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Blog / Marketing tips / 14 Print-on-Demand Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore

Marketing tips

14 Print-on-Demand Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore

14 Print-on-Demand Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Karlina Rozkalne

By Karlina Rozkalne

12 min read

If you’re looking for print-on-demand tips, you’re either just starting out or want to improve your existing store. Regardless of which you are, we’ve got good news—you’ve come to the right place. Any and all business owners are guaranteed to find a tip they can use because we cover everything from products and designs to copyrights and analysis.

There’s no debate whether a print-on-demand business can be profitable (plenty of successful print-on-demand stores prove it), but how do you crack the code to success? That’s part know-how, part stubborn perseverance, and part just not mixing up the shipping labels. 

We promise to take care of the shipping labels, and this article demonstrates we want to give you the know-how. But you have to be stubborn. That’s actually the first tip.

Plenty of sources online promise print-on-demand dropshipping is a fast way to become wealthy. In reality, most print-on-demand dropshippers fail. Not because this business model doesn’t work but because people underestimate the time and effort required to build a successful business. Here’s an image of a dropshipping newcomer realizing print-on-demand isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.

a man holding his head in front of a laptopSource: Pexels

Jokes aside, success in the POD world, like in any business, doesn’t happen overnight. It involves understanding your market, refining your product offerings, being willing to adapt, and consistently engaging with your audience. 

Since the audience is the backbone of any business, let’s start there.

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Some companies seem to hit the mark (almost) every time they launch a product.

a man with glasses and a beardSource: The Mac Observer

Apple is one of those companies. How do they do it? Their brand loyalty is unparalleled because they know their audience through and through: pain points, needs, and even weaknesses. That’s also why Apple can charge as much as it charges for products that aren’t necessarily unique in functionality.

Be the Apple of print-on-demand. 

Conduct market research on your target audience to find out what truly resonates with them, what they need, and what they are missing. Dive deep into understanding their lifestyle, preferences, and the little things that make them tick. Make your designs so in tune with what your target market wants and expects that they feel you’re speaking directly to them. 

That’s how you build loyalty and one of the ways you can set (and justify) a premium price for your products.

But how do you get started with audience research? Research your competitors and use tools like Google Analytics, social media, customer surveys, and other useful market research tools to gain insights into your audience and their wants. 

Valuable read: Print-on-Demand Business Ideas to Get Started with Right Now

In the dropshipping world, the target audience is also called a niche. And a clear understanding of your niche is the cornerstone of a solid marketing strategy.

Valuable read: How to Find a Niche for Your Online Store

Understanding your target audience streamlines your marketing efforts by helping you choose the most effective channels to reach your ideal customers directly. And that brings us to our next point.

These days, social platforms are one of the most direct ways businesses can interact with their customers. It’s also one of the places people do their shopping. Hence the rapid growth of social commerce.

a graph with blue bars and a lineSource: Tidio

The two-way communication on social media builds loyalty and makes customers feel valued. A few tips for social media:

  • Ask for feedback

  • Use relevant hashtags

  • Post regularly

  • Show behind-the-scenes

  • Offer social media-exclusive deals

  • Share user-generated content

  • Analyze engagement to spot popular content

Valuable read: 10 Effective Social Media Strategies

Shoppers also use social media platforms to research a brand before buying from it. And one of the things they’re looking for is other people’s experience, so . . .

In a world where shoppers are bombarded with choices, social proof acts as a guidepost for decision-making. It helps potential customers feel more confident in their choices by seeing that others have had positive experiences with your brand. 95% of shoppers read online reviews before they make a buy. 

How social proof impacts buyer behavior:

  • Builds trust. Seeing real people endorse a product makes a brand more relatable and trustworthy.

  • Reduces hesitation. Positive reviews and testimonials can mitigate doubts, nudging potential customers toward making a buy.

  • Enhances reputation. A wealth of positive feedback signals a reputable and reliable brand, encouraging first-time visitors to convert.

a diagram of a customer reviewSource: Trustmary

One of the most effective forms of social proof is user-generated content.

preview play-button

Seeing how much social proof can impact your business, it’s best to be proactive and ask for it. And not just for social proof. Communicating with your customers is one of the best things you can do for your online business.

There’s no better (meaning faster and more certain) way to improve your business than to ask for feedback. It gives you a quick and fairly simple way to determine your shortfalls and improve.

Here’s how you can ask for feedback: 

  • Website pop-ups. Use pop-ups to prompt feedback from visitors browsing your site.

  • Social media polls. Engage your social media followers with polls asking for their opinions.

  • Thank you pages. Include a feedback request on the order confirmation or thank you page.

  • Direct messages. Reach out to customers directly through social media or email to request feedback.

  • Email surveys. Send a follow-up email after buying, asking for feedback via a short survey, for example.

Email marketing is a good way to reach customers and build relationships. 

Email marketing is a budget-friendly, direct communication channel that gives measurable results.

Valuable watch: 8 Email Marketing Tips for Print-on-Demand

Tips for your email marketing strategy:

  • Segment your audience. Tailor your emails to different audience segments based on their preferences, behaviors, and past interactions to increase engagement and relevance.

  • Craft compelling subject lines. Your subject line is your first impression. Make it catchy and clear to boost open rates.

  • Optimize for different devices. Since 42% of emails are opened on mobile devices, ensure your email design is responsive and looks great on all screen sizes.

  • Provide value. Every email should offer something valuable to your subscribers: informative content, exclusive discounts, insider tips, or a sneak peek behind your brand’s curtain.

  • Test and analyze. Change different elements of your emails (like subject lines, content, and call-to-actions) and analyze the results to continuously improve your strategy.

a green and blue rectangle with a blue door and a blue square with white textSource: Gitnux

Email is a good way to reach your existing customers. What about attracting new customers? You must do search engine optimization to put your custom products on the map.

SEO is like setting up a billboard on the internet’s highway. When done right, it ensures that when shoppers browse, your print-on-demand products are the ones they see and visit.

SEO is a critical component for the success of online businesses, acting as the bridge connecting potential customers with your website. The exact steps to optimize your site vary depending on the platform hosting your online store, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, or Etsy. Each platform has its unique set of tools and opportunities for enhancing visibility. 

For instance, Shopify provides integrated SEO features tailored to ecommerce, while WordPress users with WooCommerce rely on additional plugins like Yoast SEO to attract traffic.

The core principles remain the same across platforms: using relevant keywords, optimizing speed, creating quality content, and having good visuals.

Our blog has a whole section dedicated to SEO for different platforms.

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Printful

Seeing what it’ll take to make your store stand out from other sellers is one of the things you should consider when choosing your print-on-demand platform.

For print-on-demand online store owners, selecting an ecommerce platform to sell custom products is like picking the perfect location for a boutique. It’s about finding where your unique products will shine and attract the right customers.

As a print-on-demand seller, you must look for a platform that integrates with print-on-demand services. Printful integrates with 24 ecommerce platforms and marketplaces

a screenshot of a websiteSource: Printful

Here’s how platforms and marketplaces differ.

a screenshot of a white page

Regardless of which one you choose, here’s what you must consider:

  • Integration capabilities. Your platform should easily integrate with your preferred print-on-demand service and other tools like social media to streamline operations.

  • Customization options. Look for platforms that offer extensive design options to best present your products and allow customers to preview custom designs.

  • Scalability. Depending on your plans, you might have to look for a platform that can grow with you, handling increases in products, sales, and customer traffic.

  • SEO and marketing tools. You’ll need tools to attract organic traffic, so check if the platform or marketplace has these tools or if you need to find external tools on your own.

  • Pricing. Consider all costs, including subscriptions and transaction fees, to ensure the platform fits within your budget without eating into your margins.

Valuable read:

Finding the right print-on-demand partner is as important as choosing the right platform. 

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In the print-on-demand world, quality and reliability vary greatly. It’s crucial to partner with print-on-demand services that consistently deliver high-quality products and fulfill orders on time because it directly impacts your brand’s reputation and customer satisfaction

Valuable read: 10 Things to Look for in Every Print-on-Demand Service

Conducting thorough research, reading reviews, and testing products yourself are essential to finding a partner that aligns with your business’s values and standards. This due diligence ensures your customers receive products they love, fostering loyalty and encouraging repeat business.

There are 3 main reasons to order product samples:

  • Quality assurance. Ordering product samples allows you to personally assess the quality of the products before they reach your customers. This step ensures that the items meet your standards and expectations, safeguarding your brand’s reputation for quality.

  • Insight into customer experience. Receiving and reviewing a product sample gives you firsthand insight into the customer’s unboxing experience. This can highlight areas for improvement, from packaging to product design, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.

  • Marketing material creation. Product samples provide the physical items needed to create authentic and engaging marketing materials. High-quality photos, videos, and real-life product demonstrations can significantly improve your promotional efforts, attracting more customers.

With Printful, you can order product samples with a 20% discount every month. One way to do it is by going to your dashboard, clicking the New order button in the upper right corner, and selecting Test your designs option.

screens screenshot of a screenshot of a product orderSource: Printful

Test out different products to see which ones you like most and want to add to your own store. Speaking of products—giving your customers plenty of options is a good way to attract traffic (and keep them coming back).

You can make your lineup interesting with the products you offer or create designs your customers won’t find anywhere else.

Say, you’re set to selling t-shirts. Great! That’s one of the all-time best-selling print-on-demand products. But it’s also a saturated market, so you must find a way to set yourself apart.

Let’s look at a successful print-on-demand store example, Dogecore. It’s a brand that was originally a meme page. Once it became popular, the owners decided to start selling merch. Their store has a mix of evergreen products like t-shirts and hoodies and trending products like bucket hats and crop tops. But what keeps their customers loyal are the meme-esque designs.

a screenshot of a shirtSource: Dogecore

However, having quality products and attractive designs is only part of the victory. Setting the right price is the other part.

Setting the right price is important for 2 reasons. First, it’ll either attract or repel your shoppers. Second, it determines your profits and, with them, the longevity of your brand.

You can check Printful’s pricing guide to find out how we price our products and how to set your prices right on your print-on-demand store.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Factor in all costs involved in creating and delivering your product, including production, shipping, taxes, and any additional fees

  • Tailor your pricing strategy to your target market’s spending habits and the perceived value of your products

  • Implement pricing strategies that psychologically influence buying behavior, such as pricing items just below a whole number

  • If you decide to offer free shipping, include the shipping costs in the product price

  • Regularly review your sales performance and customer feedback to adjust your pricing as needed

One way to decide how to price your products is by seeing how your competition does it.

There are 7 steps to do a thorough competitor research.

  • Identify competitors. List both direct and indirect competitors.

  • Analyze online presence. Check their websites, social media, and reviews.

  • Monitor marketing. Observe advertising strategies and content.

  • Review products and pricing. Stay informed about their offerings and how they price them.

  • Subscribe to newsletters. Gain insights into customer communication.

  • Read customer feedback. Understand what customers like and dislike.

  • Use research tools. Employ tools like SEMrush or Google Alerts for deeper analysis.

Efficiently tracking your competition can guide your strategy and highlight opportunities to stand out.

14. Don’t overwhelm yourself

We’ve covered a lot, and there’ll always be aspects of your online business that can be improved, but it’s important not to spread yourself too thin. It’s very likely you’re a business owner wearing many hats. And that can lead to burnout pretty fast.

How to avoid it?

Remember what we covered in the very beginning—the real precursor of your success will be your stubbornness. If you keep taking steps consistently, you’re already sidestepping the #1 reason most print-on-demand businesses fail. Taking small steps regularly is better than taking leaps every once in a while.

Valuable read: Critical Print-on-Demand Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Implement 1 of these tips this week

One of the most common mistakes print-on-demand business owners make is not getting started. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend preparing, researching, and learning if you’re not putting that knowledge into practice.

As Thomas J. Watson said, “The fastest way to succeed is to double your rate of failure.”

So, to make your business succeed as soon as possible, pick one of the tips we’ve covered in this article and start working toward it this week.


By Karlina Rozkalne on Mar 28, 2024

Karlina Rozkalne

SEO Content Writer

Karlina is an SEO Content Writer specialist at Printful. As a firm believer in attitude over aptitude, Karlina gives her 100% whenever she works on something new. Karlina spends her free time reading, traveling, and doing yoga.

Karlina is an SEO Content Writer specialist at Printful. As a firm believer in attitude over aptitude, Karlina gives her 100% whenever she works on something new. Karlina spends her free time reading, traveling, and doing yoga.