At a conference last week, I talked with reps from the company NowThis, which creates videos for brands and feeds them to social media en masse. A passing comment during a pitch for their company caught my attention: They said the homepage is dying. Or dead. Or that maybe it has even been dead for some time.
That proved to be a big aha! moment for me.
As you know, the first step for any small business in the early stages of your marketing and branding efforts is to register a domain. You spend a few thousand on a web developer to create a nifty homepage with your logo, a few factoids, and your contact information. Maybe you even add a map and a few external links.
But what if that model is outdated? Or what if it is so outdated it doesn't even exist anymore?
The reason NowThis doesn't emphasize its homepage is that it doesn't really need people to go to NowThis.com. The goal is to watch the videos. The company's page is really just a collection of its latest social media campaigns. There are videos for Facebook and Snapchat and not much else. If a million people watch the videos on Facebook, that's the win. That drives NowThis's business. If a million people visit its homepage, that's not so newsworthy. In fact, NowThis doesn't even own nowthis.com and instead uses nowthisnews.com. It just doesn't seem important.
It made me wonder about people in other markets. If your goal is to sell a widget, do you need people to go to your homepage? Do you need a homepage? You may only need people to go to Amazon. (That's why, increasingly, gadget companies tell me to visit their page on Amazon and not even go to their own domain.) If you are a legal or insurance firm, the goal is to attract new clients. More and more, that's something you do using Facebook. (It explains why Facebook is growing exponentially still and maybe why Twitter is leveling off.)
A homepage gives your company credibility. Or does it? Lately, I'm more impressed if a business has taken its concept into the great expanse of social media and has moved marketing to the place where people actually live online. These days, you don't think "new widget company" and search for a homepage. You look up a social media presence. There's a hope that you will find other customers' comments and can interact easily with representatives through a comment or chat, and that this process will be easy.
A homepage is "home" base for email though, right? Not anymore. If you start a brand-new company, you can register the domain and use an email address, and then just put your logo there and a smiley face and hardly anyone will notice.
Even Amazon is not the king of the homepage anymore. Most people search for a product and find it on Amazon. There's no need to go to the homepage.
You might think, there must be some industries that still need a homepage. What you're reading right now is a good example of how things are changing. There is a very high chance you found this story on Twitter or Facebook, or through some other link on the Web, and not on the homepage. (If you did, that's still OK. Thank you.)
There is a new Web, and it's the Web of social media and links, not the Web of domains and dot-coms. At some point, we either accept this new reality and figure out how to make it work with online searches, ads, marketing, and video feeds or just sit and listen to crickets chirping when no one types in the domain anymore.