Innovate

Maintaining your Website


Written By: Scott Costello

By Peter C. Vanrysdam, Chief Marketing Officer of 352 Media Group

The process of developing your business’ website can be a complicated one. Amid organizing your content, communicating with the developers and managing the expectations and feedback from your internal stakeholders, it can take up a considerable chunk of your time. Well, I’ve got some bad news for you; just because the development process is over doesn’t mean it’s ended. Just like you don’t stop exercising and eating right after you hit your fitness goals, you can’t expect your results to linger online without some continued effort. But that’s it for the bad news, I promise. The steps to maintain your work are much less time consuming than the build itself.

Test Early and Often 

When most people think of testing a website, they think about those hectic days leading up to the site’s launch. That’s very important, but so is continuing to test. Technology, your users and your company are always evolving. You need to consistently test your site to ensure it’s continuing to do its job.

The type of testing after launch is different than what takes place when you’re getting ready to go live. While you always want to be on the lookout for bugs, this testing is more about optimizing your conversions. The process of A/B or multi-variant testing lets you test minor tweaks to your users to determine the impact on users’ behavior. Google Analytics offers a free solution to facilitate these tests. Even better, the software will analyze the results for you and let you know when one option has reached a statistical conclusion.

When running a multi-variant test, it’s important to keep the changes limited to one area. For example, changing the text of a button from “view catalog” to “shop now” might have an impact on click-through rates. Altering the size, position or color of that same button might also change things. However, if you only test a version with new text, size, color and placement, you won’t get a good concept of which change visitors liked best. Test each element on its own before moving on to the next.

Write Fresh Content, Then Write Some More

Content is still king. You may have heard this before, but content is as important as ever on the Web. For starters, your visitors want to see fresh content. Nothing gets people hunting for the back button faster than seeing the exact same text they saw when they visited your site six months ago. If you have nothing new to tell visitors, why should they come back?

Aside from improving the user experience, fresh content can also heavily impact your rankings in the search engines. When sites like Google and Bing comb through your site, they’re paying close attention to what changed since their last index. Newer content is by its very nature more relevant, and that is exactly what the search engines want to show their visitors—relevant information to their search query. By keeping your content up to date, you can simultaneously improve your rankings and your conversions. Who doesn’t want that?

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Websites are far from an exact science. The only way to know if your effort is paying off is by monitoring the results. I’m not just talking about sales volume, but rather all the things happening on your site before users click “buy.” A 20 percent increase in your sales sounds great, but what if your site’s traffic is up 50 percent over that same period? By looking at your analytics you can identify the roadblocks on your site and capture those other sales you may be missing out on.

Google Analytics is a free tool, and one that no site should be without. Not only can you see the basic metrics like how many people came, what pages they clicked on and how they got there. You can also learn a great deal about how people use your site. By setting up goal tracking, you can see how long it takes for a user to find their way to your shopping cart or info request form. You can figure out what pages send people looking for the exit and create a plan to fix them.

So don’t let all of your hard work during development go to waste. Just a little bit of time each week can ensure your site is a money making machine for years to come!

 


Peter is the Chief Marketing Officer of 352 Media Group and one of the company’s cofounders. Started out of a dorm room at the University of Florida more than 10 years ago, 352 Media Group now has over 65 employees, clients including Microsoft and Wells Fargo, and has been on the Inc. 5000 list of the fasted growing companies in the US for the past five years. In addition, Peter is a featured columnist on the social media and marketing blog Mashable.com. He’s spoken at a variety of events including The Social Media Marketing Workshops in Miami and Las Vegas, various chapters of the American Marketing Association, the Jacksonville, Fla. and Gainesville, Fla. Chambers of Commerce and the International Community College Futures Assembly.

Recently, Peter’s first book was published, “Marketing in a Web 2.0 World: Using Social Media, Webinars, Blogs and More to Boost Your Small Business on a Budget.” It consistently ranks among the top online marketing books on Amazon.

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