For example, take a look at this screenshot of Buzzfeed's homepage as viewed from a mobile device. Buzzfeed knows that their audience spends a lot of time on their phones and they've optimized their website accordingly. Not only is the layout in a collage format, where photos stand out more than the fonts, but the images are large enough that tapping on them with your finger is easy.
Ideally, your social media should be one of the (many) tools used to hook an audience's attention and draw them closer to your company's brand and its offerings. Despite some concerns around the question of “are websites becoming obsolete?”, not having a populated and optimized company website—like Buzzfeed's—can be disastrous to every level of your company's ongoing and future successes.
It's your company website, and the multiple pages that exist on it, that have the power to convert leads into paying customers. Social media is critical, but so is a company website. You need both, but one cannot substitute the other.
Why is Having a Website Important to Your Company?
A website should act as the home base for your company. If your marketing team is spreading the word about your brand, then it's your sales team and company website that should meet the leads your marketers bring to your doorstep and welcome them inside.
The Search Engine Journal says that “Building quality relationships becomes a lot easier with the streamlined communication we get from social media, and building relationships with key influencers earns a lot of value for your brand.” However, a company cannot sustain itself on friendly relationships alone. To truly thrive, your company must build actionable relationships where both buyer and seller work together to support one another.
Are Websites Becoming Obsolete?
Websites have been around for a very long time, and with good reason. Even as technology continues to catapult itself into unexpected places, the foundational idea of a “website” remains concrete. So if anyone asks you if websites are becoming obsolete, or even outdated, you can respond with an emphatic “no!”
However, as critical as websites are to a company's success and sustainability, CNBC reports that “Almost half (45 percent) say they don't have a business website. And only about one third (36 percent) use a business website to communicate news to customers and potential customers.”
Not having a website is a tremendous oversight, especially for smaller companies looking to gain traction with their target audience. While social media can expose prospects to your brand, Pardot.com says that “Once your buyers begin to realize that they have a particular pain point, the research begins.” For over 70% of buyers, this means turning to Google and searching general terms related to their dilemma in hopes of finding a solution that can meet their needs.
While a social media page can sometimes show up on these search results, but it's far more likely that this researching buyer is “looking for educational material, customer reviews, and testimonials at this stage,” and they can only find that on a website. Think of it like this: your social media content can act as the roadmap that leads an eager explorer to your website, where they will find a treasure trove of material specially curated for their needs.
Your Company Needs an Anchor
Regardless of the investment required, having a company website is nothing less than essential. “People expect businesses to have their own websites, just as they used to expect businesses to have a real physical business address,” The Balance Small Business says, explaining that “Not having a business website raises questions in customers' eyes.”
If your audience is expecting you to have a service, and you don't have it, then you run the risk of losing their attention and business. Without a well-designed website to guide them through the buyer's journey, your leads can become directionless, as your social media funnels them toward a destination that is either ill-defined or entirely non-existent. You might still be generating leads, but they'll be leads that don't amount to actionable sales or profits.
Here's another example, this one taken from HubSpot's Twitter account:
Right away you'll notice that their setup is covered with links and CTAs that drive people looking at their Twitter page towards their website (their anchor). Their bio has a link, their pinned Tweet (complete with playful cat .gif) links to their website, and if you scroll down their feed you'll find a variety of clever tips, simple strategies, and links to read more on their website.
After your social media piques someone's interest—like HubSpot's Twitter would—your website should be able to step in and nurture them with helpful blog posts and other resources. Your blog posts should then direct these interested readers to contact forms that will convert them into an actionable lead while also continuing to provide them with the kind of valuable material that brought them to your website in the first place.
It's a cycle where attention → action → conversion. The better you can implement that cycle into your social media and company website platforms, the more effective your sales funnel can become.
A Balanced Approach
Social media pages and company websites both bring something vital and productive to the marketing world, but using one without the other is limiting at best and disastrous at worst. The two should be in dialogue with one another, not competition.
While it may feel tempting to forgo a traditional website in favor of a more comprehensive social media page, doing so will limit the ease with which your sales team can convert the leads your marketing team brings to them. It will also make it needlessly difficult to measure your ROI, as The Guardian explains that “it's difficult for SMEs to accurately measure the ROI from social media.” And without clearly trackable ROI, your company will never know if it's making the kind of profit it needs to survive.
In the end, there are many reasons to have a website, as they can not only provide you with all of the ROI data you could ever want—especially if you work with a CRM like HubSpot—but they can also improve your company's credibility, overall value, profit margins, and so much more.
A strong social media presence can (and will!) help your company keep a lead interested long enough to drive them to your website, where the real conversion magic can then take place. The two platforms should work alongside one another, and the clearer their alignment is, the brighter your company's successes will be.
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