When we were cruising around some of the ad/marketing groups on LinkedIn, we found a post about websites having become obsolete as a marketing tool. The writer’s rationale was that consumers are on the move. They don’t have time to visit web sites and count on their smart phones, tablets, and social media to telegraph the information they need to make decisions and purchases.
The post was deluged with comments. Every single response was a disagreement — and MD+A is firmly in that camp. Your website is your content library, international storefront, customer service presence, product selection center, and (often) your POS.
Let’s start with b2c. In a study of retail customers, Cisco* found that “digital content from the Internet is the most powerful influence in buying decisions for the majority of shoppers in all channels.” This may include “delivered” offers and information via smart phone or tablet, or intentional website visits by the consumer. Come to think of it, you don’t really need research to learn the importance of a website. Imagine Amazon without one.
What about b2b? A website is 100% critical to the success of companies selling to other businesses. Unlike b2c, business customers make fewer impulse purchases, do more research before making a buying decision, and may make repeat and up-sold buys if your website makes it easy.
In fairness to that hapless opinion poster, he was probably talking about static websites. These are, indeed, obsolete. A website should not be an online ad. It has to be interactive and responsive to meet the needs of customers and prospects and to take advantage of social media tools.
Watch for our next blog post about active and responsive websites.