I was speaking at Olivet Nazarene University recently, when it suddenly hit me … websites are not what they used to be. Back in the early days, websites were a series of pages that acted like an online brochure, or a web store. However now, in the words of Bob Dylan, “These times they are a changin’!”
Now, you may say, “Dewd (I spelled it that way on purpose), welcome to the party”, but that old method and layout is still valid. Google has been changing the landscape with its new algorithms making page content more applicable than SEO (Search Engine Optimization), metatags and other behind the scene techniques.
While I was at Olivet, I gave four presentations in a very short period of time.
The first was to a public relations class and the topic was podcasting. We talked about new technologies like Blab.im and Periscope.tv (they have not heard of blab). Even the kids who are more in touch with technology than most millennials and baby boomers have a hard time keeping up with the pace of change.
The second was to the local chamber of commerce, and most of the audience was innocuous to the majority of new online marketing techniques. They know about social media, but don’t understand how and why it’s important. Most were blown away with the information I presented, but now know how effective it can be for local small businesses.
The third was to a global marketing class. I talked about how much the global reach of the internet is affecting our communications (my top 5 podcast downloads after the U.S. are Germany, Canada, U.K., Australia, and Ireland). I showed them analytics from some global companies. I explained how one company was guessing as to why so many people were booking suites in Chicago. The reality is most of the traffic was coming from Dubai and India. People were booking suites for their extended trips while coming to Chicago for surgery (they pay in cash for the best healthcare and need a place to stay).
The fourth and final presentation was to a P.R. Club where I did a presentation on my book, “It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon! Relationship Marketing In A Social Media World!” This is where I outlined the intertwined relationship between websites, analytics and content marketing.
The New Reality
During the hour and a half drive home, I reflected on what I had just taught and people’s reactions during each of the four sessions. What I realized is that with the combination of cell phones, search technologies and our global reach, we may have to rethink how and “WHY” we build websites!
I am suggesting that we start looking at websites as more of a series of landing pages, and not as a brochure with a flow, like we used to.
The Landing Page
People no longer want to get to a website and search for answers, they want to get to the page that gets to the point. So what does that mean for you?
- Landing Pages – Think of each solution you offer as its own landing page. You have to start with the problem, and then offer the solution. You need to focus on the benefits and less on the feature. You need to have testimonials, videos and things that convince them that your product or service is faster and better. Then your call to action has to be clear, concise and compelling. You may not get that second chance!
- Focused Pages – You may have to have landing pages that focus on the niche or vertical that you want to talk about. It may sound redundant, but maybe you need the same solution page for realtors, dentists, chiropractors, retailers and so on. These will be the same pages with the same content with a slightly different slant. They may be hidden, and you get those people there with a quick question and direct them to the page that focuses on them and their needs and language they can understand.
- Better Navigation – We have to help people find their answers more quickly. That means that we can no longer expect that people are willing to scroll for answers, but they want clear buttons and navigation that answer their needs much faster than before. If you have that cool slider, that may be a deterrent to mobile users. You may want to focus on buttons first and banners second.
My time at Olivet was definitely a whirlwind of a day, but the breadth and scope of the presentations made me realize that we now need to serve our customers in ways that are different than before. You may need to look at your analytics and see the behaviors of how people are consuming the pages and how they flow through your website for clues.
The bottom line is, the faster you can get people to the answers they are looking for, the faster they may or will realize that you can and will be the perfect solution for their needs and problems. The goal is to make a sale, right?
This may be spot on to some of you and you have been doing this for years, or this may be as much of an aha moment to you as it was for me! Either way, I would love to hear your comments and thoughts.