The Myth: The primary purpose of your web site should be to serve as a combination brochure and on-line ordering portal for customers and prospects.

The Reality: Consumers (both BtoB and BtoC) now expect far more than product information and convenience in ordering from on-line resources.

In recent blogs, I shared three megatrends of 21st century marketing: Megatrend # 1, that customers expect multichannel, preference-driven communications; Megatrend # 2, that they expect us to trust their requirements for deeper engagement; and Megatrend #3, that consumers are willing to share significant amounts of information about their preferences in order to gain valuable information or resources.

Let’s take a look at Megatrend # 4, which is also based on learnings from recent VOC research for companies such as Microsoft, HMS National, NBC Universal and Life Line Screening.

Megatrend # 4; Websites must now provide a three-dimensional experience that engages the customer and abandons the current one-dimensional, corporate, “me”-oriented Web experience.

Per VOC research, the three dimensions of experience, in order of importance, are:

  1. Provide access to peers, for the most trusted information and recommendations,
  2. Provide access to relevant subject matter experts, and
  3. Provide easier and faster access to the corporation before, during, and after purchases.

Examples of companies who do this well:

  •, now allows shoppers to connect to their Facebook accounts. As a result, Amazon can now display their friends’ favorite books, films, and so on. Amazon also provides access to both expert and amateur reviewers (via its main site) and to a wide range of peers and content experts (via its Omnivoracious interactive blog site).
  • TunerFish, a start-up owned by Comcast, lets users share TV shows and movies they are watching…creating a real-time “TV guide” of programs for friends.
  • Loopt, a location-focused social network with over 3.4 million registered users, recently began showing them which of their friends liked a particular restaurant.

Megatrend #4 carries broad marketplace implications likely to play out for decades. According to the New York Times (9/13/10), on-line social networks of friends and colleagues are now a more trusted source of purchase recommendations than traditional search!

“The trust factor of friends’ suggestions can make a big difference…Loopt’s users are 20 times more likely to click on a place their friends liked…than a place that simply ranked higher in search results.” Sam Altman, Co-founder of Loopt

Try This:

Take a fresh look at your site. Identify how you can provide a three-dimensional experience which provides, in order of importance, better access to:

  1. Peers
  2. Subject Matter Experts
  3. Your Company.

Author: Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.  Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.  Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

Ernan was named to “B to B’s Who’s Who” as one of the “100 most influential people” in Business Marketing by Crain’s B to B Magazine.  His latest book on marketing best practices was published in October, 2010, and is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.  Ernan is also the co-author of “Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing” and author of “Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales”.