Six signs a pure-play business is ready for direct mail

09-Oct-2017 14:30:00 / by Ben Collier

Ben Collier



Increasingly e-commerce businesses are considering catalogue marketing to drive sales. However, a key consideration is when is the right time to embrace direct mail to take advantage of the benefits it brings.  

We work with many digital businesses, helping them successfully integrate direct mail into their channel strategy. Based on my experiences there are six indicators that the time is right to invest in the medium

  1. You’ve been trading for at least two years: Your business idea is proven, you’ve survived your first year and are focused on growth. Crucially, you have a customer-base of a size that allows effective targeting solutions to be built, typically at least 2,500 customers.
  2. Your digital channels are performing well...: You are confident you’re getting the best from your digital activities. Your SEO, PPC and retargeting are optimised; you’re happy with your site’s user experience and you’ve used your learnings to fine tune your marketing. However, you’re reliant on a single or limited array of channels to reach your audience.
  3. but your online growth is plateauing. This is the number one reason digital businesses test direct mail. Channels that have been successfully driving sales are tailing off. Marketing spend online is optimised and investing more delivers a decreasing Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS). As it’s more difficult to attract new sales at the same Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), other channels you may not have considered that can help reach new audiences become viable.
  4. You need to grow sales and profitability. Customers recruited online are price driven, often looking for the best deals. As you develop, you’ll want to cultivate a higher quality of customer. Catalogues allow you to recruit customers with a higher Average Order Value (AOV) who are more likely to buy again. And it’s these repeat purchasers that deliver profitability. Catalogues also expose people to new products. While search directs you to what you want to find, a catalogue is a source of discovery. It introduces people to new things they did not know about which encourages sales. 
  5. You want to develop your brand. There’s nothing like a physical catalogue to create an emotional connection with your brand. Your choice of layout, size, imagery and paper quality all convey what your brand stands for. Its tactile nature drives an engagement that’s not possible to deliver online. Developing a catalogue helps your customer buy in to your brand from the word go so you can develop a more meaningful long-term relationship with them.
  6. You can commit to developing a new channel. Let’s be honest: catalogue marketing is hard. It’s more time-consuming, costly and resource-heavy than digital channels with different metrics. It’s not a short-term option. It requires you to invest in the medium-term, and commit to a minimum of three mailing campaigns over 6-12 months to really see the commercial benefits to your business. However, the benefits from a branding and sales perspective can be substantial.  

Read how SPOKE and Biscuiteers moved from primarily marketing online to embracing a catalogue and the business benefits this has brought.     










Ben Collier

Written by Ben Collier

Encouraging companies to realise the potential of transactional data to grow their businesses. In a digital world, he’s adept at selling the value of the direct mail channel to pure-play companies.