Integrating Digital Channels into Your Marketing and Circulation Plans

The marketing landscape has changed very dramatically since I started in the industry. Ten years ago, catalog marketing was thought to be complex, but in hindsight, it was reasonably straightforward. Fast forward to today and incorporating several digital marketing channels now affords far greater insights into boosting catalog and direct mail performance. Typically, when we meet with retailers, we often will see siloed marketing departments (i.e., catalog/direct mail, social, email, search), but in today’s complex landscape, we like to see the integration of marketing channels and the respective teams working together. In this article, I’ll discuss a few ways to integrate digital components into your print marketing strategies and how to share this information across various marketing departments that are a part of CohereOne’s Standard of Care.

Integrating web/digital behavior into your print marketing campaigns can be beneficial for several reasons.

  1. Supercharge Reactivation: Use digital browsing behavior to identify lapsed buyers who are currently engaged on your website. These lapsed buyers prove elusive to traditional RFM segmentation practices, but by incorporating their current online browsing behavior, we’re able to append useful information for highly-profitable reactivation purposes.
  2. Optimize Catalog Frequency: Optimize catalog frequency based on customer level, browsing device and channel, such as email, paid search, and organic search, for example. Like many retailers, you most likely have a large volume of marginal customers and traditional RFM segmentation criteria may be under or overstating selection opportunities. Better decision-making abilities are the result of differentiating between knowing who is currently online and engaging with a brand, versus who is not.
  3. Create A New Prospect Universe: Utilizing a network of partner sites that maintain personally identifiable information (PII), it’s possible today to identify the postal addresses of visitors on your website that are not in your database (yet who are browsing your site and interacting with products!)
  4. Incorporate Digital Browse Intent Behavior into Modeling: Unlock the rich potential of browse intent data with standard digital intelligence such as product category, frequency, and ordering method. These types of data can serve as influential model variables that are useful in predicting future response.

So, where do we begin?

You can start by mining your internal data assets such as your active email opt-in file. Flag these customers in the merge processing to identify customers actively engaged with the brand via email. A study last year from the U.K. based Go Inspire Group found that direct mail was found to outperform email in terms of incremental revenue after campaign costs, but a combination of email and direct mail outperformed either medium in isolation. In viewing the below CohereOne case study, notice that the records that are highly-engaged via the email channel performed 223% better at a contribution per book level!

Some other ways to mine your email file for print are:

  1. Email Reverse Append: If you have a substantial number of email addresses that are missing the name and postal address information, we recommend using a reputable third party to have the name/address information appended.
  2. Mail/Optimize the Opt-Out Email File: For customers that have opted out of your email program, we strongly urge scoring those names and testing the utilization of triggered postcards to re-engage with those value customers again. Recent test results from Boomerang Direct indicated a model group vs. hold out group provided a 2x incremental lift.

If you want to expand on your data assets, you can start to mine external digital assets such as web browsing behavior from 4Cite. Through the 4Cite tag on your website, 4Cite can provide a data set that includes web browse behavior of customers that can then be scored and appended to your customer file for mailing purposes. We’ve seen that actively-engaged customers on your website are more likely to respond to a catalog than customers that are not on your website. As shown below, the most actively-engaged customers labeled “Score 1” are far more responsive than records that fall under the “Score 3” or “No Web Score” segment.

You may be asking yourself, do I need to send a catalog to a digitally engaged customer? They’re already on the website, so they’re bound to make a purchase, right? Surprisingly, no.

Below we have a case study of 12-month buyers broken out into four groups based upon their website activity level. The group labeled “Web Scr 10+” are the most digitally engaged customers (high web browsing score, on the active email file, etc.) As is our practice, we created a mail vs. holdout of the four groups. The mailed group of customers with high digital engagement performed much better at a “contribution per customer” level than the holdout group. These results are consistent with other client studies that show integrating print marketing elements to digitally active customers boosts conversion metrics. So yes, we strongly suggest tests that involve mailing digitally-engaged customers!

One final way to utilize web behavior for print marketing efforts is to incorporate the usage of behavioral-triggered postcards. Another benefit of incorporating browse intent tagging is the ability to use that same data to enable “real-time” triggered abandoned browse or site sessions with a postal contact. In this scenario, as an example, a personalized, dynamic postcard is mailed to the customer or prospect within 24-48 hours of the abandoned site visit. Results of the program are nothing short of astounding. We’ve found this program to be a highly effective way to convert customers/prospects who are already engaged with the brand.

Keep in mind that when testing this program, we recommend creating various audiences for acquisition, retention, and reactivation efforts to track the performance of the active buyers vs. lapsed buyers vs. prospects. As shown below, various audiences perform significantly different. To maximize success, we recommend testing offers and creatives specific to each audience. After all, if no breakout of audiences had occurred, it’s possible the program wouldn’t appear profitable, so breaking out the audiences is highly recommended.

Hopefully, you’ll use (or are already using) one of the above tips in your print planning. Want to know more or explore incorporating these concepts into your programs? Please email me at

1 thought on “Integrating Digital Channels into Your Marketing and Circulation Plans

  1. Excellent presentation! Navistone has some excellent tools to accomplish the suggested actions.

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