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Jill Anderson
Sleek + Lively Graphic Designer
Smyrna, Georgia
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Attention Web Marketers: Printed Catalogs Boost Online Sales

A recent U.S. Postal Services study found that people who received printed catalogs through the mail are more than twice as likely to make purchases via the web, compared to those who did not receive catalogs.

Written Jan 14, 2008, read 2193 times since then.


Looking to expand your marketing arsenal beyond the web? A printed catalog or booklet is a great way to get your products in front of prospective customers. After all, consumers need to see your name multiple times in order to remember you. What better way to do that than with a well-designed, full-color masterpiece, chock-full of your fabulous products. Plus, catalogs are great to send to existing customers to keep your company top of mind. All of this translates into more sales and higher profits.

In an effort to analyze the relationship between direct mail and online shopping, a U.S. Postal Services study found that people who received printed catalogs through the mail are more than twice as likely to make purchases via the web, compared to those who did not receive catalogs. Other interesting findings from the study:

  • 84% of catalog recipients feel it's easier to shop online with a catalog in hand
  • Over 60% of catalog recipients were influenced by a catalog to visit a website
  • Catalog recipients purchased 28% more items and spent 28% more money than their non-catalog counterparts

Catalogs and booklets don't have to cost an arm and a leg, either. An 8-page, 8.5 x 11-inch, full-color catalog runs about a dollar each for a thousand pieces. Smaller quantities are also available at many printers (although the cost per piece does go up as quantities go down). Other options besides the standard “glossy” paper are available and are sometimes cheaper. I really like using uncoated paper, which makes publications look sleek and sophisticated. Check out this list of printers I have worked with.

One of the most important components in catalog design—besides, well, the actual design—is photography and how well your products look on the printed page. It's worth investing in professional photography to really make your catalog shine and look its best. (Actually, it's always best to hire a photographer to shoot pictures of your products for any application.) Photographers take into account lighting, angels, focus, backgrounds and a host of other factors that will absolutely make a difference in the quality of your catalog or booklet.

For help finding a photographer, visit the Adobe Photographers Directory or
Advertising Photographers of America (APA). You can search for photographers in a specific discipline such as beauty, food or portraitures, or search by city, state, or region.

Successful businesses employ multi-channel marketing strategies (that's a fancy way of saying “marketing using many methods”) to capture audiences, and adding a catalog to your marketing arsenal is one more way to reach your customers in addition to the web and email. And, with so many online companies—many legit, some not so much—printed catalogs build trust, strengthen your brand, and help ensure your company is real and here to stay.

Other useful resources on catalog marketing:

Direct Mail Boosts Online Commerce (August 2, 2007) by the U.S. Postal Service
10 Steps to Grow Your Business: Create a Catalog by StartupNation

Learn more about the author, Jill Anderson.

Comment on this article

  • Seattle Printing, Mailing Services, Fulfillment Services 
Bellingham, Washington 
Jess Robinson
    Posted by Jess Robinson, Bellingham, Washington | Jan 17, 2008

    Great article, Jill! A happy medium between gloss paper and uncoated is dull coated paper. Many of my clients find this preferable when they want a sophisticated look and maximize the impact of their photos without the "glitzy" look of gloss stock. Dull coated stock also reduces glare, making text a heckuva a lot easier to read.

  • Sleek + Lively Graphic Designer 
Smyrna, Georgia 
Jill Anderson
    Posted by Jill Anderson, Smyrna, Georgia | Jan 23, 2008

    Hey Jess, you are absolutely right---dull coated paper is an excellent choice for catalogs and other print projects.