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Whither the Brand Website?

Still an important piece of the content marketing landscape

Brands are spending more time—and money—engaging with consumers outside of their brand sites on the likes of YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook and many other channels. As marketing efforts move to social networks and to content sites such as BuzzFeed, what happens to the brand’s dot-com?

Brand pages, although they are not very heavily trafficked as a rule, are still a primary resource for consumers seeking information about products and the companies that make them, according to a new eMarketer report, “What's a Brand Site For? Engaging Consumers Across Multiple Channels.” An October study by nRelate found that 48% of online shoppers said they trusted content from brand websites. No other content type approached the trustworthiness of corporate sites, according to this survey—not even mainstream news sites.

In a separate survey of internet users in the US and Canada by marketing services firm Epsilon, the percentage of respondents who named company websites as a trustworthy source of information was much lower—just 20% of US internet users and only 16% of those in Canada—but those relatively low results were still higher than those for TV, radio or email.

Still, for most brands, traffic is unlikely to be very high. A joint study by Accenture, dunnhumbyUSA and comScore suggested as much. It showed that 64% of the top 25 CPG brands averaged less than 100,000 unique visitors per month to their brand websites. But ignoring this traffic could be costly. The study also found that, on average, visitors to CPG brand websites spent 37% more than non-visitors on those brands in retail stores.

Some brands go beyond simple traffic measure to evaluate the success of a brand site. For example, Compete looked at how well Old Spice performed on its YouTube channel compared to its brand site during some popular ad campaigns. During the 2011 holiday season, Weiden + Kennedy created a major YouTube campaign, “MANta Claus,” followed by “Smell Is Power” in January 2012. Traffic to Old Spice’s YouTube channel surged to 264,969 unique visitors in December 2011. That same month, the Old Spice brand site’s traffic jumped to 56,525 visitors, according to Compete. But that was a high point; most months thereafter the number of visitors to the brand site hovered in the 10,000 to 20,000 range. For the most part, no matter what the content on the YouTube channel, the brand site’s traffic remained steady.

The Old Spice traffic numbers point up the underlying questions for marketers: Where to interact with consumers and how to optimize the mix.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out what is the right content for which channel,” said Amanda Mahan, Clorox’s creative director for digital and content. “With Hidden Valley Ranch, recipes are the most popular content on our website. So, naturally, we thought we’d just put them on Facebook. It turns out they are the worst performing piece of content that we do there.”

Turns out, it’s a question of context. “It’s a different mindset when [our fans] are on Facebook,” Mahan said. “When they come to social channels, they want to have fun and share. When they come to our website, they’re looking to solve a problem.”


The full report, “What's a Brand Site For? Engaging Consumers Across Multiple Channels,” also answers these key questions:

  • In an era of widespread social media, what is the purpose of the brand site? What does it do best?
  • Should content from social sites drive traffic to the brand site? Or should brand sites drive traffic to social sites?
  • If a brand’s social media site gets more traffic than its brand site, is it necessary to maintain a brand site?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other articles, “Nearly All Mobile Video Viewers Are Mobile Video Sharers” and “UK No. 1 Country in Mobile Ad Spending per User.”

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