A new study out by ForeSee Results shows that less than 1% of site visitors come from a Social Media URL. It also states that 18% of visitors report being influenced by Social Media to visit a web site.
So, what does this mean? First, it means that simply having a Facebook page doesn’t lead to increased site traffic. It also means that if you have a targeted and effective Social Media Marketing campaign, you can see an increase in site traffic.
These two things may seem contrary to each other, but the simple fact remains that we are, as marketers, still learning a lot about the effectiveness of social media on our marketing efforts.
However, one thing that hasn’t changed is that a web site is still important and that the strategy for that web site is crucial. Social media marketing is about conversation and your web site is about conversion. This is where you make the connections that lead to business.
I’m not saying that you can’t make business connections in social media channels. Of course you can, but your web site is where you can readily convert a prospect into a client.
To illustrate this point I want to focus on 3 reasons your web site is still your most important marketing piece:
- You Own It!
- Search Engines Look For It!
- Content Marketing Needs It!
You Own It!
We all know that Facebook is popular, will readily admit that LinkedIn is still the best professional social network out there, and am definitely a Twitter fanatic. But does this mean it’s time to abandon your web site in favor of these? No.
Here is the main reason why, you do not own them: these pages are not yours. Don’t believe me? Read the terms and conditions. Plus, these sites are forever changing the rules. The headaches of having to redo your Facebook fan page when they removed FBML are proof enough. This is not your site and you have limited control.
Your web site is yours, you own it! You can design it and control the look, message and tone there. You can also do a lot more to control the user experience to drive better conversion. Plus, it is all about you – no friends, ads, or other distractions to overshadow your message.
Take advantage of ownership:
- Make your web site unique with strong design that reinforces your marketing efforts. This is how you stand apart from every other WordPress template site and Facebook Company Page.
- Think through the user experience – work with your web designer and a group of advisors and valued clients to craft a meaningful user experience with a strategically-developed site architecture.
- Think about goals, you have more control here, so focus on what your goals are and how you can use the navigation and design to drive goal conversion.
Search Engines Look for It!
Yes, social media is being integrated into search more and more each day. The search engines are crawling these pages in an effort to identify your social authority and what kind of reach and influence you have online.
More importantly, the search engines are still looking for your web site. They are looking for the best possible answers to their search queries. Do you think Google wants to show a top 10 results page full of Facebook links? They want the search results page to be diverse yet effective and relevant.
Search engines will list social media pages but mainly when you search for the proper name associated with it (ex: if you search my name, you will see my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles). For more keyword specific terms, you will find results that list blogs, forums, etc. So, include these on your web site:
- Host your Blog on your domain, e.g. www.yourdomain.com/blog. This way, your Blog content shows up in search engines and is tied to other areas of your site that are targeted towards conversion.
- If you have video, podcasts or webinars, add an archive section on your web site. You can and should post these on sites like YouTube and SlideShare, but you also want this content on your site.
- You can also post video and reviews of that video on your Blog. This is more keyword rich content driving rankings for your site.
Your web site should be driven by content. Develop a strong content strategy starting with your web site as the main content repository and you will have your editorial calendar in place to keep you moving forward – placing quality, keyword rich content on your site regularly.
I would argue that it continues to be important from a search perspective for your company to have a well built website with targeted landing pages and a solid content marketing strategy.
Content Marketing Needs It!
Content marketing is a newer term for an old idea. If you push useful content, become a resource for potential clients and show yourself to be a trusted expert, you will win business. You might remember this from your old-school networking days… “the giver’s gain”.
The basic premise means that you provide quality content that is of some immediate value to the user. You can do this on social media sites like LinkedIn, YouTube, SlideShare, Facebook, etc. and you should.
But your site should be the centralized source of all of this content. You want your web site to be your central content marketing hub – the destination from your outreach efforts and the source of your content push.
Why? Because, as we previously covered, you control the user experience on your site. You can bring users in with valuable content and through smart design and effective navigation you can convert them into clients. This is not as easy to control on social media outlets because there are too many distractions getting in your way. Marketing on social media can sometimes be like herding cats.
Your site should contain a Blog with entries that appear on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. It should have a video feed from your YouTube channel. It should be the source of any eBooks you promote. And the majority of the information you promote in your email marketing should live here.
The web is changing and you need to be able to change with it. But this does not mean that you should relinquish control. Marketing is still about crafting the message and controlling its delivery. Sure, it’s become easier for the user to control but at the end of the day, content still needs a source. Make sure that source is your web site!
I don’t mean to pummel a dead horse here but this is very important. If your idea of content marketing is placing a mention here and there about what you do, you’ve got it all wrong. Content marketing is much more than that:
- Start a Blog and make it useful to the reader
- Host seminars and webinars, record these and post them on your site
- Post white papers, eBooks, studies and published articles with source reference
- Ask people to guest Blog, guest host a seminar or webinar, and post this on your site
- Host contests and integrate with a specific social media channel
- Even more! Be creative, thinking about the user
The important thing is that all of this is focused and tied to goals. Your marketing approach needs to be targeted. And the best anchor for all of your content marketing and general marketing efforts is your web site.
What do you think about a web site’s importance? Let me know in the comments below.