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Guest

The Website Is Alive and Well

By: Guest | June 9, 2011 | 
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Jennifer Devitt is a co-owner and VP of business development at SYDCON Web Development.

What’s the one thing mobile, social media, PR, marketing, advertising, Facebook, Twitter, and QR codes all have in common?

Websites.

Ultimately, what are Facebook and Twitter?

Websites.

Where do PR, marketing, and ad campaigns direct customers and prospects?

Websites.

What tool in your online quiver takes priority?

Your website.

But Wired Magazine declared the website dead some time ago, you say. 

Think about it. If your campaign is successful and your target audience is listening to your message, what happens then?

If you nailed it, you leave your audience wanting more, right?  They want to learn more about the firm/promotion/product. So where do they go?

To the corresponding website!

Social Media

But wait, “I have a Facebook fan page. My website isn’t important!”

Really? Then why do 250 million people engage with Facebook from EXTERNAL WEBSITES?  This is a statistic right on the Facebook site.

That’s right: 250 MILLION websites are the first stop in traffic then onto Facebook!

Also, take into consideration that not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter. You value their business, don’t you?

According to a recent study by ForSee research,  social media is responsible for an average one percent increase in traffic.

This comes from companies such as Kellogg, ESPN, Ticketmaster, and General Mills.  All of these probably have fans and followers in the thousands, and more “Likes” than we can imagine.

Yet, they are generating an average of one percent traffic increase from social media.

This means three things:

  1. All those “Likes” are gaining less attention than a firms’ other marketing efforts.
  2. Customers are accessing the websites without Facebook or Twitter.
  3. Ninety-nine percent of the traffic is from people interested in hearing directly from the OFFICAL site.

In a recent interview with SmartBrief editor Mary Ellen Slayter, Chris Brogan used this analogy of Facebook:

Businesses that rely on Facebook pages as their ‘website’ (are like) people who would call a hotel room their ‘home.’ Like a hotel, Facebook doesn’t allow the complete customization you would find in your home — plus, it can kick you out whenever it wants. Facebook is where you congregate fans and reach out to them, but a website is where you establish your identity.

Website checklist

Every marketing and PR pro needs a developer for a best friend.  Before you launch that mega-campaign, have someone analyze and bring the website up to date.

They should look at:

  • Navigation
  • Fresh content
  • Call-to-action
  • Easy to find contact info
  • Limited or no flash
  • Clean URLs
  • Social media integration
  • Mobile version of website

Your campaign will more than likely fail if you launch without updating your website. You could knock it out of the park, create a great traffic boost, and then implode.

A site that doesn’t back up the campaign confuses and frustrates customers. If the content doesn’t back up the social media buzz, the visitor is likely to leave and in all likelihood, find your competitor.

Bottom line, no matter what kind of campaign you are designing, your website should be your hub. Make sure this becomes part of the scope of the project whether you are an agency or in-house marketing team.

Is it integrated with the campaign and can it handle the attention it will bring?

Jennifer Devitt is a co-owner and VP of business development at SYDCON Web Development, a custom web & mobile development firm in the suburban Chicago area.  Check out the SYDCON blog.

22 comments
saraanderson
saraanderson

Hey really a great job..I totally agree with you..As a web designer i can say that now websites are alive and can be updated very frequently with the help of different CMS.

rosemaryoneill
rosemaryoneill

Anyone remember the Monty Python scene where they're hauling out the dead bodies in a wheelbarrow and one guy sits up and says "I'm not dead YET!"

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

A couple of things: 1) I agree with you that the website is alive and well IF it's a living, breathing document. The brochure website is dead, dead, dead. And 2) We tell clients all the time that they HAVE to have to have website because all of these tools eventually are going to die and then where will they be? You want to drive people back to something you own. Always.

But, to throw a wrench in things, did you see P&G is rolling out social commerce on Facebook?

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

First, congrats on the quest post. Second, WORD. The 'Facebook vs. website' debate is making the rounds, certainly on my mind lately. One of the few times I even paid attention to the marketing of a brand I had 'liked' led to a purchase.. on THEIR website. Brogan's hotel analogy is good; it's renting vs. ownership, about control.

Discussed it elsewhere, after the 'like' how often to fans revisit the brand's page, catch all that expensive landing page info? Or do they go back to the site? Like you said, you need to plan for those next steps, how to build and make that part of the long-term integrated strategy.

Must agree with @HowieG in terms of demographics. If X number are on FB, then that means that many more are not. For every heavy user blowing the curve, there are how many that don't check in at all? I still know plenty of consumers who shop and spend money online, and don't care to tweet or 'like' or socialize; they just want to Google their way to the cutest kitten vids and best savings on whatever they want as quickly and easily as possible. FWIW.

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Love this post. yesterday I debunked using the Compete Unique Visitors per month and total visits for Facebook that each Visitor visits Facebook 3 out of 4 days and only visits once. Which btw assumes one log in and that you do not stay idle for more than 30 minutes. If you do then that counts as a second visit when you go back to the page. Using Logic and Math I estimate only 22-28mil US consumers are active on Facebook each day vs the 65mil Facebook wants you to believe.Seriously if 37 million check into facebook twice in a day then 37 million don't check in at all? And think of the heavy users popping on and off each day during work then when at home. The fact they like using Gross Accounts and how many log in once per month as their only stats has me suspect with the Facebook only strategy. In fact I bet many sites can reach people better than Facebook even..gasp...Yahoo! with digital ads.

So how do you reach the other 170mil people using the web if you don't have a website?

Also I found this by @benkunz which is perfect timing and he uses a different approach to show Facebook will be gone eventually (my personal guess is 5 years or less). http://www.thoughtgadgets.com/2011/05/inevitable-disutility-of-networks.html

Krista
Krista

This is the kind of post I needed to read today--thank you, Jenn! I am currently mapping out a considerable website overhaul project, and I have had to educate my peers and higher-ups on why a good website is so important to any institution, despite social media's popularity.

And we must be on the same cosmic wavelength because my checklist for content review includes many of your main points as well! Great post-- I plan to share this with my colleagues :)

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

YAY, Jenn! Awesome job! She shoots. She scores! What are your thoughts on hosting your blog on your website? I have my blog on mine and find it to be a huge asset in driving traffic. Does it differ if it's on the site or off the site?

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

Good post. Really liked the Chris Brogan analogy. Working on revising our web site right now with @kmueller62 .

TheJackB
TheJackB

It is common sense to have a website but people sometimes lose site of that amidst all of the bright and shiny toys that distract us.

I like websites because you own and control the data that you collect from them. They can capture the people that don't use the other social media tools. I can't think of a time where it has been easier or cheaper to build and maintain one.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@ginidietrich I agree, brochure sites that are created and left to collect dust are a thing of the past! They need to add social media, blogs, videos, etc. Otherwise, they are like a new car, lost value as soon as it's launched. A good CMS will do even the most basic brochure site good, they can update a news feed at least!

I did see about P&G, this article is interesting http://socialcommercetoday.com/pg-launch-6-new-facebook-stores-live-learning-labs-screenshots/

It basically mentions it will be a click through to a trusted seller. I think with the privacy concerns and Facebook being able to change things at will there will always be a need for caution and e-commerce there. A key in e-commerce success is privacy & security, things we all know are lacking on Facebook.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@3HatsComm Thank you so much, Davina! I was honored to be a guest poster today! I was going crazy all week with all the posts with a similar topic this week!

I think you are right, its important to build the long-term integrated strategy!

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@HowieG I knew you would like it, Howie! We have discussed this before. I agree that I think the numbers are totally flawed. Take my house for example, at one time my daughter can be logged in on 3 different computers (a laptop, a mac for pictures and me checking up on her!). 1 user, 3 logins.

I found another statistic that said 70% of Facebook user base is outside of the US!!! Thats a lot of missing US targets without a website.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@Krista I am glad it helps you today, Krista! Education is key! We work daily with marketing/ad/graphic firms and our biggest challenge is education.

With websites being so critical to a brands success, its important for all partners to be educated. A marketing firm needs to understand what the client is looking for and be able to communicate with the developer. Too often promises are made that are not so simple to fulfill, or jobs are turned down because it is something that an uneducated person thinks is too difficult.

If you need any more information, feel free to ask!

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@EricaAllison Thanks, Erica! As you know, I was beyond nervous!

As for hosting your own blog...YES, ABSOLUTELY! It is a great traffic asset, it can also benefit SEO! If it is on your site you can monitor it thru your Google Analytics.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@BestRoofer @kmueller62 Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it! I am always delighted to hear when someone is working on web site revisions! Best of luck!

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@TheJackB You are right, it is common sense....or at least it should be! Shiny toys I totally understand, but giving away the keys to the kingdom?!

If built correctly websites are definitely easier and more cost effective to maintain. With CMS (content management systems) developers are able to put even more control into the hands of the site owner, there for giving them more control over maintenance as well as keeping costs lower.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

@sydcon_mktg So what happens when Facebook dies and P&G has invested all their commerce through them?

KyleAkerman
KyleAkerman

@sydcon_mktg @TheJackB It's okay to use bright and shiny toys as long as they are the spokes and your website is the hub of your online presence. This common sense idea needs to become a little more...um...common.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@ginidietrich They will survive, because from my understanding, they are doing the social commerce as a Facebook click thru to a "reputable established seller" which could perhaps be webmd, Walgreens, etc. Its not like Facebook is the only place P&G will be selling online versus a company that is solely using Facebook for sales.

sydcon_mktg
sydcon_mktg

@HowieG @KyleAkerman @TheJackB Well, that company is smart, their private site should be like Mortons! Any company that makes their Facebook better than their own site deserves to go out of business. All you are doing is driving traffic there and ignoring your home base. Is Facebook pluggin you for free in commercials or on printed material or on their twitter page? Are they saying hey, go click on the Facebook like button on www.sydcon.com I think not!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@sydcon_mktg @KyleAkerman @TheJackB I was checking out a company that sets up store fronts for brands on their facebook pages. Compared to their private ecommerce site it is the different between buying a can of pepsi from the kid on the corner with a cooler and going to Mortons for Martinis and steak. Hands down your own site and what you can do is limitless. Plus Facebook owns none of it.

My strategy is to tell clients to funnel people from Facebook to their website.

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