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EMAIL MARKETING

Ikea Cancels Its Catalog, Putting A Road Block On The Customer Journey

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Ikea printed catalogues are seen in this illustration photo taken in Poland on December 8, 2020. Ikea annouced that next year will be the last for publication of a printing catalogue after 70-year run. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images

As 2020 draws to a close, every retailer is ready to close the books on this most disruptive of years. Ikea is quite literally closing its books. It is ending the 70-year run of its iconic catalog. The Ikea catalog will be relegated to a museum, where it becomes a nostalgic reminder of days gone by.

On the face of it, Ikea’s decision makes complete sense, as fellow Forbes.com contributor Enrique Dans explains. It takes the company about a year to produce the typical 300-page catalog, which peaked at 200 million copies distributed through its stores and in the mail in 50 markets, 69 different versions and 32 languages.

Ending the catalog will save the company a ton of money and allow the company to funnel all resources into digital where it sees its future lies.

“The decision to say goodbye to the IKEA Catalogue goes hand-in-hand with the ongoing IKEA transformation to become more digital and accessible,” the company said in a statement. “Last year IKEA online retail sales increased by 45% worldwide,” adding that its website logged four-billion visits, while the company has been developing new apps to service its digital customers better.

After years of dragging its feet to become e-commerce enabled, the company is now jumping in head first into its digital future.

Dans applauds it. “IKEA’s decision will likely be copied by companies of all types in all sectors. Think of the savings that could be made, the useful features provided for users, and most importantly, the environmental benefits. It’s time to follow IKEA’s lead and embrace a paperless future,” he writes.

The practicality of the decision is without question, as the company recognized it was making a rational, rather than an emotional decision. But that’s the rub. Consumers make purchase decisions based primarily on emotions; reason takes a back seat.

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Because the Ikea catalog is “beloved,” as the company acknowledges, it is breaking an emotional connection with its customers, a vital connection that it is unlikely to be able to replicate digitally.

Power of paper

Reams of data counter the digital-first, digital-only road that Ikea is taking. Good old-fashioned catalogs and direct mail marketing still have power to draw customers to a brand:

  • 59% of consumers enjoy getting mail from brands about new products (Epsilon) and 42% read or scan the direct mail they receive (Data & Marketing Association)
  • Response rates are high – 9% from house lists and 4.9% for prospect lists (Data & Marketing Association)
  • 60% of people who receive a catalog go to a company’s website after browsing a catalog (United States Postal Service)
  • Direct mail recipients purchased and spent 28% more than those who didn’t get a piece of direct mail (USPS)
  • 73% of Americans prefer being contacted via direct mail because they can engage with the material on their schedule and they keep advertising mail for on average 17 days (Mailmen), but an Ikea catalog probably hangs around much longer.
  • Direct mail is opened more than emails – 90% as compared with 20% to 30% of emails – (Data & Marketing Association) and recall is better – a brand is remembered by 75% of direct mail recipients versus 44% for digital ads (Marketing Profs)

The reason why paper in the form of a catalog or direct mail piece is more effective than digital or email advertising all comes down to human psychology and how the brain is wired, what is called neuroscience.

A white paper by MarketReach, entitled “Why Mail Cuts Through,” based on research by Neuro-Insight unravels the secrets. The act of physically holding and reading a piece of mail activates areas of the brain that encode long-term memories 49% more than email and 35% more than social-media advertising.

How emotionally engaging and personally relevant the advertising is also cements a brand in an individual’s memory. Mail was found to be 33% more engaging than email and 35% more engaging than social media advertising when the researchers measured electrical impulses in the brain to different stimuli using Steady State Topography (SST).

And when a person receives a mailed message from a brand, it reinforces digital and other advertising so that people pay more attention to all of it. Mail primes the pump so that memory encoding for social-media advertising is 44% higher after seeing mail first and it results in people spending 30% longer looking at a social-media ad.

Furnishing the brain’s ‘Brand Room’

Interestingly, the researchers describe the neural network of brand associations in our minds as a Brand Room.

“Brand communication can play one of two roles in relation to the Brand Room,” they write. “The first is to help furnish or decorate the room, by adding or changing associations. However, no matter how well decorated they are, Brand Rooms tend to sit in darkness most of the time. It’s only when something flicks a metaphorical light switch that the associations and sentiments within the room have any impact.”

Ikea’s catalog has held a treasured place in its customers’ Brand Room. By canceling its catalog, it has turned off the Ikea light switch in people’s brains.

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“Mail can have a powerful affect on furnishing the Brand Room and switching on the light. Brain response shows that mail impacts strongly on long-term memory encoding and engagement. In this way, mail can also build brand equity,” they write, adding that further research shows mail, like an Ikea catalog, is put somewhere visible in the home as a reminder to act and 64% of consumers often take a mailed piece with them to act upon.

Forcing customers to follow Ikea’s preferred path to purchase

Direct-mail expert Matthew Whipple, vice president at Speedeon Data, can’t figure the rationale behind Ikea’s decision other than to speculate it is ignoring the “incrementality” of the catalog and how it reinforces and supports its digital and retail channels in the customer journey.

“People look at the efficiency of paid search, digital ads and Facebook retargeting versus the high direct-mail cost of acquisition and conclude direct mail doesn’t work and digital is really rocking,” he quips.

“But direct mail is really driving the entire funnel process. It is at the upper-end of the funnel and if it does nothing more than help you collect an email address so you can start retargeting when the customer is ready to engage, direct mail did its job,” he continues.

Whipple goes on to explain how this penny-wise, pound-foolish thinking led a company to cut catalog spending, only to leave the company’s sales flagging down the road.

“Just because people weren’t using the coupon in the book to place orders, the company decided its catalog was underperforming and ended it,” he shares. “Then year-after-year, the financials started to drop and nobody could figure out why. They completely overlooked the impact the catalog had across channels.”

People dream in analog, not digital

Planning and decorating a home is a highly tactile, sensual experience. In other words, it functions in an analog world. Ikea, which should know better, is trying to force its customers to do it digitally.

While digital may work at the transactional level and be convenient for the company, Ikea is forcing its customers to follow a path that is fundamentally incompatible with Ikea’s mission: To create a better everyday life for people.

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Digital technology can help Ikea fulfill that mission, but the everyday life people live is in the real world, where touch, sound, scent, feelings and emotions rule.

Clearly many brands are following the same digital-first, digital-only path as Ikea, since the younger customers it targets are considered the first digital generation. But while Millennials are digital-natives, they are humans too, and there is now way to bypass that reality.

“Thirty-percent of Millennials said direct mail is more effective at getting them to take action compared to 24% for email,” Whipple says, citing a study by DMN. “This group may seem like a digital-first generation, but they appreciate and respond to direct mail marketing.”

In five or ten years, Ikea may be wondering why the lights aren’t shining so brightly in its stores or online. It will have no one to blame but itself.

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EMAIL MARKETING

What Not to do in Email Marketing

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What Not to do in Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to speak directly to your audience. You can build a relationship with them and create loyal customers. It is also a great way to generate traffic to your website, increase leads, and execute large campaigns.

With all of the benefits that your company can gain from email marketing, it’s no wonder that 64% of small businesses engage in email marketing. However, there are still a few important things to keep in mind. In order to be successful, you should avoid these 4 mistakes explained by 97 Switch when preparing an email marketing campaign.

Talk About Yourself

Many companies fall into the trap of only talking about themselves. They assume that since their audience signed up for emails, they want to hear all about the company and the sales. While marketing your products or services is important to do sometimes, your audience is still looking for value.

Failing to foster a relationship with them by being too sales-y will lead to unsubscribers and a loss of potential customers.

Instead, it’s important to give the audience something in return for their loyalty. Exclusive deals and sales codes are appreciated, but they also want to see educational or entertaining content in their inbox.

One way to do this is by creating content such as “you asked, we delivered” or “your questions answered” to show that you care about your customers and the feedback they give you, and it builds trust.

It’s also important to speak your audience’s language. Sometimes, companies get too caught up in trying to sound professional and impressive and end up using jargon that’s hard to understand.

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Using more simple ways to get your message across is imperative, as it makes the email easier to consume and thus more valuable.

Email Without a Purpose

While building relationships with your customers is one of the main goals of email marketing, you should keep in mind that they don’t want to hear from your company just for the sake of connecting.

Ensure that you have a clear purpose for each email you send, whether that be to inform, entertain, or motivate.

Being intentional about when to reach out includes sending timely emails. You should respond to relevant industry, company, or world news in a timely manner. Readers would find you reminding them about the last day of a sale important, and that qualifies as a purposeful email.

Part of proceeding with a clear purpose is also including a call to action in your emails. Your readers want to know exactly what you’re asking of them, and making it simple is the best way to get it. Beware of including too many calls to action, as it can be more confusing and seem more selfish than helpful.

Over Generalize

Personalization is one of the greatest strengths of email marketing, yet it is often overlooked. Simply including first names in an email makes it sound more personal and builds stronger relationships. This can easily be achieved using an email scheduling tool such as Mailchimp. Again, this is a way to build customer relationships. Research shows that using someone’s name in the subject line increases open rates by 26%. Be that as it may, personalization is more than just plugging in names.

Using an email marketing tool is also an easy way to utilize the segmentation aspect of personalization. By separating your audience into groups, you can categorize what they would each be most interested to hear from you.

It has been shown that segmented campaigns perform better than non-segmented campaigns. An example of this is categorizing your readers as beginners, intermediate, or advanced knowledge of your industry. Based on this category, you can send each segment a different email that would pertain to them more specifically.

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Your readers will appreciate that your content is tailored to their needs. Imagine sending a beginner an email that skips over the basics of a process. They would be confused and find it very unhelpful.

Now imagine an expert who is wasting time reading the basics that they know by heart. They would become frustrated and lose interest in finishing the email. These are just two examples of using segmentation to better serve your audience.

Use Poor Subject Lines

Often, people will decide whether to open an email at all based on the subject line alone. A mistake that marketers tend to make is wording the subject in a way that sounds like spam, and thus never gets opened or reaches the audience.

As we mentioned before, it is also helpful to include someone’s name in the subject line. While it might seem like a shot in the dark to form an effective subject, there are a few tips for the best open rates you can achieve.

A good subject line should be short. The ideal length for a subject is 7 words, based on a study conducted by Marketo.

However, you also want to make it interesting so that people are curious and want to know more. This curiosity is enough to encourage people to read the email.

However, you want to avoid click-baiting your readers with interesting subject lines that have nothing to do with the content in the email. Make sure that your subject is also relevant to what you have to say. Otherwise, you will have the opposite effect you’d intended by destroying trust and losing credibility.

Being Inconsistent

Simply sending out random emails is not enough to see results. You have to stick to a schedule that your readers can count on and know when to expect to hear from you in their inbox.

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The frequency can vary based on your industry and from business to business, but emailing at least once a month is recommended. The more you email, the more you will be on the top of potential customers’ minds when they need what you offer.

That being said, you shouldn’t always assume more contact is better. If your company emails are flooding their inbox, you can bet that they will either block the sender or unsubscribe from future emails. Finding a balance is key to seeing the best results from your campaigns.

You should also consider the brand voice that you are using to speak to your customers. If your emails all sound like they were written by different people, then it’s hard to gain the brand-strengthening benefits of email marketing. It is also confusing to your audience and makes it harder for them to connect with the company.

A good way to remedy this is to create a company persona, where you give a personality to the company that is sending the emails.

Are you funny and witty, or are you serious and somber? Consider strengthening your branding within the company before communicating it with the world.

Key Takeaways

You can’t expect to be perfect at email marketing, so don’t get discouraged if you find that you have made these mistakes. There is always room for improvements, and every so often it’s a good idea to evaluate how your email marketing campaigns are going.

Using analytics to track your results and adjusting your strategy will help you grow as you fix any mistakes you might be making.

By taking the time to improve your strategy, you will see the success that can carry across all your marketing efforts.

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