As the content landscape appears to be shifting toward mobile and social channels, websites are still considered by customers to be the most trustworthy of content sources.
A Harris Interactive poll that came out at the end of last year showed nearly half of the roughly 2,500 US online shoppers surveyed found websites to be trustworthy. Search engine results and even mainstream news sites were not found to be as trustworthy in this poll.
Beware of Content Shoveling
Whether or not websites generate a ton of traffic, the traffic they do bring tends to be of the buying variety. This trend is especially true for retailers because people who go to company websites spend nearly 40% more at retail stores when they visit those sites.
That number represents how much more likely people are to buy compared to those who don't visit the company website, a joint ComScore and Accenture study showed.
So company websites are not to be ignored. But how much attention should be paid to that content versus social and mobile channels? Nobody has a sure fire formula here, but what makes website content so powerful to potential customers may not have as big of an impact on social media sites, for example.
What brings customers to a website is often simply a fact finding mission. They just want to find information. On a social site, the reasons for a visit are likely different. The problem is, many websites simply shovel website content into social media sites, and hope that drives traffic back to the website.
It sounds logical to do this, and it's not that it is completely ineffective, it's just there is a more strategic way to engage customers on those social sites. This is made all the more complex when talking about industries other than retailing.
Customer Engagement on Websites
A key takeaway from these studies is not necessarily to treat mobile, social and websites completely different, just to be more strategic in how their respective content is built. For websites, whatever kind of traffic is generated should be treated like gold. While driving content to the site from other channels is a good idea, keep in mind why people are on those social channels in the first place.
It could be they are there to voice an opinion, share a review or lodge a complaint. While some of those people may never visit the main company website, they can still be vital to a social site because of how other people perceive their actions. Are they speaking in a vacuum? Are the same people posting over and over again? These are key to social media site visitors, and they are valuable insight into a companies' customer priorities.
Comments, sign ins and downloads, conversely, are the currency of website value. These are some of the traditional ways customers interact with websites besides just clicks. There may not be as much feedback on company websites as on a social channel, but what feedback is there is still highly valuable.