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Yes, You Still Need a Web Site

March 27, 2012 at 11:12 am PST

Pretty frequently now, I have been getting this question from friends: “Do I really need a company web site?” Of course, I have been hearing this musing for at least 10 years in Devil’s advocacy conversations.  But recently it has become almost a meme. I hear it mostly from people not in the heart of running digital strategy or operations, but I’ve heard it from friends at several other companies, who find running a web site complicated and expensive and wonder if they really  need their site or if they could just do it exclusively via other avenues such as Facebook pages.  The answer I usually give them is: “Yes, you do; and no, probably not.” And then I add: “But you’d better be thinking about broadening your mix and strategy.”

To back up for a moment, the argument against web sites is usually phrased as in this recent article in ReadWriteWeb, which argues that community building and content happen most effectively outside of the confines of a company web site – where it can be more easily shared and discovered. Fair point, and there’s no better example than the viral nature of YouTube discovery and YouTube sharing via Facebook, twitter and other mechanisms.

There’s strong reason to look hard at your digital mix:  Social and especially mobile footprints are growing meteorically.  Last year, smart phones exceeded PC sales, and BusinessInsider CEO Henry Blodget recently pointed out that in a few short years PC sales will be absolutely dwarfed by smart phones purchases.

At Cisco, we see similar trends.  As shown in this chart below, tablet visitors are growing at 341%, mobile visitors 91%, and social reach is at 55% growth.  annually (and all probably more in the last month, and my friends in B2C see even more meteoric mobile growth).  Whereas last year our general web site visit growth around 2-5% depending on what month range you look at.  And we’re very conservative in these numbers (for social reach, we don’t even count individuals like Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior who has 1.4 million followers on twitter today).

Digital Stats for Cisco, annualized

But look more closely. Looking at traffic size, you will see that the web is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. The core Cisco web sites get 240 million visits per year (around 72 million annual visitors), each one an opportunity to provide support, training and (yes) marketing to people who have sought us out and are engaged with Cisco. Furthermore, notice that the content on the web site draws in more than 70 million referrals from Google and other search engines. Referrals in from social media (mostly Facebook) are a much smaller number (even considering in the activity of “friends of friends.”) Even considering that visitors from social media are more engaged and register and interact more, it’s an impressive picture.

Furthermore, the web sites provide a place to interact in a long-term relationship: We can personalize your experience based on interest and behavior, can provide transactional one-stop service to, say, Partners via vehicles such as My Cisco Workspace, and (to talk marketing for a moment) can personalize offers and collect leads from new potential customers. And, the same technologies, services and processes that support these things on a web site support them on mobile devices including apps.

So, what’s the reality?  You need to ensure your strategy aggressively embraces the social and mobile worlds; and, you need a company web site, too. You need to think of your digital footprint is an ecosystem where everything works together. It would be just as ludicrous to have no social presence as it would to have no web site and decide to ignore your visitors on tablets and smart phones. That fact is, all of these digital mechanisms work together to reach and interact with your customers.

Next time: Why I hope you are planning your web, social and mobile technology strategies together.

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More Kudos for Cisco.com Global

February 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm PST

Cisco.com was just once again rated in the upper stratosphere of global web sites – just behind Google and Facebook. In the respected ByteLevel Research Web Globalization Score Card for 2012, Cisco.com grabs a very nice #3 ranking among 250 web sites for global corporations.  Cisco has consistently held this #3 position overall since 2007.

Also exciting for our global team, Cisco is specifically called out as a regular of the top globalization list: “Companies like Cisco, 3M, and Samsung have become regular faces in the top 10.

It takes an incredible amount of energy to design and regularly update our major 85 regional sites, and our Cisco.com Global Team works literally around the clock to keep things humming  (I know that for sure because I am always invited to attend their midnight and 6 AM meetings!)

You can read a little more about the 2011 Web Globalization Score Card at ByteLevel Research’s web site.

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A few recent Cisco.com search enhacements

January 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm PST

We made some updates to the search experience on Cisco.com recently.

1. Created US Product/Part ID (PID) synonyms – Makes it much easier to find products by Product/Part ID by  suggesting queries related to that PID.  By the way, you guys do a lot of PID searches — this helps make them much better.

Example: Enter PID ‘10000-1p2-1ac’ and search will provide you the option of “You could also try this related product: “cisco 10008 router”

2. US spell checking – Improves your experience by suggesting other queries if the system detects a misspelling.

Example: Enter a misspelled keyword ‘routr’ and search will provide you a “Did you mean:” optional keyword ‘router’

3. Clickable synonyms – Improves your experience by suggesting other similar queries without automatically including them in the search results.

Example: Enter keyword ‘cisco acl’ and have clickable synonym options presented for alternate search results

4. Verb lemmatization – Wait, what?  Oh, that’s the thing that provides results for variations of a word (install, installing, installed).

Example: Enter the term ‘install’ and search will also return results for ‘installing’ and ‘installed’

Enjoy!

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A subtle update to Cisco.com navigation

December 13, 2011 at 8:26 am PST

This past weekend, we made a subtle change to the product navigation in the “mega menus” available from the top of the pages on Cisco.com.

Notice the change? Feedback welcome!

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Cisco.com Updates Cover The Walls

December 9, 2011 at 2:51 pm PST

You may have noticed updates in various areas of Cisco.com over the last few months. For instance, the new Cloud area, or the updates to our support menus and navigation. Even though in our team we normally work all electronically, we decided to keep a running set of improvements, components and templates on one of our walls.  It’s nice to see all of the red “Delivered” labels!

We’ll be writing  about some of the specifics here in coming weeks.

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