The Paper Breakout EXPLAINED

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Everything you’ve wanted to know about the paper breakout, in one place.

Internally, at Zazzle, we’ve been working on what we’ve dubbed the ‘paper breakout’ for over a year now, so there’s a lot of information to put into one article. We’ve been trying to package up the information into more digestible bite-sized pieces, but it’s difficult because everything is so interconnected. Feel free to take a break (snack, bathroom, even a nap) while reading this long, but informative blog post.

  • Part I: What is the “Paper Breakout” and Why?
  • Part II: What did Zazzle actually do as part of the “Paper Breakout”?
  • Part III: What does this mean to you (as designers) and why should you care?
  • Part IV: Glossary of all the Paper Types (Existing + New)

 

This blog post is a good companion guide to the Zazzle Chats we recently posted.

 

Zazzle Chat – The Paper Breakout Pt. 1

Zazzle Chat – The Paper Breakout Pt. 2


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Part I: What is the “Paper Breakout” and Why?

Paper is amazing because it’s a product that can change its entire use case simply by its design content. A simple sheet of paper can be anything from a receipt, a love note, a formal diploma, or as important as legal papers for immigration status. I won’t go into all the details, but the invention of paper changed the world. When the Gutenberg printing press was invented in the 1440s, I’m not sure that he realized the impact that he would be making for generations to come.

Zazzle’s paper may not be as impactful as the printing press, but our love for paper is just as real. Paper is one of the first products we launched on Zazzle back in 2006, and it continues to be one of our top sellers. We have over 24 million designs on just our flat and folded cards alone. We believe we’ve made a big impact on our customers’ lives by offering personalized invitations for weddings, birthdays, anniversary parties, and so much more.

The internet, e-commerce, and search have all evolved rapidly in the last decade, and this paper breakout is a way for us to keep up with the changing times.

Before the paper breakout, here’s an example of how a search would have looked:

Let’s say that I’m a customer and I’m trying to find some invitations for my birthday. I don’t know what type of party it is yet, so I just type in ‘invitations.’

As you can see from the above, when I typed ‘invitations’ into the search bar, RSVP cards showed up in addition to invites. Even though we love RSVP cards, it’s not what I (the customer) was searching for. The RSVP card is taking up the valuable real estate on the search page where a more relevant product could have surfaced (perhaps one of your designs!), which may have resulted in a better conversion.

The RSVP card wasn’t the only design that was creeping into the invitation product and subsequent search. As you can see from the image below, announcements, advice cards, holiday cards, and more were all being lumped into ‘Invitations.’ In the image below, you can see our “invitation” product is too inclusive, with all the products below grouped under the same search.

Not only was it hard for the customers to easily search for what they wanted, unique design content was getting lost in the marketplace. On Zazzle’s side, it posed marketing, manufacturing, supply chain, and even customer service challenges.

The goal of the paper breakout is to separate out popular content into more searchable products. Instead of having to search all invitations, we can break them out into smaller categories so the correct design content will show up for what the customer is searching for. Ultimately, this makes it easier for customers to find your designs!

To recap, the goal of the paper breakout is to create new product types and separate out the different designs onto the narrower product categories so:

  1. Customers will have an easier time searching for and finding the product (both specific design and use-cases) they are looking for
  2. Designers can focus their designs and have an easier time marketing them
  3. Zazzle can more easily surface the most relevant designs and products, both internally (on our own site) and externally (SEO, SEM)


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Part II: What did Zazzle actually do as part of the “Paper Breakout”?

The paper launch really has had only two steps (almost seems easy, right?):

  1. We separated out and launched 33 new paper use-case products (see full list below!)
  2. We migrated existing designs to new use-case paper products that better match the designer’s original intention

To come up with the final list of new paper use-case products, we had to determine which products were needed, had search volume, and would ultimately sell on Zazzle. We analyzed different data points including historical sales, customer searches, popular keywords, SEO traffic, SEM sales, Zazzle collection and paper suite needs, as well as overall trends to come up with a final list.

Once the new paper use-case products were identified, we analyzed all the paper types and sizes to make sure we were providing both the customers and designers the best options. Some of the questions we asked ourselves included:

  • Which sizes are standard for this paper use-case product? Which sizes would not make sense for this product type?
  • Does this paper type need to have an envelope?
  • Do customers need write on these paper types? If so, are we offering the right paper assortment?
  • Do they have matching paper types if they were to be part of a wedding collection or a party suite?

In addition, we’re in the process of updating the entire look and feel of our paper category. We wanted to make sure both the paper texture and quality shined through on all the product pages in a simple and elegant fashion. Seriously, check out the difference in the before and after shot!

Before     

After

You can really see both the paper color and quality in a simple, clean shot. We pride ourselves on the best visualization across POD (print-on-demand) sites, and we’re proud to be continually pushing the bar.

We want to make sure we’re also providing you designers with the best tools to merchandise your designs. If we put a menu design with cutlery, the customer can more easily envision the end result and even though it’s a small thing, customers will be more likely to click the ‘Add to Cart’ button. By breaking out the products, we will now be able to offer that level of detail on each product.

Launching 33 new products by itself is no small feat, but part two was even more difficult than the first. We had to look at over 22 million different designs and figure out the best way to transfer them to the new, more specific use-case product. Through a mix of machine learning, data analysis, and human appraisal, we ported over 22 million designs. Please note, our migration is still ongoing, and we’re constantly refining this process.

A couple fun examples of why it was so hard are because we were learning along the way. When you think of Santa, that usually translates to a holiday card, right? But when we ran the query, we didn’t realize how many ‘Santa Cruz,’ or ‘Santa Monica’ designs there were on the site. We had to figure out a way to migrate only the right ‘Santa’ designs.

Another learning was the word ‘elope.’ Not a ton of other meanings for ‘elope’ exist, other than the one that’s wedding related, right? Turns out antelopes, developers, envelopes are also lumped into that search term. If you play a lot of Scrabble, you might have figured that one out, but we had to pivot and keep testing and playing with new terms.

To recap, it was a lot of work on the backend, but as a company, we learned a ton and have come out on the other side understanding more about the designs on our platform and how better to market them.

 

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Part III: What does this mean to you (as designers) and why should you care?

What does this mean for our fabulous designers? If we’ve done our job correctly, then hopefully not much. We’ve really tried to take on the brunt of design migration by transferring the products without needing to involve you, but human error can still occur.

1. Please double check that your products have been migrated over to the correct products.

An easy way to double check is going down the ‘About This Product’ section and hovering over the ‘Create your own from scratch’ link  – a URL will appear on the bottom of the page where you can see which product type it is. In this case, it’s “Flat Greeting Card.”

If it’s not on the correct product type, you can report it on the product page.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page (past all the reviews), under “Other Info,” there’s an option to click on “Report This Product”

A pop-up like the below will open. Click on the third pop, and note in the description which type you think it should belong.

Our team will work on updating your designs to the correct use-case product.

2. Moving forward, please make sure to you start your design on the correct product type.

We’ve updated our ‘Create Your Own’ section to be cleaner and designer-friendly. You won’t get ‘dinged’ per se, but think of it like Google – if your design is relevant to the product type, your design will be surfaced for visibility; if not, it will be hard to find on the site. As we continue to evolve the department tree beyond paper, it will start to be more and more apparent if products have been placed in the correct categories.

 


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Part IV: Glossary of all the Paper Types (Existing + New)

Our 46 paper products are broken into 7 groups:

  • Flat Cards (15)
  • Small Card Sets (8)
  • Folded Cards (11)
  • Magnetic Cards (3)
  • Basic Paper Sheets (4)
  • Postcards (4)
  • Foil (1)

 

When publishing onto one of these paper products, you need to make certain your design is relevant to the product type you’re placing it on. This means, the intended use of the design must match the correct paper type or it won’t be surfaced correctly in search. For example, if you’re creating a ‘play date’ card with contact information for your child, the design must be placed on the ‘Calling Card’ within ‘Small Card Sets.’

If you don’t see your design’s use case featured on the list below, you will see that each of the six groups have a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content.

This content will be frequently updated. Last modified 7/26/18.

 

Flat Cards

Product Use Case Definition 
Invitation These are invitations to an event (e.g. wedding, bridal shower, birthday party, baby shower, graduation party, holiday party, retirement party, memorial service, etc.).
Rack Card Smaller than brochures and flyers, rack cards are a promotional tool to convey info for businesses. Often found in displays in hotels, store, info centers, etc.
Flat Note Card Stationery notecards are typically used for correspondence.
Enclosure Card These are part of the invitation suite. Enclosure cards are smaller cards included with the main invitation to provide guests with additional details about the event, such as directions, accommodations, registries, etc.
Response Card Response cards are included with wedding invitations for guests fill out and mail back (thus sent with an appropriately-sized envelope that has return address and stamp already included).  Also knowns as RSVPs, these cards can include meal preferences and song requests, in addition to confirmation of attendance.
Flat Advice Card These are for social events (weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, and graduations) where guests write notes to the hosts. (e.g. weddings: often used in lieu of a guestbook.)
Flat Menu These are used as menus for any occasion (e.g. wedding, banquet, dinner parties).  We also expect designers to use this for both personal & business (restaurant) uses.
Flat Program These are programs for any occasion (e.g. wedding, banquet, graduation)

Programs typically include a time-defined ‘order of operations’ as well as names & titles of those to be mentioned or contributing to an event.

Table Card These are used as Identification of tables at a large event. Typically a singular name, number, or other designation is listed. These can also include cards that serve as small seating charts.
Flat Holiday Card These are typical correspondence updates to family, friends, and colleagues around the holidays. Applicable for a variety of holidays, from New Years/Christmas/Hanukkah and beyond (Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day etc).
Flat Greeting Card These are traditional greeting cards that can be used as birthday, farewell, welcome, sympathy cards, etc.
Flat Announcement Card These are announcement cards (not invitations) for events such as birth, graduations, new homes, new business addresses, memorials, etc.
Flat Thank You Card These are thank you cards (flat dimension) typically used for weddings, births, and birthdays. Other reasons to send thank yous – interviews, hospitality, etc.
Flat Save the Date Card These are sent before invitations to announce the date and location of a particular celebration or event (usually a wedding or a holiday party). Think of it as a reminder for your guests to mark their calendars for your big day.
*Flat Card This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content. If you don’t see your use case featured on this list, you can publish your design here.

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Small Card Sets

Product Use Case Definition
Business Card These are small cards bearing business info about a company or individual often shared during formal intros or available on desk/counters. They include the giver’s name, company or business affiliation (often with a logo), and contact information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and emails.

If you are creating a combo business card and another type of use-case, like an appointment, you should create these products under the other use-cases. For example, a business card and appointment card combo should go under appointment card.

Flat Loyalty Card Loyalty cards are marketing tools that help boost repeat business by rewarding frequent customers. These cards typically offer a discount or complimentary service/good after a set number of purchases. To track this, designs usually include a format that allows purchases to be noted through stamps or punches.
Flat Appointment Card These are appointment cards that are typical for many businesses that have repeat clients where scheduling in advance is key (e.g.dentists, hair salons, etc).
Referral Card These are cards to encourage word-of-mouth marketing where current clients/customers/ employees can give them out and offer discounts.
Discount Card These are cards that display a redeemable discount or coupon.
Calling Card These are personal cards that specify name and contact information; typically family-based. (e.g. parent calling cards, play date cards, and allergy awareness cards).
Flat Place Card These are the flat version of our existing zazzle_foldedplacecards. They are often displayed in a holder. They’re also called an escort card that typically specifies a guest’s name and table number.
*Profile Card This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content. If you don’t see your use case featured on this list, you can publish your design here.

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Folded Cards

Product Use Case Definition
Card* This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content. If you don’t see your use case featured on this list, you can publish your design here.
Folded Greeting Card These are traditional greeting card categories (e.g. good luck, happy birthday, farewell, welcome, etc.)
Folded Note Card These are stationery note cards typically used for correspondence.
Folded Invitation These are folded versions of traditional invitation that can be used for a wedding to birthday celebrations, graduation parties to baby showers and beyond.
Folded Holiday Card These are typical correspondence updates to family, friends, and colleagues around the holidays.

These are applicable for a variety of holidays from New Year’s to Christmas to Hanukkah and beyond (e.g. Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day etc.).

Folded Program These are programs for any occasion (e.g. wedding, banquet, graduation).

Programs typically include a time-defined ‘order of operations,’ as well as names & titles of those to be mentioned or contributing to the event.

Folded Thank You Card These are thank you cards used for a variety of reasons, both traditional and non-traditional (e.g. weddings, birthdays, baby notices, hospitality, etc.).
Folded Announcement Card These are announcements (not invitations) for events such as birthdays, graduations, new homes, new business addresses, memorials, etc.
*Folded Card This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content. If you don’t see your use case featured on this list, you can publish your design here.
Folded Loyalty Card These are loyalty cards that typically come in a format where stamps or punches are granted per visit to the establishment.
Folded Appointment Card These are appointment cards that are typical for many businesses where scheduling in advance is key (e.g. dentists, hair salons, etc.)

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Magnetic Cards

Product Use Case Definition
Magnetic Invitation These are magnetic invitations and announcements (e.g. births, moving, save the dates, weddings, etc.).
Magnetic Profile Card These are business cards with company/individual logos and contact information that are meant to be viewed more routinely (e.g. on your refrigerator) to improve marketing.
*Magnetic Card This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content. If you don’t see your use case featured on this list, you can publish your design here.

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Basic Paper Sheets

Product  Use Case Definition
Flyer These are flyers intended as advertisements for wide distribution and typically posted or distributed in a public place, handed out to individuals or sent through the mail.
Letterhead These have printed headings on stationery paper stating a person’s or organization’s name and address. They can be personal or professional/business.
Stationery This paper is used for correspondence, typically personal (holiday/seasonal letters, etc.), but can be professional/business as well. These do NOT include contact information (which letterhead does).
*Flat Paper Sheet This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for miscellaneous content. If you don’t see your use case featured on this list, you can publish your design here.

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Postcards

Product Use Case Definition
Invitation Postcard The specific intent behind these postcards includes an invitation to an event (e.g. weddings, birthdays, holiday parties, baby showers, etc.).

This includes save-the-date postcards.

Holiday Postcard The front side of this typical holiday postcard (either personal/familial or business/corporate) can have a design (e.g. Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year’s will be the most popular, but this covers all holidays, including Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine’s Day etc.).

The backside is typically postcard format.

Announcement Postcard The specific intent for this postcard is for an announcement such as a wedding, graduation, birth notice, new home, new business address, memorial, etc. The backside is typically postcard format.
*Postcard This is a generic postcard for sending a message by mail without an envelope, typically having a photograph or other illustration on one side. It includes a template on the back for stamp placement and note vs. address sections. If you don’t see your use case featured within the above list, you can publish your design here. Any design that isn’t a postcard has been transferred to flat cards.

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Foil Card

Product Use Case Definition
*Foil Card This is a generic ‘catch-all’ for content printed with foil. Because of the unique foil printing process, this product is grouped under its own category.

*Denotes the “Generic” use-case.

 

Thank you for continuing to stick with us as we grow and evolve as a company. The paper breakout is a big undertaking, and we’re still in the middle of it, but the end result will ultimately help both customers and designers.

If you have any questions, please reach out to us on the forums; we’re always listening.

Happy Designing!
Monica

 

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