Noticed the traffic in your postal mailbox (isn’t it ironic it needs to be designated that way now?) lately? Or better, the lack of traffic? It’s no secret that mailers have cut back dramatically on promotional mailings.
According to Mintel in the first quarter of 2009, credit-card issuers cut solicitations in half, reducing mail volume 49% vs. Q408. The research company estimates that US card issuers sent fewer than 500 million offers in Q109, the lowest quarterly total recorded since 2000.
Though credit is being cut back, the data shows that the number of debit card mail offers nearly doubled from Q408 to Q109, while checking account solicitations grew by 29%.
But that’s merely on part of the story. The days of doing the heavy lifting of holiday catalogs in your home also appear to be over. Even though I watch and keep close tabs on the industry I still am shocked at how few catalogs we receive at home. And we (ok maybe my wife and daughter) have a history of buying via catalogs.
Marketing strategists interested in reducing expenditures have seemingly won out here, convincing many traditional catalogers to not mail at all or substantially reduce the volume and page counts of their catalog mailings. While this can make the bottom line look better in the short term in the long term this tactic will likely backfire and in a big way. Catalogs drive online sales. And retail sales. As much progress as has been made in tracking the ability to track online and retail sales driven from the receipt of a catalog or mailing still leaves a lot to be desired.
And what of the relationship (companies love to think they have relationships with their customers) with customers? Sure customers and prospects can be sent emails (provided they have given their permission) but the customer ‘experience’ is vastly different to that of receiving a physical catalog.
Customers will forget about companies that do not mail any more. Out of sight, out of mind has not changed even in a wobbly economy. Better tracking or catalog recipients will aid in offering an understanding of exactly how the customer wants to engage with a brand. If cross channel data cannot be tied together, then it’s possible, even likely, the wrong conclusion can be reached.
I’m not advocating wantonly sending catalogs the way it was done five or even ten years ago. But the drastic reduction in this channel offers great opportunity for a smart marketer to gain share of voice and more importantly increased sales, better relationships with customers and conduits to new customers.
I enjoy receiving and flipping through a nice catalog that contains things in which I am interested. Don’t you?