The Future of the Small Business Website & Digital Marketing
For the past ten years my firm, SyncShow Interactive (previously Idea Engine, Inc.) has developed hundreds of websites for small businesses. Over these years I have seen how these websites have helped these companies grow, thrive and communicate to their prospects, employees, vendors and customers. Since the proliferation of the internet, the way we communicate has changed drastically. As marketers, we too have changed the strategies, tactics and technologies we use to help grow our customers.
Over the years, I have witnessed how the small business website has changed. What is most perplexing is how little the changes to small business websites have really been.
Sure, we have new technologies, visitor tracking, lead generation tools, videos, enhanced calls to action, etc., etc.. User interface design has gotten smarter, where we place graphics, advertisements and editorial copy has gotten more scientific. But the website itself has changed little. We still have mostly boring websites, with static web pages that say little to nothing about a company. Yeah, sure you have an "About Us" page and "Products" and "Services" pages, but in general, these are extremely boring pages that visitors quickly scan over, if at all.
So, I ask. What is the future for small business websites?
Personally, I believe that every company should have a website (for now). It's the hub of digital communications for a company. However, this "hub" is quickly becoming a system of third party tools and tactics that make the whole digital communication ecosystem work for corporate growth. What am I talking about? I am talking about the ever-growing addiction and thirst humans have for knowledge and data. Today we are publishing more data than ever before. Individuals are tweeting, blogging and contributing knowledge at a pace unprecedented in human history.
Here is an interesting and simply amazing fact: Every 2 years, the world's information is doubling!
Think about that. Who's reading all of this content? We are and we are gobbling it up, as much as we can.
So with all of this content being published what is the future of the small business website? I believe that within the next 36 months we will continue to see more and more communication happening in the social media environments and less focus on the small business website.
Discussions, connections, recommendations and sales will continue to grow in social environments. As this happens the need for a small business website will diminish. Do I think that the small business website will be obsolete? No, not in the next 36 months but its possible within the next 5-7 years. What I predict will happen is a morph of linked social environments that provide a completely transparent view into any company, regardless of size. The company website will grow smaller and smaller until it eventually phases out or takes on a new form of integrated technologies under one brand.
As this happens websites, like the newspaper, telephone and the written letter, will be a thing of the past and the whole marketing industry will morph again.