It still amazes me 25 years on that we are still struggling to comprehend how the web can change our businesses. Even now our strategies are very much focused on tinkering with its leverage rather than compelling our users/customers to transform our business by using it. That said, I think we are really now beginning to see how digital transformation will change that and our interactions/relationships with our audience and customers.
Brands need to prepare for the day when all employees and every customer can reach each other and be connected. A brands ability to control the message will diminish and it will need to switch to an influence approach. No apologies but the customer really is in charge.
The pace at which this is changing strategy, tactics, delivery and processes is accelerating leaving many brands stuck in a vacuum unable to be agile enough to respond. In the following list, I’ll admit, I’m being very basic, these recommendations are just the foundations. A little research on Google will reveal how some brands are really making in roads here. Yes Ikea I’m talking about your Instagram account being a website and P&G dropping the marketing job titles. Anyway for now:
1. Use story to convince visitors to engage - most websites are a loose collection of pages that have little to do with one another. Story is important, humans connect with relevant content they have complete affinity to. Its the basis of social contagion. As brands and designers we need to embrace the core significance of story to differentiate and mesh it with the attributes that digital marketing can offer.
2. It appeals to the emotions not the products - we are shifting from the functional and technical aspects of the industrial era, into a place and space where customers are making buying decisions based on how they feel about a brand and its offer. I, and others, call it ‘meaningful purchase.’
3. Its designed around the sales funnel - websites are rarely about anything else other than bringing about higher conversion rates. For designer friends, I get the creative, the beauty, the design, even the art but it has equal weight to the one principal key performance metric of website success now; conversion.
4. Every website we build should have a primary objective. To generate new leads, to grow an online community, to promote a person or product, to drive more downloads, to sell more goods and services, to educate, to share. Whatever it is, that needs to drive why the site is being built. What’s its purpose? Then you will get better answers to your what and how questions.
5. It promotes and encourages sharing. Let the audience ‘sell’ on your behalf. Make it easy for the masses to promote what you do. Brands are realising that their customers and employees are actually connected to more people than the brand.
6. Its responsive, mobile specific or you develop an app. Be sure not to get kicked on SEO if you go mobile specific and only create an app if you’ve pinned down the purpose. Don’t waste your money on something flashy. Spend it on something that will bring return on investment.
7. Stop building websites and build social hubs instead. My thoughts about this are well known. A site that looks like a book or a brochure has a limited shelf life. The web is alive, it changes every nano second. Its a living beast spurred on by the millions contributing. Websites of the future will be full of conversations not product offerings.
8. Its not built on what you need but what your users have told you they want. Too many people build websites based on what the brand or individuals in the company demand. This just doesn’t work anymore. Its all about what the audience wants and needs. This, I believe, is a critical mind shift that is proving difficult for many to comprehend. Seriously, building websites your customers don’t want to engage with is like building products nobody wants.
9. Creative is critical. Navigation, functionality, user experience, the interface. You either want to spend time on the site or you don’t. Its simple, make it easy for people to stay.
10. Make sure people can find you. Websites now need to be as 'readable' for search engines as humans. Don’t build the most amazing site that no one visits because you didn’t integrate digital marketing into the solution. If you still need convincing your website needs SEO perhaps you shouldn’t be creating a website at all.
Well there you go, I’ve restrained myself I have to say. I was brought up on the phrase, ‘say what you think and mean what you say.’ Done that. Over to you. Thoughts?