Websites don’t matter. The content on them and the content that gets consumed and shared (wherever) is what matters.
I recently responded to a blog article that posed the question “are corporate websites dead?” My take was that the purpose and function of corporate websites is changing – they will still serve as a repository for corporate information but the days of websites being a ‘destination’ for information about the things you do are long gone. An Example:
Recent changes to driving laws where I live now make it illegal to hold/use a cell phone while driving. I needed to pick up a good quality Bluetooth headset. While scanning some recent tweets I noticed a comment about a new Plantronics Bluetooth headset. I followed the link to a YouTube video. It sounded interesting but I wasn’t convinced. I then viewed a number of related reviews on YouTube that seemed more credible and decided that this was indeed the device that suited my needs. I Googled to find the best price and ordered the product online. I never went to the Plantronics website – there was no reason to. I know the company and have purchased products from them before so there were no credibility issues to investigate.
The user generated videos I viewed provided good general information but ultimately the more professionally created videos sold me. The whole process took ten minutes and at the end of it I felt very informed and very comfortable making a purchase decision. Would I have been as confident if I just went to the Plantronics site and consumed their literature? No way. Would I have been as comfortable if I went to my local electronics store and waited to listen to an inexperienced sales clerk sell me on equipment he may or may not have a lot of real experience with? No.
We are moving from the ‘text web’ to the ‘next web’ ( or ‘web something dot something’) and many companies still don’t see it coming. I’d rather watch a video review or video product demo than read product literature because video and other rich media content show me things that a document cannot. It’s also easier to make value judgments about the presenter and the content.
There is huge value in showing your product/service being used, showing people talking about their experiences with the product and showing how it clearly benefits the potential buyer.
It’s the content (and where that content is seen) that matters, not the website and the implications of this reach far beyond simple consumer products. All companies have to take into account how social media, rich media, mobile engagement, word of mouth, and especially the creation of truly valuable content is going to affect their brand and their business. Even companies with long sales cycles that involve complex buying decisions need to consider how they are going to engage the ‘next web.’