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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Corporate Web sites are Not What Consumers Want

"Certainly, the Web is at the top of corporate America's priority list - the $10 billion that large U.S. companies spent on Web site development in 1999 is evidence enough of that. Yet in any given month, only about half of the largest U.S. consumer businesses attract more than 400,000 site visitors - and a similar percentage of sites generate no commercial revenue at all."

"Less than half of these corporate sites capture any self-reported customer data. The few sites that manage to gather any information do a pretty poor job of it - we estimate that they compile meaningful profiles on less than 1% of their customers."

"Most corporate Web sites fall short of managers' high expectations because of a fundamental mismatch - the dominant model for Internet commerce, the destination Web site, simply doesn't suit the needs of most companies or their customers.

"...most consumer product companies face an insurmountable challenge in adopting the destination site model; they don't provide enough value to induce consumers to make repeat visits, much less disclose intimate information."

"What it does mean is that most companies need to discard the notion that a Web site equals an Internet strategy. Instead of trying to create destinations that people will come to, they need to use the power and reach of the Internet to deliver tailored messages and information to customers at the point of need."

"The marketing goal will be the same as ever; deliver the right product to the right customer at the right time. Companies will still have to form a deep understanding of their customers' needs and desires. But in many cases, instead of owning customer data or individual customer relationships, successful contextual marketers will borrow them."

"Even companies with flourishing destination sites can benefit from contectual marketing. Dell Computer, whose own site is an e-commerce leader, recognizes that most on-line computer shoppers bypass Dell's site and go straight to ZDNet and CNET for in-depth product information - combined, those two sites have almost ten times the number of site visitors that Dell has. So instead of using costly and ineffective banner ads to divert sales prospects to its own site, Dell posts its detailed information on ZDNet's and CNET's sites. Visitors at those sites can then compare the latest offerings from Dell and Compaq, pick the Dell machine, and launch the ordering process directly from the CNET or ZDNet site. By piggybacking on CNET's and ZDNet's relationships, Dell has significantly improved its customer acquisition economics."

David Kenny and John F. Marshall
Contextual Marketing: The Real Business of the Internet. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.


"Ultimately, John Hancock realized that its own proprietary website could never compete with the likes of Internet aggregators, because consumers increasingly demand both their choice of brands when they shop and a degree of objectivity whey they're presented with those choices. They increasingly prefer financial supermarkets to distribution owned by a single brand, which explains the tremendous success of marketplaces like and which is why even a great financial brand like Fidelity, which used to sell just its own mutual funds, now feels obligated to offer more than 300 brands of mutual funds."

David F. D'Alessandro, CEO John Hancock
Brand Warfare: 10 Rules for Building the Killer Brand.. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.


"Today, many large companies offer flashy bread-and-circus entertainments on the Web. These offerings have all the classic earmarks of the mass-market come-on: lowest-common-denominator programming developed to package and deliver market segments to mass merchandisers. This is not what most people want…"

Rick Levine, et al.
The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2000