Web Strategy: How To Evolve Your Irrelevant Corporate Website

The Irrelevant Corporate Website

Traditional Web Marketing needs to evolve, and this post intends to kick start the next generation.

What’s a corporate web site?
It’s the domain they use after every advertisement where you can learn more about a company, ya know it, anycompany.com

But we’re tired of the corporate website and all its happy marketing speak, stock photos of smart looking dudes or minority women crowded around the computer raving about your product, the positive press release, the happy customer testimonials, the row of executive portraits, the donations your corporate made to disaster relief, the one-sided view never ends.

While some of your traffic may be going up on your website, it’s not indicative of how corporate websites are being used. Analytics don’t tell us why people go to your site, and it may not be for the reason you want them to.

[The corporate website is an unbelievable collection of hyperbole, artificial branding, and pro-corporate content. As a result, trusted decisions are being made on other locations on the internet]

Why is your corporate website irrelevant?


Marketing has shifted, it’s no longer on two domains

Many web marketers are under the impression that the battles are only fought within Google search results and on the corporate domain. In reality, marketing has spread to many other areas where conversations occur: social networks, rating sites, chat rooms, and even blogs. I dedicated a whole post to why marketing is not on two domains only.

Decisions are made before they go to the corporate website
Yesterday, at lunch with a college student, she told me that her peers get ideas about product decisions on consumer rating sites, and from their peers. They use instant messaging, facebook, (and other social networks) and rarely directly type in a domain name to corporate website. If this holds true, then it’s assumed that prospects make decisions on other websites BEFORE they come to the corporate website to get factual information.

Factual information
Legally, corporations need to disclose product details, this is a strong case for the use of the corporate websites. However in my continued conversation with the Generation Y, she continued to tell me that she used corporate websites to get core feature stats and pricing, but that’s after she made a decision based upon her peer feedback to visit the corporate site.

The future, and how to stay relevant:

Websites are created with customers
This is disruptive, but I predict that the most relevant future websites will have customers building websites alongside employees. The most effective websites will contain a balanced point of view of both the product team and customers –even if they have qualms with the product.

Unfiltered customer testimonials will appear
You’ll no longer only be the only one publishing to your website, customers, prospects, and other members of the community will have direct access to publish on your website. Sure, there will be controls to make sure the content is somewhat factual or reviewed, but it will be obvious to many that the only voice won’t be the marketing one.

Content will have both negative and positive views about your products
This one is hard to swallow, but how do you build the most trust? By being open, authentic, and transparent to the marketplace. We know from research that the highest degree of trust comes from those ‘like me’, a savvy marketer will allow content to appear from peers, customers, and the market. These will not always be a product rave, in fact it may be downright criticism, the goal? To take that feedback, and demonstrate in public how you will improve your offerings in plain view. Case study: Dell has done this with IdeaStorm.

Your website will be a Community Resource
This means that you’ll put your customers first, No Really, I mean it. This means providing analysis of not just yourself but to competitors as well, this means that you’ll link to competitors. Crazy? I did this myself at my previous role as a community manager, I created a wiki for customers that linked to competitors, and it made me more relevant.

[The corporate website of the future will be a credible source of opinion and fact, authored by both the corporation and community. The result? A true first-stop community resource where information flows for better products and services]


Outcomes

Customers will make your site the first place to go for information, trust will increase, you may be able to build better products and services with real-time customer feedback, and most importantly, you’ll be a community resource that will help you meet your customer needs faster.

Visualize:
We’ll start to see customers help write the corporate newsletter, feeds pulling in industry blogs, media (audio and video) customers rating and ranking and voting for what features they want improved, product teams working directly with customers in real-time, and customers self-supporting each other.

Translations
I’d love if you’d translate this post, I’ll add you to this list.

  • German, by Jorg Weisner
  • Hebrew, by Omer Rosen
  • Greek, by Nikos
  • Italian, by Marco
  • French by PR2Peer
  • Dutch modification by Jacqueline Fackelde
  • Sweedish version
  • Spanish Version
  • Chinese Version (see this version)
  • Polish Version
  • Estonian modification by Dreamgrow
  • Update: I’ve started to track different opinions from blogs on this post, or you can see all the trackbacks, there’s nearly dozens of links coming to this post.