3 Ways to Boost Conversion Rates With Digital Catalogs

Oct 2, 2013 by Arka Der Stepanian

Cartoon character holding tablet with a digital catalog that displays a product that can be added to shopping cart.

Whether your business uses weekly ads, monthly catalogs or quarterly magazines, publishing these publications online can be an effective way to do content marketing. A few weeks ago we started a series on how digital catalogs can increase reach, conversion, and engagement. This is the second post of that series, where we’ll be talking about boosting your bottom line.

As we explained in our first post of this series, digital catalogs are a great way to increase your online reach. While those benefits are perhaps quite evident, it’s less clear whether digital catalogs have any impact on consumers’ shopping behavior. And if they do, how can retailers make the most out of their digital catalogs to increase their returns?

Speaking to our customers, we’ve found that people do buy products through online catalogs, and that these catalogs lead to a positive ROI for retailers (i.e. they actually make money from investing in an online catalog tool). To explain this, we’ve described three ways how digital catalogs can help you boost your conversion rates.

1. Help People to Discover Your Products, Deals and Promotions

“Why do I need a digital catalog for this? Can’t I do this with my paper catalog or my online store as well?” Yes, you can, but not everyone receives your paper catalog. And let’s take a look at the online store. It’s perfect for people that are looking for a specific product. But some people browse without a specific product in mind. They just want to find out what’s available or see if there’s anything that interests them. In this case, the online store may not be the best way to convert these folks, but the digital catalog is.

Some people are either looking to get inspired from their favorite lookbooks and magazines, or they’re searching for the latest deals in weekly ads and circulars. Not only is the digital catalog a great way for you to showcase your latest products or goods on sale, it’s also an effortless way for people to flip through them. They don’t have to search for products or click on different categories. And if they have a tablet, they can just lay back on the couch to browse through your products. In that sense, the digital catalog is a better way to discover products, deals and promotions.

2. Drive Traffic to Your Online Store by Connecting It to Your Publications

While the paper catalog might indirectly trigger people to visit your online store, the online catalog is essentially a direct connection. This is why we believe the digital catalog and the online store work best together, and to reap the greatest rewards, you’re going to need both. But how do you convert the people who use your digital catalogs? With Publitas, it’s really easy to create links between the products in your publications and the products in your online store. This will help you to drive traffic from your digital catalogs, magazines and weekly ads to your online store, where people can buy your products.

You can do this by creating product detail pages that present your product information in a simple, non-intrusive, and visually pleasing way. These pages include the product title, description, price, discounted price, product ID, and the URL to that product in your online store.

Product detail page in Publitas digital catalog viewer.
Product detail page in Publitas' digital catalog viewer.


However, it can be quite a hassle to fill out all these fields for each product in your publication. OK, that’s an understatement. It can take hours, and sometimes even days if you need to do this for multiple publications. To make sure you don’t have to waste your time on this, we’ve built a feature that imports your online store’s product feed into Publitas. By doing so, all the product information needed to create a product detail page will be added automatically. All you have to do then is drag the imported products onto your publication.

Adding product hotspots to your digital catalog in Publitas Adding product hotspots to your digital catalog in Publitas step 2
Drag the imported product data and drop it on your publication to create hotspots.

To import your product feed, you will need three things.

2.1. A Few Minutes to Set Up Your Product Feed
Publitas only accepts the Google Shopping Product Feed specifications, so we highly recommend running through the specifications in our web app (see Product Feed section) to make sure your feed is properly formatted. Here’s a link to an example product feed.

2.2. A Link to Your Product Feed
Once you’ve set up your feed, you’ll need to paste its URL in Publitas. You can then click on ‘Import product feed’ to import your products and the info that goes with each product.

import product feed screen in Publitas digital catalog software
The Product Feed screen in Publitas.


You can also choose to have your feed automatically synchronized once a day. This is particularly useful to make sure that all the prices and product information in your publications are synchronized with the data from your online store. So let’s say you decide to change the price of a product in your online store, this feature will make sure that your customers get to see the latest price in your publication as well (within 24 hours).

2.3. A Doctorate Degree in Quantum Physics
This is critical in understanding the extraterrestrial technology that we used to build this feature. Just kidding, you really only need two things.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a product feed, and if they do, it’s not always set up the way they’d want it to. If that’s the case for you, you won’t be able to automatically fill your product detail pages with the product data from your online store. No worries, though, because there’s a different way to link the products in your publication to your online store. You can do this by creating ‘link hotspots’, which is still manual work, but you’ll only need to fill in the name of the product and the URL to its page on your online store.

screenshot of digital catalog with link hotspot
A link hotspot in a digital magazine.


3. Improve Your Publication With Analytics

Another benefit of the digital catalog compared to the paper version is that you can easily measure the number of pageviews, the average time spent on each spread or the entire catalog, clicks on hotspots, bounce rates, and much more. To do this, simply copy your Google Analytics Tracking ID and paste it in the Analytics section of Publitas. google analytics integration screen in Publitas digital catalog software
The Analytics screen in Publitas.


By using these statistics you can find out where you can improve your catalog’s content. For example, you can analyze which spreads or hotspots are less engaging than other spreads or hotspots in your publication (e.g. they have fewer clicks, lower average time spent, above-average bounce rates, etc.). You can then use these insights to experiment with the layout of your PDF (e.g. smaller or larger product images for underperforming pages), or by changing the color of the ‘Go to online store’ button in the hotspots, for example. Check out tactic #2 in Neil Patel’s post on improving your calls to action to see how much a button’s color can influence your conversion rates.

c2a styling screen in Publitas digital catalog software
Changing the call-to-action color in Publitas.


The same goes for fixing any mistakes in your PDF after you’ve published the publication online. So let’s say you discover a typo in one of your online publications, you can use Publitas to easily upload a new version of your PDF. In your list of publications, click on the ‘Pages’ button for the publication you want to update. From here you can replace your current PDF with a new one.

Pages button in Publitas online catalog software Pages overview in Publitas online catalog software
Replacing a PDF in Publitas.

And if you’re wondering what happens to your hotspots in that publication, we’ve got you covered. All of your edits (e.g. the publication title, description, scheduling dates, and hotspots) will still be available, only with an updated PDF. Pretty sweet, right?

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