The launch of a new or redesigned website is a great milestone for web developers, project managers and site owners but website managers and digital marketers know the fun is just beginning. The success of a site is heavily influenced by what happens in the months after a website launch. Business owners understand this, they’re usually right across what everyone else is doing online (competitors for example), but most are too busy to implement and there are so many things to do. We see bits and pieces going on in all the social channels but in our experience few are managing their website well and even fewer have any clear goal overall that ties together all of their marketing efforts. So we often see websites languishing in the ‘I’ll get to it soon’ basket and social media gets the most attention because it’s easy to access. But is this strategy effective?
We don’t think so. It can be frustrating to see this when you have the experience and knowledge to understand the business building power of a well-managed website. If a site remains static with no one knowledgeable in charge then it’s easy to see why websites end up on the back-burner. Just know that unmanaged websites rarely bring in new business because digital marketing is the thing that makes them work.
There are three areas that inform this view which I outline below.
1. Websites are not supposed to be static
No matter how good the research, brief and final user testing, once a site is live ‘tweaks’ must be made. This is an ongoing task if you’re chasing digital success. So you must at least stay on top of the analytics data to see how the site is being used initially. ‘This is now live’ shifts thinking and those involved (hopefully) start to see new details beyond the brief to the true user experience that has been crafted. Thinking through the intent of each page and how a user will follow through to complete the goal is easier now and a live review with the data to hand helps to fine-tune a website to deliver results.
Conversions depend on a good understanding of your target market and the problems you solve for them. Working this out is usually part of a website development brief but this can change over time and it can also change during the course of the project. Your competitors may change their offer or positioning and if there’s no awareness of what they are doing digitally, there’s also no response and you can potentially lose business when enquiries go to them instead. Jump into Google now and do a quick search for a keyword phrase that relates to what you do. Now compare your website to the top three results (hopefully you’re one of them). What’s their offer? What’s the user experience like. Does the site show thought, care and understanding of their audience? Who would you choose in the top three? Why? Now … is your website still up to scratch? As you come to understand more about the market online in terms of business objectives the ability to manage a website site to deliver the desired outcomes improves.
2. Visual cues, goals and building trust online
Sites are often handed over to team members who have not received training and don’t have any idea what the plan is so they are left to make updates on the fly. In this situation digital assets are easily devalued over time because without guidelines changes are made with no awareness around requirements for:
- the visual integrity of the brand (inconsistent application of styles and layout)
- responsive design requirements across devices (looks good on desktop fails on mobile)
- hierarchy of information (key elements and CTA’s not above-the-fold for example)
- SEO tactics to ensure visibility online (changes to / additions of text can reduce relevance to search terms)
- coding best practice (bad practice creates junk code that can require manual removal with a site refresh)
- conversion optimisation (not realising the goal of a page or it’s part in a sequence)
- digital advertising in place (making changes that increase the cost-per-click for landing pages)
- business objectives (not being aware of the actual goals of a web page or website means there’s nothing to guide messaging, tactics and direction)
Gosh, writing this now reminds me just how much goes into an effective web page! It’s the tip of the iceberg really and this is second nature for digital marketers which is why you need them on board. It’s not fair (or effective) to put non-marketing team members in charge of your website and digital marketing and expect results without a plan or training. They will do their best.
3. Website updates keep your site secure
Beyond the marketing related tasks, website management comes down to a handful of updates and backups that should be made regularly. Mostly for security which is a no-brainer for business websites. No one can afford to lose time or look bad due to poor management that results in unauthorised access or a broken site that takes a swipe at the trust you have built over time both online and offline.
The backend of websites needs to be kept up-to-date in order to remain secure. This is particularly important if you are collecting and/or storing personal data. It’s essential to ensure privacy, terms, data management and user policies are in place before you launch. A user policy in particular around who can login and make changes is massively important as it’s often the weakest link that allows unauthorised access.
So why is expert website management good for business?
Well if I were to sum up the reasons for managing all of the above well I would say they are all part and parcel of these important aspects in web development:
- Users love speed and responsive design (more conversions)
- Google rewards well-built websites (improved visibility)
- People need to be satisfied with relevant information and then told what to do next (lead conversion factor)
- Business goals that aren’t clear can’t guide people (content managers must understand business goals and market and have a plan to achieve objectives)
- Carefully managed visual design builds trust (best practice means you avoid devaluing your web designers work)
- Secure and up-to-date websites (show you’re trustworthy and don’t spam)
So if you want to get new business from your website, don’t let it languish and free-load in the background. Get it into your business building toolkit again and working hard for you.
Have a good week.