Tips for Calculating Print Catalog ROI for Your Executive Team

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Print, in some form or another, is used so widely across our Sales & Marketing landscape that it is rather difficult to measure its pure ROI (Return On Investment). At the same time, it’s very important that we are able to measure it because we have so many other marketing channels at our disposal: Web, Email, Digital Catalogs, Mobile Catalogs, Telemarketing, etc. Since we have a finite amount in our Marketing Budget, we always want to make sure that we’re getting good bang for our buck. If we are dumping too much money into one channel that isn’t getting a good return, then it’s basically as though we are TAKING money from another channel that is.

The Executive Team is going to expect that you have an actual marketing strategy, and an expected ROI based on this strategy. Without this solid plan in place, they are going to be less than willing to commit the money and resources needed to carry it out! To add to the difficulty, a good Print campaign isn’t really designed to produce gaudy short-term numbers; it is set up to bolster long-term profits by boosting the online side of the equation. Consider that E-commerce retailers experience a 163% revenue boost by simply incorporating catalogs into the marketing mix—compared to those that do not. That is beyond significant, and yet, when a customer takes initiative from a print catalog and then makes the actual purchase online, how do we properly credit the role Print just played in that transaction?

The Executive Team is going to expect that you have an actual marketing strategy, and an expected ROI based on this strategy. Without this solid plan in place, they are going to be less than willing to commit the money and resources needed to carry it out! To add to the difficulty, a good Print campaign isn’t really designed to produce gaudy short-term numbers; it is set up to bolster long-term profits by boosting the online side of the equation. Consider that E-commerce retailers experience a 163% revenue boost by simply incorporating catalogs into the marketing mix—compared to those that do not. That is beyond significant, and yet, when a customer takes initiative from a print catalog and then makes the actual purchase online, how do we properly credit the role Print just played in that transaction?

Remember, before you can CALCULATE anything, you first need to accurately RECORD and MEASURE. Here are some of the more popular direct response mechanisms being used today:

 

1. QR Codes – We see Quick Response Codes utilized everywhere these days: bus stops, movie posters, store windows, and yes, modern print catalogs. By scanning these codes with a smartphone, readers are taken directly to a website landing page. This unique visit can be easily tracked through subsequent responses or an eventual order.

2. Response Codes – This is a code that you can publish on the mailed print catalog, which the customer then quotes when you ask for it during the order process or some other form of communication with them. This method works best when you wisely include a location-based element to the response code. This allows you to track not only the efficiency of the printed material, but what kind of regional variance you are seeing.

3. PURL (Personalized Landing Pages) – This is a website which is personalized to each visitor. By making it relevant to each customer, you are increasing your chances at converting the visit into an actual transaction. This works especially well when it’s combined with a special offer that is also personalized. Basically, once you have enough info about the customer to utilize a personalized page, you have the perfect opportunity to target your offers accordingly, which immensely increases ROI.

4. Web, Telephone, or Mail – The three most obvious ways a customer is going to try to reach you. You will want to track the profitability of all three channels, just as with Print. With the Web, there are analytics packages you can use (such as Google Analytics). When communicating by telephone, then you need to track responses by finding out where the customer saw the advertisement or by running through Codes that tie back to the print material. For Mail, the postal tracking info includes a code that is part of the return form. This code relates back to you which printed material the order came from.

5. Trade Show – Printed materials are commonly provided as handouts at trade shows. Take advantage of this opportunity to include other direct response mechanisms like QR codes or personalized landing pages along with your handouts, so you can accurately track these responses also.

6. Special Offers, Coupons & Vouchers – As we all know, offering “specials” tends to encourage further action from customers. It’s important that we track this—whether it is your Sales team taking note of the response to a call, or whether it is specialized software that logs a website visit. Each offer or special deal should have a Code associated with it, like our other examples above. With the code, you are able to track both the effectiveness of the printed marketing material and the actual offer or special itself.
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Tip 1: Leads Generated From a Catalog

 

One of the best side benefits of print promotions and refer-a-friend offers is how quickly we can generate strong leads. Because print catalogs give the highest bang for the buck when they are targeted to the proper audience, it makes a lot of sense to get them in the hands of those who appreciate your products the most. By virtue of a simple insert, our strongest customers can refer friends to receive the print catalogs also.

Not all leads are created equal. If you purchase a list of e-mail addresses to be canvassed by an e-mail campaign, technically those are 10,000 leads. Of course, the click-through rate is low and the conversion rate is even lower. Email works despite this because A) it’s very inexpensive to send 10K emails and B) it takes so few conversions to make it profitable.

When it comes to a print catalog refer-a-friend, the quality of the lead is going to be much higher for obvious reasons. You couldn’t ask for a better lead, because this is (likely) coming from a repeat customer that knows the lead’s likes & dislikes already. A good percentage of these high-quality leads will be year-round browsers and buyers. We’re taking advantage of an already top-quality customer and allowing them to put this catalog in the hands of someone they feel has similar taste and purchase ability.

Tip 2: Sales Generated From a Catalog

 

There are several great ways to track Sales as generated from a print catalog. The most obvious is by adding in special pricing or a discount coupon. Both of these allow the sale to track back to the specific catalog offering. You can also create custom codes that allow you to trace both Response Rate and Inquiry Rate.

You can take it a step further by tracking which types of products perform differently within different catalogs, even across different regions. You can also track who calls or follows up. Prepare your internal Sales and Marketing teams beforehand about these special codes and offers, so they are prepared for each customer call. If they aren’t aware of a response code or why they should ask for one, valuable data can fall right through the cracks!

Tip 3: Online Keyword Re-Use

 

Anyone who knows what SEO stands for realizes how important it is to your bottom line. Because online searches can be tracked, we are privy to information about our readers that we never were in the days of “print catalog ONLY”. We could track what people were buying, but we really didn’t know what else they were looking at in the catalog that didn’t translate to a conversion. This meant we also couldn’t come up with plans or new methods to remedy that, in order to maximize our sales.

Nowadays, we know exactly what people are searching for and how they’re trying to search for it. This makes our Online Keywords ultra important, because this is how prospective customers can find us, and how existing customers can find exactly what they’re looking for faster. Since building up these Online Keywords and perfecting them is so important, it makes sense to use them as much as possible. One great way to do this is by using the Online Keywords as the Index for the print catalog. This way, what your customers are searching for in Google becomes what they search by in the print edition.

Tip 4: Brand Establishment

 

It’s well known that catalogs engage quite unlike any other medium. They inspire the end buyer in ways that simply can’t be matched by Email, Online, or even Digital catalogs. There’s something about the glossy pages and the ability to physically hold something that you can flip through that just can’t be replaced. When customers latch on to a print catalog, they tend to become “fans” in a way that you can’t really mimic online. Your catalog and brand is literally at their bedside, on the coffee table, at the kitchen counter, and in the bathroom.

It even goes beyond simple brand loyalty, however. Your catalog will be placed in easy reach of visitors, and in plain view. In other words, the customer WANTS it known that your catalog and your brand are important to them, and that this is where they shop. It can even be a point of conversation, such as “Where did you find these drapes?” Instead of just telling the person where it was purchased, you can grab the catalog and flip to the page and show them directly. Not only are they happy with your brand and product line, but they want to help get it in the hands of others also.

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