As we deal with the fallout from the Heartbleed bug, we’ve also been thinking about the attributes that our most successful client sites have in common. Here’s what we see.
Self Sufficiency, Part 1
The experts have their place, but relying on outside teams entirely and never working to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing is rarely the path to maximized marketing returns.
Bring in the experts, get them to design rock-solid systems for you and to point you in the right direction, then ask a lot of questions, and rely on them for guidance going forward. But understand the work being done, even if you’re outsourcing the implementation.
If you understand what they’re doing so you can – I’ll say it again – ask a lot of questions, you’ll be able to tell whether your consultants are selling you a bill of goods (which we really don’t see very often) or, more commonly, those consultants are looking at every issue through the lens of their own expertise. That can lead to decisions that would be better made with the big-picture perspective you’re likely to have yourself.
Self Sufficiency, Part 2
A solid CMS (content management system) is your friend. We prefer Drupal and WordPress, but there are many others that work well, too. Find one you like and get someone to help you build a site that makes use of the CMS’ power.
Then, maintain the site’s content yourself. Call in the pros for security updates and other under-the-hood maintenance. (See Don’t Forget the Techies, below.) But keep the site content fresh and updated and on-target for your audience, and the site will reward your marketing efforts.
No, not how quickly you call customers back. I’ll leave your customer service practices for you to ponder. (Though customer service touch points are a part of your marketing, whether you like it or not.) The responsiveness we’re talking about is building a website that automatically adapts to the device it’s being viewed on. No more pinching and swiping for phone and tablet users. The site design and layout adapt to fit the screen and create a more pleasant experience for the user.
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should show different content in the different versions. Three or four years ago, that was common. But now, with very few exceptions, content should be the same on all versions since many people use their phones and ,especially, their tablets as their primary connection to the web. They want your full site. Give it to them.
Think Hub and Spoke
Your website should be the hub of your online marketing activity. The spokes are things like email marketing and social media. Your efforts should aim to encourage people to visit your site, since this is where you can establish and strengthen relationships with them, gain their trust, and nurture them as prospects.
Your website won’t be very effective as a stand-alone entity. (And social media doesn’t work if there’s not more to it than 140 characters.)
Don’t Forget the Techies
Those guys or gals who built your site know a thing or two about how to build it well. They also are way more likely than you to be keeping up with changes and trends in browser compatibility and other issues. If they’re not, find someone who is.
Search engines love fast-loading pages. The techies know the tricks to keep you site as lean and mean as possible behind the scenes.
If you’re not on a regular maintenance plan, have a tech team review the site at least quarterly to make sure your site is current. All CMS-based sites are vulnerable to hacker attack. Older sites are infinitely more vulnerable.
And be sure that your site is being backed up to a location off the server. If disaster strikes, you’ll be back up and running much faster.