“Build it and they will come” was the catch cry of the pre-dot.com bust. We all know of course that this just doesn’t happen and your online marketing doesn’t end once you’ve launched your site.
But what happens to your site after launch (or Day-2) needs to be considered before you start and is the subject for Pitfall 4 in our 5 Pitfalls of Website Development series.
Pitfall 4: Not thinking beyond Day-2
Two key questions you need to consider in the early part of your website development process are:
- How will you keep the site current; and
- How will you encourage people to visit the site?
The two are related because keeping a site fresh will encourage people to visit and keep coming back.
How will you keep the site current?
For some companies, a static brochure-style site that requires very little updating can be perfectly acceptable. It would be appropriate for a painter or mechanic or for a short-term promotion (say a competition). However, if you are a business ‘selling’ to other businesses (or trying to connect with other businesses) then a static, never changing site probably isn’t the best solution for you.
To engage with your audience you need to make sure your site offers them something new every time they visit. The problem with this is that content ages and you need to keep updating information to keep it fresh and of interest.
There are two options for keeping a site up-to-date:
- Have your website developer make the changes for you; or
- Do it yourself using a content management system.
In Pitfall 2 we touched on having an external party maintain your site versus using a content management system (CMS). Whatever you choose you need to factor this into your overall website plan.
The external option
If you are going to rely on an external party to maintain the site for you, then you will have to allow time to send them changes, wait for them to make the changes and then check to make sure the changes are correct. You also need to be very specific when you request changes to avoid going back and forth (which can blow out time and costs).
Sometimes, for critical information (such as a product launch, stock exchange announcement or media release), turnaround times can be tight and waiting on someone else to make a change may mean you don’t meet your deadlines or you miss an opportunity.
In addition, you need to factor in the cost of a maintenance agreement with your supplier - if you’re going to be constantly updating content then this approach can come with a large price tag.
- The DIY option
As we outlined in Pitfall 2, a good CMS lets you control all aspects of your website. This means that as your business grows or your company objectives evolve or your marketing tactics change you can accommodate necessary changes to your site yourself.
Regularly updating a website can be a large (but often necessary) time commitment; however, you can reduce this by allowing others to also contribute content (go on, let go). Many CMSs come with inbuilt 'workflow' processes, which allow content contributors to write but not publish content. This way you can let go a little bit.
A CMS gives you the option to maintain the site. Such systems don’t need to be expensive and a good website developer should offer to build your site in a CMS if you want control.
How will you encourage people to visit the site?
Getting people to your site could be the subject of a whole new blog series, as could converting them to customers or stakeholders once they get to your site.
You can run dedicated campaigns to encourage website visits such as email marketing, social media (if it is a real option for you of course), paid search campaigns and so on, but the reality is you need to have a compelling offer or information of value on the site to get people to visit it. You also need to keep the site fresh and frequently offer value to get them to come back.
Too often, we see a fan-fare with companies exclaiming “we’ve got a new website” as a means to getting people to visit it.
Do you really need to tell people you’ve launched a website?
Unless you’re offering something truly valuable and compelling (such as case studies or stock exchange updates) it’s hard to see why your users would care that you have a new site.
Getting people to visit a website and keeping them coming back is an ongoing pursuit, how you achieve this should be factored into your overall online marketing plan, as well as any associated costs.
Avoiding the Day-2 blues
Before you decide to develop a website, ask yourself:
- How will we encourage people to visit the site?
- Why would they want to visit the site?
- Why would they want to come back to the site once they’ve seen it?
- How are we going to keep the site current so people want to come back?
- Can we easily grow the site as our business grows?
All of these questions (and lots more) need to be answered before you start your project because how you deal with these issues will have wide ranging ramifications.