Commentary

Your Website -- It's Where the Party's At

These days, it's hard to avoid all the messages insisting brands must be active in social media. I'm sure that many, if not all, of your agency, media, and industry partners are encouraging you to create, increase and optimize your presence in social media.

And they're not wrong. But we have to remember the bigger picture. Social media channels are an invitation you extend to prospective customers to engage with your brand. An invitation, if you will, to a party. Your website is where the party is at. It's the house your brand built.

Unfortunately, having been distracted by all the new, shiny social media toys, many of us have let our homes get a little shabby. But if you are engaging the social media channels correctly, you are likely increasing your brand site traffic. Which means it's time to take a fresh look at your brand website and activate that buzzword we all love to throw around but often never actually deliver on -- optimization.

Remind yourself of the core purpose of a brand website: It's about owning your brand and establishing yourself as the "official source" for information about it. In the travel category, this is even more critical. Travelers consult many online resources in their search. And with thousands of travel sites claiming to know your brand better than you do, your brand site must strongly declare its presence as the single best, most accurate repository of information any interested traveler might want.

Fulfilling the consumer's need for information is what keeps you in their consideration set and ultimately enables them to decide whether to choose you. This should be your organizing principle when optimizing your homepage. Prioritize those things that will most likely compel today's travel consumer and then, please, make them easy to find.

Yes, you have thousands of beautiful pictures. Yes, you have hours of video. But let's be honest. These days it's all about the offer. Remember the "new normal"? The post-recessionary consumer takes pride in finding the best deal and will not settle for less. It's time to buck up and realize that just being you won't seal the deal. No matter how many times you've won "Most Popular," if you aren't anteing up a strong offer, the suitors are going elsewhere.

Now bring on the beautiful pictures and video. Bring on the consumer-generated content and reviews. Bring on whatever your customer needs to determine whether you're a match. But, please, remember to use your Information Architects. They are there for a reason -- to save you from yourself and the urge to put every possible thing you can on your homepage.

Once the content is organized, find yourself a User Interface expert. This is your web conscience. A good UI developer helps you integrate the information you have into an enjoyable, aesthetically pleasing and efficient browsing experience: in other words, the web holy grail.

While you're making renovations, look again at your site metrics. Is your site properly tagged to ensure accurate data capture? Are you tracking all the new and different ways visitors are coming to your site? And are you using the right metrics to determine whether your efforts are working? Now is the time to reevaluate and recalibrate.

So why all this, why now? Well, Forrester recently published that 77% of marketers plan to move TV dollars to social media this year. And 73% are shifting more money to online advertising. So do your brand a favor. Take some of that money and put it into the house you're inviting everyone to enter.

Let's get this party (re)started.

3 comments about "Your Website -- It's Where the Party's At ".
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  1. Jack Kelly from Adva Mobile, February 22, 2010 at 1:10 p.m.

    And where are those travellers when they are seeking information? On their mobile phones! That's what optimization means to (self serving) me. Not a word about mobile phone optimization misses an opportunity to impart critical advice.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 22, 2010 at 2:33 p.m.

    No No No Those teeny tiny pictures on mobile with so much teeny tiny type will not enhance the leisure travel business which is necessary and not much business travel business. Plain old airline or a known quantity hotel reservations, confirmations and such are a different story. Unless you know the taste and opinion of someone, you don't know if yours will be the same. It's really not that hard to find things without a phone or to talk to people. So far, even in the countries in which I have visited and phoneless, there has never been a problem.

  3. Joel Warady from Joel Warady Group, February 27, 2010 at 9:49 a.m.

    I have to disagree with you as well. To use your analogy, we used to have the parties at our house. But the times have changed. Now parties are more spontaneous, and the parties are where the people are, not necessarily back at the house. Companies have to be prepared to have a party wherever its customers want to be at any particular time.

    Otherwise, you will have a situation where you might hold a party, send out all of the invitations, and no one shows. Not a good thing!

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