Your Web Presence Can’t Live In the Past

On a constantly evolving internet, adaptability is key to the energy marketer’s relevance … and survival.

By Richard Rutigliano, PriMedia, Inc.

Depending on which scientist you ask, the universe is growing at a rate somewhere between 67 and 73 kilometers per second per megaparsec. That means for every 3.3 million lightyears a galaxy is located away from us, it’s moving 67-73 kilometers per second faster. The farther you go, the faster you get.

Distances like those may sound so out of reach that, overcome by the enormity of it all, most of us simply shrug our shoulders and go back to thinking about more identifiable values, like today’s crude price or the number of customers who’ve signed up for a budget plan so far this year. Sound familiar? No? How about these numbers?

According to the Cisco® Visual Networking Index (VNI), over 4.1 billion people will be using the internet by 2020. Having already surpassed one zettabyte in 2016 — that’s about one trillion gibabytes — total internet traffic will more than double by 2020, reaching 2.3 zettabytes.

Like the universe itself, the internet (for all intents and purposes, a universe unto itself) is expanding at a rate that most of us can hardly fathom. The difference, of course, is that we can actually see the effects of this growth right in front of us. The presence of more users demands greater bandwidth for better speed, which in turn prompts those users to demand better experiences and content from the sites they visit.

To keep up with user demand — or, for our purposes, customer demand — website owners and operators need to be light on their digital feet and ever cognizant of their digital footprints. They need their online assets to provide actionable, shareable content and just as importantly, to be easily accessible. Because what good is a great website that nobody can find in the first place?

Content and accessibility both fall under the umbrella of web presence optimization (WPO). Some marketers misguidedly equate WPO with search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), but the truth is it’s more than that. It’s a philosophy that says under ideal circumstances a company’s web presence — its website(s), blog(s), social media accounts and online reputation — is greater than the sum of its parts.

Admittedly, that value proposition hinges on a somewhat abstract equation, so let’s break it down to the aforementioned key elements: Content and Accessibility.

CONTENT IS (STILL) KING…
If you’ve read this column, you’ve heard that content is king. King Content’s reign continues, but a good king doesn’t rest on his laurels. He strives to ensure that his message is heard all across the land. In terms of internet strategy, that means content isn’t just the text, images and videos on your website; it’s the sole of your digital footprint.

Optimized content is informative, actionable and shareable. It shows your potential and existing customers something they didn’t know, inspiring them to act and to spread the word to others. This, of course, should be the goal of all your online efforts: your websites, your blogs, your social media pages … everything!

You might be wondering why I keep pluralizing those words, so let me clarify. If you have, for example, a local, family-owned heating oil business that delivers heating oil (or Bioheat® fuel) and services heating systems, then one website, one blog and maybe one or two social media accounts should be enough to communicate your message effectively online.

On the other hand, if you have a diversified, regional business that delivers Bioheat and propane; maintains multiple wholesale accounts; installs, repairs, and services oil and gas heating systems, as well as central air conditioning, heat pumps, and indoor air quality equipment; is branching out into home automation; and runs a small chain of fill-up convenience stores on the side … you’re going to have a tough time cramming all that content into one page of one website, or one post on one blog.

Just as you’ve diversified your brand, you need to diversify your content and your online platforms in order to connect the right audience with the right products and services. This is exactly what PriMedia has done. Because we serve clients in the Oilheat, Propane, and HVAC segments, we built microsites for each — oilheat-advertising.com, propane-advertising.com, and hvac-advertising.com — and we’ve now launched a new responsive website, goprimedia.com, to serve as the online hub of our energy and comfort marketing services.

To maintain our brand identity, the design remains consistent across all three microsites. What changes is the content. It would not make any sense, for example, to market a duty-to-warn letter writing campaign to an air conditioning company that doesn’t sell propane.

The same applies for your business; if you serve multiple categories of customers, you need to ensure that you’re delivering valuable, unique content to each segment when they’re on your website, blog and social media pages. Cross-marketing efforts can increase the value of each customer account, but if a customer gets the impression that the content they’re seeing doesn’t apply to them or can’t help them, they’ll tune out.

Strong writing and design are obviously critical, but as I indicated earlier, it’s all for naught if no one can find the content in the first place. So, yes, content is king…

BUT THE QUEEN RUNS THE SHOW
If content is king, then accessibility is the queen beloved by all the king’s subjects. Now the queen’s chamber contains many rooms, so let’s start at the entryway: the search engine. Google and Bing love unique content, but that content also needs to be equally accessible on multiple platforms — desktops, laptops, cell phones and tablets. That’s why today’s websites demand a responsive design. (If you don’t know what responsive design is, please call me right away. I have a white paper with your name on it.)

In addition to showcasing a clean, clearly branded, responsive design, a website should be supported by a blog filled with unique, informative content and by actively managed social media accounts that help spread the messages of the website and blog. For optimum results, a dedicated team of professional web developers, blog writers and social media experts should coordinate all of these efforts.

Ideally, the team will be a Google-Certified agency that knows from experience what the search giant is looking for when determining its rankings. The team should also have content- and reputation-management strategies that can be tweaked as needed. You can see now why we say that adaptability is of the utmost importance.

The queen has a reputation to uphold, and she doesn’t want to reward companies that don’t do right by their customers. That means if your company gets a bad review on a social media site or review page, you need to be able to respond promptly and convincingly. Satisfying a disgruntled customer is nice when possible, but it’s absolutely critical that you ensure your online reputation doesn’t take a big hit each time somebody complains. Your other customers are watching and so is the queen.

AN EVOLVING KINGDOM IN AN EXPANDING UNIVERSE
Websites, microsites, blogs, social media accounts, review pages, online reputations: we’re talking about a lot here. Further complicating things, the search engines are continually updating their algorithms, with rewards for some companies and penalties for others.

The universe that is the internet is constantly changing and growing right in front of us. The only way to keep up is to ensure that your world is evolving right along with it, or even better, ahead of it. Likewise, the farther you go to not only satisfy but anticipate the needs of your potential and existing customers, the quicker you’ll be able to do so and the better off your company will be both online and in the real world. The farther you go, the faster you get.

PriMedia’s world revolves around the needs of our clients, and we can help you develop a web presence optimization strategy that works for your business. To find out more, please give me a call at 800-796-3342 or visit goprimedia.com.

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