The Myth: The primary purpose of your web site should be to serve as a combination brochure and on-line ordering portal for customers and prospects.
The Reality: Consumers (both BtoB and BtoC) now expect far more than product information and convenience in ordering from online resources.
In recent blogs, I shared three megatrends of 21st century marketing: Megatrend #1: that customers expect multichannel, preference-driven communications; Megatrend #2: that they expect us to trust their requirements for deeper engagement; and Megatrend #3: that consumers are willing to share significant amounts of information about their preferences in order to gain valuable information or resources.
Megatrend # 4: Websites must now provide a three-dimensional experience that engages the customer and abandons the current one-dimensional, corporate, "me"-oriented Web experience.
Per VOC research, the three dimensions of experience, in order of importance, are:
- Provide access to peers, for the most trusted information and recommendations,
- Provide access to relevant subject matter experts, and
- Provide easier and faster access to the corporation before, during, and after purchases.
Examples of companies who do this well:
- Amazon.com, now allows shoppers to connect to their Facebook accounts. As a result, Amazon can now display their friends' favorite books, films, and so on. Amazon also provides access to both expert and amateur reviewers (via its main site) and to a wide range of peers and content experts (via its Omnivoracious interactive blog site).
- TunerFish, a start-up owned by Comcast, lets users share TV shows and movies they are watching... creating a real-time "TV guide" of programs for friends.
- Loopt, a location-focused social network with over 3.4 million registered users, recently began showing them which of their friends liked a particular restaurant.
Megatrend #4 carries broad marketplace implications likely to play out for decades. According to The New York Times, on-line social networks of friends and colleagues are now a more trusted source of purchase recommendations than traditional search!
- "The trust factor of friends' suggestions can make a big difference... Loopt's users are 20 times more likely to click on a place their friends liked...than a place that simply ranked higher in search results." -- Sam Altman, Co-founder of Loopt
Take a fresh look at your site. Identify how you can provide a three-dimensional experience which provides, in order of importance, better access to:
- Subject Matter Experts
- Your Company
Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.
Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.
Ernan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.
His latest book on marketing best practices was published in October, 2010, and is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.
Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales".