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80% of NZ websites verge on narcissistic, survey finds

As few as 5 percent of NZ business websites have a clear purpose, according to an informal survey. Up to 80 percent are narcissistic. And this is turning customers away.

Digital marketing agency Insight Online analysed more than 60 websites of medium to large New Zealand companies during the past six months, grading them on a scale of 1-4, depending on their usability and effectiveness.

Only 5 percent made the highest grade - being integral to the sales and marketing goals, having a clear purpose, email sign-up, strong social channels and a clearly defined conversion pathway.

Up to 80 percent of sites were either a generic brochure site, or simply added a blog or news section and a newsletter sign-up.

“The vast majority of medium to large business websites are slow-to-load, generic and verging on narcissistic. The conversation is about themselves instead of their customers’ needs,” says Insight Online’s Kim Voon.

“Narcissistic is a strong word, but that's what society thinks about people who are only interested in talking about how great they are," Voon said. "Websites are no different.”

Victoria University marketing expert associate professor Val Hooper agrees that even large organisations lack clarity and purpose when it comes to their websites.

“My research suggests companies often don’t have a clear vision about what they want to do with their website. Maybe they have a website because that’s what their competition is doing, or because developers suggest it to them.”

She isn’t as pessimistic as Voon, but still believes well over 50 percent of companies don’t have a decent web presence.

“Less than 5 percent? That’s a bit harsh. I’d put it at 35 percent doing it well to a greater or lesser extent. They are aware of what should be done and are trying to do it.”

One UK study found that 36 percent of company executives are unsure about their 2019 digital marketing strategy, Voon says.

Hooper says New Zealand company websites are often out of date - for example listing people as working for them months after they have left.

“For customers that calls into question everything else about the website.”

She says the narcissistic problem identified by Insight Online is common.

“Often companies think a website is just there to put out information. But it should be interactive - finding out what people want and suggesting actions.”

This could be as simple as making sure it’s easy for customers or potential customers to find contact details.

“Many large organisations make it very hard to contact people, whereas often a customer just wants to talk to someone to get a simple answer to a question. Many websites are very difficult to negotiate.

“If they can’t get hold of you, they will just go off to a different company.”

UK research by eCommerce agency PushON suggests a quarter of B2B customers are turned off by websites with poor website usability, Voon says.

Hooper’s research found one reason for ineffective websites was poor communication between an organisation and its web developer.

“Companies have unbelievable expectations when it comes to their websites, but often they are not expressed. The company has a big problem it wants the website to fix, but they don’t tell the developer. They expect the developer to find out all about the business.”

Voon says people often think a web presence is enough. It isn’t.

“Give your website purpose – whether it’s to educate, capture email addresses, book consultations or sell product – and then work out how you can point the entire strategic intent of your site towards achieving that purpose.”

Once you’ve done that, make sure it’s working.

“Audit the website. Is it fit for purpose? Is it attracting the right kind of customers? Is it capturing them for the right amount of time? Does it lead to action? How does it compare with competitor websites?"

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