The chances are that as you read this some business, somewhere is signing a contract for the development of a new website. Meanwhile, a meeting is being held in a boardroom somewhere that is discussing the future of the company’s website. At the same time, those companies that have yet to get a website – 47% of all businesses in a recent study – are making the decision today that they are going to get a website after all.
Yet, while this is all going on, Internet users are abandoning company websites in their droves. According to one study, there has been a fall in visits to company websites of 23% in the past 12 months. Seven out of ten companies in the Fortune 100 have reported drops in visitor traffic. Another study found that 28% of audiences thought that business website content was “in the dark ages” and that 60% of all web content produced by companies went unread.
Businesses are busy producing more and more content for fewer and fewer visitors. Madness.
What is going on?
The fact of the matter is, Internet users have moved on much more quickly than businesses. Most companies are lagging way behind what visitors expect. They no longer want an all-singing, all-dancing website. What they want is a company’s “presence”. They expect a businesses they want to engage with to be on social networks, for instance. They expect to engage via YouTube or Vimeo. And they expect the company to appear in forums and to have apps available as well. Going to the website for a business is so “old hat” these days, at least that’s what Internet users appear to think.
Nowadays, when people want to find out about a company they’ll pop along to visit the company page on Facebook or Google+. If they want to know about the products a company sells, they head over to the relevant LinkedIn product page. If someone wants to read your press releases they can find them on Google News. And if they want to check out your financial picture, then Yahoo! Finance can help. In fact, people are spoilt for choice as to the places they can go to find out about a business. They don’t need to go to a corporate website.
Companies, however, think differently. That’s because to them it is about control. They want to be “in charge” of what people see about them online and so by having their own space, their own company website, they can feel they are controlling what people get to know about them. This misses the fact that their customers can be busy chatting about them in Facebook, promoting the company or being negative, over which there is no control. Companies are struggling to accept that the Internet has changed the balance of power and removed much control from companies.
So, that’s why they cling on to running a corporate website. It gives them a sense of control; it make them feel in charge. Meanwhile, Internet users are ignoring them because they have their own sense of control, being able to decide where they go for company information and how they get it.
Companies need to admit it – corporate websites are history. Time to move on and starting working on “web presence”.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+