Catalog Design Handbook

12. Incorporating response methods

Press printed or digital only, your catalog can incorporate a variety of response methods and mechanisms to encourage customers to engage with your company, place orders, and request further information that you can use to solidify a buying relationship. How you use these methods, and which ones you select, depend on a variety of considerations that relate to the types of information you want to acquire.

Clickable links

In a digital catalog, or a digital version of a press printed project, clickable links can direct the reader to your website for more information, special sales pricing, registration forms, and a wide range of methods through which you can further your goal of converting prospects to purchasers.

The security consideration involved in using these otherwise straightforward response methods lies in consumers’ heightened and reasonable concerns about clickjacking, phishing, malware, and other disasters that can befall their computers, their privacy, and their personal information. To provide catalog readers with a sense of security about these links, you can accompany the clickable variants with selectable text that they can copy to their computer clipboards and paste into a web browser.

Links also can trigger the recipient’s e-mail software to create and address a message for the recipient to send. Again, these automated digital reply methods raise security concerns. Because the customer can see the address to which the message would be directed, however, and can verify that it legitimately correlates with your business, this type of link may succeed in prompting at least some responses.

QR codes

Once scanned with a mobile device, these patterns of geometric shapes behave like specialized forms of bar codes that redirect the device to a specific web page. You can incorporate QR codes in digital or in printed catalogs, using them to direct consumers to your website for additional information or specialized content. Like clickable links, QR codes can raise security concerns about where they actually lead and what if any risks those destinations entail. Including a verbal description of where a QR code leads may help to allay concerns.

Note on prodalist: QR codes so as more than 12 other barcode types are automatic … just place them & set the size and the required coding.

Response cards

Printed catalogs can include postcards for customers to fill out and return. Some of these cards include postal-reply encoding that bills the mailing cost to the entity that created the card rather than to the sender. Others include a labeled space to which the sender affixes postage.

Create reply cards with a thoughtful eye to the types of information you request from the consumer. Because anyone who handles these cards can see the information written on them, they should not be used to solicit credit or debit card numbers and other financially sensitive personally identifiable information.

If you mail out a printed catalog in an envelope, you can include another envelope for the recipient’s use in returning a reply card within its shielding confines.

Reply cards can be inserted between catalog pages or created as part of an outside back cover, with perforations for use in detaching the card from the rest of the cover. Because most catalogs use heavier paper stock for covers than for text pages, the resulting card should be sturdy enough to transmit through the mail without placing it in an envelope.

In a digital catalog, you can create a response mechanism that the recipient must print out in order to fill it in and return it. This removes the cost of preparing the card, but the process involved in printing and mailing the reply vehicle may require more interest and time than the consumer cares to invest in the process.

Tip: Never force customers to use only one response method to receive information from you. When you give them options they feel comfortable using, you increase their perception of your focus on their needs. A customer-centered attitude helps attract and retain business.

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