Websites are essential marketing tools for all types of businesses. They provide a great way to reach potential customers and engage with existing ones and bring in revenue through the online stores.
The problem is that managing websites isn’t always straightforward.
As a marketing professional for your business or non-profit, the online presence for your organization falls under your responsibilities. This means in addition to all of your other tasks, coordination, and related efforts you are in charge of keeping up to date with search engine optimization trends, content creation, and infrastructure backups, as well as serving as the point person for your hosting provider.
The list goes on.
Although at first glance it may feel like being the keeper of all these keys gives you the opportunity to customize every aspect of your website, the opportunity cost loss of spending the whole day or week managing your website will compound to levels that may become hard to recover from.
Partnering with a digital marketing agency for the ongoing management of your website allows you to focus on growing your business as it relates to your specific marketing goals and KPIs instead of worrying about the details and trying to be an expert in areas that are not your subject-matter expertise.
It's the classic question: "Although I can, should I?" Let's take a closer look.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Managing (or Continuing to Manage) Your Company Website
When it comes to managing your business's website, there are two schools of thought from most marketing professionals:
A.) I'm not the best person to manage our company site, but doing so will help save money for the organization.
If your house floods from a broken pipe, would you call a plumber to come out or would you say, "I don't know anything about plumbing, but can save money if I do it myself?".
While that scenario may sound ridiculous, it actually happens a lot to web managers. People constantly want us to tell them how to manage a website, give them a basic plan, share information about search engine optimization, or teach them a little custom code so they don't have to pay a professional web designer. It's a little like being captured by cannibals and the chief asks you for cooking advice. Sure, I guess you could be a nice guy and tell him your grandmother's recipe for meat lover's stew… but should you?
Not that we don't want to help a fellow business owner cut extra costs… we do. However, giving a little information to get one started is sometimes hazardous to their business health. A marketing director may feel that they are saving the business thousands of dollars, when in fact that is not the case. We've seen a well-meaning lifeline quickly fashion itself into a noose without much warning. From picking your custom domain name to adding essential features to your site or uploading YouTube videos, your online business presence has a lot to ponder. And the path is littered with minefields if you happen to wander off course of your business plan and business goals.
The truth is, trying to teach someone how to manage their site takes an enormous amount of time and effort. There really aren't a lot of quick, easy answers. If it was that simple, no one would have to go to school to learn the intricacies of becoming a professional web developer. And all that time they spend trying to learn how to manage their site takes away from time running successful marketing campaigns, formulating new marketing strategies, and growing their business while a design agency could handle all those aspects.
B.) I've just read ‘Website Management for Dummies, so I'm sure I can do it myself. Why would I spend money to have someone else manage my business website for me?
If you've created and managed websites in the past, it might be tempting to do it for your business website as well. It's like the department store manager who started off stocking shelves and rose through the ranks. Of course, you still know how to unload the supply truck, but aren't there better things you could be doing with your time? If you get mired in the details, you might lose sight of the big picture.
Suppose you want your website to be a media-rich, dynamic extension of your business. In that case, it's going to take a lot of time and experience to keep it humming along with regular updates, content creation, and technical maintenance. The tools are constantly changing. Social media and mobile marketing app integration with built-in features has become critical. Keeping your website content fresh and up to date can be a full-time job in itself.
Whether you fall into A or B, here are five questions you should ask yourself before you take on the responsibilities of managing your own website:
Do You REALLY Know What You're Doing?
Unless you want a stagnant website without constant updates, you will have to know about embedding code, analytics, search engines, relevant traffic, brand monitoring, and a wide variety of tools as well as design skills.
Even if you know the basics, keeping up-to-date on the tools and innovations can be a full-time job in itself. It's easier for a digital ad agency to keep up with these changes because they have full-time employees, a team of experts with a range of expertise whose job it is to do exactly this. But when it's only you… well, there's a lot of info to cram in your head. And having just the knowledge won't always suffice. There's a lot of trial and error often involved to get things right. Having experience is critical.
If you don't know exactly what you're doing, it's easy to end up spending hours trying to add "quick" regular updates or fix problems that could easily have been avoided by hiring someone who knows what they're doing. It's important to find a web developer with in-house experts who understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices, has experience working with WordPress and has a keen eye for layout design and simple navigation structure.
What if You Screw Something Up? Then What?
It's Friday night, 11:30 pm. Making a few adjustments and suddenly… Oh NO! Something went wrong and down goes your website. You search for the piece of custom code that is the culprit, but an hour into it, you're more confused now than when you began. Who are you gonna call? The Ghostbusters? A friend? Your geeky nephew? Some guy you met in a chat room? Your neighbor who hears you screaming out of your window at midnight?
Your business website works for you 24/7 - except when there's a problem. Then it quickly starts working mercilessly against you when it's down or not working right regardless of your type of business. You may have thought you were saving the extra costs of a digital agency managing your site when in fact you are really losing thousands of dollars in revenue when your online shopping feature goes down. Be sure you're equipped to handle any situation or technical maintenance. If not, you may want to fire yourself and hire someone who can handle and fix those maintenance requests.
The best way to avoid things going wrong is to hire a professional web developer and design agency who know what they are doing. They will know how to set up your website correctly so that it doesn't break when new features are added or changes to the navigation menu are made. This is especially important for ecommerce businesses with online stores where every page needs to load properly. A poorly designed website or mistake in custom code could cost you revenue as well as prospective clients and your current customer base.
Do You Speak Geek? (Hosting and Tech Support)
If you're going to manage your own website, then you'll have to deal with very smart, nerdy people who drink too much soda and have little patience if you don't talk their language. If they say to you “It looks like a 500 internal server error, just refresh the DNS and you should be up again in 24 to 48” and that sounds ‘Greek' to you… you're close. Just drop the ‘r'.
Web guys have a language, and thought process, all their own. If you're not on their wavelength, you're going to have a hard time communicating effectively with them, which puts you at a disadvantage when you need to get things done in a hurry.
Do You Have the Tools to Edit this Yourself?
Tools of the trade are important in just about every profession. You wouldn't want your dentist to work on a tight budget and save extra costs by working with just a Dremel tool and a Wet Vac, nor should you skimp on the advanced tools you will need for your website, such as HTML editing programs, file management applications, automation tools, keyword research tools, search engine and source of traffic tools, and photo editing software for the built-in features and essential features of your site. The cost upfront in addition to the annual costs of maintaining these programs could easily debilitate your business, all of these additional resources are aspects your business plan will need to account for.
Problem is, there are a number of programs needed and it can be cost prohibitive for a business to purchase, especially if you've never used the software before. The average annual cost of Dreamweaver alone is just over $1000 when you choose the monthly bundle. Before you choose to manage your own website, map out the entire process and make sure you budget every item before you start to purchase all the applications you'll need. And give yourself the necessary time to become proficient. Is it really going to be worth it?
Opportunity Cost - What's Your Time Worth?
Just because you can doesn't always mean you should. As stated before, web management is time-consuming and often frustrating. It can easily be a full-time job. There are a million little things that can go wrong and a million more things that could always be improved. More often than not you are working with a tight budget, but paying a professional to manage your website will save you money, time, and frustration in the long run.
Every hour you're working on your website means another hour you could be growing your business instead, as well as identifying valuable opportunities in your marketplace.
Here's a good rule of thumb… take your annual income and divide it by 2080. That number represents your hourly wage. Add up all the hours you work on other projects, like managing your website - that's how much you're losing every year. It's more than most business owners think, those unseen costs can be shocking.
Remember the old saying ‘tripping over a dollar to pick up a nickel'? Don't let that happen to you. Your expertise in your field will make you money. Don't lose the earning power of your online businesses by trying to do everything.
Do you manage your own website? Are you ready to hand things over and focus on working on your business opportunities and growth? Contact Us today and let's get started!