Updated: Oct 12, 2021
What is a company website to you?
A window display?
Something everyone else has, so you must have one too?
Or is it simply a pain in the ass because it's not doing anything advantageous for you, and you have no idea what is wrong with it?
Well, what I can tell you is you're not alone.
Though the website is the oldest and most familiar form of content distribution channel since the invention of the internet, people have indeed misinterpreted it. Most people see it as a static, plague stone-like "thing" rather than an ever-changing powerhouse that is one of the most important parts of digital marketing.
So, what has gone wrong?
i) The wrong objective
Firstly, a website is an owned channel, meaning it is something that the company owns. An owned channel, by definition, is for existing customers. But that does not stop a website from becoming a powerful magnet to drive new leads!
That means a website is capable of driving relationships. Sadly, many companies only use their websites as outbound tools. They use ads to disrupt their target audiences and force them to land on a boring, corporate website. As you can tell, such a strategy is not fostering any quality relationships.
The real goal of a website should be about encouraging people to explore. That means whether the traffic lands on the website through an ad, organic search, or social media referrals, they should be greeted with relevant content. Your website content should be answering questions they have, or better yet, introducing solutions to the problems they are yet aware of.
ii) The wrong metrics
After producing relevant content, they will need to be properly interlinked to encourage exploration. A website should not be something thrown in the face of your target audience. Rather, it should provide links and buttons to click through and find out more. They should find it easy to navigate and friendly to read. The experience should be enjoyable, and though pretty designs may help, being "pretty" does not equate to good performance.
The indicators of a successful website should be the time a visitor spends on your site (average session duration) and how many pages they visit (pages/ session). Companies should be aware of the drop-off and bounce rate of their website too. They indicate that the content or user experience of the website (UX) is not up to target audience expectations.
iii) The wrong strategy
Companies are at extremes when it comes to what having a website means. Some believe that their website is supposed to be useless because they've only created it as a display window, while others believe that a website should be driving growth for their business.
Like mentioned, if a company treats their website just as an outbound marketing tool, they will falsely believe that their company website is supposed to drive sales. Hence, they will use sales as a goal to measure website success. That is incorrect.
Firstly, a sale is an outcome, not a goal.
Secondly, marketing is not responsible for sales; sales are. Therefore, a website used at its best is to drive quality leads.
On the contrary, if a company learns to use their website as an inbound marketing tool, they will experience an increase in brand awareness, market share, interest, engagement rate, and ultimately, better conversion rates and shorter sales processes.
By placing the website at the top of the funnel and using it as platform to distribute content, it can drive brand awareness and become the first touchpoint for target audiences.
Since top funnel audiences are not looking to buy anything at this stage, the website should not be trying to sell anything either. The website's role is only to provide value-adding content and build a positive relationship with the audience.
In turn, that is how a website is no longer a point-to-point, sales-driving, static "thing" but a powerful tool in capturing and attracting potential leads.
If you want more information on this, there is a very interesting webinar by Third Door Media on "Create Impactful Customer Experiences With Cross Collaboration". Josh Koenig, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Pantheon which go through the ideas on how to look at your website as an extension of your product offering and your company’s mission.
If you want to transform your existing corporate website into a proper marketing tool and achieve best practice metrics like the ones above, reach out to me here!