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Direct Mail Data Shows How Important Catalogs Are for Promoting Sales

Catalog Printing and Mailing

Printing and mailing a catalog may take a lot of preparation, but the payoff is more than worth it, including inspiring your readers to take action, driving online traffic, and increasing your ROI. Catalog marketing generates amazing results that no other form of marketing can compete with.

In this blog, we'll review the fascinating statistics proving that direct mail catalogs significantly impact promoting sales and enhancing customer relationships. We'll also explore why people respond positively to catalogs, how you can track your success, and how you can maximize your catalog marketing results.

Direct Marketing Statistics and Why Catalog Marketing is Important

According to a recent USPS study, 92% of households take the time to sort through direct mail daily to sort out and keep catalogs specifically. On average, a person will spend 30 minutes reading a catalog they received in the mail as they search for items that interest them. Another study showed that 69% of online shoppers browse a printed catalog for ideas before purchasing. These findings indicate that catalogs are trustworthy tools people find helpful and exciting.

Catalogs Are Powerful

47% of the population sets catalogs aside to read later when they receive them in the mail. So, even though these individuals didn't read it and engage with it right away, they are exposed to your catalog every time they pass by it, and they will likely engage with it over the next few days. These people tend to be the ones who know that they want to focus on the content when they have time since they know they like the brand or know they will be interested in the products. People also kept the catalogs they received for an average of 20.3 days. These research findings conclude that direct mail catalogs are marketing pieces with a significantly longer life cycle than other marketing efforts or even direct mail products.

In addition to people holding on to catalogs longer than other marketing efforts, you can expect even better results when you combine direct mail catalog marketing with online marketing efforts. For example, research has proven that email marketing and catalog marketing can experience around a 15% lift in sales and a 27% lift in inquiries compared to email-only campaigns.

How Catalogs Generate Higher Sales

More than 77% of recipients of a catalog visit a retail store or website because they viewed the brand's catalog. This finding is exciting for marketers, and it's a big part of why mailing catalogs to your customers or prospects is such a successful marketing strategy today. Plus, an average of 2.5 purchases are influenced by catalogs.

A shocking 84% of consumers reported that they genuinely enjoyed receiving unexpected catalogs from places they had previously gone shopping. This finding is monumental since it suggests that most of the population likes to stick with the products from brands they previously purchased. While this kind of communication is direct and never explicitly requested by the consumer, it is highly effective in strengthening the emotional relationship between the customer and the company.

In addition to the positive emotional perks of sending customers printed catalogs, there are practical ones, such as generating higher response rates than any other marketing channel.

The table below shows the response rates that each type of media receives when sent to customers:

Direct Mail




Social Media


Paid Search


Internet Display


Direct mail has an advantage over the rest in getting a response due to a combination of factors. The first is that direct mail, like catalogs, is more likely to reach their intended recipient. In addition, there's also the fact that printed communications reach consumers and catch their full attention due to the lack of online clutter and competition.

Why People Respond Positively to Catalogs

People receive and mentally process printed advertisements differently than online ads, emails, text messages, or radio. This is because print is tangible, and we aren't only reading it but also touching and holding it. Print advertisements are also not swimming in pop-up ads or email notifications, allowing our minds to focus solely on the printed message. Messages on physical paper are processed into our thoughts differently, creating a stronger connection between what is being said and our emotions. Because of this, people can remember and fully understand a direct mail piece. In fact, a study showed that 75% of people could recall a brand after seeing a direct mail piece for the first time. In comparison, only 44% of people could remember a brand after viewing a digital advertisement like an email or online display ad. Another study showed that 69% of consumers consult a printed catalog before purchasing online, and 57% prefer printed catalogs over digital, proving that printed advertisements are favored and trustworthy.

Catalog Printing

According to a neuromarketing research study, printed advertisements have a more pronounced effect on consumer decision-making because of this psychological principle. The studies ultimately conclude that people are simply wired to understand and be persuaded more by direct mail over digital marketing. The science proves that direct mail, like catalogs, delivers better brand recall and stronger emotional connections between the reader and the brand.

People like to read catalogs because they make them feel more confident purchasing an item or service. At the same time, they become more aware of the available products across different categories they're interested in. When designing your catalog, ensure it addresses your audiences' curiosities and gives them the facts they need to envision how your product or service will fit into their lives. After all, 84% of shoppers have purchased an item after seeing it in a printed catalog, so it's essential that your images and all catalog content are intriguing and reflect who your target audience is.

Data Shows Personalized Catalogs are More Effective

When any marketing message is personalized specifically for the individual receiving it, the overall campaign performs better, and it's no different for catalog marketing. Although less common than postcard or brochure marketing, catalog marketing using Variable Data Printing helps marketers generate even better results. Variable Data Printing is the process of customizing parts of your direct mail piece to be personalized for each recipient. Some commonly personalized content includes recipients' names, images that align with your recipients' gender or age, birthdays, or location-specific information.

If you have information about a customer's business, you could include specific content relevant to their industry. Or, if you have data on a customer's purchasing and browsing history, you can include an image of a product or service they have found interest in. Personalized catalogs that are tailor-made for each recipient using customer data have been proven to result in a 500% higher response rate from current and active customers and 400% higher response rates from those who last purchased a long time ago.

No matter how you fit in customized elements in your catalog, it will provide a personalized touch to enhance further your reader's positive emotional connection with your brand and your overall ROI.

Tracking the Success of Catalog Marketing Campaigns

You may wonder how all this direct mail data has been found. It may seem impossible to track the success of direct mail campaigns, but it's actually just as easy as tracking the success of online campaigns.

Measure Print Advertising Effectiveness

Marketers can monitor the performance and impact of their catalog campaigns in a few ways, including:

  • Unique QR codes
  • Promo codes
  • Call tracking numbers
  • Personalized email addresses
  • URLs with UTM tracking parameters
  • Coupon cutouts

For a complete overview of how you can easily use these tracking methods to measure the effectiveness of direct mail advertising, check out this blog here.

How to Get the Best Catalog Marketing Results

While direct mail data proves that catalog marketing is powerful and effective, it's essential that when planning your campaign, you do the following to ensure you generate the best results:

  • Define your goals and target audience to ensure your catalog design and content reflect your goals and appeal to your audience.
  • Choose the right catalog type, whether a promotional catalog, a product or service listing catalog, an information catalog, or a portfolio. Choosing the right catalog type will help you lay out your design in the appropriate format and flow.
  • Gather quality content, including high-quality images that reflect who your audience is, photos that show off your products professionally, short and compelling content, and customer testimonials.
  • Make sure your catalog design aligns with your brand to ensure you generate strong brand awareness.
  • Make measuring your catalog campaign results easy by including QR codes, shortened URLs with UTM tracking codes, promo codes, or coupon cutouts.
Catalog Printing and Mailing

It's important to balance your catalog content with things your audience will find valuable and exciting, like pictures, headlines, and intriguing calls to action.

For example, if you're selling cookware, it would make sense to show your reader the different kinds of pots and pans you are selling with pictures of them in action. If you add complementary content to your catalog, you could include recipes and images of the food you can make using the cookware. This adds excitement and gets your audience interested in using your products.

Conclusion: Direct Mail Catalogs Increase Sales

Direct mail data proves that catalog marketing has a powerful impact on promoting sales. Catalogs create emotional connections, engage consumers more than other marketing efforts, enhance brand recall, have a longer shelf life, and drive traffic and interest. However, the true power of catalogs is reflected when they're thoughtfully crafted, personalized for each recipient, and integrated with other marketing strategies.

Now that you know the facts about direct mail catalogs, it's time to use their power to generate outstanding results for your company. Request a free quote for our printing and mailing services to get started on your catalog campaign today.

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