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4 Ways to Increase Reach With Digital Catalogs


This is our first post of a series on how digital catalogs can be an effective channel to increase reach, conversion, and engagement. Digital catalogs can be a powerful addition to your marketing strategy, and this article will help you better understand why.

Before we explore the importance of the modern day digital catalog, let’s go back in time for a second to see what the original purpose of the catalog was. If we are to believe The National Mail Order Association, the roots of the mail-order catalog stem all the way back to 1744. Benjamin Franklin is commonly credited for inventing the basic mail order concept by creating the first catalog, which sold scientific and academic books. The main advantage of the printed catalog was originally to enable consumers to order merchandise by mail, but with the introduction of online shopping, that benefit has now eroded.

However, retailers continue to use print catalogs because there is another key benefit. It’s a great medium to inspire and help people discover products. In a physical store, you have to walk around to find what you need. In an online store, you need to click on different categories and filters to browse through products. Neither of these two ‘browsing’ methods provide the same ease of use during the discovery process that the catalog does, as both require you to actively search for something. What’s great about the catalog is that it’s an effortless way to discover products or promotions—just lay back and flip through it until you stumble upon an interesting item.

Today, we’re faced with not only the question whether we can extend these benefits to the digital realm, but also whether we can enhance the catalog as a whole. We believe we can, and that’s why we’ve built Publitas.

Speaking to our customers, we’ve repeatedly heard the same story as to why they use digital catalogs:

  • Digital catalogs increase online reach;
  • Digital catalogs boost conversion rates;
  • Digital catalogs increase brand engagement.

In this post we’ll only be focusing on the first point: how e-catalogs can increase online reach for retailers. Stay tuned for our next two posts in this series to find out how they improve conversions and increase brand engagement. Without further ado, here are four ways you can increase your reach with ecatalogs.

1. Increase Reach by Converting Your Paper Catalog to a Digital Version

Sure, the paper catalog can help you reach out to people, but at what cost and to what extent? Think of all the design, publishing, and distribution costs involved in getting a weekly ad or monthly catalog out the door. It requires a ton of effort to produce one (think of copywriting, design, printing, etc.), and you’re only reaching the people whom you have targeted to receive your catalog. There are two problems here:

  • You’ve spent all this time and money creating a catalog, but as you have a limited budget, only those that receive your catalog get to see it. That means a lot of people who would want to read your catalog are missing out.
  • Many of the people who do receive your catalogs never actually asked for them. This means that a lot of those people may be receiving them even though they’re not interested.

So you’re only reaching as many people as your budget allows you to, and some of the people that do receive them actually don’t want to.

Creating a digital version of your paper catalog is a great way to tackle both issues. You can easily reach people who haven’t seen your paper catalog, and more importantly, you’re giving people a choice. The best part? You can do all of this at a fraction of the cost it would take to reach people with the paper catalog.

It’s super easy to do this with Publitas, and it only takes a couple of minutes—depending on the size of your PDF (the fewer pages it has, the faster your digital catalog will be ready). Simply drag and drop your PDF in our web app, and it will automatically be uploaded and converted for online use.

2. Be Present On Mobile Devices

People don’t always carry your paper catalogs or promotions with them, but they may want to know what you’re promoting this week on their way to your store. By uploading your catalogs to Publitas and publishing them online, they become instantly available on mobile devices (also on desktops). This means that people will be able view your digital catalogs with their smartphones and tablets wherever they are, as long as they’re connected to the Internet.

iPhone with an online catalog: 4 Ways to Increase Your Reach With Digital Catalogs

3. Be Found On Search Engines

Content marketing is great way to educate and inform people, build meaningful relationships, and consequently to grow your online presence. However wonderful content marketing is, it usually requires a lot of effort to produce really high quality stuff. If you already have a paper catalog, chances are you probably also have the original PDF. You can use Publitas to easily convert this PDF to user-friendly online content. Simply put, our software makes sure that all the texts in your PDF are automatically found by search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo!, or Bing). As a result, every spread in your catalog will appear as a separate webpage in search results.

But that’s not all. When you add info pages with Publitas for the products in your catalogs, our software also notifies these search engines that the products in your digital catalog are actually duplicates, and that the original content can be found on your online store (this is also known as canonicalization). In other words, we pass on the link authority of our digital catalogs to your online store, which improves the rankings of the keywords for your products. So if you’re going to use your paper catalogs online as well, be sure to optimize them for the right keywords.

4. Enable Customers to Share Your Content

It’s practically impossible for consumers to share the paper catalog (unless they have superpowers or an unwavering passion for copying/scanning your catalogs, of course). The Internet allows you to reach a much wider audience by creating online catalogs. Publitas makes it easy for your customers to share not only your online catalog, but also individual products in it through social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) and email.

An online catalog with product hotspots that can be shared