If you are building a website or application, then it is quite likely that you are making a site with a specific purpose in mind. This purpose will ultimately determine the decisions you make as far as how you market, advertise and invest in your website, your purpose will determine the type of website you build. All types of websites fall into the categories of ecommerce, lead generation, or awareness. SaaS websites, (software as a service) fall under eCommerce websites but have very distinct characteristics.
Although many consider online services as a part of the ecommerce world of sites, some unique differences set online services apart. I’ll discuss them separately. It is essential to understand these categories because they will ultimately determine your approach to driving traffic and marketing your website online.
Think of your website as either a store or home in a vibrant neighborhood. Your neighborhood online can be seen as your competitors, customers, and fans. Some drop by to chat with you; others may buy from you, and others come to you for wise words or inspirational. Either way, the online world is much like the real world. Websites are our conduits for adding value to the world.
As for online services, one of the most prevalent online services is known as SaaS websites. These are websites that serve as products in themselves. Your customers come to you to use your property for a small fee. You’ll need to keep the premises working pristine because the website IS the product. With this in mind, the overseer or person managing this product will be your product manager.
Other service websites include websites such as eHarmony or Care.com. These websites have an offering. However, they are more service than the product. The service is the action of bringing together two vested parties to exchange goods or services. The business charges either one or both for the service. These websites are similar to SaaS websites in that the site IS the product but more service than the product. As with SaaS websites, the key player is the product manager. Online services websites require every day, continuous maintenance, much like a hotel. They are the main attraction.
Ecommerce website is one of the most common forms of business websites online. These websites range from business-to-customer, business to business, and customer to customer, more commonly known as B2C, B2B, and C2C.
As mentioned earlier, there is a ton of overlap here with online services. For example, eHarmony is an ecommerce website since transactions take place. The most significant difference between the two is that ecommerce websites require a separate set of skills for maintenance. Setting up an ecommerce website is no easy task. Things can get quite complicated from integrating third-party commerce services, setting up ecommerce tracking, and other must-haves to run an eCommerce website.
Ecommerce sites are never the product or service. However, they do sell products and services. You can ease up on the maintenance and focus more on marketing and sales. Ecommerce websites can also be significantly bolstered by offline marketing and sales, whereas most online services depend heavily on digital marketing to garner sales. Due to the inherent nature of selling products, digital marketers usually focus their marketing efforts on capitalizing on the demand via paid advertising platforms. There is often little time for drumming up brand awareness as products have to move and move at the correct price.
Lead generation websites focus on finding people online and encouraging them to disclose personal information. The product or service can either be online or offline. Lead gen requires a marketing solution that continues to engage people after they have interacted with the website. This effort is called “lead nurturing.” Lead generation can be tricky from a digital marketing perspective since qualifying a lead can be difficult on the front end, and it is usually a significant task to trace each lead from the top of the funnel to the bottom. Tracing a lead from marketing to sales from a performance perspective is called an end to end reporting.
Awareness websites usually exist for the specific reason for disseminating information, driving awareness, or as a resource. Organic and social channels are excellent tools for awareness websites since they are free, and search engines reward organized and detailed information that engages website visitors.