Catalog to Online: Link 4 in Your Customer Acquisition Chain

[Editor’s note: This is the fourth “link” in a 10-part series. The first, Do You Have Broken Links, appeared on Mar. 23. Check back Friday, April 20, for link five: DRTV.]

We looked at three catalogs that we received in our homes during December 2011, and January 2012. Because catalogs are expensive to produce and mail, being able to give consumers a good experience as they go from the physical catalog to the site is critical. Here are some good examples of how it’s done well:

Catalog No. 1: Viking River Cruises. Link: The catalog is focused on 2012 and 2013 river cruises in Europe, Russia and China. Front and center on the site are magnificent photos of the destinations. Consumers who were intrigued by the catalog and wanted to learn more online found a clean, well organized and beautiful site.

Catalog No. 2: Pottery Barn, “Home Resolutions” with 20 percent white sale promotion. Link: The catalog and website are in perfect sync, with beautiful photos that support that “resolutions” idea … Plus, when we reviewed this, we saw a prominent link about the white sale, along with an expiration date. A good search box enables consumers to zoom in on products shown in the print catalog.

Catalog No. 3: Smith+Noble featuring in-home design services. Link: The address side of this catalog featured a highly personalized message featuring the town in which I live, named a local consultant and a link that took us right to a page. The page gave me the ability to schedule an appointment and learn more about these services. I could also see products sold online, as well. Very good treatment of a service offering!

Summary and Conclusion: In addition to these three good examples, we looked at dozens of catalogs that totally missed the boat and had poor or non-existent customer acquisition chains that would cause confusion and frustration to consumers. Rather than itemizing them, the key point is that the website in this group had no relation to the theme of the catalog. Consumers looking to learn more about a specific sale or a new product line would have to search hard to find what was heavily promoted in the print catalog. The examples we highlighted above are good at using best practices to create a solid customer acquisition chain and superior consumer experience.

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  • Steve Kelley

    Great article! Any statistics you can share on the percentage of people that go from the catalog to online and/or catalog to phone?

  • Irv Brechner

    While I haven’t seen specific stats, logic tells me that the % that go from catalog to online varies by age and type of products. I would expect that computer and electronics catalogs would see a higher catalog to online rate than numerous other categories. But to be safe, you’ve got to assume that at the very least 10% to 20% go from catalog to online, and in many cases, much higher.