Ever heard of the name Colin Cherry? He is credited with coining the name for the “cocktail party effect” in the early 1950’s. It is the remarkable human ability to focus on a single speaker in virtually any environment -- a classroom, sporting event or coffee bar -- even if that person's voice is seemingly drowned out by a humming crowd. You have probably experienced this yourself. Ever been in a busy room and suddenly heard your name? That immediate sensation of “tuning in” your attention is the cocktail party effect.
Now let’s apply this phenomenon to using catalogs and direct mail to drive ecommerce sales. When a prospect receives personal and relevant direct mail, they can’t help but “tune in.” In 2019, the USPS partnered with Temple University to analyze direct mail’s effectiveness and influence on consumers. Researchers used neuromarketing techniques to gain insights on visual attention, emotional engagement, and brain activity to understand a person’s conscious and subconscious response to both print and digital advertisements. Printed material, like postcards, catalogs and magazine ads, have a more pronounced emotional effect on consumers. Experts suggest prospects need an average of seven touchpoints before they convert. Establishing your brand with a mix of digital and physical engagements builds trust and brand awareness. Direct mail is capable of achieving response rates 6x higher than all digital channels combined and should be integrated with digital advertising mediums (email, display, social, video, CTV, etc.) to boost response rates by as much as 120%.
Catalogues have recently shown to be the printed communication that ecommerce brands are valuing more. 3 in 4 consumers say they are more likely to browse or save at least one type of catalog they receive in the mail, establishing a meaningful touchpoint and building brand trust. You can read more about this trend in a recent Pitney Bowes BOXpoll article, Vürtdaførk: IKEA, digital brands and the fate of the print catalog. Indeed, catalogs are making a comeback.
Some basic principles to ensure a successful catalog or direct mail campaign for an e-commerce brand include:
- Clear Call to Action. Including a clear call to action and a seamless way to drive the recipient of the printed material to your website. This can be achieved by prominent printing of a URL or using QR codes, that I discussed in this blog post.
- Personalization. Utilize impactful creative that personalizes the piece to each prospect or customer.
- Timing is Everything. Time your mail communications relative to your other media in market to maximize its impact. Consider what messages or creative will have run one week prior and one week after the target date.
- Marketing Automation. “Automating” your marketing mail can connect any action the user takes on your ecommerce platform and continue messaging from your brand to support the purchase decision. Did they unsubscribe from your email list? Use that item as a trigger to send them a direct mail piece with a special offer to get them re-engaged. Advanced addressable direct mail (“AADM”) is a product and solution that matches a user’s physical location to the user’s digital profile and allows marketers to retarget website visitors and re-engage customers using physical direct mail.
- USPS Informed Delivery. Informed Delivery from the USPS can double your impressions. With a saturation rate across the USPS footprint of more than 20%, a significant number of those targeted for your direct mailing are also eligible to receive that bonus impression through the Informed Delivery email. With high open rates and satisfaction, this is a valuable second impression. To learn more about Informed Delivery, https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action#/
Whether on a coffee table, counter or nightstand, catalogs remain in sight. Unlike digital, radio or TV, they provide a continuing visual reminder and keep your brand top of mind to influence a buying decision. Print’s emotional effect is proven, and with the popularity of digital media, print can be a breakthrough medium if executed correctly. Using direct mail and catalogs to drive ecommerce sales is both brand building and business building.