Don’t shoot your website guys. Part 1 (Going live)
Every time I write or produce a new website for clients I’m aiming to achieve at least 4 goals: (1) It’s engaging (2) It’s true to the client’s brand identity (3) It’s easy to navigate (4) It’s optimised for search (SEO). Assuming I get it all 100%, then I’ve discovered there lies a danger…
I say danger, only because at least a few times a year – generally a couple of months after a new website launch – I’ll be in touch with a client and discover real disappointment and palpable frustration at the level of traffic it’s attracted and the lack of impact it’s had on business.
What I’ve come to realise is that when a website’s been designed and written well, there develops a natural expectation that customers will come flocking, that Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. will deliver 1000’s of prospective customers to the website from day 1. This alas doesn’t just happen (or very rarely), hence this blog.
A highly competitive on-line landscape means that there will always be bigger websites, well-established websites, more popular websites all vying for your audience’s attention, whenever you go live. In the beginning there’s a very high possibility that they’ll rank before you in search engine results.
Prospective customers need to know your website exists, and you can’t just leave all the heavy lifting to Google’s search algorithms – however clever they are. You need to promote your website, and it is not (contrary to popular opinion) all down to on-line marketing either.
Here’s a short list of just some of the basic promotional activities you might consider. These aren’t new ideas by any means but I do believe they are often overlooked when all the focus is on finishing the new website:
Do yourself a quick audit of all your printed ‘customer touchpoints’ and make sure the new website address is included on all: business cards, letterheads, signage, vehicles, brochures, everything that needs updating.
If you’ve already gathered contact details for (opted-in) active and dormant customers, then get in touch with them by email and tell them about your new website. Use an email marketing platform like Mailchimp to send a branded html e-shot that embeds an image of your new homepage.
At the same time, you might want take a postal route for raising awareness of your new site. A good old-fashioned letter or a simple piece of direct mail might well make you stand out from the rest and personalised, it might be better received too.
Of course if you’re serving a local area, leaflet distribution to a defined area remains a cost-effective means of communication. Whether it’s a leaflet, a letter in an envelope or just a postcard, there’s lots of companies will carry the news about your new website to the doorstep of your prospective customer or DIY.
Print and on-line advertising
Requiring a greater budget, small banner ads promoting your new website and the reason to visit it offer another means of pointing traffic to your website and work both on-line and in-print. Carefully targeted media selection is essential.
Particularly in those early days, when your website’s not ranking ‘organically’ for a search, Adwords provide the means to appear on page 1 from the start. And it needn’t demand a huge budget either.
More than 20 years ago I was writing press releases announcing that ‘Company X has got a new website’ because it was newsworthy back then, these days it isn’t. However… that’s not to say though that an ‘advertorial’ arrangement with a local paper for example, which combines your website announcement with a paid for advert can’t still draw some useful website traffic in those early days.
And it goes without saying that you can’t ignore the influence of social media in helping to proliferate news about your new website – even if your business isn’t operating its own Facebook Page or a Twitter account (yet…).
There’s nothing to stop you leveraging your personal accounts, and sending a short message with an image of your home page and a web link and kindly asking friends and acquaintances for a share or retweet.
So please don’t shoot your website guys – at least not straight away 😉 There’s lots of ways of promoting a new website, and marketing copywriters (like me) can help you with it. But don’t wait for customers to find your website, don’t rely on Google to rank it. Take control.
PS. I’ve only talked here about going live with a new website. In the longer term there’s a lot more work to do in keeping a website visible in the rankings – look out for Part 2…