When a print service provider fails to execute a strong online presence it can risk falling short of customer’s expectations and might present a picture of a business that is out of date, out of touch and potentially soon - out of business!
When a search engine returns your website in response to a potential print buyer's search, it is the closest thing you will get to a guaranteed qualified lead. But if your website is not presenting the client with the information they need to interact with the choices of products and services offered, or the ability to actually price an item and buy from you online, then you risk damaging your brand and falling short of customer’s expectations. If you are searching for a service online, then generally you expect to be able to complete your purchase online if required. Whilst it may not always be appropriate to buy there and then, as a customer you need the company to demonstrate their willingness to engage with you. A lack of content is a lack of engagement with the prospect and a massive lost opportunity.
I was recently searching for some garden fencing products to replace those destroyed by the winter storms. My immediate need was a standard size fence panel pack to stop the dog using the neighbour’s lawn in the same way he does mine! In my google search I was looking for a local supplier where I could order my first pack, collect my goods and possibly get some advice on other more bespoke fencing I needed for another area of the garden. Success! A local provider within 3 miles that I had used before a number of years ago. However, I was surprised and frustrated by the website provided by my local company. They failed to display their full range of products and offered no facility to buy the goods online. Instead I got an online enquiry form and an office hours number, which is not very helpful on a Sunday evening. Completing an online enquiry form just seemed like too much trouble and I really needed the list of available sizes and finishes in order to be sure I had the right product. Determined to buy locally, I made a call to the business a few days later only to find they had gone into administration.
I am still surprised by the number of businesses who continue to present a company website in a similar way. I understand the reason why so many companies do persist with a brochure style website with nothing more than a paragraph or two to describe their products or services and a few library shots here and there. They often believe that providing product categories, pricing, delivery information and a shopping basket with which to buy goods makes them a provider of a commodity product and this is considered to be too price competitive. These businesses want to remain as providers of a highly personal service, but how is the online experience personal to anyone if you can’t access the things you want to buy? It is potentially damaging to the brand and can leave those well versed in doing business online frustrated and a bit annoyed. The end result will be a click of the browsers back button and the selection of a competitor.
Developing a strong online presence that makes buying easy is about being personal too and it is a key element in relationship building. Getting the balance right between proving the client with an ecommerce solution and remaining as an added value service provider is a tricky business. Have you got the balance right in your own business or will you turn off prospective buyers and force them to hit the back button?
We will be aiming to provide some solutions to growing your print business online in the next RedTie seminar called Maximising Your Print Sales Online
. You can address your engagement with clients in a number of ways and not just purely web to print. We will be looking at a range of online content tools including RTT Plus
to help you engage more successfully and will be joined by independent experts from both online marketing and Web to Print.