How to Create an Online Catalog for Your Business

By Talius ChickeringJune 25, 2021Last updated on June 28, 2021Tips

How to Create an Online Catalog for Your Business 

The world of digital content production is vast, and there is a wide range of content that is produced every day, ranging from high-fashion editorials, to community newsletters, to individually published zine’s. One of the most common, and most effective, forms of digital content is the online catalog. As marketing and sales efforts continually transition to online formats and ecommerce platforms become increasingly relevant, most brands have opted to create a digital version of their catalog, and in some cases, entirely switch to online material.

There are a variety of advantages to creating digital catalogs as opposed to traditional print media. 

One massive advantage is that you do not incur any print cost, and with Issuu you can easily sign up for free to publish your catalog online. This is an incredible cost-saver, and is especially beneficial for smaller businesses that do not have the resources to print large quantities. On a global scale, this is also substantially more environmentally friendly than print media. As environmental consciousness becomes a larger factor for brands and their concerned audiences, online catalogs and other digital marketing materials progressively become a more attractive option.

The other advantage of digital catalogs is that the distribution process becomes exponentially easier. With print catalogs, you need to have a specific address for each catalog recipient, and then spend even more money on the shipping itself. This is often ineffective, and is another massive cost that is avoided with digital publishing. When you publish your catalog online, you can easily share it on social media, embed it in email campaigns, send it directly to specific buyer’s, and transform the content into other formats for continued use!

Before we dive into how to create an online catalog, let’s break down some of the key components of a catalog, physical or virtual. Although catalogs come in many different formats, certain elements remain the same:

  1. Front cover: stunning design, title, brief description of content, edition number.

  2. Table of Contents: Broken down by section and page number, list the content covered in the catalog. Highlight any key products or content that the reader won’t want to miss.

  3. Introduction: Brief description of company, product or service, make sure to include an effective CTA.

  4. Primary content pages: Show off your content, include visuals, prices, and ways the reader can purchase.

  5. Closing thoughts: Include any final takeaways or CTA’s you want your readers to remember.

  6. Back Cover: Make sure to include your website URL and contact information.

Once you have a general structure for your catalog, there are a few key details you do not want to miss when designing the actual pages:

  1. Effective branding: Your catalog should be clearly identifiable with your business. Make sure your catalog matches the brand elements of your company including the font, colors, and logos.

  2. Cohesive design: Use effective design strategies to create a stunning visual layout for your magazine. This includes making sure you incorporate effective color contrast, using clear fonts with headings and subheadings, and proportional layout of each element on a page so everything appears balanced.

  3. Professional photography/images: Perhaps the most important detail, your catalog should include very high quality images of your products. The ultimate goal of a catalog is to encourage readers to buy, and your images should also work towards this goal. Beautiful lighting and crisp, clear image quality are all key.

  4. Storytelling/Messaging: Although the goal of your catalog is primarily to highlight the products you are selling, you should also make sure to include some form of storytelling within your catalog. Give readers an inside look into your brand, highlight a brand ambassador with a full-page photo and caption, share insights into your industry as a whole, or deepen your reader’s understanding with a look at your production process. These techniques all help draw readers in and keep them engaged.

  5. CTA’s/pricing/online sales: It is important to make it as easy as possible for your readers to transition from the catalog to your sales funnel. Part of this is making sure you clearly list prices, and where each item can be purchased.

Create the Digital Catalog!

At this point your catalog has been fully conceptualized, you have taken high quality product photos, and you have a rough idea of the design techniques and overall layout you want to use. But the next step, the actual creation of the digital catalog, can be a substantial challenge. Luckily, there are a variety of tools at your disposal: Powerpoint, Keynote, and InDesign are the most commonly used, with other accessible tools like Canva and Figma becoming increasingly popular. If you do not want to start completely from scratch, Issuu is here to help!

Issuu has created a variety of templates that are completely free to download and use, so that content creators can streamline and speed up their content production. 

Simply download the catalog template from our help center, open it in your design software of choice (see video for compatibility), and customize it to fit your brand and content! The video below breaks down how you can locate these templates and customize them to fit your exact specifications.

Now that you have created a stunning online publication, what’s next? It’s time to start marketing and sharing your new catalog and the offerings inside!

The Issuu platform is the perfect place to publish and distribute your content for maximum engagement and reach. Here are a few steps to help get you started and optimize your content for digital distribution:

  1. Publish your content: Learn how to upload your content from your computer, Google Drive, or Dropbox and publish it on the Issuu platform.

  2. Add links to your website to send readers directly into your sales funnel: Take advantage of Issuu’s add links capability, and generate clickable links that link directly to specific product pages on your website. You can also link to another page within your publication to create an interactive table of contents!

  3. Embed your content directly onto your website or blog to increase reach: Issuu’s embed tool allows you to quickly embed your publication in your website to naturally increase reach and promote your publication to all website traffic.

  4. Repurpose content to continue your success: Publishing your catalog is just the first step. Learn how to use Issuu to remix your content for different platforms and different audiences!

    Ready to launch your first digital catalog? Sign up for a free Issuu account and start publishing today!