Circulation Tips to Help You Knock It Out of The Park This Holiday Season

So far, 2020 has been a strange year with the global pandemic affecting us in many ways. I feel that the upcoming Holiday season will be a little different than past years, which means you shouldn’t rely on the same old methods you’ve used in the past. Most retailers will have to up their game this Holiday season, and I wanted to take this opportunity to help you have the best Holiday you can have considering the year we’re enduring. In this article, I’ll provide my top tips and strategies that will help you optimize your print marketing efforts to help make this the best Holiday season so far!

1. Incorporate Digital Indicators in Your Catalog Marketing Efforts: Over the past couple of years, we have embraced digital indicators to optimize response. These indicators can be active email address and time on site. Over time, we’ve been able to build out case studies to prove that if a customer is engaged with your brand digitally, they’re more likely to respond to a direct mail piece versus someone not engaged with you on the digital front. With that in mind, you can incorporate active email addresses into your customer segmentation to identify engaged email buyers. If you wish to go deeper, browse intent vendors can help you identify customers and prospects engaged with your site by tracking their website behavior. They will score site visitors based on several variables such as time one site, page view, product categories, and visits. You can use that information to build out a digital score and apply that to your customer segmentation. The case study below shows the performance difference of a buyer engaged with the program versus not engaged. You can see that, on average, the buyer that is actively engaged with an email program performs 13% better than buyers that are not engaged with you at all.


2. Focus on Retail Trade Areas: If you have retail stores (open or not), it may be useful to mail those customers during the Holiday season. Buyers within a retail trade often respond much better to a print versus buyers who live outside of a retail trade area. These individuals likely have brand awareness and are most likely a store shopper. But with the current pandemic adjusting the retail landscape, mailing these customers may help boost your direct mail performance this Holiday season. As you can see below, the buyers who reside in a retail trade perform, on average, 72% better than buyers who live outside of the retail trade area.


3. Promotions Are in Sync: Ensure all your promotions are the same or similar across marketing channels. There is nothing worse than simultaneously receiving one offer via email and receiving a different one through the catalog or retargeting efforts.

4. Utilize Postal Retargeting to Capture Engaged Shoppers: I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the postal retargeting program this year. We’ve seen huge incremental success with this program because we’re identifying browsers that spend a fair amount of time on the site to become qualified candidates for a targeted postcard. Spending much time browsing the site and looking at multiple product categories and pages show us that they’re ready to make a purchase and ripe for an additional contact or promotion. The timeliness of the postcard (typically delivered within 48-72 hours of site abandonment) plays a massive role in the program’s success. As you can see from the incremental response and demand increase, the postcard recipients responded at a much higher rate than records that were not contacted with a postcard.

5. Mine Your Housefile With Optimization: Don’t forgo your lapsed/in-active buyers this Holiday season. If you don’t traditionally mail beyond your 0-24-month buyers, then send the remainder of your un-mailed buyers to one of the Co-op database firms and have them score the file. They’ll take those older buyers and score them based on their activity within the co-op database and provide you a breakout of the buyers based on their performance within and outside of product categories.

6. Work with The Co-Ops to Adjust Models for Optimum Performance: One tip to help your prospecting performance is to work with your Co-Op rep and figure out ways to tweak continuation/core models or figure out ways to test new models this Holiday season. Using your best buyer file as a seed file can help the Co-Ops build models that look like your best buyers, leading to a boost in prospecting performance. Another solution is to have the Co-Ops apply a zip select on the models and pick the top 20% of zip codes on your file that generate the top 80% of your revenue.

7. Reverse Email Append: If you have a ton of emails that do not have a name or address associated with them, consider sending them off to one of your co-op database partners for reverse email append. They’ll apply a name and physical address to the emails on file and score the names based on their activity within the Co-Op database so that you can select only the top-performing names of the bunch. Below is a case study of how well the email reverse append names perform compared to internal and external prospects. You can see that at $4.67/book, they’re performing much better than somebody who has requested a catalog and especially a prospecting record. Consider doing this processing 2-3 times a year, depending on the number of newly acquired email addresses you get each quarter.

8. Optimize Your Email Opt-Out File and Mail Them a Catalog: Frequently, you’ll have a file of email addresses that have opted out of your email program. Opt-outs typically happen after the Holiday season when retailers are pummeling customers with 2-3 emails a day. If someone has opted out of your email program, consider mailing them a catalog since you can no longer contact them via email.

9. Don’t Be Afraid of a Last-Minute Postcard: This year there is a shorter window between Black Friday and the shipping cutoff in December. Most retailers are kicking around the idea of not sending a catalog or mail piece after Thanksgiving, leading to a wasted opportunity. Don’t be afraid to put a cost-effective postcard in the mail the 1st week of December to get those last-minute buyers to the site. Focus on buyers that have historically made a purchase in Q4 for the last couple of years to ensure you’re mailing an audience that has a higher propensity to purchase during the Holiday season.

I know I covered a lot here, but hopefully, you’ll use (or are already using) one of the above tips for your Holiday season. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at

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