You’ve assembled a great team to build your new website: Congrats – that’s huge! Besides providing content & monitoring their progress, what should you be doing to help the site succeed?

BEFORE LAUNCH:

  1. Understand Your Audience. The content you create for your website, including your blog, is there to serve your existing and potential customers. How much do you know about them? Do you want to evolve your customer base? What have they come to expect? Do your research to make sure you can easily answer these questions. Not only will it get you started in the right direction, but it’ll make it easier to measure the success of your site, and give feedback and guidance to the people designing and implementing it for you.
  2. Get to Know Social Media. If you’re not yet familiar with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s time to get to know them really well. This doesn’t mean that you need to utilize all of them, or that there aren’t other social networks that might work better for you (eg: Pinterest or Instagram), but you need to understand the basic rules of engagement for the ones you plan to use, and select the best ones based on where your target audience spends time. Once you understand what your platform(s) does, and how you define success for using it, you’re armed to make sure social media marketing is built into your website platform from the ground up so that you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
  3. Gather Some Testimonials. Whether you offer a service or a product (or both), you’ll want to have a handful of testimonials you can use throughout your platform to build confidence. Ask your existing customers what they liked best about working with you, or what differentiates your product from other similar products. If you don’t have the basis for testimonials just yet, don’t worry – you can provide inspirational quotes yourself as the founder of the company as placeholders. The goal is for your site visitors to easily recognize themselves in these highlighted snippets of text.
  4. Think About How People Will Get in Touch With You. Will you offer an email address? A form? A phone number? A newsletter signup? Build your email lists, but also organize your ports-of-call so that your communication is streamlined and clear. Consider a temporarily landing page that offers this info & acts as a teaser for the larger site launch. If you’re concerned about putting your phone number online, get a new, free one with Google Voice — you don’t need to answer the calls that come to it if you don’t want to, but it can transcribe your voicemails.

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DURING LAUNCH:

  1. How Will You Announce? If you’ve spent some time building an email list (and ideally, you have), here’s the perfect chance to use it! What about a social media press release (pitchengine.com)? If you’re targeting a regional audience, what about local newspaper or radio? Don’t forget Google My Business. Are you ready to build some buzz on Twitter or your social media platform of choice? Make sure you have a punch list lined up so that you can easily put everything in motion on the big day.
  2. Consider Having an Event. It may be a “real life” event with wine and cheese for local customers, or maybe it’s a webinar, or a 1-day sale. If you create an event around the launch of something new it will have more lasting impact, and gives you a reason to celebrate that people can get behind. Of course it’s exciting to you that your business has a new website – but how can you make it exciting for your customers?
  3. What About an Incentive? This may be tied to your launch event (see above) – but offering a discount or a freebie is a great way to get people “in the door.” Existing customers like when they are rewarded for their business, and everyone likes getting something for free. It builds good will and is an experience people are likely to share with their friends. Often, giving away something for free can lead to them signing up for a paid offering down the road.  If you trade their email address for your free offering, you can promote future items to those who already have an interest in what you’re doing.
  4. Update Your Collateral. Make sure your email signature, business cards, letterhead, etc.. have the latest/greatest information on them. If your site is brand new, be sure there’s a URL listed everywhere, including all your social media profiles. If you’ve rebranded – make sure the rebranding carries throughout your entire marketing platform, online and off, including social media.  Do a Google search for yourself and your business and make sure all the results that you control have the appropriate information.

AFTER LAUNCH:

  1. Check In! It’s so important to measure the success of your investments – it gives you the information you need to decide where to put your time, energy and money in the future. Make sure you’re hooked up with site analytics – Google Analytics is great – and check in on your data regularly.  It can tell you what’s working, what’s not working, and give you information to help you make changes.
  2. Keep it Fresh. Blogs and social media outlets won’t work for you if they’re stagnant, and can even have a negative effect of making you look uninterested and stagnant. Have a plan-of-action for updating your venues regularly, and for responding to communication that comes through those outlets. Consider a regular schedule for yourself for updating everything, and a regular schedule for incentives to keep people coming back again & again. Blogs frequently have a way for you to write content in advance (when it’s convenient for you) and schedule publication dates out into the future at targeted times.
  3. Reach Out & Stay Flexible. Seek out people via blogs or social media and become a resource for them. Give your new ventures some time and space to succeed, but be willing to pull the plug and try something new if it’s clear there’s no momentum. For example, if you’re launching a new webinar series – make sure you’ve got a handful of them lined up and shout them from the rooftops (so to speak). But if you’re not getting even a nibble of interest, try something new and assess why they failed. Maybe video tutorials are better for your target market? Maybe your target audience is somewhere you’re not current advertising?
  4. Don’t Obsess in a Bad Way. Measuring your success or failure day-to-day is setting yourself up for insanity. Sure, things move fast on the internet, but try to balance your short-term assessments with some longer-term ones. If your site traffic is down by a few visitors one day the week after your launch, it doesn’t mean the overall upward trend isn’t valid!

New websites are launched daily by the thousands – some with a whimper, and some with a bang. Optimizing your approach to your website launch can get you started on the right foot, and give your investment its best chance for success.