On November 11, 2013, Coca Cola said that the corporate website is dead. Even though Coca Cola had no evidence to back up such a drastic statement, there where quite few questions asked and the myth of the corporate website’s death seems to live on. So let’s kill this myth now and move on, here’s why.
First of all, Coca Cola doesn’t even believe it. Sure, they’ve spiced up their website with storytelling created by a huge editorial team and a different navigation, but with a look under the hood you’ll find the same content that you’d expect to find on any corporate website. Look at their investor relation pages and their pages for governance & ethics or sustainability. Nice design and good content, but still a pretty classic corporate website, with all the stuff that corporate stakeholders expect to find there. Not much new and not dead at all.
But what about the stakeholders, are they leaving the corporate websites to die? Content marketing thought leader Michael Brenner, previously at SAP, now at a content agency is perhaps the biggest player when it comes to dooming the corporate website. His text about the death of the corporate website is the most read article on this subject and has been posted on his own blog B2B Marketing Insider, LinkedIn and even Forbes. He has also been tweeting out links to them regularly for almost a year.
Proofs that don’t hold…
Brenner’s “proofs” of the corporate website’s death are that number of visitors are decreasing, the customer journey happens mainly elsewhere and that the most traffic is concentrated to 10% of the pages on the website.
Sure, numbers of visitors decrease because people have more places to find information on nowadays. The average FT100 company has 320 different social media accounts (Source: Nexgate) and produce more and more content outside the corporate website, to be where customers are. But that doesn’t mean that the corporate website as a hub for corporate information is dead. Corporate communication has just become more fragmented.
And it’s very natural for a website to have an uneven balance of traffic. Obviously a career front page will be more visited than an anti-corruption policy, but they both have an important place to fill.
…and proofs that do
Julie Schwartz, Senior VP of Research & Thought Leadership at marketing insights company ITSMA writes this as a comment to the original post from Brenner:
“We recently did a survey of over 400 buyers of high ticket technology-based solutions and found that the #1 online source of information is technology solution provider websites. Only 4% said that they rarely visit solution provider websites.”
Common proofs of the importance of the corporate website can also be found in Webranking by Comprend, Europe’s leading survey of corporate websites and the only global ranking that is based on stakeholder demands. In Comprend’s research, the vast majority of corporate stakeholders (journalists, job seekers, investors, general public, government etc.) say that their first stop for company information is the corporate website, followed by Wikipedia.
The corporate website is not dying so let’s evolve it instead
I’m all for evolving corporate websites to better meet stakeholders demands and not publish content that noone wants just because “we’ve always had that information there”. That’s what I try to do every day at work as a corporate content strategist.
But to claim that the corporate website is dead is either simple click bait or plain ignorance. Let’s hope for the former.
Disclaimer: I work as a content strategist at digital agency Comprend that is mentioned in the text.