If the blogosphere were to be believed, you would think that that mainstay of the digital world, the website, has endured a slow, quiet death.
To the technorati, little old websites seem so last millennium.
But while terabytes are dedicated to sexier social networking, apps and pretty much anything to do with devices, websites have chugged away in the background to be even more indispensable than ever.
Because while much of the digital industry have moved onto more sophisticated technology, those responsible for business marketing have realised just how useful websites can be when promoting a ‘call to action’ within their promotional campaigns.
One only has to consume a small portion of the commercial media to witness the ubiquity of websites as a reliable and valuable call to action.
In fact, nowadays, advertisements of any sort that don’t include a web address are extremely rare.
Where’s your web address?
In an interesting but typical demonstration of this co-habitation of promotional real estate, of the 19 advertisers that advertised in the news section of a major weekend newspaper, only three did not include a web address as a call to action.
Of those three, one clearly wanted to drive traffic in-store rather than online whilst, to be honest, I don’t know what the other two were thinking. One was promoting an SMSF event and the other was a hair salon – both of which could easily take bookings from a website – these days the preferred communication method of millions.
I simply don’t understand why businesses like these would not have a website these days – particularly when they are now so affordable.
Ads accommodate websites
The other change that’s happened to traditional advertising as a direct result of the proliferation of websites is their content.
Prior to websites, and in the absence of other suitable calls to action, advertising had to provide much of the detail of the product it was promoting, or promote ‘a free brochure’. These days advertisements need only provide a snapshot of the benefits before pointing to the website for more detailed information.
The social networking replacement myth
There have been suggestions by some that websites have been made redundant by business pages on social networks but, really, nothing could be further from the truth.
Whilst all businesses should take advantage of the free advertising space these provide, you are still fundamentally locked into the confines of the LinkedIn or Facebook worlds.
Despite their efforts to attract revenue-raising businesses to their networks, it’s difficult for businesses to really differentiate within the walls of the network. Your pages can only appear in a certain way and offer only limited functionality.
Unlike your own website, which can allow you do pretty much as you please.
Instead, websites, and the pages they offer, provide the perfect ‘landing pages’ for the social networking efforts of the organisation concerned.
Working hand in hand
So, like traditional media, social networking posts provide a snapshot of the content before linking to the web-page for ‘the full story’ – whilst retaining the corporate ‘look and feel’ and other requirements that social network business pages just can’t replicate (as yet).
There’s no doubt that websites are continuing to morph with the changing needs of its users and technology advances (e.g. mobile websites). But until someone comes up with a solution which allows businesses to present themselves without creative or technological boundaries, they will continue to be the online home of all but the smallest of organisations.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond. www.theeteam.com.au.