January 22, 2008

73 Vital Multichannel Catalog Tips

Please feel free to forward this article to anybody you feel would benefit from the information. Add your tip in the comments section of this post.

Here is the hyperlink you can forward to your multichannel colleagues: http://minethatdata.blogspot.com/2008/01/73-vital-multichannel-catalog-tips.html
  1. Remail catalogs are on their last legs. Where possible, use new creative, the customer knows the difference.
  2. Honor all catalog opt-out requests, regardless of source.
  3. Urban customers like to use catalogs to shop retail stores.
  4. Suburban customers like to use catalogs to shop your website.
  5. Rural customers like to use catalogs to purchase merchandise over the telephone.
  6. It is very likely that you are under-investing in online marketing (paid search, portals, etc.).
  7. Online customers have lower lifetime value than catalog-sourced customers. Get over it!!
  8. Profit and loss statements should be generated, by item, on a quarterly basis, measuring profit across all channels.
  9. Statistical models almost always outperform RFM models.
  10. RFM models are perfect for understanding comp-segment performance.
  11. Increased product density in catalogs is generally correlated with increases in phone/mail channel sales.
  12. If your customer acquisition activities are at a break-even level (on each incremental segment, or in total), you are probably under-investing in customer acquisition, throttling the long-term growth of your brand.
  13. Ease up on mailing online-only buyers.
  14. Ease up on mailing retail-only buyers.
  15. Use mail/holdout groups to understand if catalogs need to be mailed to "multichannel customers". Determine how much of the sales volume will happen without mailing any catalogs.
  16. Matchback algorithms over-state the effectiveness of catalog marketing.
  17. Multichannel Forensics (white paper, book) should be used to understand when customers are willing to switch channels, or no longer need catalog advertising to purchase from your brand.
  18. If you double the number of pages in a catalog, expect a 50% increase in sales volume.
  19. Do not test new merchandise or new creative strategies in mailings targeted to new customers.
  20. Thoughtfully evaluate the mix of new and existing merchandise offered to your best customers.
  21. Pay close attention to the Zappos business model. Pay REALLY close attention!
  22. If more than one out of every five catalogs you mail is sourced from a co-op database, pay very close attention to the merchandise preferences of co-op customers vs. all other customers --- your future merchandising assortment may be driven by co-op statisticians, not by you!
  23. If more than one out of every five online purchases is sourced from Google, pay very close attention to the merchandise preferences of Google customers vs. all other customers --- your future merchandising assortment may be drive by Google, not by you!
  24. Accurately forecast segment-level household counts. Your inventory management team thanks you for your support!
  25. Don't cut back on customer acquisition during an economic downturn, or during an inflationary expense environment.
  26. Use Multichannel Forensics to forecast the five year trajectory of each of your channels, and then pro-actively change the trajectory of each channel in a favorable manner.
  27. Don't outsource your intellectual capital. Keep smart people, and pay them what they are worth.
  28. Learn from your online marketing and e-mail marketing staff.
  29. Cross-train your catalog marketing, online marketing, e-mail marketing and social marketing experts.
  30. If your catalog marketing, online marketing, e-mail marketing and social marketing experts do not defend all of their decisions via profit and loss statements, immediately train each individual on how to produce a profit and loss statement.
  31. Listen to your business intelligence and data mining staff for advice. Don't ask these folks to drive your business strategy.
  32. Adding a 20th catalog to your contact strategy will probably not cause a proportional increase in sales.
  33. Adding a 20th catalog to your catalog strategy will probably cause a proportional increase in expenses.
  34. Multichannel customers are not always your best customers.
  35. Execute and analyze mail/holdout tests in every catalog and e-mail marketing campaign.
  36. A growing minority of consumers view your catalog marketing efforts as "junk mail", as being a threat to the environment. Respond to this trend!
  37. If a catalog customer has not purchased in two years, but visited your website yesterday, mail this customer a catalog.
  38. All of your future catalog and e-mail targeting strategies will require a database of summarized online visitation behavior.
  39. The best catalog marketing in the world will not overcome shoddy financial or operational management of your brand.
  40. Customers who order three or more items, only to realize these items are not available, will have lower lifetime value than customers who receive the items they wish to purchase.
  41. Channel data ages differently. Catalog purchases have a long half-life. Online purchases have an average half-life. Retail purchases have a short half-life.
  42. Do not allow phone/mail transactions to drive your overall merchandising strategy. These transactions are disproportionately driven by age 50+ rural shoppers.
  43. Keycode/Source Code response management is a dying craft.
  44. Your list management, list rental/exchange firm, or co-op partner should be viewed as a "trusted adviser".
  45. Conversely, list management, and list rental/exchange folk, or co-op partners should be branding themselves as "smart people" rather than "list people".
  46. If you merchandise a catalog for multichannel success, you will probably end up mailing an unsuccessful catalog. Pick a primary channel, and merchandise to the target customer of the primary channel.
  47. The merchandise mix of items purchased in a store is likely to be different than the merchandise offered in the catalog you mailed to a store customer. Optimal catalog merchandising to drive store sales is a complex and misunderstood process.
  48. Forty-eight pages may drive just as much online and store volume as do eighty-four pages.
  49. When an online/store shopper is willing to purchase without marketing assistance, gladly stop marketing to the customer.
  50. As you add channels, pay close attention to your purchase metrics. During the past decade, we haven't significantly "pushed the peanut" on repurchase rate, orders per repurchaser, items per order, or average order size, in spite of additional channels and additional marketing expense.
  51. Special catalogs have special products at higher-than-average price points.
  52. The first twenty pages and the back cover of your catalog mean EVERYTHING. This is not real estate worthy of experimentation or careless branding strategies.
  53. Identify order starters (the items that cause a customer to purchase) in catalog and e-mail marketing activity. Capitalize on these items across all marketing activities.
  54. Your database must have summarized and detail-level catalog, online and retail purchase behavior, updated on a weekly basis, at a customer level.
  55. Your database must have summarized and detail-level online visitation activity, updated on (at worst) a daily basis, at a customer level.
  56. Your database must have summarized and detail-level marketing expenditures at a customer level.
  57. If you purchase campaign management software for your direct mail and e-mail activities, expect staffing turnover due to differences in skill-sets between traditional circulation tasks and campaign management circulation tasks.
  58. Demand oversight and a collaborative relationship with your co-op statistician. This person has a disproportionate influence on your brand.
  59. Long-term, you are an online brand that mails catalogs, not a catalog brand with a website. Start transitioning your staff today for this long-term certainty.
  60. You can successfully integrate all of your merchandising and inventory systems across channels. You may not have the marketing expertise to take advantage of multichannel systems integration.
  61. The days of charging $14.95 for one week shipping/handling are coming to an abrupt end. See tip #21 for more details.
  62. You will be amazed how much waste is pared from your marketing activities when you're no longer able to charge $14.95 for shipping/handling.
  63. Challenge the ACCM, and DMA conferences to feature speakers with innovative and relevant ideas. Demand that our best conferences provide you with a roadmap to the future.
  64. Talk openly about how Catalog Choice will impact the long-term future of your business.
  65. Talk openly about how you would alter your marketing strategy if you were not allowed to mail catalogs to customers who have never previously purchased from your brand.
  66. Become best friends with the folks who work in your Finance department.
  67. Become best friends with your Web Analytics expert.
  68. When vendors talk about huge targeting and data mining successes, be skeptical. It is likely that the success is due to previous failures in marketing strategy, not in targeting/data mining strategy.
  69. Listen to the passion your Chief Merchandising Officer has about merchandise. If you find a talented person anywhere else in your organization who has comparable passion for his/her craft, hold on to that person with all your might!
  70. Realize that almost nobody in your organization understands the economics, response, and profitability of your catalog, e-mail and online marketing efforts.
  71. Become the person in your organization that thoroughly understands the economics, response, and profitability of your catalog, e-mail and online marketing efforts.
  72. How will you ever innovate if all you do is follow "best practices"?
  73. If you want to improve your multichannel marketing strategies, listen to your customers before you listen to vendors / research organizations.


  1. That is an awesome list! I will print it out and pin it to my wall.


  2. Kevin, you are so cool, thanks for your thoughts. This gives many of us some good questions to ask going into 2008....

  3. Anonymous10:31 AM



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