Websites need to die – and make room for new customer communications

The communication between brands and customers is constantly changing. Many fundamental changes are related to the internet and e-commerce. As these evolve, companies need to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly in the near future.

Robert LoCascio, founder and CEO of the messaging platform LivePerson, sees the death of the website imminent. He is sure that the first big brand will close its website in 2018.

The dreams for e-commerce were great when the first websites were built in the mid-90s. But there are two big issues that do not make web pages work: HTML and Google.

HTML and Google dictate “individuality”

HTML is designed to represent static content – but consumers need a dynamic way to answer questions that will help them buy a product. Currently, they have to search through websites in search of answers.

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In doing so, customers tend to buy more if they can build some confidence and relationship with the brand through a series of questions and answers.

The second problem with the web is Google. On the one hand Google made it easier to find the information of the world, on the other hand it started to dictate the rules with its PageRank algorithm.

This forced companies to design their website in a specific way in order to get as high up on Google’s search results as possible. However, this unified structure is detrimental to e-commerce. Today almost all websites look the same – and run badly.

Offline, brands try to create a unique shopping experience in their stores. They want to stand out from the competition. Online, on the other hand, each website offers the same experience, whether Gucci or H & M: a navigation bar, descriptive text, a few images and a handful of other elements, all arranged similarly.

Google’s rules have taken life from the once-unique online experience, brands do not stand out.

Websites have to die to make room for dialogue trading

It is rooted in human psychology that a customer spends more money when his questions are answered in a conversation. Chatbots and artificial intelligence tap into an inner understanding of how things are done in the real world: through conversations.

Brands can explore new ways of making these technologies easier to communicate with their customers, such as conversational commerce. Say: trade by message or voice (for example Alexa or Siri), controlled by artificial intelligence.

18,000 companies are currently working to bring conversational commerce to life. Therefore, in my opinion, a daring prediction can be made: Within the next year, the first major brand will turn off their website.

That same brand will shift contact with their consumers to conversations with a combination of bots and people – via a news front-end like WhatsApp, Facebook or SMS.

Once the first website is shut down, the dominoes will fall quickly. This will have a positive effect on how businesses run e-commerce, design online and offline marketing campaigns, and provide customer service. In-home assistants will be able to connect consumers and brands at all times.

Take the relationship with the customer to a new level

As brands engage in dialogue trading, they must offer consumers a continuous connection across all major channels of communication. Thanks to new innovative platforms, the customer can thus start a conversation via Alexa or Google Assistant in a room and continue it on his smartphone when he leaves the room or house.

So customers can build a brand relationship that is similar to that between friends and family. You can communicate with brands when and how they want it. With just the communication channel that offers you the best experience – depending on whether you are traveling, at home or traveling.

Customers can switch between different communication levels without having to end their conversation with the company. Thanks to Conversational Commerce, they build a more personal relationship with a brand – far removed from the obsolete, static browsing of Web pages.

About the Author: Michael-Maria Bommer leads the European team of LivePerson as Senior Vice President, EMEA.

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