The holiday season is upon us! Retailers can ensure a jolly holiday with print marketing plans that include catalogs, direct mail, and end-of-the-year postal promotions. With online advertising becoming both more expensive and more complicated to measure, print’s role in connecting with people and driving consumers to both physical stores and websites is on an uptick.
To underline the importance of print products in the retail industry, it’s essential to consider the National Retail Federation (NRF) Holiday Retail Sales Forecast. The NRF forecasts that retail sales during the US holiday season in 2023 will reach between $5.13 trillion and $5.23 trillion, or a growth of 4% to 6% over 2022, with multi-channel shopping (stores plus online) coming out ahead. This growth holds immense potential for retailers who leverage print products to connect with consumers and drive sales.
The Resurgence of Catalog Publishing and Mailing
In recent years, we’ve witnessed a resurgence in catalog publishing and mailing. Retailers are rediscovering the power of catalogs as an effective tool to engage consumers.
In August, Digiday reported that Nordstrom re-launched its anniversary sale catalog this year after phasing out the print publication in 2019. And Amazon-owned online retailer Zappos launched its first print catalog as part of its back-to-school marketing efforts. Amazon has been sending out a holiday toy catalog since 2018.
Here are some key reasons why catalogs are making a comeback:
Tangible and trusted
Catalogs provide a tangible experience that digital channels cannot replicate. Shoppers can flip through the pages, mark items of interest, and keep the catalog for future reference. This physical interaction creates a lasting impression and enhances brand recall.
Printed catalogs convey a sense of trust and credibility. Consumers often perceive printed materials as more reliable, which can enhance the perceived value of the products and the brand itself.
Curated shopping experience
Catalogs allow retailers to curate a personalized shopping experience for their customers. By showcasing select products, arranging them aesthetically, and providing detailed descriptions, retailers guide shoppers through their offerings, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
Catalogs seamlessly integrate with online and offline channels. Retailers can include personalized URLs or unique promo codes that direct recipients to their websites for online purchases. Zappos is using QR codes to measure how many people are engaging with the catalog, what they’re buying and how much traffic the catalog is driving. These tools create a bridge between the physical and digital shopping worlds.
Catalogs enable highly targeted marketing efforts. Retailers can send catalogs to specific demographics, past customers, or those who have shown interest in their products, resulting in a higher conversion rate compared to mass advertising.
Direct Mail and EDDM: Niche marketing strategies
Direct mail, including EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), is another powerful tool in a retailer’s arsenal. EDDM allows retailers to target specific neighborhoods or ZIP codes, making it an excellent choice for local businesses. It’s an efficient way to promote in-store events, sales, and special offers to the immediate community.
Direct mail, when well-executed, can provide a highly personalized experience. Customized offers, product recommendations, and exclusive discounts can all be tailored to individual recipients, increasing engagement.
Staying top of mind
Regularly sending direct mail keeps your brand top of mind for consumers. Whether it’s a monthly newsletter, postcard, or promotional flyer, consistent communication helps maintain customer loyalty. Come holiday time, sending a specialized mailer advertising gifts or services specific to the holidays will capitalize on the relationship you’ve been cultivating all year long.
Modern direct mail campaigns can be tracked and measured, allowing retailers to accurately assess their return on investment (ROI). Retailers can fine-tune their strategies by analyzing response rates and conversions for better results.
Maximize Impact with USPS End-of-Year Promotions
The United States Postal Service (USPS) offers various promotions throughout the year to encourage businesses to use direct mail effectively. One way for retailers to maximize their impact is to take advantage of these promotions, especially during the holiday season. The USPS 2023 promo calendar provides a roadmap for these opportunities, and we are happy to help our customers sort out which will work best for their audience.
- Emerging Technology (now includes mobile shopping) – Retailers can experiment with emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) to create immersive and engaging direct mail experiences. This promotion also encourages the integration of direct mail with mobile technology. Retailers can leverage QR codes and other mobile features to enhance the shopping experience and drive consumers to their websites and stores. Discount ends Nov. 30.
- Retargeting – The Retargeting promotion incentivizes marketers to send personalized postcards to recent website visitors who didn’t convert. Discount ends Nov. 30.
- Informed Delivery Promotion – Informed Delivery is a USPS service that provides consumers with a digital preview of their incoming mail. Retailers can use this promotion to complement their direct mail efforts with digital content, further reinforcing their message. Discount ends Dec. 31
- Reply Mail IMbA – This promotion encourages Qualified Business Reply Mail (QBRM) and High Volume QBRM customers to adopt Intelligent Mail® barcode Accounting (IMbA). Participants will need to enroll in IMbA and use either a static or serialized barcode. By adopting these tools, customers can improve visibility, while also delivering easier payment methods and faster delivery speeds. Discount ends Dec. 31.
Bling in the New Year
Print products such as catalogs, direct mail, and EDDM remain powerful tools for retailers to connect with consumers and drive traffic to both physical stores and websites. The popularity of print catalogs, the personalization of direct mail, and the various USPS end-of-year promotions all provide opportunities for retailers to make a significant impact. As the NRF holiday retail sales forecast indicates, the holiday season presents a prime opportunity for retailers to leverage print products and maximize their sales potential. With the right strategies in place, print is a valuable and effective marketing channel in the ever-evolving retail landscape.