For years, marketing professionals had to convince their late-to-the-party clients on the importance of having one well-designed company website. Now, many of those same pros are surprised to find themselves confronted with the opposite problem: having to convincing clients they have too many websites. What happened?

Every case is different, but in our experience it often stems from misconceptions among the organization’s leadership. When clients have an excess of superfluous websites, we tend to hear them say things like:
“Isn’t it important to have separate websites for some products and services?” It can be, but there must be a clear strategy in place for each one. Haphazardly building a website for every new offering you implement is not always to your benefit. Normally, secondary websites are best for subsidiaries that have their own names and therefore must be branded separately. After that, tertiary websites can be implemented sparingly and cautiously for things like promotional product lines or the company’s philanthropic division; however, these should still be aligned with existing company branding.
“My (friend or relative) designs them, and I wanted to give him a job.” Typically, these scenarios involve outsourcing web design for one of the organization’s minor divisions or subsidiary companies to someone you know. It seems like a harmless gesture to hire him – until he creates something that looks, functions and communicates nothing like the company’s other web presences. When this happens, the client has unwittingly created his own brand confusion problem. At some point, this mess will have to be cleaned up and it will cost the company more money to do it. For that reason, we advise clients to avoid it altogether.
“Websites are marketing tools, so don’t we need lots of them?” Generally, the answer is no. If you retain a communications firm that hosts your website and also manages your branding goals (this is what we recommend), then a better route is to prudently add new pages to the company website when a new service or product line comes along. It ensures that your existing branding stays consistent and uninterrupted.
One Final Question
One final question a client may ask in this situation is, “What about search engine optimization?” If you opt to participate in an article marketing program like the one we offer at Desmond & Louis, that may be an exception to the single website guideline; however, there should be a customized strategy in place with specific goals for any search-optimized sites outside of the main company web presence. The most common goal for those sites is lead generation; a site can be built for an article marketing program that attracts new users and includes a call to action to contact you at the end of every article. Again, this is a program that must be designed and implemented judiciously in order to be effective.
If you suspect that your organization may have too many web presences, we can help you streamline your websites and get your marketing plan back on track. Contact Desmond & Louis to request a website audit; we will be glad to analyze your websites and provide you a detailed report of our recommendations.