Is It Time to Rethink Corporate Websites — Again?
The corporate website is evolving. Where once it was the center of the digital marketing universe, today there are a half-dozen other channels, each with its specific purpose. This article by Jennifer Dodos, Director of Marketing Communications at Mavenlink, discusses, how the corporate website fits into the current and future digital marketing landscape and how marketers can adapt to a changing environment.As marketers, we exert a lot of effort keeping our corporate websites relevant, engaging, and informative. But, the website is evolving. Where the corporate website was once the center of the digital marketing universe, today there are a half-dozen other channels, each with its specific purpose.
Now, we have to ask ourselves: Where does the corporate website fit in the current and future digital marketing landscape? Is it for information sharing, awareness building, reputation management, lead generation, building communities, or some combination of these? We may be experiencing the death of the corporate website as we know it, and it’s time to adapt.
How Do We Keep up with the Corporate Website’s Evolution?
Some time ago, a website was the corporate face presented to the world. In the mid-1990s, we had static, text-heavy pages that served as a catchall for whatever information a browser might need. As e-commerce became more of a reality, the website began to evolve. A 1997-2003 study of S&P 500 company websites found a “remarkable transformation” marked by “increasing levels of information, interactivity, and service offered.”
Site design changed as technological capabilities advanced. By the mid-2010s, we often found ourselves confronted with sites that cared more about the look and feel of a page than the information presented or the user experience. Today, we see new wrinkles in website deployment. Companies roll out microsites that revolve around a single subject or long form content for SEO purposes.
These different tactics serve specific purposes in a digital marketing strategy, but they are driving initiatives that are often disconnected from the main corporate website.
To contend with this new assortment of tactics, we must find equilibrium. It’s no longer as simple as choosing design and technology over content and experience. Each new social channel, microsite or SEO page introduces a new element to the mix. We need to make that mix work together and deliver the results demanded of us.
You may see impressive performance out of a microsite, but does it come at the cost of performance of your main website? If you launch a successful SEO long-form page, will your website’s traffic suffer? There are a myriad of channels to connect your brand to its audience, but if they cannibalize each other’s effectiveness, is your digital marketing strategy really moving closer to its objectives?
It’s time to consider to what degree the website as we know it is giving way for tools like microsites and smaller, more-consumable types of landing pages. And, if this shift is happening, it’s important to determine how much of a balance to strike between traditional sites and other channels, if there is a balance to strike at all.
Use Data; Think Outside the Box
In the design versus content debate over website development, we may have lost sight of our overall objectives. In addition to information sharing, it’s likely that your site has a more specific function, like to guide leads down the sales funnel. If this is the case, it may be more pertinent to focus the site instead on human behavior patterns. A website must look good, but it should also contain design elements that urge a visitor to perform specific tasks, such as click a call-to-action button or fill a shopping cart.
Or, consider that SEO drives a lot of website strategy. SEO-centric strategy requires creating pages with long-form content. In many cases, however, those pages aren’t linked into anything else on the website; they’re only found through organic searches. Today, we can’t have SEO alone drive website strategy. We need to look at data-driven considerations for engagement and lead procurement, like the fact that social media marketing can reduce costs and improve revenue generation. Or that a sound social strategy can impact SEO and may even be the best lead-generation tactic out there today.
Is the Importance of the Corporate Website Fading?
Today’s corporate website is just one piece of a crowded digital marketing landscape. It is no longer the end-all and be-all of a brand presence. There are a number of new channels companies must leverage to connect with their constituents, but now marketers’ main focus is determining how they all fit together. The corporate website is no longer the reigning champion of digital marketing strategy, but it is evolving, are you? Before you begin to build next year’s digital marketing campaigns, assess your greater strategy, and make sure all of its individual elements are aligned.
This article was originally published on MarTech Advisor on November 15, 2019.