Does Your Print Website Flunk the Content Test?

If you’ve been in printing for a while, you know that there’s really no such thing as the perfect print project. Regardless of how meticulous the proofers are, something will get missed. You’re good at what you do, so the mistakes are minuscule; usually it’s something that you find when you pick up the completed project, but no one else will ever see it. You probably look at your website in much the same way that you do a finished brochure or an invitation set. There are a couple of things that you’d like to correct – the header font needs to be a little larger and the line spacing is off in a few places. You’d like to fix it, but it’s not a big thing and you really don’t feel like fooling with the backend of the website today. You’re missing something Checking a website isn’t at all like proofing for print. Sure, the spelling is important, but it’s the content that really counts. Among other things, Google and the other search engines are looking for unique content. Their robots index topical keywords that are used to determine relevance in their search algorithms – the complicated formulas that the search engines use to determine who comes up at the top of the search results. Lack of unique content is a big problem for printing companies, especially for smaller firms who use boilerplate websites from several of the web development companies who specialize in print.   Are you up for an experiment? Let’s try a little test that will illustrate the problem. I’ve pulled some boilerplate content from a printer’s website – two sentences from the Company Culture page. Here they are: We love what we do. The passion we have for our work enables us to take ownership of our clients’ projects. Now for the experiment, copy the sentences and paste them into the Google Search engine. You might be surprised at the results. Here’s what I got:   Google lists 369,000 results. I’m skeptical that there are this many exact replicates, but there are literally pages of printers with exactly the same text on their site. It’s a safe bet to assume that these two sentences aren’t the only repeated content on those sites. Why is duplicate content a problem? For a couple of reasons. First, duplicate content creates an attribution problem for the search engines....
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Why this Postcard Went to the Dogs

My veterinarian is marketing. Isn’t that great? I was confused by the postcard at first. The message, “John, don’t forget to come visit us,” didn’t register. My name’s not John. Then I noticed the beagle photo and it started to make sense. My dog’s name is John – it’s the one he came with when we adopted him. John isn’t a beagle, so the connection took a minute. I finally figured it out – a message from my vet. My vet is marketing, I thought. That’s good. He’s spending some money on postcards to remind his patients to bring their pets in for an annual checkup. That’s ok, even if I already had it on my schedule. There’s a QR Code on the card. Cool, he’s sending a personalized message and enabling response online. As I explored further, though, I discovered a lot of room for improvement. The vet’s multi-channel, personalized postcard was half done. It was obviously part of a packaged program that he had purchased. The marketing company name is actually referenced on the reverse of the card. A quick visit to their website showed boilerplate communications programs for several industries – dentists, spas and salons, and veterinarians. This kind of generic program isn’t an absolutely bad idea. It can simplify the process for small businesses who don’t have time to create custom content or manage direct mail, but in this case the whiz bang marketing features flopped before they had a chance to turn around three times. Personalization Gone Astray To push the pun, my vet’s marketing effort went “a-stray.” There just wasn’t enough attention to the detail. In particular, the personalization missed the mark. Sure, the mailing company included my name on the reverse side, but the effect was contrived. The message wasn’t personally appealing. It came off as a gimmick. As for the online integration, it just didn’t work. Here’s what could have been better: Creativity – It would been more effective to include a photo of my dog, a slightly overweight admixture of diverse and dubious heritage who is as similar to a beagle as an army tank is to a Toyota. People love their pets. Why not take a photo when they visit? Overdone personalization – Just because you have the dog’s name doesn’t mean that you must use it in every sentence of the message. “John is due for veterinary services....
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Reality Check

This article was originally published in our Weekly Idea newsletter. If you haven’t already subscribed, the newsletter brings at least one new idea to you by email (almost) every week. Here’s the subscription link. “I don’t have time to talk. We’ll have to make this quick. I need a website, but I don’t have time for it.” The first three sentences set the stage for the rest of the very brief conversation. The Background This wasn’t a cold call; the printing company owner had requested the conversation. He has a website, but doesn’t like it. He’s using one of the turnkey printer platforms and the boilerplate content hasn’t been changed since he originally took the website live a few years ago. What the printer would like is to magically create a consumer-oriented e-commerce site that will bring in lots of sales. He needs it to be created cheap, because he doesn’t have a budget for a new website, and he doesn’t really want to be involved in the process. Fast forward a couple of days. One of my online friends sent me a very interesting article that was full of small business statistics. Here are a few excerpts: Between 50% and 55% of small business owners don’t have a website. 26% have a social media presence. 49% of sites fail to comply with basic usability principles, and 50% of online sales are lost because visitors can’t find content. 93.3% of small business websites aren’t responsive/mobile compatible. 8 of 10 entrepreneurs fail with their first business venture within one year. Another fast forward. Last week, I took a straw poll at a workshop for startups. Of the 12 people present, only 3 had an active website. Only one of the three stated that they were actively updating the site and using it successfully to generate leads and new business. You’ve heard this week’s idea before, but it’s important: Your website is the center of your marketing universe. If you don’t have a working website, for all practical terms, your business is invisible. According to Forrester Research, 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. Other studies show that 60% or more of the “buyer journey” takes place online, before a call is placed to a company. If you’re not providing the information buyers need to make a decision online, it’s likely...
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