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VOL. 129 | NO. 84 | Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lori Turner

Lori Turner-Wilson

Are Traditional Websites Dead?

By Lori Turner-Wilson

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While reports of the death of corporate websites have been exaggerated, there’s no denying that traditional sites are experiencing significant traffic declines.

WebTrends analyzed the number of unique visits to Fortune 100 websites. Sixty-eight percent of these sites experienced declines in unique visitors compared to the previous year with an average annual decline of over 20 percent. The study points to Facebook as a primary contributor. With more regularly updated content and greater opportunity for consumer engagement, the market is often electing your Facebook page over your brand website.

Today’s websites must operate similar to the way a social media site like Facebook does – with multiple content updates a week and opportunities to easily share, like or comment on that content at every turn.

If you have a traditional corporate site – an electronic brochure essentially – odds are that most of your site visitors are quickly scanning your home page and leaving because they aren’t looking for promotional information. They seek practical, useful information such as best practices, educational content and customer stories. Your site should function like a hub for interaction, and you should consider yourself a publisher versus marketer.

Few brands are doing this well, with InboundWriter.com reporting last year that 90 percent of most website traffic comes from just 10 to 20 percent of content. Imagine the number of site visitors you could generate if 50 percent of your web content was socially engaging.

Many advertisers are actually using their Facebook address as their primary call to action versus their website, a trend that became evident in this year’s bevy of Super Bowl ads. Many small businesses use Facebook in lieu of a brand website. And social platforms are driving brand recommendations like never before. Regardless, most brand marketers aren’t about to rely exclusively on social channels, with their inherent lack of control, for all of their brand messaging. Websites continue to play a necessary role in establishing a strong, recognizable brand, but it’s social media that’s driving real business results for many companies.

Effective social media strategy means participating in relevant existing online communities where your target market is already spending their time, and building a community – through those social media channels – of consumers interested in a topic where your brand can be established as having subject-matter expertise.

Being active and engaged allows new prospective customers to experience your brand without the hard sell. Sometimes that social experience is enough to drive conversion to a sale; for others, a social experience will drive consumers to your website where the decision to buy is made.

The success of your brand’s online presence will equal the sum of its social exchanges.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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