You know you must leverage Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth marketing to increase awareness of your brand. But the fact is, websites remain infinitely more popular with consumers than all of the business pages on social media sites combined.
Only 22 percent of those of us online in the U.S. visit a branded social networking page such as those found on Facebook, while 62 percent of us regularly visit branded websites, according to the latest Global Web Index report. If you were starting to let your site become outdated or haggard, consider a refresh. After all, as these figures note, websites still matter.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn't ignore yours:
1. Branding: Since it's your site, you set the design, which affords you the flexibility to optimize the user experience in ways that directly support your business model and brand-related goals. There's no competition on your website, just a branded experience that you direct yourself.
2. IT and Engineering Jurisdiction: When you control your own site, you have complete jurisdiction over its code, hosting environment, page count, content, plug-ins and more. Just as I mentioned above with regard to branding -- here too you have the elasticity required to make small or sweeping adjustments at will, an advantage you don't get with third-party websites. With sites like Facebook, you can change minor graphics and some content but not code, navigation scheme, server speed or the graphic user interface.
3. Content: Speaking of content, more of it can be found on your own website than on a third-party utility or platform, and none of it competes side-by-side for your visitor's attention. Create compelling and useful content that speaks to why someone is visiting your site and you stand a higher chance of that visitor taking action with respect to your products or services. And since inventory (i.e., web pages) is virtually unlimited on a site under your control, you have ample opportunity to add additional content and calls-to-action in the format you deem most appropriate.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): If garnering multiple, relevant and highly positioned placements in the SERPs (search engine result pages) is part of your sales and marketing strategy, a website is a must. When properly coded and managed, your site delivers natural and sustaining search results that drive qualified traffic to the exact pages on your site where you want visitors to be.
5. Analytics: While many social utilities, platforms and networks provide access to data related to demographics associated with who accesses your profile and how often they do so, website analytic tools go much deeper. They can provide you with the type of business intelligence you need to determine in real-time how your online marketing performs and stacks up against the competition.
Don't think for a moment that I'm suggesting you drop social in favor of your own website. What I'm advocating is that you lead first with your website, followed by leveraging social, email marketing, point of purchase, mobile, apps and other forms of marketing and outreach to drive traffic to your website where you can generate qualified leads who convert to paying customers.
How has your website helped you accomplish business goals? Leave a comment and let us know.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.