Your website is the most important tool you have for marketing your business, services or products. Period.
There, I said it. And it’s true (obviously that’s the natural progression of information here!). But this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise and certainly you’ve considered this to be the case if you’re not already a bona fide believer!
Think about it – any time you want to learn more about a brand or its products, what’s the first thing you do? Pull up your search engine of choice (a whopping 92.3% of search share goes to Google btw) and start typing. What you find (or don’t) often immediately shapes your perception of the company or brand you’re researching and weighs heavily on your decision-making. Does their website look trustworthy? Are all of the details you’re seeking accessible? Is the site easy to use and is this truly an indication of what doing business with this company will be like? In other words, your website speaks volumes about your brand, for better or worse!
In-fact, so much information (inferred & tangible) is gained by your prospects and existing customers through your website that it absolutely should be considered the cornerstone of your brand as well as the centerpiece of your larger modern marketing ecosystem. Your website is THAT PLACE where you have a captive audience and the opportunity to communicate your brand, culture and maybe most importantly your story to enthusiasts. This is often where your prospects will make the decision to interact with your company further and take the next step in the marketing cycle to immediately purchase a product, opt-in to receive regular content or pick up the phone and call you. This is true for both B2C and B2B websites.
“75% of users admit to making judgements about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design”
– Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab.
What About Traditional Advertising & Marketing?
So, if your website is so darned important, then there’s no longer a need for traditional advertising campaigns right? NO!
Traditional advertising and marketing tactics are happily, still alive and well! They just need to be utilized a bit differently these days.
While it’s absolutely true that some advertising and marketing campaigns (television, print ads, radio, etc.) are being used to create an immediate need/want and spur a sale or interaction – the majority of today’s marketing campaigns are used to drive prospects to a company’s website. So although the role of traditional advertising has changed it’s still quite valuable and necessary. Use these media outlets to generate interest in your company and then drive traffic to your website, where your full story can be told and then lead those prospects to convert either at the website level or off-line.
No matter the advertising medium, your offline marketing and advertising should be directing your audience to visit your website or interact with your brand socially (but more about that in a sec)!
How About Print Materials Like Brochures & Catalogs?
Fortunately for advertising and marketing agencies, such as ourselves, printed collateral like catalogs, sales sheets and product brochures still have their place. The highly refined, well-written and professionally printed marketing piece still makes a great impression and is a must-have when selling high-ticket items such as boats, kayaks and fishing gear.
In some cases, print collateral may be made available to the end consumer at boat and outdoor shows, through direct mail or retail outlets and dealerships. On the flip-side, similar collateral is utilized during the sales process at B2B trade shows such as ICAST and Outdoor Retailer or during in-person visits with any given brand’s sales reps.
And if your website is designed properly – your printed collateral can focus less on textual content and contain more visuals that wet your prospects’ appetite and communicate your culture and what’s behind your brand. The heavy lifting of your textual content is better suited for your website. There, not only can your prospects take a deeper dive into your brand – but your written content becomes valuable fuel for search engines (SEO) – and in-turn attracts more prospects to your brand!
A Word About Social Media and the Website Relationship
So, if traditional advertising should be used to drive website traffic, how come so many big brands are sending folks to Facebook or Twitter instead? Simple – the intent is the same, drive traffic online to interact and become more personal with their brands. And by sending prospects to their social channels they’re still likely to still visit company’s website. As a bonus though, the brand often gain followers of their social channels where they have the ability to interact with customers and prospects on a day-to-day basis, further deepening the relationship and loyalty to the brand.
This works the other way around too by the way. By making your website content easy to share through social channels, you have the chance of attracting like-minded individuals to your brand by way of qualified referral (social proof). So, it’s important to include links to all of your social channels and make website content like products, new models and blog articles as easy to share as clicking a button!
Websites Done Right
With all of this talk about your website being the most important part of your marketing efforts, I hope it goes without saying that you must invest the appropriate amount of time, budget and effort into making sure your website is everything it should be. After all, by now we should agree that your website, in many cases, can make or break your business.
While this article isn’t about how to create the perfect website (note to self: there’s a blog in there) there are number of elements that should be considered:
- How much of my traffic is mobile and is your site accommodating that traffic accordingly?
- What are the specific goals I want to achieve from my website? Generate leads? Opt-in to receive more info? Direct website sale?
- How does our offline brand and culture get communicated through the website? Visually? Video? Content?
- What about search engines? SEO? Social media integration?
- Do we currently have a content strategy?
- Who is our perfect prospect or prospects?
These are a handful of the elements that should be considered when reviewing your company’s current website or planning one for the first time. A complete website and brand audit will shed light on exactly how your site measures up.
I hope you find this article helpful and just maybe gets you either thinking differently about the role of your website – or confirms for you what you’ve already been thinking.