Busting Myths about Websites

Published on: Aug 27 2013 by Sachin
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13 08 27 Busting Myths about Websites

The Website is the most basic and essential element of the online marketing mix today. No business can neglect having a website. It is no longer just an information source; it is now a mark of credibility. Having a website may not provide a lot of advantage. But not having a website can surely prove to be a big blemish on the company’s image and reputation. So we are now facing a situation where having a website for our business is almost a compulsion. Whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, where we benefit from it or not; we have to have a website for our business. Why not then, use the website for our advantage rather than just creating it for the sake of it.

Through this blog, I will attempt to take you through the most common mistakes of building a website. Eventually, I will attempt to bust down some of the myths associated with having a website for your business.

As per some latest surveys, there are close to a billion websites globally. Some of them may be inactive or dormant. But even a very conservative estimate will provide us with a global figure of about 500 million websites. Can we imagine anyone going through each of those websites even once? It will take months, if not years. Due to our limited memory span, websites have a very low recall value. We visit only a fraction (maybe 0.00001%) of the available websites. Visitors are known to hop from one website to another in their quest for information, rather specific information. In this scenario, how do you create a website that has a high recall value in the minds of the visitors and prospective customers? We will bust some of the most commonly adopted myths about websites and provide inputs on creating websites with high recall value.

Visitors are found to be loyal to some websites that attract them. The majority of the remaining websites are just plain bad. As per leading market analysis, 75% of the websites fail to attract new visitors or retain visitors. This means that 75% of the websites are merely banners of the company that fail to attract customers into the shop. They are like banners (or advertisements) which people do not even notice while walking past by. In the brick and the mortar world, do we keep such banners on if they are ineffective? No, we remove them and if possible, replace them with a banner that catches the attention of the passerby. Our aim is not just to catch the attention, but to indirectly force the passerby into our shop for an enquiry and ultimately into a purchase. If the purpose of websites is for generating leads and converting customers, we need to have the above mindset while designing and developing the website. Only then our website will stand out and visitors will be force to look inside for more information, ask questions and become our customers. 

Although websites exist since the early 1990s, the vast majority of them, even today, are designed with the value proposition established in the 90s. Most websites today act as digital brochures, information hoardings or a branding statement, offering very little or no substance. Your website should your salesperson in the online world who works 24 * 7, even when you are sleeping. The website should be the core of your firm’s online marketing mix and strategy. Only few websites today have a balance of good design elements and a customer centric value proposition. Very rarely, companies are building websites that serve the primary purpose: to attract visitors, convert leads, and delight customers with relevant and valuable content.

Based on my experiences of working with people as individuals and as agents driving the marketing strategy of their companies, I have realized that people are looking at websites with a narrow mind. Companies are more concerned whether their website will show up on Google Search rather than whether the website is suited to their business goals. Companies are more concerned on whether the website looks good rather than whether the website is suited to their business goals. Sadly, I would infer that most companies rarely have any business goals associated with their websites. I hope to highlight this aspect through my blog. Let your website be the core of your online marketing strategy. Let it be the heart around which you develop the various elements of your marketing mix.

Companies, especially SMBs, must realize that today’s buyer is looking for a website that delivers a personalized and integrated experience. Let us bust some of the myths associated with website development.

Myth No. 1 – All the information about my company should be available on the website

Companies make this as the primary goal of developing their website. When they design the website, the sole purpose is to put all the information online for everyone to see. And to top it, lot of emphasis is laid on SEO techniques that will get the website highly ranked. It may make sense but it should not be the primary goal. It should be the means, not the end. Whether the website is highly ranked or not is a different matter altogether, but the basic reason for building the website is lost when the goals are not set right.

As I mentioned earlier, the goal of a website is to attract visitors, convert leads, and provide a customer centric value proposition. Your website should position your company as an innovative thinker with features that provide value to the visitor. Your website should enhance your revenue through deals that are valued by the customer. Your website should position your company in a way that enhances your brand proposition. By creating a website that is aligned with your business goals, you grow traffic and leads organically, without having to rely on paid campaigns. Only then, the benefits of creating the website will be realized by your company.

There are many ways a website can be useful to a business. It is always advisable to seek information and knowledge from people around who know how good websites are built. If possible, hire the services of a web consultant who will make sure you get it right, the first time.

Takeaway No 1 – The website is an additional marketing channel that should be aligned to the business and marketing goals.

13-08-27 SEO Myth Busting

Myth No. 2 – I do not need to spend resources on updating my website. My website is good.

Ages back (in the 1990s and 2000s), websites were created with a “set it and forget it” approach. Websites were primarily a mechanism for broadcasting information, not a means to engage customers in a conversation. But customers today not only seek information but also seek value from their time spent online. They have questions and they expect the answers. Many companies today are still employing age-old techniques that are taking them away from the customers. They do not update their websites at all. They either lack the will, or the resources, or the capital or plainly lack the understanding of the need for it. A website is more often, treated as a sunk cost that companies incur due to compulsion. There is some bad news for such companies. If they continue with this mindset, they risk losing out the attention of their current and prospective customers.

Dynamic content management and personalization are the key essential features of customer engaging websites. There are many platforms available that allow content to be changed dynamically as needed. It means that companies have to migrate from the traditional static websites to the dynamism offered by content management systems like WordPress and Joomla. It means an additional investment but it is worth it. Many forward thinking companies are implementing personalization capabilities in their websites. With personalization, the companies know who is visiting, what they are looking for, what items were bought the last time and what could be the future needs. With this background information, such websites throw up information that is contextual – aligned with the specific needs of each individual customer.

Online visitors today crave for a personalized experience. They do not like to be treated like everyone else. Contextual marketing and dynamic content management helps companies gain a larger share of attention from prospect customers, thereby increasing the percentage of customers converted.

Takeaway No 2 – Update your website to align with the changing needs of the online customer. Embrace dynamic website management and contextual marketing.

Myth No 3 – It is the company’s website.

Many websites have a story to tell about themselves. “The website is about the company – the products, the services, the pricing, the awards, the recognition and the testimonials. The customer wants to know about it”. These are all indicators that the website is inward looking. This needs to change. Visitors come to your website hoping to solve a problem, answer a question, buy something, or to be entertained. If you are focused too much on your company than the customer, you will end up losing the attention of the customer.

Very rarely, the impact on the customers is considered while designed a website. All the focus is inwards (about the company) rather than outwards (about the customer). No amount of advertising or power marketing can succeed in your mission – conquering the customer if you do not build the website for the customer. A customer-centric website makes it effective to attract attention than to buy it. You have done a good job when customers enjoy visiting your website not because it looks great but because it provides value that means something to them.

Takeaway No 3 – Build the website for your customers, not for your company.

Final Takeaway – The trade of creating websites may be two decades old but the relevance has only increased. A new economy model is emerging with the convergence of web, social media channels, high end mobile devices and traditional marketing approaches.

Your website will hold the balance between the old traditional model and the new convergence model. The three myths mentioned above need to be busted, and busted fast. If you do not bust them, your website will struggle to provide the benefits of the new economy. It is time to look at the website not as an information broadcaster but as an additional effective marketing channel. A marketing channel that will provide sales, target customers, convert leads, enhance brand, support customers and many such roles done previously by the traditional marketing channels. Contextual marketing and dynamic content management are the key elements. With the new economy model emerging from the shadows of the old economy model, the website is a potent tool that can help bridge the gap from the old to the new.

— Sachin

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3 Comments to “Busting Myths about Websites”

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