Vistaprint is expanding beyond its roots as a provider of custom printed products today, with a newly launched website building platform aimed at “micro” business owners. Vistaprint Digital’s website building platform now joins and supports the company’s existing digital marketing services, which include social media marketing, local listings, email marketing, and business email. It’s designed to help very small business owners create a professional-looking online presence, and it’s a marked departure for a company that has traditionally specialized in the mass customization of physical products.
“What really bridges our online and offline marketing products is an understanding of how visual elements can turn businesses into brands,” says Scott Bowen, VP & GM of Digital Services at Vistaprint. “No matter how good the quality of your website and business cards, a cohesive look is what really makes a business stand out and look professional.”
Bowen is careful to mention that this latest step into digital doesn’t mean Vistaprint is abandoning its roots, but adding to the services it offers to small business owners. He says more than 90% of Vistaprint Digital customers use Vistaprint for print marketing materials, as well.
“It’s clear they understand the importance of both online and offline marketing, and our job is just to help them connect the two as seamlessly as possible,” he says.
The market for DIY website building tools is especially crowded, with Squarespace, Weebly, WordPress, and Wix having some of the greatest name recognition. But Bowen still sees space in the market. According to a poll the company conducted earlier this year, 36% of consumers say they first find out about small businesses through their websites, and yet one-third of small businesses still don’t have websites setup.
“Micro business owners have an endless set of responsibilities, and the process of establishing an entire website is often nothing more than a hassle.” Bowen says. “They’re not designers, marketers or technologists and so they need their website builder to make these aspects effortless.”
Nearly 70% of businesses with fewer than 10 employees take advantage of both online and offline marketing. This is the group Vistaprint is looking to target with Vistaprint Digital. The company’s website builder includes templates to match multiple industries and goals, with customizable content blocks so businesses can add elements like menus, photo galleries, calendars. Any design components, like logos and images, that businesses have used in their printed materials will automatically appear in the image library. Bowen says this type of consistency is critical for small business owners, and it’s a big reason why Vistaprint believes its existing print marketing clients will be persuaded to stay with the company for their digital marketing needs.
“Consistency is crucial for any kind of branding, and by developing a physical and digital presence all with the same service, micro businesses can streamline their identities more easily,” Bowen says. “For example, after forming the ideal physical brand, there is no latency or potential misinterpretation when moving to digital if done under one company. The same is true if the customer begins their journey with their digital brand presence.”
The option to integrate both digital and physical products also means one less step for business owners looking to conveniently market their products and services across various mediums, Bowen says. Vistaprint isn’t seceding control over the printed material market. Rather, Bowen wants the company to become a one-stop-shop for small business marketing needs, and says that isn’t possible without a strong digital marketing platform.
“Vistaprint envisions the most successful micro businesses will be the ones that realize the importance of consistently presenting their brands in all mediums and channels—from websites, social and email to cards, signs and apparel,” he says. “Our new website builder helps small businesses deliver this promise in an easy and unique way.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.