January 04, 2012
September 14, 2011
When you're meeting with experts at NEMOA, here are five questions to ask them.
- If the average organic percentage for a cataloger with a 55+ rural audience is between 25% and 50%, how does knowing that matchbacks significantly overstate true catalog performance change your approach to catalog marketing?
- Yet another company is going to a free shipping model. How do your non-competitive colleagues plan on using the organic percentage to save money that can be used to fund free shipping?
- If the USPS went to three-day delivery, how would that impact your business model, if at all?
- Now that so many catalogers possess a 55+ rural audience, what does the catalog customer look like in 2016? 2021? What is your strategy for dealing with a rapidly aging customer base?
- Find a catalog brand with at least $50,000,000 in annual sales who grew by more than 20% in the past year. What non-catalog strategies enabled this business to grow? What catalog strategies enabled this business to grow?
January 18, 2009
Even the best conferences aren't covering this important topic. The Spring 2009 NEMOA Conference. features a talk from REI guru Mike Bowcut on "Why Catalogs Still Belong In The Toolbox". Certainly, you'll learn something valuable from this talk. Mike is brilliant, his discussion won't lead you astray.
Our industry also has an opportunity to allocate time to talk about one of the two biggest issues our industry ever faced:
- Catalog Customer Acquisition is dying.
- Catalog brands with strong retail channels have loyal multichannel buyers who no longer generate any incremental volume when a plethora of catalogs are mailed to them --- the "organic demand" concept we observed at Nordstrom back in the first half of this decade.
Analyze your data from fourth quarter, for the past ten years. Take a look at customer acquisition productivity, using your matchback analytics, combining data across all channels. You're going to see productivity declines of between twenty and seventy percent over the past ten years. Heck, when Google generates 32 billion searches a month compared with 2 billion searches a month just four years ago (and zero more than a decade ago), we know the world is changing ... dramatically changing!
Why aren't we asking strategic questions?
- If catalog customer acquisition is dying, and the majority of our new customers come from catalog customer acquisition, how will we acquire new customers in five years?
- If the soul of our organization is built around catalog marketing, what does this mean for the soul of our organization?
- What kind of talent do we need to meet the future marketing needs of our business?
- How are online pureplays acquiring new customers --- how does Zappos do it? How does Amazon do it? How does the $10 million dollar online business down the street do it? What can we learn from others? When can we schedule a field trip to visit the online pureplay?
- If we have a retail channel, and customers are not spending incremental revenue in spite of catalog marketing, why do we have a catalog marketing channel?
- If rural customers still require catalog marketing, but urban/suburban catalogs no longer need catalog marketing, how do we configure a contact strategy that meets the needs of a significantly smaller universe of shoppers? And how does this new catalog contact strategy impact merchandising, creative, and inventory staffers?
- What is the future of the co-op brand, brands that ran list rental organizations out of business on the basis of cheap, targeted customer acquisition names? These brands will undoubtedly provide significant future value to your business, right? But how? Are we working with them to map out our future?
August 20, 2008
My friends at NEMOA were first to offer me a chance to speak at a conference, so I am more than happy to share with you things happening at NEMOA. In this case, they extended their early bird discount for the Fall 2008 conference through August 25. The conference is focused "... on the sustainability --- of the catalog industry".
On September 17-19, some of the best thinkers in the catalog/etail world will be gathering in
On Wednesday and Thursday, industry leaders will present best practices for ways to grow a business, stay green, and stay profitable.
On Friday, NEMOA’s “Virtual Tour” features six Internet experts, including Rick Klau from Google, who will walk NEMOA attendees through best practices in redesign, SEO, email marketing, RSS, web analytics, and paid search.
Visit the NEMOA website for more details.
March 11, 2008
Here is a link to the Multichannel Forensics interview, and here is a link to the Multichannel Forensics podcast.
If you are in Boston this week, you can hear Alan speak at the NEMOA Conference.
September 22, 2007
Written by Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggieTales, the book dramatically illustrates why a business dies without a healthy balance of creativity and fiscal discipline.
This week, catalogers attending NEMOA heard industry veteran Bill LaPierre apparently criticize the purveyors of paper for a lack of creativity in their marketing activities.
I fear that catalog and (especially) online marketing creativity is being smothered by technology. Fiscal discipline is better than it was during the go-go days of the internet bubble. Creatively, we're struggling.
A business leader recently told me it would take eighteen months for the technology team to make the appropriate changes to the website so that the creative team could present merchandise the way the creative team wanted to present merchandise.
And if the pundits are right, if we have to integrate marketing, merchandising and creative strategies in our online and catalog channels, then the whole darn thing hinges on our ability to integrate the technology folks, creative folks, and marketing folks.
That's not an easy thing to do.
March 23, 2007
There was a fun session this morning, hosted by Colin Hynes, the Director of Usability at Staples. We don't always consider the fact that Staples moved $4.9 billion of merchandise via its website during 2006. Wow. After Amazon.com, can you think of anybody doing more volume than that?
Colin brought a woman up to the stage, to join him in a brief usability test of the Geerlings & Wade website. The point of Colin's presentation was not to judge the Geerlings & Wade website, but rather, to show seasoned e-commerce leaders what an e-commerce experience is like for the average customer.
The presentation included a discussion of the use of Personas to improve the website experience (including a before/after conversion rate graph --- where conversion briefly dipped after implementing changes to the site suggested by research and Persona use, then improved nicely, up to 28% more than the prior version of the website).
P.S.: DMNews covered a few of the comments I made during my presentation on Thursday.
March 22, 2007
A couple of memorable things from the Small Cataloger Panel
- Jim Ruma, Ruma's Fruits and Gift Baskets ... "A lot of sales cover a lot of sins".
- Peggy Glenn, Firefighters Bookstore ... "Sales were down in 2001. You have to remember, I lost 345 firefighters / best friends on 9/11".
Industry legend Tim Litle hosted the lunch discussion, talking about the sixty year history of NEMOA. When we think about tricks for measuring things, we sometimes forget our history. Tim spoke of putting mail orders (the orders that came in envelopes in the 1970 and early 1980s, with a check inside the envelope) on a scale. The weight of the envelopes was directly correlated with the sales expected for that day. Wow.
Today's badge of honor goes to Laura Wojtalik of Abacus. She spoke about developments at Abacus surrounding the allocation of orders to the advertising path that led to a customer purchasing merchandise (frequently referred to as a 'Matchback Analysis').
Laura exhibited a tremendous amount of professionalism, following her presentation in front of a standing room only crowd (and the term is appropriate here, there wasn't a place to sit in the overcrowded room). Many in the audience peppered Laura with "what if" questions that were theoretical in nature, questions that don't necessarily have (and may never have) straightforward answers.
The audience had every right to ask the questions of Laura. It is not easy to measure the vehicle that drove the response when a customer received three catalogs and six e-mails in a twenty-one day period of time, and yet purchases following a search on Google on day twenty-two.
In today's world, Google gets paid for this --- yet online and catalog marketers are aware that the three catalogs and six e-mails played an equal or greater role in driving the order. I think the audience wanted a definitive answer on how to quantify this in a way that makes the audience feel comfortable. I don't think a definitive answer will ever happen, it is part of our new reality. When Laura gave honest and fair answers, some in the audience weren't thrilled.
This is yet another reason I harp on online businesses and catalogers getting in too deep with Google. I don't think Google is trying to be evil. But we pay them anyway for actions/purchases they didn't fully cause, because Google takes the credit for the last action in the "path to purchase", as coined by Coy Clement of Clement Direct.
March 21, 2007
- Catalog is not truly a channel, it is an advertising vehicle that drives sales to the telephone, website or retail channel.
- How do you deal with price changes in print (where prices are fixed in stone for the life of a catalog), verses in stores or on a website?
- Do you have a separate sale/discount website, or do you integrate it with your primary website?
- How should the online/catalog business allocate sales to the advertising vehicle that drove the sales? For instance, if a customer received two catalogs and four e-mail campaigns, and uses Google to search for merchandise, which of those six advertising vehicles and/or search is responsible for a website purchase? And if all are responsible for the purchase, how do you allocate the sales in a way that is fair?
- Once allocation is done "right", how should the executive allocate marketing budget across various advertising tactics?
- The importance of collecting accurate data --- as well as the importance of not getting bogged-down in having "too many metrics".
- Do you use e-mail campaigns for sale offers or free-shipping, verses SHOULD you use e-mail campaigns for sale offers or free-shipping?
- Are square inch analyses of catalog offerings still valid?
- What is the next big thing in multichannel retailing?
More information tomorrow.
March 19, 2007
January 15, 2007
Friends of MineThatData blogger Alan Rimm Kaufman is participating in a panel discussion about allocating resources for maximum ROI on Wednesday afternoon.
If you are in New England in late March, take advantage of this conference opportunity.