Printed web pages – A missed opportunity for marketing?

When someone prints out the webpages from your site what do they get from the printer? Many webpages come out of the printer in an unreadable, confusing mess. This is such a waste of an opportunity for marketing. When a customer or visitor to your site is committed enough to press the print button – you should see this as a new channel to engage. 

We decided at Varn to conduct new research to find out who and why people print out web pages.

Our original market research was conducted in December 2015 and took into consideration responses from 527 male and female consumer respondents in the UK.

The results indicated: 50.7% never print out web pages, 35.3% occasionally do, 7.2% often do and 6.8% only print out purchase receipts.

So that’s 49.3% that do print out web pages – nearly half of all the respondents!

That’s potentially half the people who go on your site printing out information from it.

This research was consistent across all age groups also.

By taking a random selection of websites and printing out web pages from them, it’s fascinating that many websites have either not tested the print format of their pages or don’t care about what they look like, coming out of a printer. Some pages have fields that are crammed into corners or the side of the page, forcing 10 pages of paper out where one should suffice. This is wasteful and irritating for the person printing and would not make your brand look professional. It’s crazy too, because with a couple of simple CSS techniques you can ensure that your web pages are printed out in a good format. It’s possible to print out a copy only version or a PDF for ease of the reader. You should create a clear Print button for the print out and furthermore track the printing via the button so you know how frequently it is being used by visitors.

The really exciting thought is beyond simply improving the quality of the printed pages but the added possibility to boost your marketing with them. Include a USP on the printed page, or even better, put an offer or voucher code on there. Reward visitors for engaging.

It is also worth thinking about why people print out. For instance, PAs or bosses often print out many business webpages from competitors to gauge which would offer them the best service. If your webpage looks like a dogs dinner then you may be out of the running not because of your offering but simply because of the illegible presentation of your webpage print out.

Our study was part of on-going original research into consumer interaction with websites by Varn who run an INSIGHTS section on their website.