Let's Get Real! - Making A Success Of Your Business To Consumer Web To Print Store

June 12th, 2012 - Posted by Jonathan Silvester, Brand Development

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I am sure many of us are already aware that the expression “If you build it, they will come” cannot ever really be applied to a business to consumer website. Creating a great site is really only the start of your B2C journey and will certainly not guarantee you even a single order. However, many companies still pay too little attention to the amount of investment that is required to drive traffic to a website. I thought it might be a good idea to take a more realistic look at the Business to Consumer world of printing and what is really involved in generating some significant revenues.

First we need to be clear about our strategy, in simple terms we can just apply the who, what and where rule.

  1. Who are you selling to online?

What is our target market? This will help you define clearly the brand, design and the language of the website. A more niche offering might allow us to very clearly define the target audience.

  1. What are you going to sell them?

Think about what you are good at providing and where your skills and strengths lie. Remember the online community are generally very price aware. No point launching an online business card site if your prices are not competitive in that market place. A potential customer can find a selection of sites very quickly and make price comparisons very easily. They will not always go with the cheapest site but they will certainly make a quick judgement on whether you are offering value for money.

  1. Where do we want to operate?

Are you looking at proving a local, national or international service?

Once we have decided on our offering and we know our target market then we can begin to formulate a marketing strategy to make sure we start to grow revenues. This might involve some or all of the following activities;

Keyword Research

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

CPC (Cost-per-Click) Advertising

WOMM and Social Media

Website Analytics

Email Marketing

Mobile Marketing

Public relations

Direct Mail

Advertising

Email Marketing

We may well feel that we have some skills in house to assist with the marketing, but very often we will need the help of one or more partner companies to work with us. For instance, SEO is an ever moving target. Google (who control 70% of online searches) like to change the rules on how it ranks and submits search information on a fairly regular basis, so you need to make you have a really “switched on” specialist in SEO.

If you have decided to create web to print templates for the various print items for sale in your store, then the quality and range of templates you offer will also be a key factor in your success. Do I have a choice of design styles and colours? No point having a great design for a business card for instance if it just comes in blue. Have a library of different colour backgrounds and styles. Can I choose to upload my own logo? Can I upload my complete PDF artwork? Have your templates and site reviewed by a number of potential users before your launch so you can refine and improve. Pay particular attention to the navigation and user experience. Make sure you have not overlooked important information like how long the product will take for delivery. Provide a prominent helpline number or even use the RedTie live chat facility for customers who have queries. This way you will also find out the common questions and can refine the site to make sure information is readily available and highlighted for future visitors.

So what will all this cost me in order to start making my new B2C website pay for itself and produce a ROI? Well being an ex commercial printer myself I like to think of it in these simple terms. If I am looking to employ a new print salesman to boost my sales in a traditional sales role then what might they cost me? Salary, car, laptop, benefits; would I get much change from £35,000? Probably not. So why would you think your B2C marketing would cost you any less?

Traditional Print Sales Person (say commercial print B2)

Salary - £25,000 pa
Car - £ 5,000 pa
Benefits and expenses - £ 3,500pa
Forecast total cost - £33,500 pa
Revenue forecast in first year - £150,000 of sales

My Business to Consumer Marketing (my online salesman)

Website development ongoing - £ 5,000 pa
Search engine optimisation (SEO) - £ 3,000 pa
CPC (Cost-per-Click) Advertising - £ 18,000 pa
Other marketing activity - £ 7,500 pa
Forecast total cost - £33,500 pa
Revenue forecast in first year - £150,000 of sales

This is only intended as a guide to a fictional Business to Consumer marketing budget (and certainly should not be used as a blueprint for your own needs) but it is intended to demonstrate that you will have to throw some serious commitment at B2C if you want a serious ROI.

Remember that if you do get it right, your online site will have some distinct advantages over the traditional sales person. It has the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of potential clients each day, will take payment upfront for all orders, won’t take holidays or long lunches, won’t run off and join a competitor and won’t hang around the sales office chatting up the new temp!

Your ongoing commitment will be to review your website analytics and constantly refine and improve your web to print store keeping one step ahead of your competitors and retaining your client’s loyalty. Jonathan has been doing a series that covers the basics of SEO, read more here:

SEO Part 1 - Picking Keywords
SEO Part 2 - SERP And Click Through Rates
SEO Part 3 - Optimise Your Website Technically
SEO Part 4 - Optimise Your Website Content