Time to Pull the Plug on Branded Websites?

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Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner   4/16/2012 12:11:49 AM

Websites are particularly important in B2B marketing. Maybe nobody wants to know more about Milano cookies, but potential customers do want to learn more about industrail machinery. 

Mitch Wagner
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Samir, I don't think brands need to necessarily send fans to the Web page. Even that can be a distraction. The goal is to turn fans into leads and leads into sales. 

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I feel like people get easily caught up in the WEB whirlwind and overdo it. If you're great at what you do nowadays, people will make you known online, whether or not you have a website, FB, Twitter, etc.

So the foucs should first be on making something people want GREAT, then maybe focus on the web, SM areas after.

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@Dwhite706 - although you may not be interested in learning more about a cookie, there will be others that will be.  Part of the value of having a branded web site is to provide information to your target audience.  And, providing that information to that interested segment of the market will help to develop a corporate brand.

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Ryck   4/15/2012 6:18:43 AM

Although the world has changed and we can learn about a company and its products from different Internet properties, I think having a branded web site still has some value.  Despite being dliuted, there still is value in having a home base that is a repository for more information that a customer or prospect may be looking for.  As Samir stated, you can direct people from Facebook or other Internet locations to your web site for further information.  Until the other sites can offer a comparable way to provide this information, a branded web site is still needed.

Samir Sanil
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@ mitch, I completely agree with you, companies should stop hunting in the dark.. Knowing wht, when and how the customer wants wht he wants should be the prime focus.

About fb pages... fb pages can always come in handy as they are quick to go through, but they should always invite customers to visit the official website (a direct link can do the job). Brands cannot completely rely on fb, twitter etc..... not to forget tht no1 owns fb and you are not the only one looking for customer attention through these mediums... chances of customers getting diverted to other brands is reasonably high on such web sites.

FB is good for brand awareness but branded websites work on building brand loyalty.

Mitch Wagner
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I remember those online shopping malls in 1995-96, and I remember MCI's in particular. 

Some of them were built by startups. I remember talking with a contact at Dupont, asking him why he didn't want to join. He said he believed Dupont had better brand recognition than a startup formed a few months ago. 

Different situation today though -- Facebook already brings the audience. 

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When I was at MCI in the early '90s, we launched one of the first web sites that functioned as a shopping mall.  Macy's and Brooks Brothers were two of our first "tenants".  Once the web matured and companies realized they could host their own sites and get more control, that business was shut down.  Interesting that some thinking is starting to go back in the other direction, even though content has never been easier to maintain, thanks to Wordpress, smart phones, etc.

I doubt we'll ever see the end of branded websites - they just have too much info.  Just a few things off the top of my head that you can't easily replicate with the most common social media platforms:

- reseller portals/extranets

- landing pages for a/b testing

- links to investor relations content

- any password protected content

- private communication (do you really want everyone seeing each other's RMA requests, support problems, etc.)

And this doesn't even mention ecommerce sites.  Besides the lack of control, hosting on social media will incur commerce fees/taxes like PayPal.

Finally, lots of people are not on social media.  Sure you get more eyeballs on a daily basis, but your reach is capped by the limits of social media participation.

Gallup has studied social media users and determinesd that social media does not create brand loyalty - that happens outside of social media.  In other words, web sites, ads, commercials, etc. are still needed to build the brand.  Social media really just gives brand loyal people a place to congregate.

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Building a brand presence depends on the brand.  I really could care less about learning more about a cookie.  I would be interested in learning more about flat screen televisions if I was in the market to buy one

Mitch Wagner
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In the distant days of mid-2011, smart marketers said they should have a hub-and-spoke model. Social media drives customers to the Web site, where they convert. 

Now, I don't think customers need to be driven to the Website anymore. You want to find ways to convert them wherever they are: In email, on social media, on their mobile devices, wherever. 

Maybe a military metaphor is best: The Website is the stronghold, from which the markter sends out scouting parties to other channels. 

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