Last Fall, we reached out to local business leaders to get their input on how they are strategically using the Internet to grow. Not surprisingly, the results showed that companies that invest in their online presence are seeing valuable returns. What surprised us was the confusion between activity and expected results. Businesses are literally lost on the Web. This confusion leads to unnecessary expenses and disappointment.
A Website ≠ Online Marketing
In our opinion, the primary purpose of a corporate website is one of following:
- Branding and sales support
- Generating sales leads
- Selling online
Of the businesses we surveyed, 66% consider the primary purpose of their website to be branding. However, the biggest online marketing concern among our participants was getting sales leads. Put another way, it appears that businesses think they can hang out a shingle on the Web and get new business. This was possible back in the early days of the Internet when it was more like a small city. In the global marketplace, a more proactive marketing effort is required to attract new business.
Do You Need a New Website?
Another surprising result from our survey was the frequency at which businesses update their website. Over ¾ of all respondents had rebuilt their website within the past 2 years. It's as if the business thinks that the reason they are not getting sales leads from their website is due to a bad design.
We see this self-diagnosis on a regular basis in our sales. The most common reason a client comes to us is to get help building or rebuilding their website. As an agency, we love to build websites so we often wouldn't ask why they wanted a new site. Over the years, we've come to realize that most clients don't really want a website (the truth hurts sometimes), so we began looking deeper into the reasons our clients were coming to us. In many cases, the key driver was the need for new sales or sales leads.
Rethinking the Web
Successful businesses that have embraced the Web for growth realize that their website is a corporate asset, not an after-thought. Your website is the one part of the Internet that you have complete control over. As such, it is important that you maintain it and keep it up-to-date. After all, it's the place that over 80% of your prospective clients, vendors, suppliers, investors and employees will visit before they meet in person.
When you are ready to get serious about your website, the first step is knowing what you want to accomplish. The next step is finding a guide to ensure that you achieve your goals without getting lost along the way.
William McKee is a founding partner of Knowmad. As a Web architect & Internet business consultant, he is passionate about applying business knowledge & technical expertise to deliver solutions that advance business online. With over 15 years of Web experience, his current work involves designing strategies and creating processes to help business attract, engage and convert website visitors into customers.