Beyond the Website Launch: Updates and Maintenance
When was the last time you reviewed and/or updated your website?
Websites play a critical role in the sales process and buying cycle. They are the online representation of your brand, a living-breathing crux of your company’s marketing. As such, they need to be managed and available online at all times.
With 81% of shoppers conducting online research before a purchase, and 52% of B2B buyers saying they expect half of their purchases to be made online by 2018 *, an unmanaged website hampers your ability to grow your business; it decreases online competitiveness and could easily defer potential customers from considering your brand for their needs. *The Future of Commerce
The Internet is continually evolving with new technologies, new web requirements, security risks, and improvements. These changes are influencing buyer expectations and purchasing behaviors which are in turn affecting companies and industries. To keep pace with the fluid dynamics of today’s marketplace, regular upkeep and maintenance are required throughout the life of your website to enable it to function as a business tool and to be valued in the eyes of potential customers and search engines alike.
While most business professionals recognize the need for a website, many are unaware of what should be done to their website post-launch to leverage it as branding, sales, and lead-generation tool. This results in many orphaned websites – rarely maintained or updated after they go live on the web.
What Makes Up Website Maintenance?
After companies learn about all the factors that impact their website’s performance, and how that performance affects sales, they instantly realize the value of support. At a high level, here are 10 reasons why EVERY company needs to either maintain their website internally with dedicated resources or have it supported by an outside source.
- Broken links to pages, forms, or images. The big red X in a box where an image should be rendered, but isn’t.
- Page or content read errors, for example, 404 page or link not found.
- Compliance with changing Search Engine Algorithms, such as Penguin and Panda that adversely impacts a website’s online page ranking and visibility.
- Content Management System platform updates, such as WordPress version X to Y.
- Plugin or software add-on updates whereby a new version of one plugin’s updates inadvertently impacts a Content Management System, a CMS theme, or another plugin due to interactive effects.
- Browser version updates. Past version updates have been virtual makeovers impacting older, unsupported code.
- Shifts in buyer behavior, expectations, and minimum requirements. Many buyers, for example, will not contact a company until they feel they know their needs could be met. So if a website does not have the necessary information on it or provides downloads with additional details, potential customers will go to another company that better aligns with their buying process.
- Changes within the company, products, services, brand, etc. Dated, incorrect, or incomplete information spurs doubt about a company’s level of dependability and attention to detail.
- Hardware and server updates intended for the improved performance of updated website codes.
- Security breaches from malicious code injectors, malware, or phishing attempts.
The remedy includes preventative and proactive measures to manage problems associated with custom-coded websites to Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress, nopCommerce, Umbraco, etc. All of these are equally important and require the same level of attention.
- 24/7 Site Monitoring
- Security Patches
- Plugin and System Updates
- File Backups
- Alert Notifications
- Regular site reviews for link and content viability.
In lieu of representing another “hat“ to be worn by a staff member atop of an existing role or set of responsibilities, existing websites need “webmaster” type oversight to monitor the above alerts and systems as well as a team to implement the changes or updates. Awareness of existing issues is only as good as the ability to correct them quickly.
Companies without a dedicated internal support team should retain a company to address small things that come up or catastrophes that hit (e.g. website goes down or is attacked). Businesses without an existing relationship will have a hard time finding a company to respond quickly and cost-effectively if the vendor is forced to learn about a website at the moment of crisis. These scenarios always cost more and take longer than when an established support structure is in place.
A business website contributes significantly to a company’s revenues, whether products are sold transactionally on it or not, so perpetual budgets are needed to manage updates and enhancements beyond a website’s initial development. If your website was launched years ago, just launched or about to go live, be sure it has the maintenance and support to operate at peak levels of performance, attract additional traffic, convert more prospects and generate the sales needed to grow your business.