Catalogs are a critical part of many brands’ marketing mix, and are a channel well worth the investment. Roughly 60 percent of catalog costs come from the postage and distribution, though, and there are ways to reduce those costs.
It might feel like rates are etched in stone by the United States Postal Service, and that the process is complicated. But catalogers can be proactive and take simple steps to do more with limited budgets. Lower postage and increase ROI by taking advantage of these opportunities.
Where to Save — Every Step of the Way
It all starts with a mailing list. There’s zero return on an investment if a catalog goes to a vacant or razed building. Find and delete outdated entries with a database of all current addresses in the country. Merge-and-purge duplicate names from lists, and make sure all zip codes are correct for postal automation discounts.
The number of names on a list matters, but quality is most important. Marketers can use tools that add names based on factors like geography and budget to cut postage while increasing response. Marketers choose those factors, then software finds the best names to add before the presort process. The list score is important, and smart tools increase ROI.
Marketers aren’t limited to their own catalogs to increase volume — companies can use the co-mail process to pool titles for greater savings. They can trim costs further with technology that sorts mail all the way down to the order a carrier walks their delivery route. The less work for the Postal Service, the better the rate.
Shipping and transportation are more expensive because of high fuel costs and driver shortages. The USPS will discount postage when printers sort and then deliver catalogs to the post office. Taking mail deeper into the USPS system also eliminates extra processing and hand-offs that affect the timing of in-home dates.
The process doesn’t end when a catalog hits the mailbox. Improve the next campaign by tracking response to learn what works. Future lists will be more targeted with each iteration, cutting costs as names are deleted. It’s as important to look back and optimize based on results as it is to strategize and plan ahead.
The USPS is transparent about the process that takes catalogs from printers to customers. Marketers can influence the return on their investment by taking advantage of the tools and resources experts have already developed to make catalogs more profitable. Partnerships with mail service partners who have best practices in place for strategy and execution will make the process simple.