True or False? The website is old hat! It is a throwback to a bygone age, a digital relic and no longer essential.
Answers on a postcard!
How often have you heard it said that every business – whether it is a start up or a well established business – needs a website?
At one stage that was true but these days I believe that what is required is not a website at all but a digital presence – of which a website is just one element and in some cases not even an essential element at that.
Now, before all the web designers send me e-mails expressing outrage and indignation at my stupidity, let me stress that for most businesses a website is essential in my opinion.
However, in an age of ever advancing digital technology, the mere creation of a website is not nearly enough to advance the prospects and fully exploit the potential of many businesses which have access to and can use the internet to increase turnover, profits, market share and reputation.
Take the example of a company I know which has recently spent some money on developing a brand new website. It looks really classy, has nice photographs, and tells you what the company does, where it is and what’s on offer. The director in charge was very proud of it and told me it had received lots of visits since it replaced the old site.
“Good” says I ” And how’s business?”
“Dead average” came the reply – despite all the hits on the new website.
The problem with this business is that it has stuck to the old fashioned view that an attractive website was required and that was it.
There was no sign of a full, or even partial, digital campaign involving twitter, facebook or any of the other platforms where the company can be involved in what I describe as the “digital chat”.
These days the mobile phone has ceased to be a phone – it is still a communication device but it is actually used more often to share video, photographs, location information and, most importantly, for digital “chat” mostly via twitter and facebook.
The greater the chat involving a specific company or business the greater the presence or digital footprint of that company becomes and so it comes up first or perhaps second when key words are fed into any search engine.
Some restaurants and bars are very digitally active and often encourage their clients to tweet or message from the premises giving it a mention and so increase their digital spread. Some even have a “selfie wall” where customers can take photos, showing where they are and send them out to friends and contacts.
The result? The word spreads, more customers come in, more selfie’s go out and on and on it goes.
Yes, the website gets looked at but it is the chat that matters!
Another business has no website whatsoever. It is an e-commerce business ran by a 70 plus year old man from his living room. The owner has built up a digital presence in his chosen sales area and forum and strategically advertises in that forum and via facebook.
With each order, he sends out a series of e-mails to his customers and at least one of these recommends that they try another one of his products which is then offered at a discount – if the customer provides an online review of the product which they originally purchased!
Result? Increased reviews leading to increased online presence which in turn generates increased sales and increased profits running to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Strangely enough, this one man cottage industry run by a septuagenarian is phenomenally successful and earns more than the business I mentioned at the top of the page which has just spent a healthy sum on a new website but which failed to go the extra digital mile.
So, back to the question at the top of the page – what do you see in the photograph?
The answer is the most widely used means of advertising and promotion in the world today – digital chat – and if your business isn’t chatting it is not making the most of its potential!
Digital chat – everyone is doing it!