Whilst we live in the era of social media and mobile apps, it’s important to understand that your website remains your most important digital asset. Here’s why…
You ‘own’ your website and it’s enduring. You have complete control over your website. You own the domain. You control where it is hosted. You have the ability to add content to it at will. You can change how the site is architected and designed. Nobody else has a say – it’s yours! The same cannot be said of lots of other digital ‘assets’ – your Facebook Page is controlled by Facebook; your Twitter feed is controlled by Twitter; your iOS and Android mobile apps are controlled to a certain extent by Apple and Google. Whilst you should absolutely invest in these other assets, your ‘owned’ website is at the core of your digital presence, it’s enduring and it should command appropriate attention in your digital mix.
It’s cheaper to focus on your website and it provides a platform to attract ‘earned’ media. Once your website and a content management system is in place, it’s generally much cheaper to invest your time and effort doing content marketing and attracting organic visitors (people who find you via the organic search engine listings) to your own site, rather than paying lots of money to third parties to attract customers through paid media. Paid media is expensive. If your website is attractive, accessible, contains great content, and is frequently updated with fresh material, then it may attract free earned media – inbound links from other websites, editorial from traditional media services, social shares and posts from bloggers. This is gold, because it is free! Your website is a great enduring platform for attracting earned media.
This diagram shows the three types of media: owned, earned and paid – focusing on owned and earned is the way to go:
Your website is ‘device agnostic’. Your website can be accessed on any device and on any operating system via a web browser (eg. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc). The same cannot be said of apps – for example, an Android app cannot be accessed on an iPhone or a desktop PC. Again, it’s important to consider apps as part of an overall digital mix, but not at the expense of a core website which can be accessed by the largest possible audience. And to ensure that the website is accessible to everybody, consider implementing ‘responsive design’ on your website – this means that your website will render appropriately on any device and screen size, and removes the need for separate desktop and mobile versions of your website (which isn’t great for search engine optimisation).
Your website represents a marketable destination. Consumers expect businesses to have websites and we’re conditioned to visit them when prompted through marketing – ‘find us on the web at www.yourbiz.com’. In recent times we’re seeing more businesses direct consumers to the App Store or Google Play – ‘find us in the App Store’ – but this requires the consumer to undertake multiple actions to transact with your business: they need to visit the App Store, search and install the app. This obviously works for businesses that are app-centric (eg. sports betting companies), but a better bet for most businesses is to ‘land’ consumers on their own website through their marketing efforts (eg. pay per click advertising should direct the consumer to an contextually-aligned landing page on the business’ website).
Your website is discoverable in search engines. Although Google has recently started listing app content in their search engine, websites remain the most searchable resource, and hence the most discoverable resource, in search engines. In Australia, more than 90% of all internet traffic is referred by a search engine (mostly Google) and therefore it’s critical that your website figures prominently in search engine results for appropriate keyword combinations. If you neglect your website in favour of other digital assets (eg. Facebook Page), then it’s likely that you will compromise your discoverability by consumers.
And that’s why your website remains your most important digital asset. The diagram below shows the website at the core of your digital mix. The supporting digital assets serve as a funnel to bring visitors to the website. Similarly, the website should provide options for users to access the supporting assets (eg. a Facebook button to alert the user to the fact that the business operates a Facebook Page) and to transact with the business via the technology that they are most comfortable with. The existence of multiple entry points and complementary technologies serves to increase the chance of discovery and ultimately results in increased visitation to the organisation’s digital assets.