Go Where Your Customers Are

If you live near this furniture retailer, the catalog probably seems as common as the phone book -- and at 374 pages, it's nearly as thick in some towns. Its 2011 catalog dropped (thunk!) into your mailbox last month. Customers may have known it was coming long before it got to them, because the catalog drop this year was surrounded by supporting media in multiple channels. Here's the scoop on this successful example of multichannel marketing, and the key factors that made it a success.

1. Set goals first. Successful multichannel marketing campaigns start with goals. This retailer's goal was to increase engagement with its catalog. The company planned to measure this through participation in online activities, as well as through the number of additional requests for catalogs compared to prior year.

By setting goals and identifying how they would be measured before the campaign started, the company was able to define which activities would likely contribute the most to goals, managing its budget more efficiently as a result.

2. Focus on channels with high potential return. It's important to understand your customers -- especially how your customers interact with your brand. This retailer knows that its customers like to think about creating their dream homes while looking at the catalog -- because its products are inexpensive enough to bring many of those dreams within reach. For this reason, each execution plays off a facet of bringing dreams within reach. By focusing on the core need or want, the company is able to tie together all elements with a compelling story line.

The company then looked at channels that would match to customers' habits and perceptions and would supplement the physical catalog. Rather than focusing on any single channel, or multiple executions within each channel, the retailer identified the best execution it could afford in several channels where its customers were most likely to be. This created efficient support across channels, without requiring depth in any channel other than the catalog itself.

3. Keep creative fresh - don't copycat. Although the catalog cover was widely featured, no channel completely copied creative from another. Instead, each took a key concept out of the catalog and their knowledge of customers' habits. 

TV spots looked like pages torn from the catalog.

The email displayed the most direct resemblance, but used personalization to add a twist of flavor. This allowed the company to put the consumer in the mindset most likely to encourage shopping at the store, with the headline "374 pages of inspiration coming soon."

The Facebook app featured a quiz ("What kind of furniture are you?") that used a dark background similar to that in the email.

And video banners and digital requesters showcased affordable room makeovers, which spoke to the aspirations that customers bring to their in-store shopping.

4. Track and measure results. While I can't share specific numbers, I can say that requests for catalog requests have exceeded the plan and the campaign has also resulted in an increase to the email database. Because the retailer set out these metrics in advance, identifying success has been straightforward.

In addition, some of the chosen executions -- such as the Facebook app -- lent themselves to additional engagement metrics. Some of these can be used to establish benchmarks in new-media channels, while others will be looked at closely to see how well they align to the primary metrics.

Multichannel marketing campaigns can be daunting at first. However, taking a targeted approach to be where your customers are, similar to this campaign, lends focus that can help cut the task down to size.

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2 comments about "Go Where Your Customers Are".
  1. Rita Allenrallen@freshaddress.com from FreshAddress, Inc. , September 21, 2010 at 2:37 p.m.

    It is good to remember that some customers respond better to different vehicles of communication. There are now a variety of additional means of 'reaching out and touching a customer'. As email can point to each of the others, it is incorporated as one of the many tools of engagement as a cost effective immediate means of connection.

  2. Gretchen Scheiman from L5 Direct Consulting, Inc. , September 30, 2010 at 3:09 p.m.

    Absolutely Rita! Great point to make.