As the risk of recession grows in Europe and businesses enter a period of increasing economic uncertainty, strategic changes are essential to give startups the best chance of thriving.
One of these is a company’s web presence, as it’s an important communication tool that should be updated and altered to reflect the times.
“Despite the current economic uncertainty, it’s important to remember that unicorns have emerged in times of crisis in the past,” Andrey Insarov, CEO of telecommunications company Intis Telecom, tells Sifted. “Those who are able to change their strategy will both survive and thrive, while the market will naturally eradicate those businesses that are weak and unable to adapt accordingly.”
But how do you adjust your web strategy to beat a recession?
Why websites when social media exists?
When looking to adjust their web presence, startups should first consider which channels are important and relevant for them. For example, an insurtech that is targeting CEOs may decide that TikTok isn’t the right platform to achieve this, or an ecommerce platform may not find much value in running a Twitter account.
While social media is a cheap and easy way to gain traction, the functionality is limited
And while having a social media presence of some capacity is important, a website is equally important to complement it. Insarov says a website should be viewed as the central hub that represents a brand’s values and message, adding that it’s key to remember that founders have full control over their website’s content and appearance, while social media accounts are owned by a third party and managed beyond one’s own control.
“While social media is a cheap and easy way to gain traction, the functionality is limited,” says Insarov. “This is why having a clear and impactful website is so crucial for startups.
“Consider the name of the website and wording on the website, as well as the use of keywords to boost SEO. A website helps to bring customers and companies together and build a trusting relationship.”
Rebrands and refreshes
Hollie Russell is marketing director at construction procurement business YardLink. The startup decided to invest in its web presence to boost its reach to their target market.
“The key for us has been investing in SEO and conversion rate optimisation (CRO) over paid activity,” Russell tells Sifted. “We have also gone through a rebrand and refresh of the website. Our plan is to invest in brand awareness activity: this includes technical SEO and our content strategy, alongside organic SEO and working with a PR agency.”
The focus is not on driving the volume of traffic to the website, but quality of traffic
While more visitors to your website is typically a good thing, Russell adds YardLink’s focus was also on quality traffic.
“We are also doing testing of pay-per-click and social ads,” she says. “For YardLink, the focus is not on driving the volume of traffic to the website, but quality of traffic.”
Kitchen startup Growth Kitchen’s cofounder Máté Kun also recognises the importance of an updated web presence to reflect the current economic climate, as his startup launched a new website to increase its impact.
"It is common knowledge that the global economy faces uncertainty,” says Kun. “In light of this, we believe it is of utmost importance to make our web presence as powerful as possible in order to really attract prospective customers.
“We launched a new website to reduce the bounce rate, and then engaged a social media agency and developed a paid ads strategy to drive traffic to our site. As a consequence, our inbound leads have increased 8x, and is therefore a strategy we are going to continue to develop.”
It’s all in the name
While spending money on a shiny new website when the threat of a deep recession looms can seem counterintuitive, taking risks and being experimental can be fruitful in today’s ever-competitive marketplace.
By having a great web presence, you can positively influence your marketing efforts without spending a fortune on physical real estate, staff and other offline matters
“By having a great web presence, you can positively influence your marketing efforts without spending a fortune on physical real estate, staff and other offline matters,” says Munir Badr, founder of web company AEserver. “A business can grow and scale online while keeping its spend under control by just having the right web presence where clients can interact, transact and contact a business virtually from anywhere.”
However not all rebrands are the same. Creating a fresh brand identity and choosing a creative, short and easy to remember website address is critical.
To guide this, Intis Telecom’s project it.com — which allows customers to register domain names — recently launched a new tool to help startups generate a domain name for their business. Presented at Web Summit 2022, it uses an AI algorithm to analyse factors such as the industry the company or person operates in, as well as the keywords, automatically generating five options. This saves time and effort.
How to approach a revamp
But how should your startup approach a new web strategy? Badr says startups shouldn’t follow the crowd.
A startup has to stand out from the crowd and this is where a unique, new and fresh web presence strategy is key to the success of the startup
“A startup has to stand out from the crowd and this is where a unique, new and fresh web presence strategy is key to the success of the startup,” adds Badr.
It’s also essential to consider a company’s plans — are they staying local or planning expansion into other regions? This allows a startup to stay mindful of which domain zone it chooses from the beginning — global domain zones like .com are better in terms of global discoverability, whereas regional domain zones like .co.uk could perform well locally.
Insarov believes that giving customers multiple ways of communicating with a startup is the most important facet of any web strategy — and a website should be positioned at the centrepoint of all methods.
“A business’s website is its most universal channel and therefore the most important,” he says. “It can be adjusted easily, founders are in complete control of it, and it is the best platform to convey your message and ethos.
“It is essential that founders stay relevant and are mindful of trends, keeping the website updated to stay in line with these,” he adds. “Remember, a website should always bring value to the customer.”
It.com is part of SIA Intis Telecom, which is participating in the (Investment and Development Agency of Latvia) LIAA funding program. Learn more about the opportunities It.com domains could bring to your business here.