July 29, 2012

Dear Catalog CEOs: Step Up!

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Has this ever happened to you?  Business is down 13%.  You bring a group of leaders together to discuss what went wrong.  And here's what is presented to you:
  • Catalog, catalog, CATALOG, catalog, c-a-t-a-l-o-g.
Heck, I looked through a forty page report today, containing something like 40,000 metrics and maybe 400 lines of explanation for why business is suffering.  Here are a series of words that never appeared.
  • Paid Search.
  • Natural Search.
  • Landing Pages.
  • Cart Abandonment Programs.
  • Email Campaigns.
  • Affiliate Programs.
  • Social Media.
  • Mobile.
  • Banner Ads.
  • Retargeting Programs.
Answer this question for me.  If you shut down your website for one month, how much business would simply evaporate?  55%?  65%?  92%?

If the answer is more than 55%, then don't you think it is time that the Online Marketing Team step up to the plate and accept accountability?  Or more important, isn't it about time that you step up to the plate and demand accountability of your Online Marketing Team?

Why do we demand that the catalog marketer produce a square inch analysis of every item in the catalog, with metrics from demand per thousand pages circulated to profit, but we don't have a single report that links paid search to the merchandise productivity of specific items/skus?

Why do we demand that the catalog marketer prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the "right" customers were mailed and generated high levels of productivity, but we allow the email marketing team to get away with "the campaign generated a 22% click-through rate"?

It's been 17 years since most of us launched e-commerce websites.  Why aren't we demanding accountability from the folks who are now responsible for more than half of the business?



  1. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Hey Kevin -

    I'm not familiar with the catalog world, so I can't really comment. But in a dedicated commerce company, these folks are generally held to the same revenue-based standards.

    The big problem is cookie confusion - how do you tell which channel should get credit...

  2. We overthink the cookie confusion thing. We really, really overthink it.

    If three channels touched an order, divide the order three ways and move on. It's better to make decisions and move on than to overthink attribution. Then learn what you can and make adjustments.

  3. Hi Kevin,

    Gotta say we online types say the same thing about the catalog side. Maybe we should meet? :)


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