Over the last few years I have really become very aware of the important connection between a website owner and their website. The arrival of Content Management Systems has provided website owners with the opportunity to update their websites directly and in my opinion (and most importantly) allows the website owner to be an active participant in the process.
And, I might add, not every website owner understands or view the website from this point of view, at least not initially. But make no mistake about your website - it is a part of the team and it is going to play an active role in your company's success.
In the old days (first generation - or Web 1.0), websites were seen as electronic brochures to a large extent. You were really taking the marketing and sales brochure of your organization and placing it online. Based on past experience - and also by the process through which websites were primarily managed back then - creating and launching a website was a "one time" event, with the website going live and then "great - I don't have deal with that for another few years". Your connection to any updates to the website were through your webmaster. Generally to pay a webmaster to update your website was costly and quite often not very timely - so this only reinforced the view of a one-time setup process of a website....
Roll forward to Web 2.0 and websites have now become a much more active part of the operations of a company (including the marketing, sales, and operations). The basis of a glorified brochure sitting online is becoming a thing of the past, and content management systems have become the norm. Your website is now a key player within your corporate team. Here are just a few of the roles websites now play:
- First impression of your company for a prospective customer. (Marketing)
- Introduction information about your company and key staff.(Marketing)
- Descriptions of services and products that your company sells. (Marketing & Sales)
- Key contact information, including directions to your office, e-mails & phone numbers. (Marketing & Sales)
- Inquiry forms that entice a prospect to send a sales inquiry, as well as Social Media to engage your customers and web visitors. (Marketing & Sales)
- Online Content, blogs, e-NEWS, photos and multimedia (Operational & Marketing)
- Online Shops and e-Commerce (Marketing & Sales)
- Subscriptions, registration login and customer portals (Operational)
- Customer forms and documents (Operational & Sales)
- 3rd Party add-on products such as Real Estate IDX (Operational & Marketing)
These items should really highlight the roles a website can provide to your company. And like any other team member, the website and its results should be actively included in periodical staff meetings. For every organization to be able to maximize the use of their website, this team member must be given high consideration!
So take the time to consider your website's role within your organization. Starting with the education of staff members who learn how to update and manage content (and become responsible for it). Expand your knowledge of website statistics (so you can track and measure your success) and make these results a part of your corporate reviews and analysis. Call your website "Wilbur" if you have to - but be sure to create a culture where your website is an absolute part of your team!