The New Corporate Web Site

A security software development start-up had an innovative software product but a limited budget for launching and promoting the offering. The company used a combination of an event marketing strategy and social media to take its first product to market. Over the course of several weeks, the company not only launched its product but also won an industry-recognized award. The firm engaged R2integrated (R2i) to develop a series of product-centric microsites based on social media campaigns.

TAKING A NEW PRODUCT TO THE MARKET

Since the firm was a start-up, its executives were watchful of the budget given the costs of launching a company. For this reason, the company used open-source software and lightweight social media tools to support its marketing efforts. An open-source content management system supported the company’s marketing initiatives, while the popular blogging software WordPress allowed the firm to post relevant content quickly.

As part of the company’s event-driven marketing strategy, it used a series of industry conferences to launch its first product, a software tool designed to recognize network intrusions before they happened. The firm employed a variety of social media to not only document its product-related events but also to interact and engage with potential prospects online.

The firm decided to launch its fledgling product at the industry’s leading conference and trade show. For several weeks leading up to the event, it accelerated its use of social media tools. Executives wrote several blog posts per day, posted multiple “tweats” and even published product demonstrations to Flickr.

THE PROBLEM WITH SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS

The firm realized that its Web-based marketing efforts existed both on and off the corporate website. The website, however, included little mention of the company’s activities on Blip.TV, Flickr or Twitter. The first problem with this approach to social media was that off-site activities had low visibility for visitors on the corporate website. How would a website visitor know, for example, that the firm’s team was hanging out on Twitter or had interesting interviews on Blip.TV? The second problem the company faced was that its corporate website was becoming less relevant because its marketing content was formal and static rather than social and dynamic.

THE SOLUTION

A combination of RSS feeds and widgets solved both of the above-described problems. R2i was able to “widgetize” the content from its blogs, Twitter and Flickr, and as a result, this content was aggregated into one place on the corporate website. These pages, known as “learning centers,” gave prospective customers a unique look at the company and featured a range of content that included white papers, analyst reports, “webinars” and social media.

For example, when the firm gave a product demonstration at an industry conference, the event sponsor provided all attendees with a video of the performance. Immediately after the video became available, R2i was able to embed the video via a widget directly into its website. When the team arrived back home, it used the same widget to post the video on its blogs.

Widgets also solved website relevancy issues in that the learning centers were able to feature a variety of new content. For example, visitors to the website were able to scan Twitter messages posted from the conference room floor. Other content included blog posts that were “live blogged” and Flickr photos of the firm’s employees socializing with various groups from their booth. For visitors to the corporate website, the learning centers provided an immersive experience.

SOCIAL MEDIA RESULTS

After attending several trade shows and creating three purpose-built learning centers, several benefits have emerged for the firm. The website became more relevant at the same time that it directed visitors to a variety of off-site content items and experiences.

Since many content items were posted live from industry events, the learning centers provided website visitors with a unique vantage point, giving them a direct line of sight into the process of launching an award-winning product as well as an opportunity to learn about the product itself through a range of content types and file formats. Visitors to the learning centers were able to consume formal content items like analyst reports that shared the page with more conversational items like Twitter “tweats.” Even a low-tech video (described as “gorilla cool”) joined the company’s arsenal of marketing collateral.

Your Corporate Website Isn’t Dead… Yet

A brand is infinitely more than a company logo and color scheme. Brands represent the ethos of organizations. Your brand should elicit a reaction from your customers and serve to connect with them on an emotional level. By building meaningful connections to your brand through compelling user experiences, whether online or off-line, you will effectively strengthen your overall brand perception.

Interactive agencies can assist in this process by helping to architect the user experience when your customers interact with your brand. But what exactly does that encapsulate? An agency should work to magnify their clients’ brand by conveying their key messaging, translating their overall aesthetic and delivering positive interactions with the brand. Web Associates defines User Experience as the overall perception and level of satisfaction that a user associates with a particular Web system, application, process or device.

Reinforce Online User Experiences

Previously, interactive agencies largely focused on the user experience in regard to corporate websites. Leading agencies have since broadened their services to include globalization, localization and accessibility to improve the strength of their clients’ brands. A company’s Web properties need to be easily accessible by search engines as well as accessible by target regions. Content strategies differ greatly from region to region, and having unified campaigns that respect each demographic help to maximize unique and simultaneously positive user experiences.

Today merely having a great website is not enough, as the user experience extends beyond the Internet. From billboards to magazine ads to online properties, everything relating to your brand matters and should be consistent across all mediums. As a result, agencies in the space are expanding their take on user experience to include Web applications, social media, online advertising, banners, mobile/handheld devices, other next-generation technologies as well as product packaging and design. These additional offerings need to be reinforced and in synch with off-line campaigns. Emphasizing consistency across brand outreach channels ensures a more predictable user experience and serves to increase brand loyalty.

Web Associates Employs a Holistic Approach

Agencies that will be successful in the future will create branded and unified user experiences across multiple mediums. Current technologies provide the ability to capture user data through one medium and then repurpose that information to develop more specific and rich user experiences. Using a holistic approach to branding, an agency can translate brands to the online environment and coordinate offline advertising vehicles, resulting in positive, branded user experiences.

Web Associates is an independent interactive agency that amplifies global brands. We produce award-winning creative and innovative online marketing delivered through a single technology layer. Founded in 1995, the California-based agency is headquartered on the Central Coast and operates additional offices in Orange County and the Silicon Valley.