Skip to content

Overcoming the paper-to-web barrier

The conversion rate from print to web is terrifyingly low. Companies continue to run advertising and articles in print media with exhortations to type in such-and-such a URL to find out more, take up an offer, or whatever. The response is invariably tiny, and the media gets the blame.

The reality is that people reading a sales letter or a magazine on paper don’t necessarily have a web browser to hand. Even if they do, nobody seems to want to type in a URL. We need to accept this and stop trying to think we’ll be an exception. Paper is excellent for getting over a message, but awful for response.

If you have no alternative, then at least make it as easy as possible for the reader. My own preferences would be:

  • Tell them just to visit your website and make sure the offer is front and centre on the home page.
  • Tell them to search for something, if you can absolutely guarantee you’ll be the first result. If you can devise a search which doesn’t generate any adverts, better still.
  • Use your own link shortener, i.e. instead of quoting or something awful like that, set up a redirection system which means you can at least quote just …which then redirects to the real URL. This can be hard coded, or many content management systems have the capability (or plug-ins) to do this.
  • Use a third-party link shortener, such as tinyurl. This is not as professional, and may put off a few users, but it’s still better than a really long URL. If you do use one of these services, write your own intelligible URL and never use the random character sequences they offer by default.