Why Direct Mail Customers Spend More Online

The longstanding channel of direct mail is still the foundation for marketing campaigns and it compliments digital efforts as a sales medium, building a brand, acquiring leads and strengthening existing relationships. J.C. Penney recently brought back its catalog after stopping it 5 years ago. Why? They found that online sales came from shoppers inspired by what they saw in print. While shoppers are increasingly buying clothing, home goods and automobiles online, many sales are actually from catalog shoppers using the website to place their orders.

Now, retailers are rediscovering catalogs or lifestyle magazines as a branding tool that can drive sales. According to Kurt Salmon, a global management and strategy consulting firm, 31% of shoppers have a catalog with them when they make a purchase online. I know that this is true for me when I am making a purchase. All of my online holiday purchases were made after I had seen the product in print.

Today, the catalog format has changed from the old-style annual book of products into periodic lifestyle magazines that allow retailers to showcase their products. J.C. Penney found that the catalog allows them to tell more about the products and brand that is difficult to do online. Another benefit is that the catalog customers tend to be the best customers and spend more! However, I did receive a 13lb. grouping of catalogs from a luxury retailer last year which was overwhelming and caused negative feedback on the social networks. A reminder that retailers can go too far.

The reality is that in the midst of the digital age, there still is ROI in direct mail. According to CMO Council, the response rate for targeted directed mail is 4.4%, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%; 79% of consumers act on direct mail immediately, versus 45% who do the same with email; and 40% of consumers polled said they tried a new business after receiving direct mail, while 70% said they renewed relationships with businesses they had previously ceased using after receiving direct mail.

People generally trust direct mail and know how to respond to a direct mail offer without the technological savvy required by digital platforms. Today, it’s easy to use direct mail to drive purchases with new mobile and digital technologies. Integrating web (purls), mobile apps and QR codes in your direct mail pieces will boost the ROI of your campaign. Or, you can connect with your customers in unique and entertaining ways. For example, snapping a picture on an encoded print piece with a mobile phone can add new levels of a digital experience with sounds, video and gaming.

According to Epsilon, brands with a compelling message or offer that link direct and digital marketing can expect a 10 to 30% lift in conversion by combining the 2 channels.