On the Scene: InternetDM Breakfast Circle

New York–“Catalog Marketing: Is It a Complement to E-commerce…or Its Conqueror?” was the theme of the InternetDM Breakfast Circle panel discussion hosted by market research firm Winterberry Group. But given the rough economy and soft sales, it’s no surprise that the focus of the seminar, held April 25, also covered topics such as reduced prospecting and all-around belt-tightening.

Gary Ostrager, vice president, direct marketing, Macys.com, mentioned that New York-based Macy’s by Mail cut back its spring prospecting less than 5%. Nonetheless, “we are leveraging our buyer file and looking more closely at the lists we rent to make our dollar go farther. On the Web, we’re prospecting less but stepping up our e-mail promotions to customers.”

Macy’s strategy is not atypical, added Sandy Matika, senior vice president of Mokrynski & Associates, a Hackensack, NJ-based list firm. But she warned that the the reductions in prospecting and overall circulation would make future prospecting a more challenging proposition: Less prospecting means fewer new names to add to house files, while reduced circulation means fewer recent buyers or multibuyers to add to the files. And both, in turn, result in fewer hotline names to rent.

On the brighter side, Matika praised e-mail marketing as an effective way to increase sales among a cataloger’s or Web merchant’s buyers. She estimated the average click-through rate on e-mails to customers as 15%, with a 3%-6% conversion rate among those customers who responded to the e-mail by visiting the marketer’s Website.

In addition to Ostrager and Matika, the panelists were Mark Friedman, chief marketing officer of New York-based apparel marketer Brooks Brothers, and Sherry Chiger, editorial director of CATALOG AGE and I.MERCHANT. Winterberry Group CEO Michael Petsky moderated.