The role of Web sites in both consumer and business-to-business markets is changing and evolving, enabling customers to engage brands increasingly on their own terms. Users expect more today from Web sites, and competition online is fierce.

Web sites are part of a brand's presence and an integral part of the customer multichannel experience. The Web site experience plays an important role in the multichannel strategy, and good marketers should be aware of the best ways to take advantage of the online channel.

Marketers should be considering how to change their sites to keep up with customer expectations of the Web, and to increase conversions and enhance the brand experience.

As a result of these developments, all companies with public-facing Web sites may soon be challenged with a redesign. There is opportunity for marketers to take the lessons of customer-centricity and put them to work to optimize customer relationships online.

Put the Customer in Charge

A Web presence that is truly customer-centric will give the opportunity to the visitor to interact with the brand... drive conversion if that is its role... perhaps embrace the tenets of social media... and attempt to leverage viral marketing.

To put customers in charge of their online experience, the Web site should be built with the customer in mind:

  • A persona-based design will help ensure that the site is being built for behaviors that customers may exhibit.
  • The site should also provide choices for customers to interact with the brand, including but not limited to email, mobile, chat, and blogs.
  • Tools should be intuitive and relevant.
  • Web sites that put customers in charge may also provide multiple ways to receive content such as through dynamic text, RSS, podcasts, or video.

All of these elements are determined through Web site strategy, which is the required starting point.

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Jeannette Kocsis is vice-president, digital marketing, for Harte-Hanks (, a worldwide direct and targeted marketing company. Contact her at 845-339-0022 or via