How Often Should I Update My Web Site? Pt 3

Tom Snyder photo by Tom Snyder on Jun 05, 2000

In in my recent posts, I’ve been exploring the question of how often to update your Web site, and what to update when you do. To refer to those articles, go to my July and June posts.

Last month’s bottom line was that, if your site relies on repeat visitors, you need to update the content that they’re coming back to see (and doing so as often as they come back). We talked about doing research to find out how often that was, and what areas they wanted to see updated.

While a great strategy, even that still has its limitations because it is kind of an “after-the-fact” methodology. The good news, is that you can actually control the frequency and direction of those return visits.

We can continue last month’s theme regarding what we can learn form the radio business. When I worked in radio, the ratings companies gave us the details on audience listening patterns. We knew how many listeners we had, when and how long they listened. But, we were never content to simply be at the mercy of those patterns. We engaged in strategic activates to increase the frequency and length of time people were tuned to our stations. And because there was financial benefit to always having as many listeners as possible (higher ratings equals higher advertising rates), that was always the goal.

On the Web, it’s a little different. While you want to drive people to your site, large numbers of frequent visitors can actually cost you money. If you’re updating significant amounts of informational content which do not translate to revenue, and you’re doing so frequently, you may face diminishing returns. While there are some ways to have your site update itself (see our main article this month), most updates will cost you time, money or both. You’ll need to find a balance, especially if you have limited resources.

The best strategy for accomplishing economical updates, is to use another strategy used in radio.

When people are selected by the ratings companies to report their radio listening habits their surveys always begin on Thursdays. So, for various reasons, radio stations want to drive large numbers of listeners (hoping to get a bunch of diary-keepers) tuned in on Thursday mornings. So they always give away their biggest contest prizes, and have their most outrageous stunts on Thursday mornings. The strategy is to drive people to the station at a specific time for a specific reason.

On the Web, you can use a bulk e-mail to accomplish that same thing. A strategic e-mail designed to give people a compelling reason to visit your site will always result in traffic spike. So, when you’ve invested the resources to do a significant update to your site, justify the effort by sending out a bulk email to your list to drive folks to that new content. Include links in the email to the specific pages you’ve updated.

Doing so on a weekly, or a monthly basis (on the same day each time) will not only “force” you to get your updates done regularly and in time for the deadline, but will also create the psychological impact of making a regular, anticipated, proactive contact with your customers.

The bottom line is this: Find out what your visitors/customers want and when they want it. Then, not only give it to them, but do so regularly, and let them know that you’re giving it to them by providing them with an easy way to see what you’ve done for them.

Sound logical? It should. All of this boils down to basic customer service. Just like the fundamental recipe for a successful business model, the same principles apply to your Web site.

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