Above the Din...

I've been thinking for some time about the "value" of large brand Web sites and what it takes to rise above the din. It seems for product manufacturers who lived and in many cases thrived in the old model of building a Web site and trying to drive "traffic," get "eyeballs" and create "stickiness." These site owners are also likely still reporting (if they are doing any reporting at all) on click-through and page views.

I am a ardent believer that the model has shifted and most in health care organizations are just beginning to get their heads around that change. Especially interesting in a time when most people in the organization are just realizing that they should embrace online--except that it took them years to understand an old marketing model.

Those brand Web site owners who think that simply building a Web site, adding some content periodically and having an agency run a display and SEM campaign have fulfilled their expectations are off the mark.

I think there are two trends officially percolating related to content and Web site design. First, is that engagement is the new metric. Forrester Research analyst Brian Haven discusses this here:

Secondly, I'd like to officially call for the death the old destination Web site model. The notion of building large brand Web sites and continually trying to keep it fresh with new content is dead. I have first hand experience and knowledge that keeping a site fresh in a regulated product environment is nearly impossible. People aren't coming to manufacturer Web site to learn about health, diet and exercise, so why do you think it's beneficial to spend time, money and effort to create it? They will go to WebMD, Revolution Health or any number of sites with better, more in-depth content.

Rather, I think the model that will begin to take hold is similar more of a hub and spoke model. Create a dynamic, interactive brand experience (hub) with enough information and content to fulfill on critical business goals. Drive product awareness, interactive product demonstrations, video testimonials, create a positive brand experience, state who you are and what you stand for as a brand, provide enough related content to satisfy and be a place for exemplary customer service.

The kicker and where the spokes come in is to provide your content in ways that people want to receive it, email, RSS feeds, widgets, video, and create for multiple distribution points for your branded content versus driving people back to your destination.

Same goal, much, much different approach.
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