So you just launched a website, now what?
Can I make a confession?
Some designer will probably never tell you this, but in my two years of making business, I’ve seen people who have invested in a professional website, only to see that their website never launched.
I know. I’m rolling my eyes too!
Each time I came across that situation I felt like a huge failure. Like I let them down as a web designer because they didn’t get their money’s worth. But not anymore. Today we’re going to be talking about what to do after you’ve launched your website to make sure you are getting the best return on your investment.
First let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Why did people invest money in their website and not make it live? I’ll tell you a couple of red flags that I now can see were hints as to why these amazing business ideas barely got off the ground:
The business owner didn’t have an audience to promote to.
I cannot stress enough, that it’s important to have some people to market to BEFORE the business starts. Way too many people think “if I build a website, then they will come.” When in reality it’s more like “When you build your market, they will come to your website.” Your website is a tool to optimize sales. It operates as a marketing tool to amplify the greatness you already have. So if you want your website to be successful, you’ve got to understand, find, and target people that need you and your stuff.
I’m sure the next thing your going to say is “Shirley, I have a market, I’ve been telling them about my website and nothing is happening.” Well that’s because you’re still too ambiguous about your offer. I’m not going to butter it up honey, people don’t have a clue what you’re doing. Your audience may nod politely in your face and just keep thinking “I don’t get it” behind your back. People are confused, so of course they’re not going to come to your website. Why should they? They have no reason to.
Your website is not the place they can go to get answers about their problem. So please tell me, my friend, if no one thinks they can get the answers to their burning questions from visiting your website, why are you so shocked and salty that you’re not getting traffic? This entire time you’ve been putting all the responsibility on the people to figure out why you’re interesting and expecting them to just get it. Then subsequently getting mad when they don’t get it. #makeitmakesense
You have to take responsibility for this and stop putting the blame on your website, your designer, or your people. You’re the one who has to get more specific, and get better at explaining who you help so that the right eyeballs start looking to you to fix their problem. Does it suck that you constantly have to explain yourself? Absolutely. But when you get it right, the floodgates will open.
The website had no content.
In the beginning, I would design websites with what I like to call filler content. We used stock images, filler text, made up blog posts, the works. So when the project was complete, they realized that all the “filler” needed to be replaced with real content. And into the abyss that website went. What I learned from this experience is that content needs to be ready BEFORE the website is built. A website is a content managing machine. Without it, no one has a reason to go to your website, thus, your hard earned money goes down the trash. It’s also apparent that business owners are overwhelmed by the amount of content they need to fill in to get the website going. So doing the work ahead of time will really prevent the overwhelm, and feelings of anxiety.
The final point I believe really affect the launch of these websites was the mindset of the business owners, mainly…
Now these are amazing and talented people with incredible skills, incredible talent, years of experience, and they really had something worth sharing with the world. But for whatever reason, they were really hung up on this idea that everything had to be in order and in place before they officially launched. Now while there might be tremendous benefits to being super prepared before you launch anything, there is also a point where trying to get everything just right is handicapping you. They start telling themself this story that it’s perfection or it’s nothing. In fact we should all be telling ourselves, progress is better than perfection.
So now that I’ve learned from those experiences,
Here’s what I recommend people do after they have officially launched their websites…
Promote your website before it launches.
Way too often we keep the whole website design process a secret and save it for a big reveal. This is a mistake. The most successful website launches are the ones that tease the launch before the website goes live. The example I always love to use here is from Walt Disney. When he was building Disneyland, he had a weekly TV show where he would talk about what they were developing at the park. People would literally tune in every week just to see what’s going on, and what’s more exciting is the fact that when it was finally opening day at the park, they had a record number of people waiting in line for the rope to drop. You know why? They were ready to see everything that was just a drawing and model in the flesh. Psychologically when we have something to look forward to we increase feelings of optimism. This people start to associate good feels and a boost of dopamine with you and your venture. So, the moral of the story here is to start promoting before the website is complete because this gets people amped and ensures the success of the website launch.
After the website is launched, it’s time to make a big effing deal about it.
Shout from the rooftop. It never ceases to amaze me that We spend more energy and effort in celebrating the receipt of a diploma (essentially a piece of paper) than we do celebrating the launch of our websites, and that needs to end today. I want you to put on your best dress, pop a bottle of champagne, buy the biggest bouquet of flowers, and make a big stink about all of it.
You’re not doing this for your health, or kicks and giggles. The psychology behind this is three parts:
First being that your excitement and enthusiasm will indeed infect others with excitement and enthusiasm. People can’t help but want to jump up and down with you because by osmosis, it is natural and intuitive for us to absorb the energy in our environments. But you have to be the one to set the environment of excitement.
The second being that celebrating takes people out of their regular routine —that day to day automatic thinking that registers every things as average, normal and insignificant. This change in routine triggers the brain to pay attention, and take notice. And also to mark it as significant which means this celebration will be play a valuable role in their life.
Last is that By commemorating the celebration with a toast, or buying flowers, throwing confetti, or a simple high five you are assigning it to memory. Something that will help you and your audience recall that moment every time they hear the clink of a glass or see a bouquet of red roses. These triggers will thus help them remember you, your brand and your website way beyond that moment.
Again, it is not sufficient enough to just announce it, you have to celebrate it because the long term effects will help to trigger action from your audience.
Monitor the right metrics.
When a client came to me and said “the website is not converting” I wasn’t quite sure what to do. We had used really great design strategy and the UI was perfect. In fact people absolutely loved the way the website looked. But the UX was a different story. She would send traffic to the website, they would land on the homepage and do absolutely nothing. Barely any clicks, barely any email sign ups, and no one checking out her service page. If this wasn’t a double face plant I don’t know what is. This was every designer’s worst nightmare. To her, the entire website investment was a failure because it wasn’t converting.
But what does it mean to convert?
After launching a website, the only metric people measure is the amount of money that lands in their bank account. But there are so many things that happen in order for that money lands in your bank account.
In the case of my client, she wasn’t seeing any dollars in her business coming directly from the website.
So here is what I learned. I started to realize that there are a couple of metrics that you really need to start tracking to turn that user to interact with your website and that ultimately get you closer to the money in the bank goal.
1. What is the highest traffic source? This could be a link, platform, or article. But whatever it is, it’s got to be coming from somewhere. People are not just going to magically find you, you have to have a source.
Assuming you have a clear path to action, how many times are the users clicking your call to action? You can figure this out by seeing the top and second top pages. The second most visited page needs to be on your homepage as a call to action because that’s the item people are most concerned with.
2. Track the highest traffic page. Because once you figure this page that’s when you can start optimizing it for better conversion.
3. If anything did turn into a sign up or purchase, did you double down? If not this is the time to add fuel to what works, by reposting or even using ads to point to that content
After you launch your website here’s what you need to do next…
- Create weekly or bi weekly content that will generate organic traffic to your website
- Point traffic straight to specific website content that will give them a taste of what they want and point that article to your service
- Start tracking and measuring your traffic to see what the greatest source is, which page is highly visited, and start creating more similar content.