These Days, How Important Is a Website Really?

Topics: Brand Strategy, Web Marketing

Few phrases in marketing are as overused as “multiple touchpoints.” There are also few phrases as true. Purchasers of almost anything, from diapers to data centers, have almost infinite sources, places, and opportunities to gather information, interact with brands, and purchase goods. Social media, mobile apps, third-party reviews, in-store experiences, standard email, uber-targeted Facebook e-commerce—the list goes on and on and on.

And that list changes constantly. The classic Adobe spot Woo Woo captures the reality of chasing channels, technologies, and customer opportunities. As marketers, we all want to be where the action is. And why wouldn’t brands be keen on leveraging what’s trending? It’s nearly a marketing commandment to tap into the zeitgeist—or, better yet, be two steps ahead of it.

So what relevance does your organization’s website have in this current environment? On first blush, a site might seem low priority and old school, maybe even irrelevant. But au contraire. The website remains vital and, depending on your business objectives and audience needs, very well could still be the most critical of your digital properties.

It’s vital across many dimensions, too, from initial awareness to ongoing customer loyalty. Here are a few examples:

Brand.

Think of the last time you heard about a new company. If you’re like most people, you went straight to their website. For an established brand, perhaps this is less important. But with less dominant brands, particularly in B2B, your site very well might be the first—and most important—customer touchpoint.

Customer Experience.

For a digitally-minded organization such as Amazon.com, the website is a keystone of customer experience. But even for traditional organizations, it’s critical. For example, websites often are a primary source for customer service, an often neglected but essential part of customer experience.

Content.

For customers of one of our clients, a large health care provider, website content is often the first step in addressing health concerns. And with social, most content engagement beyond the first 140 characters happens on a website.

Mobile Engagement.

Few organizations can rely on mobile apps to fully address mobile engagement. In fact, research has put mobile browser usage at double that of mobile apps. So for most organizations, mobile web is primary, with needs that go beyond smaller screen size to mobile-specific functionality.

Sales/Conversion.

In e-commerce, the quality of the online purchase process is linked directly to sales. In short, abandoned carts equal lost revenue. But even for complex B2B organizations, the site almost always plays a key role in the sales journey—during initial investigation, of course, but even much further along in their purchase process.

So the site isn’t going away, that much is for sure. But it is changing. It’s becoming a critical component for ongoing customer engagement and service and is no longer just a marketing tool. It’s becoming both more robust and simpler to use. By incorporating data, algorithms, predictive analytics, and mobile capabilities, it’s becoming smarter and more targeted.

And it won’t stop changing, either. At Axis41, we see, almost daily, evolutionary and even revolutionary changes across the many aspects of the site. Sometimes it’s new technology, other times it’s shifts in user expectations. But consistently, it’s opportunities for sites to remain relevant to the digital experience.