Throughout my career, I have had an amazing opportunity to work with some great minds and meet amazing people at the forefront of digital. As a curious individual, I always try to ask one question when I get the opportunity…
What is the role of brand.com in today’s digital world?
The answers I get vary, but the question itself seems to spark tremendous conversation and thought. Some say transitional, some say as a content hub, others say that they aren’t necessary anymore. Regardless of the differing answers, I have yet to find anyone who wouldn’t participate in an active discussion holding onto other ideas as potential options for the future.
The reason for my curiosity? For a few years now, I’ve noticed some amazing & disturbing trends happening across brand websites. For some verticals, I’ve noticed a decline in traffic, others the behaviors on the site have shifted, whereas others bounce rate & time on site have seen dramatic changes. These changes are a huge issue for us marketers. Sacred cows are being challenged and forecast modeling is becoming harder to solidify. Many variables are at play here - fragmented social conversations and knowledge sharing; third party reviews and informational sites; a mobile culture and more recently Google’s conversational search and knowledge graph are key driving forces behind the downfall of the metrics we’ve all come to love and variables we use to build our businesses and are quickly providing a mechanism for rapid content consumption without much action on the user’s part.
As marketers, we are struggling to stay ahead of the curve with the new technologies and channels that are permeating each and everyone’s lives; launching mobile sites, increasing search spend, social media strategies, mobile apps, content publishing. But have we given the appropriate thought to our most prized possession our brand.com site?
So what is my answer to the question “What is the Role of Brand.com?” It Depends.
It depends on what your consumer is trying to accomplish. Notice the keyword in that sentence? “Consumer.” In today’s world of real time information and knowledge sharing, it is our duty as marketers to help each person achieve their individual task at their most appropriate and relevant time in the simplest way possible. Too long our objectives and our strategies get in the way of consumer need. Yes, we need to sell product, make money, and profit, but we can do it in a more streamlined and efficient way for each customer.
“In today’s world of real time information and knowledge sharing, it is our duty as marketers to help each person achieve their individual task at their most appropriate and relevant time in the simplest way possible.”
In the web 1.0 world we provided all our information as a “Just in Case” mindset. We smothered each visitor to our site with information, just in case they were looking for it. This brand behavior carried over into the web 2.0 world, but now we have even more content, more social, more mobile, just more stuff… all of which is getting in the way of what the consumer is trying to accomplish. It maybe a purchase, it may be specs, it may be entertainment, and we all are getting in the way with our pre-consumer-centric mindset. We literally anger our visitors and increase our chances of defection by forcing the visitor to find what they are looking for rather than giving it to them upfront.
So what is the future of the brand.com sites? Just in Time. Give each user what they need at the time they need it. If people are coming to spec a product, give it to them up front; if they are looking to purchase, get the eff out of their way and let them buy; if they want to be entertained, give them an experience they will never forget.
We live in a magical world where data, behavior, and dynamic content can produce amazing results for the digital citizens we support. Let’s respect their time and give them what they want at the time they want it.