For many years, brands, retailers and catalogers have looked for ways to better leverage information about their customers in an effort to deliver better brand experiences. As technology evolved, so too did the level of relevant marketing messages we were able to deliver to our customers. Through all of this change, one constant has remained: data. It continues to be the driver of more relevant and targeted marketing messages.
I talked recently about the evolution of the catalog. With 90+ million Americans purchasing from catalogs on an annual basis, the catalog is a lively and active channel. So what is the difference today? It now goes beyond direct mail, is more digitized and is delivered with an omnichannel strategy. But how did direct marketers continue to advance the role of the catalog to make it an integral part of the omnichannel strategy?
One way direct marketers have continued to evolve alongside their customers is by leveraging expanded data assets. At Epsilon, we recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Abacus Cooperative with Abacus founder, Tony White, and Epsilon's former CEO, Andy Frawley. This milestone proves that data cooperatives are alive and well and helping direct marketers achieve their goals. Whether marketers are seeking to acquire new customers or generate sales from existing ones, the data that Epsilon’s Abacus cooperative provides can help.
Twenty-five years ago, the direct marketing industry was revolutionized by the founding of the Abacus Cooperative—the first cooperative database for catalog marketers. Tony White, the founder of the Abacus Cooperative recently shared, “It was 1990, pre-commercialization of the Internet. Buyer data was out there, but it was scattered all over the place. Catalogers thought that their files were exclusive files and that nobody else had their data. So for anyone to release data to another company, the early participants were really taking chances. The bravery of initial co-op members was incredible and they were very far sighted.”
Today, more than 2,000 members of the Abacus Cooperative use dynamically active data to build stronger relationships with their customers, maximize marketing budgets and optimize campaigns to achieve higher response rates. The role of data is evolving, and as Andy Frawley shared at the Abacus celebration, “Not many companies formed in the early '90s time frame that remain, it’s a testament to the integrity of the business model, the core of Abacus. It’s an exciting time too as we are reinventing the data business. Data is really becoming the basis of everything we do.”
Customers are continuing to evolve, and marketers must keep up with them as they demand better brand experiences. For direct marketers, the print catalog is the opportunity to create an interactive experience with your brand. Data is the fuel that can drive these experiences.