These days, companies of all sizes have tired of the expense and complexity of many WCM / WEM solutions, and would dearly love agile alternatives. And, yes, there are lesser expensive options. But what may be the most important factor for a lot of companies, is a strong emphasis on the customer-focused web presence for the company. And this may mean that company web presence will show up on other websites, instead of on the corporate website -- which leads to the notion of whether or not the “corporate website” is becoming obsolete for many types of companies.

Recently a colleague was exploring options for improving the web marketing capabilities of the company that he works for. He started his efforts by looking at “traditional” Web Content Management (WCM) software, with an eye to Web Experience (Engagement) Management platforms. But since his company is itself a mid-market-sized company, he was very uncomfortable with the options – and not just because of cost and time to implement. As conversations with his company management evolved, my colleague realized that he was not satisfied with a WCM / WEM solution because it didn’t seem to be the right platform for their web marketing strategy and business goals.

Web marketing and customer relationship strategies are changing (and improving) -- companies need new solutions and practices to manage the new world. More companies have come to understand that first they must build the web marketing / presence strategy that will accomplish their goals. Then they have to figure out how to achieve the goals of the marketing strategy, which will involve preferred practices and processes, as well as technology. With web presence evolution, marketing strategies should include orchestration of web presence via other sites, and how to integrate with conversations and content from those external sites.

B2C or B2B – Which Organization Needs A Corporate Website?

Whether or not a company should have a corporate website can depend on many factors. For both B2C and B2B companies, content still matters and has to be located somewhere. The B2B company has the greater need for a corporate website, but must now evolve the corporate website to a social / customer hub.

B2C sales and marketing goals might be less about content per se and much more about customer conversations and brand awareness that take place anywhere on the web. Jeremiah Owyang points out that the corporate website is less and less the most likely place to connect with customers.

B2C – Time to Get Rid of the Monolithic Corporate Website?

Is the corporate website obsolete? Most corporate websites do not work well for customers. The sites are designed from the corporate POV, with too much useless content that is hard to find anyway. Frequently corporate websites become money pits, requiring too many resources over time compared to the benefits received.

Particularly for B2C businesses, new thinking is that the corporate website might be completely unnecessary for customer interactions and brand promotion. Going where the customers are, i.e. social sites, seems to be an effective way to better connect. Monitoring web presence and participating in conversations on other sites help companies reach out to current and new customers in ways that matter to these customers and can bring effective results to companies.

Current thinking is that social sites are taking sales endeavors to a new place since customers can now participate in spreading the word to potential customers through forums, communities, ratings, reviews. On the flip side, corporations have the responsibility of finding and responding to concerns, complaints, feedback and requests posted on social sites, hopefully to resolve problems, to engage and attract customers through answers, and to learn from customer POVs.

B2B Companies Still Benefit from Corporate Websites, With Social Improvements

One approach to introducing more web presence into corporate websites is to add improved social capabilities that interact well with customers and potential buyers. This approach appeals to companies that want a measure of control over customer “conversations” and also makes sense if the company is using social capabilities as part of a customer relationship and support strategy.

Content still matters for B2B websites -- B2B are customers still looking for a lot of different kinds of content that they want to easily find on the corporate website. However, many potential B2B customers are also influenced by interactions and content on external social sites -- the savvy B2B company had better understand the importance of such sites. Integration with and monitoring of social sites are key.

Hubspot - inbound marketing and social media advisors::

Your website may very well be the most powerful tool in your marketing kit. Not only is it the place prospects and clients go to learn more about you and your services, but it has a huge impact on their ultimate purchase decision."

The Hubspot post goes on to discuss a survey conducted by RainToday.com that looked at buyers of professional services and the amount of influence that corporate websites exerted on the purchase decision:

According to the survey, 74% of buyers report the service provider's website holds at least "some influence" over their ultimate decision to buy services from the provider. This is 23 percentage points higher than in 2005 and represents a significant increase in the importance of websites."

B2B corporate websites need web management solutions not only for creating and maintaining more social and interactive experiences for customers visiting the site, but to monitor and participate in the conversations that take place on other sites. Other sorts of off-site social-related analytics need to take place, such as sentiment analysis. The results of monitoring and analytics must be used to fine-tune product and marketing strategies, and to help corporations better serve customers.

Jeremiah Owyang on the Future of Corporate Web Presence

Owyang throws out some compelling assertions: In the not-so-distant future, he states that there will be no “old school” corporate sites. There will only be sites assembled on the fly based on social data, a sort of dynamic personalization mashup of content and social engagement.

Today, I’m pleased to see that the thinking –and technology, has emerged, where we’re finding a variety of companies that are integrating social technologies right into the corporate website, bringing the trusted discussions closer to the corporate site.

Although the highest state of nirvana (seamless integration) doesn’t yet exist, we should expect there to be very little difference between social technologies and corporate websites as content will assemble on the fly. I predict URLs won’t matter, as content will be dynamically assembled around the buyer and their context in a variety of devices. Sure, that’s far out thinking now, but that’s why we have several other stage gates that companies must first go through.

Owyang continues on the new social web presence:

  1. Although it’s a new and experimental medium, brands should plan a roadmap.
  2. The future of web experiences will be based around people – not products.
  3. Take inventory of all corporate web assets and identify where they are in the framework.
  4. Next, identify the desired state, and then build a plan against it. Start small and slow, and be sure to have a strategy.
  5. Don’t arbitrarily jump into the social marketing space without measurable KPIs. Be deliberate in your actions.

Owyang’s thinking is important especially for vendors of WCM / WEM software solutions since he may be pointing the way to future web presence solutions (a future that is not that distant).
 

Read Part II: Future Web Presence Management Solutions – What Could They Look Like?