A website is like owning a pet, it must be taken care of; fed, groomed, exercised and given health check ups.
In other words, a website must have content and it must be updated continuously, it should be designed in an appealing way and given touch ups, should be frequently utilised by yourself and others in order to be effective and it must be analysed for faults and undergo software updates.
This process of keeping your website ‘healthy’ is called maintenance. Maintenance is important so that your site can run smoothly, avoids security risks, and customers are satisfied by providing them with new and exciting information, products or features.
There are different areas involved in maintenance which can include updates, regular maintenance tasks, and measurements/analysis.
TYPES OF MAINTENANCE
Updates concerning website content may include the text, images, links, downloads, or any of the ‘stuff’ that is going to attract new visitors and encourage repeat visits. For ecommerce sites obviously product updates are essential, leading businesses such as Missguided, ASOS and Urban Outfitters continuously add new products, style guides and trends, discontinue unpopular items, and change prices or host sales and special promotions, as well as new feature additions to the website. These all have to be communicated on the website so that the customer is aware and encouraged to look and buy, which can be further encouraged through related press coverage (review of site or product) to add credibility to your brand and special competitions to help create buzz for your website.
Boo chores 😦
Obviously one of the reasons website maintenance may not be conducted is because it can be boring and time consuming, but it is essential. Certain elements of maintenance should be performed regularly and run on a scheduled basis, such as one a month. These tasks should include backing up your website so you don’t lost any content, monitor website outages/disruptions so that you are aware of these before customers (this can include installing a specific program), checking registration information (relevant contact information/registered email is up to date etc.), testing website performance including speed which is something that will frustrate a lot of visitors, as well as link checks as a broken link is useless, and software updates like third party software where for instance WordPress regularly update their software so I will install these updates as soon as they are released.
Measurement is obviously key in any marketing activity, as once a strategy is implemented we need to ask: is it working? For ecommerce sites clearly analyzing sales stats is important, but website statistics should also be analysed. These can include traffic statistics including; demographics of visitors, keywords used to find your site, referring sites, time spent on sites, pages entered and exited on, pages most viewed, busiest days etc. Many web servers will already provide this information, or Google Analytics can also provide some of these. Another thing to measure is the awareness of your site, are you showing up in search engine results? Have you made the first page with the keywords and phrases you want? Not only awareness but measuring your reputation and performance is key. Knowing who is talking about you (through blog reposts, comments on review sites etc) is essential for the maintenance of your brand and website, so an alerts program that searches for prompts can be installed to help monitor your online presence. Further, there are different types of measures for the effectiveness of your website:
Measures of Internet marketing effectiveness
Brands have to know how successful their digital marketing actions are so measuring effectiveness is essential in order to maintain and modify. Chaffey et al. (2006) in ‘Internet Marketing’ categorised these measures as assessing:
Level 1: Business effectiveness – which analyse the impact of the web site on the whole business, and look at financial measures such as revenue and profit and promotion of corporate awareness.
Level 2: Marketing effectiveness – which measure the number of leads and sales achieved via the Internet and effect of the Internet on retention rates and other aspects of the marketing mix such as branding.
Level 3: Internet marketing effectiveness – which assess how well the site is being promoted, and do so by reviewing the popularity of the site and how good it is at delivering customer needs.
SO let’s get to it!
Maintaining a small website is easy. To have a successful website that people are interested in, it should be unique, relevant and interesting. This can only occur if the content and design are updated regularly, so they do not become boring or outdated, therefore a clearly defined process for making changes to the content should be in place.
Adding new blog posts at regular intervals, updating photos and information, and modernising themes/designs are a few options that can easily be done for small sites. Maintenance is not just for information companies, online retailers or bloggers, it is also relevant to social media platforms. You are a brand and you want your friends/visitors to stay informed about your life and to promote yourself in a favourable way.
However, the bigger a company/website is, the more complex maintenance becomes. Sterne (2001) suggests that the essence of successful maintenance is to have clearly identified responsibilities for different aspects of updating the web site. To understand the different responsibilities it can be split up like this: Who owns the process? Who owns the content? Who owns the format? Who owns the technology?
- Who Owns the Process
The process is essentially the guidelines for updating the site, specifying the responsbilities for different aspects of site management and the way/order in which tasks are carried out. For larger companies the people involved may include any relevant people from the marketing department and site developers. With all the interested parties having an input in deciding on the process for updating the web site. The process may involve a simple tweaking of an issue, communicating new product additions, or it could be a complete site re-design that involves changing the look and feel of the site. This requires a lot more effort and more people will be invested in this change.
- Who Owns the Content
This refers to those responsible for updating the content of webpages within part of an organisation. The peoplewith this responsibility will be those who have the best skill and knowledge to develop that content. Below is a diagram explaining a possible process of content review beginning with the brand manager writing a copy, before being tested, and finally implemented officially.
- Who Owns the Format
The format is basically the components of the design and layout of the site, being the ‘look and feel’ #atmos of the page. The important factor for this is consistency, meaning all pages and links should be coherent so that it all represents the ‘brand image’, is comfortable and familiar for users and so that it easy for users when design elements are similar. Not only is this role to do with creating a coherent and easy to use website, but it must be aesthetically appealing and meet consumer needs. Many sites will have software that provides templates that already specify a menu structure and graphical design.
A site design template is the standard page layout format which is applied to each page of a web site, which is important for coherency and user satisfaction. The content developers then only have to add the relevant text and graphics to specific documents and do not have to worry about overall site design. Again, this is much easier for small scale wesbites. Such as my blog site that you are on! The image to the right shows the simple process of customising the design template, and I do not have to work with other people or departments to discuss the consistency in design or content.
- Who Owns the Technology
Technology is hugely important in digital marketing today so there is a need to understand the role and its specific reponsibilities so that a company can fully capitalise the power of the Internet. This component is most important when a company is involved in ecommerce and customer service. This is because the site is no longer just an isolated system, but one that must be integrated with other technologies such as the customer database, stock control and sales order processing systems. For this purpose the IT department must be heavily involved, with other technical issues needing their expertise including: availability and performance of web site server, checking HTML for validity and correcting broken links and managing different versions of web pages in the test and live environments and content management.
Chaffey, D., Chadwick, F.E., Johnston, K., & Mayer, R. (2006). Internet marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (3rd ed.). Financial Times/Prentice Hall.
Remember, it is not just big brands that need to maintain their digital marketing presence, it is anyone online. Whilst social media users avidly maintain their pages and posts, they are probably not aware that this is routine maintenance, they are simply ‘keeping up to date’. However, maybe you’re forgetting some crucial details, is your registration information up to date? is your website secure? Maybe there is some old information you should get rid of…
For all you fellow bloggers out there here are some key areas to remember based on a simple WordPress maintenance routine:
- Backing up your website
- Installing updates
- Processing comments
- Setting up security
- Keeping track of website health
- Optimizing your database
Hope you found this informative and helpful!
Do you have a maintenance routine for your own websites?
Are news information sites the most under pressure to maintain their website efficiently?