The flood of online shoppers doesn't mean that there's no market for mail-order catalogs. In fact, many companies that started online have shifted their marketing efforts into the print arena for its high return on investment. Good print campaigns earn a response rate between 3 percent to 5 percent, compared to .05 percent to 1 percent for the typical online campaign. Plus, your print catalog is a great way to get more people to your online catalog; just as the online environment is a great place to find leads to mail your print catalog to.
Successful mail-order catalogs take on many faces, but there are some noticeable recent trends that seem to pay off better than others.
Here are a few mail-order catalog printing secrets that won't backfire on you:
Go full color Full-color printing is no longer a luxury; it's a necessity in many industries. Customers have come to expect big color images alongside catalog product descriptions to help them make a decision between products. But you don't have to justify the jump to full color just to beat your competition — full-color images have a better sales rate because they simply look better. Plus, online printing companies like PsPrint have made full-color printing affordable, even for small businesses and short runs.
Today's businesses and consumers get a lot of mail, which is why it's so important to immediately stand out from the crowd. Instead of a traditional 8.5-inch by 11-inch catalog, try a 12-inch by 12-inch catalog and see if you get a better return. Chances are you will, because your customers will instantly recognize that your company is offering something special, something big and will want to open your catalog for a closer look.
Tear-out coupons and stickers Stickers and tear-out coupons have been used for years to get customers to look deeper into catalogs and agree to specific deals and purchases. Now, you can use the same concepts to drive traffic to your online catalog. If you want to get your customers' e-mail addresses to launch an e-mail campaign, for instance, then your catalog could include a tear-out coupon with a special code good for a free $20 gift certificate. All the customer would have to do is sign up online with their name, address and e-mail address, and you'll put the certificate in the mail.
It used to be that most mail order catalogs were printed on cheap, drab newsprint. Not anymore — the most successful mail order companies are opting for high-quality 100-pound gloss text pages and even experimenting with 70-pound matte stock for a softer, more personal glow. Also, in an effort to identify with environmentally conscious customers, many companies are also printing their mail-order catalogs on recycled paper. The online printer PsPrint, for instance, offers a 50 percent recycled matte stock with 30 percent post-consumer content.
The mail-order catalogs remain as strong as ever, and it's easy to see why the world's biggest companies are employing mail-order marketing strategies to complement online campaigns. They've learned that the easiest way to make sales online is for the customer to know exactly what they want — and where to find it — before they even log on.