Your website is for selling, not marketing

I’m working for a big company who is in the midst of a rebrand at the moment. (When I say rebrand, it’s more the difficult task of altering the associations customers have with the company then the simpler task of updating their identity.) The rebrand is much needed and the direction they are taking I really like and makes a bunch of sense. It’s exciting to see it happening and I’m confident it will be a success.

One thing the digital team has been struggling with though is how that rebrand plays out on the companies website. There’s been a bunch of work and thinking going on by some smart people about how to update the website to reflect and support the new brand initiative but it all came to an interesting impasse the other day when we user tested the website. I’ll spare the details but it did prompt me to capture and collate some of my thoughts around where marketing sits in regards to a companies primary product website:

  1. If customers are at your website the marketing has worked, you can stop now and support them to do what they came to do.
  2. You’ve won their attention, now use it wisely. The job of your primary website is not to promote a marketing or brand initiative but to convert those coming through from a marketing or brand initiative. Don’t prioritise links off to marketing related content, you don’t want your customers to come looking for a product and head off to check out something else.
  3. Use language they are used to. Unless your marketing or the media has changed their vocabulary (“smart phone” is perhaps a good example of this) then use the language your customers would use. Users are often disorientated on a website and trying to understand where things may be found and how the site is structured, don’t add to this by using language that they are not used to even if it’s saying the same thing in a subtly different way.
  4. Treat your website like it’s a sales person, not a person on the street dressed in a chicken suit grabbing for your attention. Think about how a sales person would talk to a customer and guide them to what they are looking for with some soft selling along the way — your website should aim to do the same.
  5. And lastly, be careful about putting a campaign front and centre on the homepage. Your homepage should reinforce to customers that they are in the right place for whatever the bigger picture thing is you offer before spruiking a promotion you have on.

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