Don’t Wave Goodbye to Your Website Just Yet

A new Gartner study indicates marketers believe websites are still top of the pack when it comes to digital marketing strategies.

Corporate websites still beat out social marketing as a more successful digital marketing method, according to a new Gartner survey of more than 250 U.S. marketers.

Roughly half of respondents said the design, development, and maintenance of a website were the most successful contributors to marketing success, more than social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Corporate websites perhaps have a key reputational role to play in the marketing mix, supplementing and underpinning social media marketing spending.

“The survey results suggest that the corporate website will not be displaced anytime soon by a brand’s social media presence,” Bill Gassman, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. “That’s all the more reason for marketing leaders to continuously invest in measuring and optimizing their websites through web analytics and testing, paying attention to all aspects—from customized landing pages to compelling content that encourages visitors to be engaged with your brand.”

David Hollender, principal internet communications strategist at Mind Sky, and Amy Hissrich, web strategy director for ASAE, recommend designing a measurement program around outreach, engagement, and conversion metrics.

But before you begin analyzing and measuring, it’s important to know your audience.

The web team at the American Mathematical Society discovered this when it redesigned its website to be more member-focused. To manage the transition from what it termed as an “inwardly focused” site, AMS web staff began by asking a single user what he/she wanted from the website and used that feedback to reach out to more users and engage in conversations with them about how they used the AMS website. Ultimately, the user feedback led to a redesigned site with increased engagement.

“Treating users as collaborators from the start changed the picture entirely,” AMS web editor, Elizabeth Ayer, and technical producer, Timothy E. McMahon, wrote in Associations Now.

With the rise of mobile technology, designing for the user experience now also includes conversations about responsive design and app technology.

All this isn’t to say that social media is insignificant to digital marketing—43 percent of respondents to the Gartner study said it was an important element of marketing success. Rather, where social media can prove useful is in extending engagement with a website’s foundational message.

“Corporate websites perhaps have a key reputational role to play in the marketing mix, supplementing and underpinning social media marketing spending—by providing reassurance of a brand’s professionalism where a Facebook page can provide evidence of user engagement/approval (or otherwise),” according to Natasha Lomas at Techcrunch.

Overall, the Gartner study found, as one might expect, that digital marketing is expected to grow significantly in importance over the next couple of years. Seventy-five percent of respondents said it will be very important one year from now, as opposed to 48 percent who reported it is very important today. And almost 90 percent of respondents said it will be very important in two years.

What are your digital marketing priorities?


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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