004 - "Things aren't always #000000 and #FFFFFF"
Has digital media evolved to the point where a website is rendered useless? I mean, think about your own experiences with companies and their endless digital footprints...facebook, twitter, instagram, parler (if it ever rises from the digital grave), google, snapchat, tiktok, whatsapp, linkedin, youtube, ebay, rumble, spotify, amazon, shopify, yahoo, android/ios apps...and on and on and on...you get the idea. It's hard to even include a traditional website in that mix any more. When was the last time you visited www.cocacola.com, www.ge.com, www.charmin.com, or any other general brand for that matter? Have you EVER visited them? It's pretty well known what a can of coke can offer as part of your consumer expectations...or what a piece of Charmin toilet paper can do as for your post-coffee trips to the 'office'. These type of companies have a website presence for mostly the sake of having one. GE doesn't even retail their products to consumers...therefore, you would have to gather pricing, specs, and delivery options through one of their wholesale accounts anyway. The fact is, for companies like this...where major brand awareness & product education has already been accomplished, a website is nothing more than an information portal to other forms of online footprints.
Let's us Charmin as our spotlight example for two reasons...one, it helps prove my point in this piece...and two, because it probably aligns with the location of where you are reading this post (the can). As you can see in the following data pooled together by statista.com, Charmin's top product line (Ultra) not only dominates the entire tp space, but literally has a sub-category of 'other' product lines that are worthy of inclusion. It's safe to say that the majority of the population knows what Charmin is and what services they can provide. So what the hell do they need a web presence for? It is physically impossible for Charmin products to work digitally...although if they figure it out, I'll be very impressed!
Joking aside...the 'business' answer does make sense. Charmin.com is actually an e-commerce website more than anything. P&G (Charmin's parent company) has been very successful with creating direct retail channels to customers for the majority (if not all) of their brands. Yes, this undercuts their wholesale & distribution partners, but again, when the focus is not on brand awareness nor product education, more resources can be put towards product availability. So back to the poo-paper...Charmin's marketing team (with or without the assistance of P&G), still needs to engage with people...cue in the Charmin app...yes...there literally is a Charmin app. I know your first question...because I had it too. The answer is NO, the app is not a place to log your poops, how many squares you used to wipe, or 'like' & 'share' your friends bowl posts. It is, however, a platform for games to play while conducting your business. If you're a 'phone-gamer', I find it difficult believe that there aren't better games offered outside of a tp app, but nonetheless...credit for creativity.
P&G is also a publicly traded company and therefore requires several searchable company details for their brands. Investor information is an essential piece to any company of that magnitude, and what better place to store all relative information pieces than a website. So here is where the point of the piece gets proven...ready? Websites today are only a tool. Think of a website as a company's 'Grand Central Station'...an information gateway hub that can link you to all other forms of social media, apps, and digital landscapes. A good website needs to be simple, easy to navigate, mobile/tablet friendly (most companies neglect this vital requirement), and most importantly answer the following conversion questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, & How?
WHO: Generally found in the 'about us' (or equivalent) section, the answer to WHO you are tells your customers a bit about the inner workings of your company.
WHAT: Not a surprise here...the answer to WHAT your product/service is should be the fundamental purpose of your site. Be sure to include specs, pricing, and all details relative to the product/service.
WHERE: Whether you have a product or service (or both), the answer to WHERE your customers can find/use this product/service is another vital piece to converting the sale.
WHEN: Separating the 'who' portion of when...ie, the history of the company, the answers that most customers seek on WHEN are more focused on the timeline they can expect to have the product or service completed and in their hands.
WHY: This one could get cheesy quick...so be careful! Users are on your site for a specific reason...generally because they searched for a term that led them to your site in a search engine, or if your marketing is on par, they found you through other channels. Either way, users need assurances that your product/service can provide the solutions they are seeking.
HOW: The most important of the conversion questions...HOW can the customer get the product/service. E-comm? Retail partners? Service quotes? Be very specific on this answer...it is usually the make-or-brake on whether a customer converts with you or with a competitor.
Alright...so now that we've gone through the specifics...your website should be rockin' and rollin' right now, right? Well..."Things are not always #000000 (black) and #FFFFFF (white)". All of the answers to the conversion questions need to appear in searches that put you on the digital web radar and get users to your site. On the next piece, we'll dive into some of the SEO tools that can help get your info out there...stay tuned...