The diagram below from Toolbox demonstrates the evolution of interactive marketing – but whilst it demonstrates potential objectives and measurements for corporate websites, the reality is that many organisations are still grappling with how they make some of these goals a reality.
In the dot.com era, the internet was seen as an opportunity for companies to create a shopfront for their business. However, users do not treat the web as they would a retail store. The term “surfing the net” illustrates this point, and it’s supported by the fact that the typical website has a conversion rate of 1% or less. If you ran a retail store and 1% or less of your store footfall purchased an item, you wouldn’t stay in business for long!
… to relationship building
Instead we need to reconsider the purpose of our corporate websites and look at how we engage people so that we can develop a relationship with them. The rise of social media and the idea that organisations should be transparent and engaged in dialogue with their customers and prospects supports this evolution.
Each of the stages above requires a step-change in your web strategy, and these strategic changes have an impact on your organisation’s culture. It’s easy to create a website for your company that acts as a storefront with no eCommerce functionality. It’s far more difficult to mobilise your workforce to engage with and interact with customers and prospects via online forums and communities which may or may not be hosted on your corporate website.
However, I believe the fact that each of these iterative stages advances the business benefits of the stage before makes the effort worthwhile.
What do you believe and what challenges do you face in advancing your web strategy?