No matter what small business you are in, you know web to print is one of the biggest buzzwords in direct marketing.
What actually constitutes a web to print platform?
Web to print is often thought of as a software system – a product. Research shows that the greatest hindrance of successful web to print implementation lies in the adoption rate. The truth is, investing in a platform is just as much about investing in the provider as it is the software. For this reason, 90% of starting small business need to change their perspectives and look at web to print services as more of a solution, and less of a product. With that in mind, these are some of the qualities and features you should be focused on when trying to choose between the various web to print applications on the market.
1. Ease of Use
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that if the product isn’t easy to use, no one will use it. This is especially pertinent to web to print ecommerce– where the main benefit lies in the ability for small business to start and brands with distributed sales-forces (franchises are a good example) to standardize and simplify their forms of direct marketing efforts.
Make sure to walk through the visitor flow, customization and ordering process for any and all web to print solutions you are considering with your small business ideas. Put yourself in the place of any end-user and ask a lot questions.
2. Higher-than-Average Adoption Rates with Current Clients
To understand how important this is, here are a couple benchmarks. Nearly 60% of web to print users report usage levels of less than 5%. That means a – 3-5% adoption is average!
A competent web to print provider will make it their main goal to ensure the solution is utilized to its full potential. The best providers will even offer suggestions, content and even entire portfolios of customizable sales collateral (emails, direct mail pieces, brochures, postcard advertising, website graphics, etc.) that you can utilize to help spread the word to your affiliates.
3. Elimination of Extraneous Features
Some small business companies promote many dozens, even hundreds of features that are too convoluted to even understand, let alone gain benefit from. I would take 10 solid, well-developed, easy to use features over 50 sloppily thrown together “features” any day. Try to narrow down your 5-10 main needs and goals – then focus on how those can be accomplished by the platform.
4. Customer Service and Support-Focused
There are two parts of this quality – service for the corporate-level administrators, and service and support for the end-users – both equally important. The fact is, no matter how easy the software is to use, there will be a seemingly unlimited number of support tickets and customer-service related issues that need to be addressed. Other direct marketing and sales related technology companies (Salesforce, Hubspot, Neolane, etc.) even require you to purchase a certain amount of training when joining the platform. This all comes back to adoption rate. If you can’t understand how to use the product, the product provides no benefit; if the product provides no benefit, you don’t renew your contract. It’s a lose-lose situation for all parties.
Look for a provider who does most of the hard work for you – sets up templates, adds new products, responds to end-user customer service, troubleshoots the UI/UX, handles refunds and returns, etc. The less you have to worry about, the more benefit you will receive from web to print.
5. Flexibility and Scalability
There are two main types of web to print platforms out there – ones that are built by pure software technology companies, and ones that are built by printing and direct marketing companies. Each has its own pros and cons.
Printing and direct marketing based providers are usually more focused on the end-result of the software – the print that comes through their building. The problem with that is, while the monthly software fees are usually lower, you end up paying more per order.
While the industry expands and evolves, more and more small business are beginning to understand the various ways they can benefit from web to print. In this new gold rush, make sure to not get blinded by all of the shiny features and big promises – you’ll lose sight of the obvious.