Adapted excerpt from the MarketShare brief Five Key Questions for Measuring Catalog Effectiveness

What’s the best way to measure catalog impact? There are many possible answers to this question. But any "right" catalog measurement must go beyond analyzing catalog effectiveness in a vacuum. After all, your catalog is just one amongst many touches between your brand and the customer. To understand the influence of the catalog, you need to look past catalog performance alone. You need to examine the interplay between the catalog and all other marketing channels.

J.C. Penney’s catalog revival is a case in point. As the Wall Street Journal describes the shuttering, then comeback of the J.C. Penney catalog program:

It was…[Former CEO Michael] Ullman who decided during his first turn as Penney’s chief to stop publishing the catalog. In an interview, he said he thought at the time that catalog shoppers would migrate online.

But the company eventually learned that a lot of what they thought were online sales were actually catalog shoppers using the website to place their orders.

“We lost a lot of customers,” Mr. Ullman said.

Based on the realization of the online impact of the print catalog, the retail giant brought the catalog back.

Many other brands have uncovered similar catalog-online connections. Bonobos, for instance, has shared that 20% of its website’s first-time customers place their orders after receiving a catalog drop. What's more, those customers spend 1.5 times as much as customers who did not receive a catalog beforehand.

For one example of successfully incorporating catalog measurement into the broader picture of the customer journey, consider the Genius-Award winning marketing analytics program at Neiman Marcus:

“Say you have a customer—and on Monday she’s sent an email from NeimanMarcus.com,” explains Michael Navarro, Director of Customer Insight & Analytics at Neiman Marcus. On a Wednesday she gets a Neiman Marcus catalog; on Saturday, “she walks into our downtown Dallas store and makes a purchase.” Neiman Marcus’s analytics program is able to “take those touchpoints and allocate credit to all the various marketing touchpoints that preceded her purchase.”

The catalog is one step is a larger chain. The best analytics understands this, and measures accordingly.

Catalog readership might influence digital sales. TV effectiveness can influence catalog receptiveness, which in turn might influences the impact of print circulars. Measuring the effectiveness of any one marketing channel calls for measuring the impact of all marketing channels, working together. Be sure your analytics can achieve this.

To learn more about measuring catalog measurement correctly, download the MarketShare brief Five Key Questions for Measuring Catalog Effectiveness.