Catalog Watch--Prospecting Online
A customer is not a customer is not a customer
Several studies conducted in the past few years have found that anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of Internet buyers are new-to-file buyers. What's more, many of those are new to direct marketing all together, meaning that they have never purchased from a catalog, a direct mail piece, a space ad, an infomercial or a radio spot.
So should you treat those customers like all the others in your database? Absolutely not. A customer's status as an Internet-only buyer, an Internet and catalog buyer or a catalog-only buyer should be incorporated into the segmentation process just as recency, frequency, monetary and product information are. For the reason listed in the previous paragraph, it is common for catalogers to find that when they mail Internet-only buyers with the same contact strategy as they do catalog buyers, the results are often poor. And the same can be said for e-mailing Web offers to traditional catalog-only buyers. The key is in understanding buyers' behaviors and communicating with them in the way that is most appropriate.
The big picture
Today, the Internet is no longer the be-all and end-all of cataloging, rather, it is an integrated piece of the puzzle. Technological advancements in database development, customer service, e-mail technologies and other "wish list" items will no doubt build on the enthusiasm that so many catalogers already feel toward the Web, but the overriding point cannot be stated often enough: Catalogers must understand the impact of their Web efforts from both a marketing standpoint and a fiscal standpoint.
Whether developing a new set of metrics for the Internet or falling back on modified traditional direct marketing analytics, catalogers and marketers have to justify spending the next dollar, offering the next goodie. What's important though is that each action or measurement with respect to the Internet is conducted as a part of an overall multi-channel marketing approach. Brand has to be maintained, goals have to be defined and achieved, and tracking has to be in place.