It doesn’t seem all that long ago, to many of us, that websites were a novelty. Back in the 1990’s, there weren’t even very many companies who had their own websites. Most of the exciting stuff in the earliest days of the web was found on sites belonging to government agencies (in the .gov high level domain) and college sites (in the .edu domain). Does anyone else remember the internet-connected Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon? Long before the Internet of Things (IOT), some erstwhile computer science students rigged up the soda vending machine in the CS building at Carnegie Mellon to monitor the availability and even the temperature of its soda inventory (all to avoid having to walk all the way to the machine, only to find that their favorite beverage was out of stock, or, worse yet, available, but not yet sufficiently chilled).
You can still see relics of the roots of the modern web in such places as the wayback machine on the Internet Archive. But by the turn of the millennium, things were changing, and most businesses saw the value in establishing a website presence in this new world known as cyberspace. The earliest commercial websites were, in many cases, little more than digital versions of a business’ printed marketing collateral, and, this type of company website came to be known, quite appropriately, as brochureware.
The evolving role of websites
The earliest websites were relatively simple, both in their functionality and in the technologies behind them. Web development was still new, cutting-edge stuff, but it didn’t take tremendous technical skills to create a state-of-the-art (for its time) company website. If you were handy with image manipulation software, could learn some rudimentary HTML code, and had a good eye for layout and design, you could, with a little bit of effort, cobble together a reasonably attractive brochureware site. Some companies turned to outside agencies to do this work for them, usually for their creative and artistic approach, but many handled the work of building the company’s website themselves.
As the web evolved, however, businesses learned that there was much greater functionality that could be implemented into a company’s website, other than simply creating a digital brochure. At this point in time, it’s almost difficult to imagine a world without the high-powered uses of modern, transactional websites. Indeed, most of the millennial generation can’t really remember a time when you couldn’t search for virtually all of the information that’s ever been known to mankind, make online purchases, or do your banking from a web browser. At that point, much more advanced technical and design skills were required, and it became more common to outsource the work to specialized shops.
If there’s one area in which the use of the web has really changed, even just in the past few years, it would have to be marketing. We all know by now the importance of a web presence, so that people can see what you’re selling. But there’s so much more involved in an effective, modern company’s website than the static sites of yesteryear. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of internet marketing by now, and have probably done some research on the topic, and you may have even initiated some marketing efforts. The whole field is, for many, shrouded in mystery. Unlike old school marketing methods, most of which involved reaching out to make direct contact to potential customers, and using your sales pitches directly, internet marketing seems somewhat nebulous. Some sort of marketing materials are released, somehow into this realm called “cyberspace”, and mysteriously, even magically, leads begin to appear.
To be honest, it’s not really a mystical process. But there are some misunderstandings about how internet marketing should be done. And like everything else in this digital age, it changes rapidly. In order to better navigate their way through this web of confusion (sorry for the pun), and to maximize the return on their efforts, more and more businesses have turned to outsourcing the management of their company’s website to a virtual marketing agency.
Outsourcing and Virtual Agencies
If you’re even a bit taken aback by that last suggestion, we’d do well to clarify something here. Outsourcing is not a dirty word, though it has something of bad rap, due to the outsourcing of so many jobs out of the country. To be precise, this process is more accurately termed “offshoring”. It really shouldn’t be confused with the general practice of outsourcing, which simply refers to farming out work to someone outside of your company’s employ. This is not only a common practice, but it has even become fairly standard business practice to outsource tasks that aren’t a part of your company’s core competencies. Frequently outsourced functions include accounting, payroll, HR, recruitment, website management, and marketing, just to name a few.
The point of this is, in general terms, that it generally makes more sense, for a number of reasons, to outsource work that isn’t really an essential part of your business plan. So, if you’re in manufacturing, or dentistry, it probably makes sense to have someone on the outside handle your accounting, for example. And by the same logic, unless your company focuses on marketing, you’ll do well to enlist the support of a virtual marketing agency to handle those efforts for you, including a marketing-ready website.
Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense to have a virtual marketing agency manage your company’s website:
While we don’t necessarily want you to think that a virtual marketing agency is a cheap (and therefore inferior) solution, it can certainly save you money, and that’s important to everyone. Managing a fully-functioning marketing website is going to require some technical talent, as well as some expertise in marketing. In order to manage that all in-house, you’re going to need to recruit, hire, and train new staff members. You’ll need to pay not only their salaries, but also benefits, and a number of other overhead costs. For less money, you can outsource the whole operation to a virtual marketing agency, and only pay for exactly the service you contract them for.
A Full Team, Loaded With Diverse Talents
Marketing is a multi-faceted process, and so is web development. An effective marketing program includes website creation and maintenance, graphic design, content creation, social media marketing, lead generation, analytics, and much more. It’s not likely that you’re going to find one person that can handle every aspect of that process in-house. A virtual marketing agency, however, will provide a full team with diverse skillsets, able to handle every piece of your marketing campaigns, including the constant care and feeding of your company’s website.
Access to Cutting-Edge Technologies
I can’t stress enough just how quickly, even radically, things change in the digital world. This applies to both web development and management as well as marketing in general. There is a wealth of software tools available, but many of those are expensive, and don’t make sense for a small, growing business to purchase themselves. Another concern is that with the large number of software products available, it’s difficult to find the time and resources to evaluate them all and find the best match for your particular needs. But a virtual marketing agency specializes in using those tools, and has done all the work of researching and testing those products. You gain the benefit of their research and experience, as well as the use of the tools, which might otherwise be unaffordable.
Here at Rhino, we have years of experience with successful marketing campaigns, including the use of rich-featured websites which comprise an integral part of those campaigns. Give us a call today to learn how working with a virtual marketing agency can take your website and marketing efforts to a new level.