After many sprints, meetings and a lot of hard work, the time has finally arrived: launch day. All goes well and a few days pass.
“How did it go?” the executives ask you.
“Great, no problems at all” you answer.
Then the all-important questions begin.
“How is it performing? Has it increased conversions? What do our customers think?”
At this point, if you’re smart, you will have had the analytics function baked in from the start with a dashboard showing you exactly what you need to answer these questions.
“Yes, conversions are up 2% from last week, feedback on social media is positive and revenue is up.”
But what if those metrics are not telling the great success story you had hoped? Having a new all singing all dancing website with great content will only get you so far.
Here are 10 tips for getting the most out of your site relaunch:
1. The Relaunch Strategy for traffic building
It’s wise to have a plan for your relaunch. A relaunch strategy planned out in relation to traffic helps to achieve the desired results whilst also setting expectations around timings, focusing on three clear stages - pre, post and go-live.
Prior to go-live I recommended you benchmark your current performance ready for the re-launch. This should be done early as it can help to inform your decisions during the design & development process.
The initial stage of the benchmark involves confirming your top-level goals for the website, whether this is to drive leads, sales or to inform customers of your services leading to calls. Once you know the top-level objectives these can be translated into measurable KPIs.
Now you can benchmark those KPIs against historical performance ready for the go-live.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) forms a large part of the traffic equation when considering any redevelopment.
Consider what pages and sections will have new URLs and be sure to place 301 redirects in place for those URLs. Ensure you have briefed in site maps that can be submitted to the Google Search Console on go-live for the swiftest update.
As go-live approaches, brief your SEO agency to ensure they are closely monitoring the go-live or, if in-house, be sure to monitor this yourself. Pay close attention to your organic traffic alongside crawl stats in the search console and other related ranking factors including site speed and high volume backlinks.
4. Email Marketing
Communication is the cornerstone of any redevelopment. Use email marketing to let your customer base know about the site improvements and what they can expect; emphasise the level of research done to let them know it’s based on customer insight.
This is a good time to reactivate dormant email members by analysing the data you have on them, including their purchase history, and tailoring communications in-line with that insight.
Don’t forget to stagger communications. You don’t want an influx of visitors bringing down the new website!
5. Real-time Analytics
During the crucial go-live period we recommended you monitor the site using real-time analytics. This is especially useful for monitoring errors such as 404s. However, you can also monitor areas such as transactions and other custom events (providing you have implemented your analytics to track such custom events).
By catching any issues early it’s possible to fix any unforeseen bugs in the new site. The best test plans in the world don’t necessarily account for the strange activities of real-world visitors taking actions you didn’t expect, especially in a alongside live environment.
6. Social Media
Your social platforms can be a strong customer service tool for go-live, particularly with regular customers. When they arrive at the new site it could be a cause for confusion, so on-boarding those customers is key.
It’s also important to have a social media strategy agreed so you are able to respond to any issues that customers might raise on social media.
Use social media to set the expectations of your audience. This serves a two-fold goal: creating a sense of expectation in the days running up to the go-live whilst also notifying your customer base so you don’t surprise them on go-live day.
Ensure that your social media platforms are also updated to match the new site design, maximising your use of the new assets.
7. Paid Media Campaign
Whilst it might be tempting to launch a full-scale media attack from day one of the new site, I would recommend against that. Holding off on paid media until at least a week after launch allows you to iron out any unforeseen issues. It also gives you a chance to benchmark the new site without the new traffic (although you can segment this out in most analytics tools).
It is highly likely that you will have strong site personas as part of the redevelopment process. These can be leveraged as part of the media plan to gain maximum return on advertising spend. With paid social media targeting you can highly target your potential customers in-line with those personas.
Aligning the new site messaging and branding with the marketing campaign will enhance the impact from the relaunch and increase conversion rates through congruent marketing across all channels.
8. Content Marketing
Whilst lots of great content will have been created for the new site, consideration should be given on how to leverage that momentum through on-going content creation across all platforms.
Whilst a lot of focus is put on creating “shareable” content for SEO purposes, ultimately what matters is that your content genuinely adds value to the reader. A strategy to ensure that value-based content is created on an on-going basis will inherently encourage traffic through SEO and social referrals.
9. Continuous Optimisation
The old school mentality of ‘Job Done’ and then waiting 3 years until the next redevelopment is long gone. In its place, we now have continuous optimisation through testing with data at its core.
Now that your new website is launched, it’s time to get your scientist hat on. Use a process of iterative measurement, hypothesis formulation and testing to optimise the site on an on-going basis.
Use the analytics platform you instilled as part of the redevelopment to understand where the pain points are on the new website then, using A/B and multivariate testing tools, aim to improve them.
No amount of site stats will tell you why visitors are doing what they’re doing or how they feel about the new site. Create feedback mechanisms on the website so customers can give you feedback on the redevelopment and the newly delivered experience.
A new website signals a new beginning, but it’s just that: a beginning. Ensure you have a plan to increase traffic and optimise the experience for your customers on an on-going basis. Over time you’ll find that if you take care of your custom.