Website: Standard-Bearer, Content Purveyor for Your Brand

Pete Blackshaw, executive vice president of NM Incite and author of “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000” (DoubleDay), explains why your website is still the most important digital asset you own amidst the rising drumbeat of social media:

A smart website feeds and refreshes the brand stands. It anchors the brand database, arguably the most coveted asset, and sets the tone and standard for the brand’s ethos and attitude about feedback, expression and service. Put another way, it establishes that first critical (often unforgettable) impression. A great website also smartly syndicates, re-circulates and curates social content from the brand stands.

In the marketing mix of owned, paid, and earned media, a website is your most significant piece of owned media, the landing point for paid media, and an important content source and destination for earned media:

Websites are important because you own them. They feed into your database, and the users they attract tend to more loyal and viral, a big reason we should never give short shrift to direct feedback flows. If you carefully analyze the migratory patterns of Apple influencers, for example, you’ll find that the Apple website is one of the most critical and effective marketing tools. The same applies to Patagonia, which effectively uses its website to nurture what VP-Marketing Rob BonDurant described at a recent Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference as a “tribe” of advocates.

Blackshaw says the bureaucratic and territorial approaches to websites in some companies have led to work-arounds like externally-created micro-sites that risk splintering the brand experience. Web presence refreshes, he says, should enable stronger coordination between the people responsible for infrastructire, content and community, so that the website functions as the core source of timely content and a welcoming experience for customers:

Most important, they need to be built to feed the next generation of brand stands sitting on mobile devices and app platforms, many of which will encompass next-generation e-commerce. Think of your next website as the mission-critical building block from which social media, mobile, e-commerce and other digital innovation draw. Keep in mind the skill that will be necessary to make all this come together. Indeed, curation, co-creation and distributed community management are the new lynchpins of “content management.”

Gone are the days when a website could sit idle for relatively long periods of time, punctuated by occasional, major updates. For a website to effectively be the home for your brand, content, and customers, it needs to be a vibrant destination with timely content and active communities that encourage participation.

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