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The Evolution of a (Social) Website
Posted on November 6th 2012
With all the talk of social media marketing, I often wonder if people forget about the greatest tool in your marketing arsenal. I’m referring to your corporate website. It’s still your main marketing hub, the place where people go to learn all about your brand and discover more about your products and services. As prevalent as social media is, it’ll still be some time before your Facebook page becomes your corporate site.
Of course, I write a lot about social media and I’m a big believer in building your brand experience on your social networks, not just on your site.
That said, keep this in mind—81% of people who want to know more about your brand visit your website to validate your products or services. The other 19% check out your social media channels. So as we all get more diligent about engaging on social media, we can ‘t forget that there will always be one main hub that carries the bulk of our marketing message and content—your company website.
At PureMatter, we recently rebuilt our website after only two years. I had to think hard before we did it, because it’s not an easy task to rebuild a site, even for us, the cobblers’ kids. But truth is I’m much happier with the new site and was glad to put the old site to bed.
Since this is fresh on my mind, I want to talk about six core elements of a website that need to be incorporated into it from the ground up, not just stuck on it like an afterthought. These things are especially important as you work to create a synergy and continuity between your website and your social sites. If you’re considering a site overhaul, here are some things to keep in mind:
1) Flexibility, especially as it relates to mobile optimization. I’m going to assume that you have a content management system that allows you to update your site at a moment’s notice. But is your site optimized for mobile? I’m not saying you have to develop a mobile site—but it should be easy to see and searchable on a mobile platform. I’m making this a priority on this list because, on average, 20% of all website visitors are using a mobile device, especially those clicking over from social sites on their cell or tablet.
2) Cross-promotion. All signs point to content promotion being the number one way to connect. Assuming your blog is fully functional and content is readily available for download, that’s only the first step. Your entire site should be about cross promoting something else on the site. Your blog links to another page. Promotions properly tie to other pages. Users want to be led on a journey. Drop downs are great, but taking them on a journey is a much more engaging experience.
3) Marketing automation. Email marketing is dying. There is no way that you can be smart about what people want to hear and when they want to hear it. And building up your resource center doesn’t cut it. Creating a way for people to experience all the activities on your site (and on social sites)—and delivering it to their doorstep at the right time—is what takes your resource center from good to great. I don’t have room here to talk about the tiered approach you should take, but tying your resources to smart automated marketing (that gets smarter over time) casts a much wider sales force than hiring more people to make phone calls.
4) Social integration. This goes without saying. Not only should your website allow me to connect to your social sites easily, but you should share every inch of your site out on all my favorite networks.
5) Curated content. Think it through. Pinterest is great for the visual thinkers. But when you look at someone’s board, it can be overwhelming if it’s not categorized for me to skip and scan quickly. Visual content is all the rage, so if you can visually show the essence of what you are offering consumers on your website, you’re ahead of the game.
6) Simplicity. Some people want to through every APi and widget at their website because there are so many people to connect into and out of your site. Don’t. And more importantly, with so much on other social sites, users just need enough to get the basics—who are you and what do you offer. Otherwise, get me to the fun stuff and the educational stuff. In other words, less about you, more about them and meeting their needs. That’s the crux of marketing anyway, right?
Key Takeaway: Be social. Engage on Facebook, tweet regularly, connect on LinkedIn and maintain your blog. But never neglect your home base. Your company’s website is the hub and the rest are the spokes. All parts are necessary to create a well-rounded brand experience. Don’t focus solely on the spokes and neglect the hub, making it outdated and irrelevant. This is where people go to really “get” you.