The old model of Web sites using static content as âbaitâ are over, said Metz, who spoke on the first day of the Business Marketing Association Annual Conference. (The annual conference attracted 225 attendees, besting last year's attendence of 147 in San Jose, Calif.) Increasingly, it is user-generated content that creates the value of Web sites, Metz said, referring to such popular consumer destinations as Amazon.com and YouTube.
Last fall, Cisco launched a major redesign of its Web site, which features 7 million pages and attracts 8 million to 10 million visitors per month.
Metz detailed many enhancements on the site, such as 360-degree product views and customer-generated product reviews.
He declared a handful of specific new features âhome runs.â For instance, he said, customers who watched some of the four dozen embedded, two-to-four-minute videos on the site âstayed longer and viewed nine times as many pages [as those who did not].â
He was equally excited about the ballooning access to statistics around the pages optimized for mobile devices, which in a three-month span saw visits soar from 10,000 a month to 75,000. He said the company was beginning to offer SMS addresses to customers in its TV and outdoor ads.
Metz was most enthusiastic about new âclick to chatâ functionality, which was added in November. âWe started on 15 low-traffic pages,â he said, noting that customers who engaged a live call center agent in a âChat with a Cisco expertâ chat window had a conversion rate of 43%.
When Cisco targeted the chat window with business rulesâfor instance, only offering it to customers who visited the pages three times in a week, made product comparisons or spent more than 45 seconds on a pageâthe number of sessions with the same high conversion rate doubled.
Cisco has also been exploring personalization, starting with targeting banner ads based on Web visitorsâ activity. Not surprising, Metz said, the targeted ads outperformed generic ones four to one. âAnd just last week we added the ability to personalize any kind of contentâa URL, a video, a podcast,â he said. Recently, Cisco pulled all its Web 2.0 tricks into one area of its site devoted to commercial solutions, Metz said. The project, code-named âOreoâ because the technology relied on the use of cookie data, quadrupled traffic and increased engagement and page views, he added.
All these changes, he said, were subjected to âpretty significant usability testingâ before being turned on.
Metz strongly implied the Web work was a strategic pillar for Cisco, necessary as the company branches out from its historical roots in enterprise markets to small-business and even consumer products.
For instance, Ciscoâs decidedly nonproduct-oriented âHuman Networkâ campaign is drawing millions of visitors, â80% of whom have nothing to do with Cisco gear,â Metz said. Reaching these consumers, he said, will require new tools and approaches. âYou cannot do that with an enterprise sales force,â he said.