Websites could and should be so much more
100 years ago the first fighter plane used by the new Royal Air Force was the legendary Sopwith Camel. It could climb at a rate of nearly six metres per second, was armed with machine guns and had a maximum speed of a little over 100mph. The Eurofighter Typhoon on the other hand, which is set to become today’s dominant RAF interceptor, can climb at around 315 metres per second, is armed with multiple guns, missiles and bombs and has a top speed of Mach 2.3.
Just as the technology and engineering of modern-day aircraft is incomparable to early planes, so today’s internet and modern business-to-business websites are far removed from the early days of online, both in capability and design. Ironically, too many businesses still rely on websites more analogous to the Sopwith Camel to battle the challenges of new business development and deliver growth.
An antiquated and unreliable website can hold back your business, and damage your brand. A big factor is the rise of the smartphone. More online search activity takes place on mobile devices than on desktops, so having a website optimised for mobile is a no-brainer and, Google is now looking at blacklisting websites that aren’t. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is also crucial to helping potential customers find you instead of your competitors. It’s inevitable that at some point your potential customers will search for you online so why make this harder for them and risk their looking elsewhere?
For some, the website remains little more than an online brochure. It could and should be so much more. As a tool for lead generation, the effectiveness of digital channels is proven. Case in point: we recently redesigned the website of an engineering sector client that manufactures safety-critical products for use in hazardous environments, including a full SEO programme. The organisation not only saw a 60% increase in online traffic, and climbed the search rankings 73 places, but sales enquiries received via the web contact form doubled.
The website is of course only one element of an effective digital strategy. Online publications are a key element of successful digital PR and marketing, and social media is ideal for building personal relationships, sharing news and raising awareness. Again, social media is widely misunderstood in this sector. For example, a refrain we have heard repeatedly from clients is that LinkedIn – an active online community including a third of all professionals on the planet – is “just a job site.” This misses the point. LinkedIn and other social media platforms provide the opportunity to effectively connect with business communities comprising prospects, clients, buyers and influencers.
On a separate note, the GDPR regulations coming into force on 25th May are forcing companies to think long and hard about how they use the data they hold on both potential and existing buyers. Are you sending out an email newsletter, or using a database of email addresses (whether from a bought list or acquired from business cards gathered at a trade show)? Under GDPR, you’ll need to get consent from individual users to carry on doing so. One possible solution to this is to avoid the problem by reverting to more traditional methods such as direct mail or advertising. However these channels, particularly advertising, can often be difficult to evaluate, not to mention expensive, and if you are investing in marketing you’ll want to be able to effectively measure return on investment. It’s far better for a business with specialist expertise and a clearly defined target market to adapt its approach by obtaining consent from those key contacts and continuing to communicate with them directly. That calls for compelling content and a great user experience, which comes back to a reliance on effective copywriting and creative design, combined with proven technical expertise.
Perhaps now’s the time to consign that Sopwith Camel to a museum and see your online performance soar?
Iain Humphrey Managing Director, Oyster Studios