How print boosts online sales

Photo by Ekrulila on

PRINTED booklets or catalogues make sound marketing sense for online retailers despite the intuitive idea that print and online are poles apart.

That’s because online marketing aims to catch attention and direct leads into a sales funnel to buy a particular item. When a sale is made customers can then be targeted to buy additional items and specials.

The point is that online marketing takes one or two lead items to many customers rather than bringing a customer into a store to look at many items … and that’s where a booklet or catalogue kicks in.

Whatever item an online customer buys, a catalogue or booklet in the package takes the entire store to that customer. Not only that, but the customer is highly receptive to reading it because it is in a package just bought when excitement and interest is at its highest point.

This was confirmed in a study published in the February 2020 edition of the prestigious Harvard Business Review which compared sales conversion rates from online marketing only with online marketing combined with printed catalogues.

The survey was in partnership with a major online retailer of luxury watches and jewellery with a global clientele and no physical store.

All its new customers came entirely from online searches and other web platforms, and more than 75% of its revenue came from repeat purchases by existing customers.

The company agreed to launch a printed catalogue for a six-month trial. Of a random sample of 30% of customers, 5% did not receive either email or print catalogues for the six months, 55% received only a weekly marketing email, and 40% received both a print catalogue and emails.

The results showed that the email and print catalogue group had a significant 15% lift in sales and 27% lift in inquiries compared with the email-only group.

A return on investment (ROI) calculation (if applied across the business) yielded a direct ROI of 600% — and would have boosted annual profit by a massive 40%.

The study concludes: “When we marry our research above with a review of retail trends and consumer psychology, we see how catalogs (sic) stand apart from the increasingly cluttered digital inboxes and social media feeds. As physical products, they can linger in consumers’ houses long after emails are deleted, which increases top-of-mind awareness among consumers.

“But their real power is how — for certain products — they increase the vividness of a product by enhancing the consumer’s ability to visualize and imagine product usage experiences.

“Vividness is highly influential in consumer behavior as it can increase consumer involvement and joy in the purchasing process.”

At, we specialise in PackAds – in-package printed promotional material that works.


Old tricks for new business

cheerful couple making online purchases at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

“AT THE end of the day, you’re not building an ecommerce company, you’re building a brand that has ecommerce as its core distribution channel.”

Andy Dunn

This deceptively simple comment by Andy Dunn, the founder of menswear clothing and accessories brand, Bonobos (sold to Walmart for $310 million), is profoundly important for online retailers.

It changes the view that ecommerce is different from other kinds of commerce to a view that ecommerce is the same but with a different sales and delivery channel.

That means throwing out some of the more traditional business promotion tools is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. 

Don’t trash it, change it.

One traditional tool is the folded pamphlet, or leaflet. They’ve long been handy because they carry a lot of information in a quick, easily read, and visually attractive format.

The power of the pamphlet is that it is low-cost, takes up little space, but gives six surfaces for information which can be combined creatively.

Traditionally pamphlets were used to saturate a particular target market area, or posted to target mail addresses. 

That doesn’t work for ecommerce. Time to think out of the traditional box and into a whole new box: the package sent to customers.

That’s because the pamphlet is no longer useful to attract customers to an online store — but to take the online store to the most important person for a business: a paying customer.

Pamphlet PackAds are package inserts that work to bring customers back for more and strengthen brand loyalty.

The benefits far outweigh costs, especially for online retailers because the retailer is marketing to someone who has already bought or received an item. 

It’s far easier to sell more to such a person than find a new customer.

Just remember what Andy Dunn said. And he should know.


How to grab attention

people walking in market
Photo by Mark Dalton on

WHAT and why of business are easy. It’s about selling to make money. That’s it.

The tricky parts are the who, where, when and how. 

Early traders at an open village market quickly learnt to present their wares attractively and shout out their deals loudly to passing traffic, or more vocal competitors would pick up more sales.

As stalls became brick-and-mortar stores, traders had to entice customers differently with signage and community advertising. They, in turn, evolved into large chain stores with constantly improving advertising, marketing and branding across multimedia channels.

photo of women s clothing
Photo by Edgars Kisuro on

Then along came the Internet, and the game changed. 

The goliaths of commerce — the massive chain department stores offering everything from a pin to kitchen sinks under one roof — were slain by the slingshots of search engines. 

Sears was toppled by Amazon and goods moved out of sight into warehouses.

warehouse with concrete floors
Photo by Tiger Lily on

The rules are now about eyeballs on websites, sales funnels and conversions with businesses becoming increasingly niche with stronger brand identities and customer relationships. Convention went by the wayside and the mantra “think outside the box” became the vogue.

But to really grab attention, the time has come to “think inside the box”.

Delivered packages for online businesses are the first physical contact a customer has with a retailer. Carefully laid-out stores with beautifully window-dressed fronts are now image blocs and online stores. The delivered product is where the paying customer experiences the brand.

Package design is a commercial science in its own right. Packages have to balance cost with protecting contents while also communicating the first tangible brand identity experience.

Bespoke packaging can be costly, and few customers hang on to the packaging.

cardboard box on table in room with plants
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

That’s when the second gear kicks in — package inserts.

Customers are more highly concentrated on what’s inside the packaging, and any well-produced inserts that add value to the product and the brand will be seen and absorbed into the minds of the customers.

It doesn’t have to be costly. Even simple, but well-produced, package inserts make a difference. They can tell customers more about the brand and introduce other product or service items. 

They can even be a great way to give away freebies by inviting customers to give feedback on their purchasing experience, and turn them from a one-off purchase to a repeat customer.

See here for great ways to do it.


Pack up and promote

a man receiving his delivery
Photo by Yan Krukov on

TWO big questions facing online retailers are – what packaging to use and what to put in it.

The packaging has to be as small and light as possible to save on shipping costs, but strong enough to protect the contents from mishandling, unexpected impacts or fluids.

The second question is the product itself and how it is presented. For many, this is also part of the packaging design.

But there is a third question many online retailers don’t think about, and which is just as vital.

This is branding, promotion and product information.

This is not part of the product or packaging, but most definitely part of the customer experience when opening a package and so should be a prime consideration.

Online retailers have to invest considerable time, effort and expense in marketing to attract eyeballs and then convert those eyeballs into cash in the bank. 

For the paying customer the deal is receiving the item in mint condition and perceiving it to be good value for money.

Opening the package is where the rubber hits the road. Everything before that moment is a waste if the customer is disappointed or feels cheated.

That’s the moment when a good package insert can seal the deal. A good insert projects the brand, enhances the value offering and builds a relationship with a paying customer.

For most customers, an online purchase is made for convenience and cost. They are just buying a “gizmo” for whatever reason they may have. They don’t particularly care where or how the “gizmo” is made, they only care about it doing what they expect it to do and giving them the value they paid for it to give.

A package insert introduces the customer to the BRAND behind the “gizmo” they bought, to the people behind it, and why it is the best “gizmo” they could have bought. The insert can also give the customer ideas on what other products are available to either add further value to the “gizmo”, or complement it.

The insert communicates how much the seller cares about the product, which gives the buyer more confidence the online purchase was a good choice — and more confidence to buy more products from the retailer.

Most have already heard that acquiring a new customer is between five and 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. 

But here’s something you may not have heard. 

According to research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the company behind the net promoter score) increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by an eye-watering 25% to 95%.

That’s the reason why major retailers invest so heavily in building their brand image. They know that many sales are secured on sentiment, even if the items themselves are more expensive than identical items from unknown brands.

Think of a branded T-shirt and an unbranded T-shirt: Which one costs more and sells more?

The trick is to convince a customer who has just bought an item to buy the same brand again.

This involves more than the product itself in the package and why it takes a package insert to seal the deal. 

Here are some ideas and tools to play with.


Think INSIDE the box

mother and son with gifts
Photo by cottonbro on

REMEMBER the excitement you felt as a child ripping gift paper off a package? Remember how you felt when opening the box and seeing what’s inside?

That feeling is the most important moment in any online sale. 

That’s what’s achieved by all the marketing effort and expense of catching eyeballs and converting them to buying from you. 

That’s also the single biggest opportunity any online retailer has to sell more because it’s the instant the receiver’s interest is at its highest. Every detail of everything in the box is absorbed with laser-like intensity.

Yet it is a moment many online retailers are missing.

Remember the person opening the box is either the person who made the purchase online or someone to whom the online purchaser has sent the box as a gift. This is the moment they are most receptive to reading more about the product and the brand.

This is the moment to further dazzle and delight.

A simple, low-cost but high value marketing touch needs to be added: a PackAd.

There are seven different types of PackAd depending on size of package and marketing strategy.

  1. Mini PackAd, the size of a standard business card, for small packages or envelopes;
  2. Sticker PackAd of different sizes to use as a label or package seal;
  3. Flyer PackAd, a single A6 to A4 size insert;
  4. Pamphlet PackAd, which is the same size as a Flyer by folded in half or thirds to give four to six sides for content;
  5. Card PackAd, which is either a postcard or greeting card size insert on similar paper to a Mini PackAd and either folded into four sides or flat with two sides;
  6. Booklet PackAd, which is a multipage A5 size booklet;
  7. Catalogue PackAd, which is a multipage A4 size booklet.

Different options or finishes provide an almost unlimited range of inserts in small to large quantities that can be tailored to suit any marketing strategy.

See more here.


Magnets, funnels and paper

set of glass coffee pots for pour over
Photo by Maria Orlova on

All the biz buzz now is about online marketing lead magnets, funnels, and sales pipelines.

But few realise these tools and strategies are not new, and didn’t originate online.

Their birth was with print, and print can still be used effectively to give sales a powerful push.

First some background.

The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown undoubtedly accelerated online business massively while brick-and-mortar businesses had to watch from the sidelines in despair.

During the lockdown, Amazon was clocking sales at a rate of about $11,000 a second on products and services and its equity value shot through the $1-trillion mark.

Netflix sales climbed by 40% to seal its global dominance of entertainment services.

In the US, retail giant Walmart (which until recently owned Asda in the UK) saw its share value rise by 23% in a month, while UK online grocery retailer, Ocado, saw its value leap over 40%.

In stark contrast, brick-and-mortar businesses saw their value all but wiped out. 

A Goldman Sachs study in the US found that nearly 500,000 brick‑and‑mortar retail locations closed due to the pandemic, and in a survey of 1,500 small businesses, half said they would not survive longer than three months of lockdown.

Of course, in the face of such stark contrasts, many start looking to online sales as an answer to their woes. 

After all, if Amazon and others can thrive in a lockdown, why not?

Hence the focus on magnets, funnels and pipelines — the new fad tools and strategies of online marketing for online business.

Funnel guru, and founder of, Russell Brunson, mentions in his superb bestselling book, Dotcom Secrets, that he learnt about funnel strategies and sales pipelines as a teenager by studying junk mail – in print. 

He had been fascinated how anyone could make money by paying to put small adverts in newspaper and magazine classifieds giving away freebies. It made no sense. Yet he saw the adverts every day. 

So he wrote to them to get the freebies and see what happened next.

Pretty soon (much to the dismay of his parents no doubt) he received the freebies — along with mountains of junk mail.

Unlike most of us, he actually read the junk mail — carefully. Pretty soon he saw that all the junk mail from different companies followed much the same pattern. 

They offered other goods and services at higher prices, packaged in special offers with deadlines, all followed up by more junk mail shots.

He later understood that the freebie advert had attracted him into a sales funnel that then pushed him down a value pipeline offering him more products and services which was where the real money was made. It was a marketing machine that clearly worked.

Online funnels work much the same way, but there is one final step that is not online and still relies on print. It’s a final step many miss.

a man receiving his delivery
Photo by Yan Krukov on

It’s when a customer buys a product and has it delivered to them.

Consider for a moment what this actually means. It is someone who has gone through the entire online shopping process and has paid the business to have a product delivered.

Persuading this customer to buy again is infinitely easier than getting a new customer who will have to go through the whole process, and the moment the customer opens the package is the best possible moment to do it.

This is where our PackAds come into play. This is where the opportunity to push the customer further down your value pipeline is at its most powerful.

Our range of PackAds provide a toolbox of products that can be used to build that vital step towards another sale. It is very precisely targeted at the best possible customer profile – someone who has just bought from you. 

It’s low-cost with minimal waste at a moment of maximum customer excitement and engagement.

Don’t miss the golden opportunity.


Who we are

Hi, allow us to introduce ourselves: We are which offers a one-stop online service for printed PackAds.

Print? Online? You may be tempted to think that’s oxymoronic. 

Allow us to explain.

Remember the excitement you felt as a child ripping gift paper off a package? Remember how you felt when opening the gift box and seeing what’s inside?

That feeling is the most powerful emotion in any online sale, because that’s what’s achieved after all the marketing effort and expense of catching eyeballs and converting them into sales. 

It’s also the single biggest opportunity for any online retailer to sell more because it’s when a paying customer’s excitement and interest is at their highest. Every detail of everything in the box is absorbed with laser-like intensity.

This golden opportunity to further dazzle and delight is what many online businesses are missing.

Our solution is a simple, low-cost but high value marketing tool: the PackAd.

We offer seven different basic types of PackAd depending on package size and marketing strategy.

Each offers different options or finishes for an almost unlimited range of package inserts, big and small, many or few, to suit any budget or strategy.

We provide a full service from artwork to delivery – or only what you need.

Check out our pre-specified range in our Shop at special prices, or specify what you want with our Quotation tool.