For traditional direct marketers, there is no single metric that is more important to calculate than the organic percentage.
Simply put, the organic percentage is the percentage of demand that is generated independent of marketing activities. For many catalogers, the percentage is calculated as the percentage of demand that is independent of catalog marketing.
We care about this, of course, because our matchback analytics frequently attribute orders to catalog and e-mail marketing activities, orders that would have happened regardless of any catalog or e-mail marketing.
Catalog marketers are growing comfortable with this percentage, because of the actionable ways it gets put into use. Organic percentages of maybe 10% suggest that your catalog is the reason your business exists!
Organic percentages of maybe 35% to 40% suggest a considerable amount of over-mailing. These businesses are probably attributing too much business to catalogs and direct marketing in their matchback algorithms.
Organic percentages of 80% or more suggest a powerful brand that is complemented by direct marketing, not driven by direct marketing.
For my catalog readers out there, work closely with your co-op or other matchback provider, calculating this important percentage. If that number creeps up over 30%, it is time for serious catalog contact strategy testing. For my online marketing readers out there, this is another good place to partner with a Coremetrics, Omniture, or Unica, folks who can help you get to the bottom of this important metric.