It’s time for one of my patented “Pat myself on the back for calling it” posts! Last time we were here I correctly predicted that Pokemon Go wasn’t going to revolutionize small business marketing. This time I’ve got some hard data refuting the claim that websites are somehow dead, obsolete, or not a central part of the online marketing mix.
Of course, you could be forgiven for thinking that websites are sitting in a graveyard. As far back as 2010 with the rise of Facebook pages marketers, mobile app developers and consultants have been asserting that websites are no longer needed. Further channels to serve as online vehicles for business promotion and awareness including other social networks and mobile apps helped fuel this fire, as did the rise of local listings on search engines like Google. On paper it makes sense; it’s the same online listing, just in a different way.
In practice this doesn’t account for how websites have changed since the olden days, nor does it account for how websites are discovered. Since the mid-2000s websites have evolved from static listings to largely dynamic entities that tend to interact with Google. As a result the past several years of the web industry have been fascinating as we’ve seen, like many technologies before it, the redefining of websites to fit a changing world. Websites have become the centerpieces of online marketing mix and the major drivers of search engine optimization with the rise of Google’s famous Panda update.
Unfortunately the rapid growth of so-called “replacements” for websites led to plenty of people simply jumped the gun. Many of these people are mobile app developers or social media consultants with a financial interest in discrediting websites, but plenty of marketing consultants in general wrote thinkpieces declaring websites dead, because they’re dead, everything is dead, Dave!
As far back as 2012 I was calling foul on this. As I’ve stated many times on this very blog the assumption that Facebook or video marketing was ever going to ever replace websites was putting the cart before the horse and misinterpreting the purpose of a website. A website isn’t an interchangeable marketing channel for business promotion the way Facebook or a mobile app is. Though on a larger scale, Wix’s valuation of $4 billion should put to rest any claim that websites aren’t alive and thriving.
Wix is worth $4 billion, in case you didnt know pic.twitter.com/gJP2Q6LYIn
— Jason M. Lemkin 🦄 (@jasonlk) April 18, 2018
I’ve taken aim before at Wix’s questionable business practices but this valuation alone should be an indicator that there’s still a thriving demand for website services of both the developer and DIY variety. The market is collectively worth $20.1 billion in the United States alone. 16 million new websites are published every month; 70% of websites are created by developers or companies, as opposed to 30% being from DIY website builder tools. A staggering 74,652,825 sites were built just on WordPress as of 2014, meaning that number has likely skyrocketed since then.
Setting aside the fact that many of the people advocating for the death of websites have a financial interest in doing so, the data just doesn’t point to this; if anything, it points to the complete opposite. Furthermore, if Facebook has taught us all anything in the past few years it’s that you can’t rely on external networks to reach customers reliably. It’s been true for years that Facebook pages only reach about 25% of their audiences for a given post without promoting it, if not even less. Using Facebook as your primary vehicle for small business marketing essentially means that you’re putting yourself at the mercy of a company known for being notoriously cagey about its newsfeed updates that it tends to do quite frequently.
So there’s no need to compose a eulogy for websites and there’s no need to put all of your eggs into one easily breakable basket. Be part of the information directory that the Internet is, and the best way to do this is to have Google recognize you with an old fashioned website.