Corporate Eye

Brand Websites Aren’t Close to Dead Yet

website wwwHave you heard the claim that brand websites are dead? It’s usually followed by a sentence like, “Facebook is the only place brands need to be,” or something similar.

The reality is that brand websites are just as important as they ever were before, if not even more important. Brands don’t control Facebook, but they do control their websites. Which would you rather have as your brand’s core branded online destination?

Don’t believe it? The proof that brand websites aren’t close to dead yet can be found in research statistics.

A recent study by nRelate found that while brand websites might not get as much traffic as other social sites, brand websites are still the most popular place for consumers who are actively looking for information about products and the companies that make those products. As eMarketer explains, “No other content type approached the trustworthiness of corporate sites according to [the nRelate] survey–not even mainstream news sites.

Here is the breakdown from the study showing the online content U.S. online shoppers trust when researching products to buy as reported in the nRelate survey:

  1. Manufacturer/brand website = 48%
  2. Article I found using a search engine = 34%
  3. Expert on a topic related to that product = 31%
  4. Mainstream news site = 22%
  5. Link a friend posted to a social network = 12%
  6. Blog = 11%
  7. Link found in a display ad = 4%
  8. Other = 11%
  9. Don’t trust online content = 6%

It’s interesting to note that when you add the online content sources identified above, more than 80% of consumers indicated that they trusted content that they most likely found through search, earned media, social media, and word-of-mouth marketing. In other words, don’t undervalue the importance of social media marketing and search engine optimization in your marketing plan, but those things are just parts of the greater picture.

Brand websites are not dead and won’t be for a very long time. The traffic might not be as high as a brand’s Facebook Page, but the experience visitors have on brand websites still needs to be amazing. People who visit a brand website are more often than not actively seeking information about that brand and its products. This is a targeted and fairly prequalified audience that should be nurtured with great content, a fantastic user experience, and an amazing brand experience.

It’s easy to let the brand website maintenance and updates fall down on the priority list, but this is a mistake. Your brand website is a window into your business and should deliver the same kind of experience to consumers that they would get if they walked into a brick-and-mortar location that represents your brand. Don’t disappoint them, because they’re unlikely to return if they’re not happy — and they’ll probably share their disappointment with other people using social media. In other words, their disappointment will spread and cleaning up skewed perceptions is harder than massaging perceptions in the “right” direction in the first place.

Image: Anna Maria Lopez

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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