As websites, marketing, and audiences become increasingly interactive, it's a good time to ask yourself whether your affiliate site may have a use-by date.
Sites that recognize the benefits of engagement technologies such as online video – once a click-and-view affair – are now gearing up for even higher audience participation levels that many static sites are failing to compete with.
For example, web-video sites such as Veoh Networks Inc. and Overlay.TV, Inc and heavyweight YouTube, have all recently added or plan to add features to let web users embed interactive commentary and links into videos.
Dailymotion Inc. recently added a feature called VideoZap, which lets users add a toolbar to their own site that displays their favorite videos.
In July, they also launched a new research and development platform that's dedicated to open video formats and web standards: openvideo.dailymotion.com.
The beauty of this is that you don't need the usual Adobe Flash plugin to watch videos on this platform – the only requirement is the latest version of Firefox.
Developments such as these are making interactive sites and their content ever-increasingly available to users. And people are lapping it up in droves, with more online video content being viewed than ever before.
Just as importantly, there seems to be no shortage of advertisers wanting to buy time on live streaming video – something that some said would never happen six months ago.
And NBC Universal and Fox's joint venture, Hulu, has become a raging success in the U.S. as the convergence of the internet and television becomes closer to a mainstream reality every day.
The monetization challenges appear to be covered off as well. Switched-on television networks are looking towards a system where you can pay for commercial-free programs via iTunes, or watch the ad-embedded programs on a browser. So far, it's a solution that works for everybody.
Social networking is also continuing to shape the way we spend our time online.
Facebook recently gained its 300 millionth user, and turned a profit for the first time in its six-year history. The fact that the fastest-growing Facebook demographic is users over 55 shows that this is far from a fad driven only by younger generations. [UPDATE: By 2011 Facebook had more than 800 million active users.]
All these changes online have a direct influence on where people want to spend their time, and where they don't.
Consumers and business owners are more familiar with dynamic web sites. Viewers of sites like YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook now have expectations of what a modern site should look like.
Consumers enjoy and increasingly expect the two-way communication that's possible within a dynamic site such as a blog. This same increased level of communication is also attractive to growing numbers of website owners, who have a much better opportunity to learn about their customers and prospects.
Add the communication aspects of social networking, and the ease of promotion, and a static site loses even more appeal.
Blogs Versus Static Sites: The Final Showdown?
Static websites are sites that are often referred to as a classic website, a six-page website, or a brochure website.
These usually display the same information to all visitors. They're kind of the online version of handing out a printed brochure to customers or clients, and provide consistent information for often lengthy periods of time. As a static website owner, you can make updates periodically. However, this is still a manual process.
All editing of text, photos and other content can require basic website design skills, and software, which can prove challenging to those without these – especially in the pocket.
If you're a visitor to a static site, you're unable to control what information you get, and instead have to make do with whatever content the website owner wants to offer at that time. And in an increasingly user-generated content world, that's not a good look.
If we then take a look at blogs compared to a static site, there are distinct advantages to having a blog over a static site:
- If you have a blog-driven site, you can easily update it anywhere with an Internet connection.
- Blog driven sites that are posted to regularly usually rank higher in search engine results.
- As a blog owner, you don't have to wait for someone to make content changes, you can sort it yourself which means you can save both time and money.
- Higher ranking results for active blog driven sites are usually achieved faster with the large search engines.
- Blogs have the ability to display dynamic content as well as static pages that don't need to change.
- As dynamic sites, blogs generally have plug-ins which enable content to be shared with social media networks.
- Blogs are much better at creating two-way communication between site visitors and those that produce content for the site.
- Customized graphics for blogs are usually much more cost-effective.
The Internet is content driven – and becomes more so every day. So are blogs. Dynamic sites are simpler than static to work with. And it's not just their cost-effectiveness that make them the popular choice.
Once a critical mass of people expect a particular standard of product, this in fact starts to become the norm. There's now an expectation for any site to be updated regularly with new content
On an average, people will leave a site within the first minute of reaching it. A site with old content that doesn't change is likely to be shown the “back” button even more quickly.
If there's nothing riveting enough to make them explore further, your web visitor votes with their mouse and is on to another site that will give them what they now expect.
Simple, static websites CAN still generate useful revenue, as long as they contain exactly what the visitor is looking for. If you're a newcomer to affiliate marketing, it's wise to start with a simple project as a way of gaining experience. However, you should also plan to go where your market is going.
Static sites – while not yet dead – are starting to look as if they're going the same way as the dinosaurs.
In the days of online video, social networking and blogging as we hurtle into Web 3, sites that have not yet got with the program on this, risk being left behind.
The ever-increasing value being put on visitor engagement and interactivity is starting to sound increasingly loud bells.
Static sites, they toll for thee.
Look out next week for Part 2 of this series: “How To Increase Visitors With Interactive Websites”.