The Evolution of Replicated Websites started with the sales industry beginning to move online. The previous piece in our series focused on the suppliers that emerged to create replicated websites. These sites were a way for the sales force to do business online, but distributor concerns quickly bubbled to the surface.
Negative Sentiment from Distributors
It wasn’t long before distributors began to understand Internet marketing better, and they became frustrated with their replicated websites because they were ineffective at attracting and converting real leads to grow their business. The negatives of company provided replicated websites were becoming too apparent to ignore.
Here are the top 5 complaints distributors voiced about the setbacks of replicated websites, which still hold true today in most cases:
Minimal Personalization – Direct selling is a personal, relationship-driven business. With thousands of distributor websites looking almost identical, it’s impossible to stand out in the crowd – let alone use such a website as a tool to build relationships with prospects.
Too Sales Focused – For the most part, replicated sites are digital sales pitches for the opportunity or product(s), but distributors know that developing a personal relationship is key to the direct selling process. Since distributors had very little control over their sites, this was a problem they couldn’t easily address.
Overly Complicated – The administrative interfaces are not intuitive to say the least, which makes it difficult for distributors who want to make updates to their sites. Moreover, many companies have to do a manual review of all content updates to ensure compliance with policies – a process that can take weeks for each update.
Lead Generation – Inquiries from interested prospects originating from a replicated website are few and far between. Most of the replicated site systems at the time did not have clear calls-to-action, lead capture functionality, or proper lead routing. Distributors saw how few qualified leads were coming through their sites, and become upset.
No Tracking or Analytics – There’s generally no analytics given to distributors, so they’re clueless as to how many visitors are coming to the site, at what times, from where, what their interested in, how long they stay on the site, what they click, etc.
Distributors Seek New Resources
For many distributors, these drawbacks and others made them abandon their replicated website for something more versatile like a personal website or a blog. This offered them the freedom to customize a site that would let them perform all the tasks and functions that their company provided site couldn’t.
They could keep an engaging blog made up of their own personal content, post photos for their visitors to see, and more, using this space to truly attract and convert prospects to grow their business.
While a growing number of distributors had the knowledge, time and ambition to build and manage a personal website or blog, others reluctantly decided to just stick with their company provided replicated website and hope for the best.
The industry as a whole was going through a major transition, and distributors were anxious about growing their business through the web. The emergence of social media was on the horizon, and many companies still didn’t have a firm grasp on how to move their business forward on the web.
Up next: Talking to Distributors
In The Evolution of Replicated Websites Part V, we will take a step back and look and look at things from the distributors perspective. What is the best approach to balance company preference and distributor needs?