers into repeat customers.
38. Monitor the change in the number of 12-month buyers on your housefile from one year to the next. Your business will grow by approximately the same percentage your 12-month buyer file is growing.
39. Consider adding more pages to your catalog (i.e., more merchandise), while maintaining the same product density. This is a good strategy especially if your catalog mails at the postal piece rate (under 3.3 ounces). Your revenue should increase by approximately one-half the percent increase in page count.
40. Typically, a U.S. catalog company should be able to generate 10 percent of its sales in Canada. Therefore, consider developing a circulation plan to test mailing north of the border.
41. Always take advantage of co-mail savings and make sure you print with a "catalog" printer that offers co-mail services.
42. Segment your online-only buyers by RFM, separate from your print catalog buyers.
43. Be sure to maximize ALL of the cooperative databases. They all build their models slightly differently, and one co-op will find good prospect names not found by another.
44. If you're a consumer catalog business, consider renting your housefile.
45. Perform proper list hygiene regularly. Always maintain your housefile. Remember, it's the housefile that pays the bills.
46. For B-to-B mailers, consider "title slugging" your older housefile names as a way to prospect into companies and institutions which have purchased from you in the past.
47. You can't "slash and burn" your way to prosperity. Cutting circulation and direct selling expenses won't necessarily improve your profitability.
48. Be sure to prospect when the fish are biting. Seasonal factors play a huge role in determining your level of circulation, both housefile and prospecting.
49. Want to start a print catalog program? If you're an online retailer with a housefile of at least 5 million buyers, you have a better chance of success.
Rule No. 1: The customer is always right. Rule No. 2: re-read rule No. 1!