Integrated Cross-Channel Digital Strategy Can Avoid Website Neglect

by Gregg on March 10, 2012

I ran across an interesting phenomenon recently while conducting web research on several very well-known brands.

The brands’ social media channels were, for the most part, very well done – aesthetically gorgeous, with timely posts and engagement with target audiences; a textbook approach. But then I went to their main websites, and I noticed basically the opposite, i.e., lackluster design and outdated content. The word neglect might apply.

To corroborate this perception, I reached out to peers that I look up to see if they’ve noticed the same thing. What I learned surprised me:

  • @philgerb: oh yeah. Way too many do against my advice.
  • @darcyschuller from @suvonni here in Chicago: Actually yes! Social Media should really be part of an overall digital strategy – and effectively drive more traffic to websites
  • @dmscott: For most, the website is still tops in search so needs to be cared for. But some people just chase hot new social tools.

Search as I might, I couldn’t immediately find statistical data to back David’s remark about the main website being the primary search end result (if anyone has any to share, I’d love to see them). But I agree with him, and if our joint perceptions are true, this has major brand implications.

Imagine it’s 1982, long before the web. You need to buy a widget, but have no idea where to go. So you open the 6-inch thick Yellow Pages (remember that?), and your eye is drawn to a flashy ad of a big-brand retailer that’s nearest to your home. You hop in your car, head over, walk in … and are greeted by unkempt product presentation, a surly sales associate and an odd smell. What’s your impression of that brand?

Now fast-forward 30 years, and you’re a consumer who has begun engaging with XYZ brand on any social media channel. The channel is really cool-looking, with lots of engagement and links galore. But when you click on one of those links, it goes to that brand’s website, which is clearly out of date, hard to search and not aesthetically pleasing.

Are brands sacrificing maintenance and nurturing of their main websites to maintain a front-line social media position because "our biggest competitor is there?" More cogent responses:

  • @ColinWarwick: No-one asked me, but my $0.02 on social media vs own web site is "do both, do hub and spoke approach" Hub: bcoz that’s where u want people to be. Spokes: bcoz that’s where they r. : slight risk bcoz u don’t own the spoke
  • @thinkudo: While content reach is important, the brand value comes when a customer wants to differentiate between options.
  • @ArgyleSocial: In some cases I’m sure that’s true. Lack of an integrated strategy across channels is a bigger issue however.

Here’s my take: Social media is merely the gateway to the full experience of a brand, which can be achieved multiple ways – product or service usage that exceeds expectation, of course, but short of that, the main website must be the centerpiece of an integrated digital strategy. (See the graphic to the right.) The unique content that resides there is what’s most important in meeting customer needs and solving their problem; otherwise, there is little need for a consumer to interact with a brand.

Consider also that the whole point of SEO is to drive a brand to the very top of search results, thus side-stepping social media channels. In other words, the link to what website do brands want to be there? You guessed it.

Bottom line, anything short of the best website presence possible to complement social media interaction, and other marketing vehicles, is style without substance and will hinder brand perception. Budget plays a role, for sure; that’s where social media monitoring is crucial in determining where target audiences truly reside, and attacking those channels to drive consumers to the main website.

(Image credit to JeremyFloyd.com.)

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