Marketers need to get a grasp on their overall budget. No matter how good your budgeting skills are, there are always surprising costs that pop up, especially when it comes to website maintenance. Security attacks, new features, a company rebranding—you name it. Your website needs continuous updates to ensure that it is aligned with your company’s standards.
As one of the first places consumers go for more information, your website will impact a prospect’s perception of your company. Thus, it’s important not to scrimp when it comes to the amount of money you set aside for web development. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can go wrong. If you aren’t prepared, you might not be able to keep up with the website updates needed. Even worse, they could get costly.
That’s why it’s so important to understand the different aspects of web maintenance that are required for a fully-functional, operating website. By doing so, you’ll be more prepared to address updates to your site without breaking the bank.
Let’s take a look at five of the most common website maintenance costs that you should watch out for.
Custom Web Development
Websites are the most important digital asset that your company owns. They are your central hub for product information, customer support, updates, and even community. As your business changes, so must your website. Sometimes it needs to change drastically.
Most companies have a back-end CMS that a marketer on their team can update. This includes basic tasks like uploading a blog post, changing out a slideshow image, creating a landing page, and more. Those tasks don’t require any knowledge of programming language and can be easily executed by a non-technical marketer. However, what about the tasks that are more complex? Who handles those?
Businesses need to hire an in-house web developer, contract with an agency, or work with one on a part-time or retainer basis. There are plenty of sites out there such as Codementor that provide listings for talented freelance developers who want to work with businesses. This developer should be the one who handles all the major site upgrades including dramatic overhauls, new feature installations, bugs, security threats, and more.
Look at Capsule Fillers’ website. When the pandemic struck, they needed to alert their customers about their locations’ hours and the status of their dispatching orders. In order to accomplish this, they had their web developer add an alert bar at the top of their page, so customers wouldn’t be able to miss it.
Without a widget or a plugin that’s available, this site addition isn’t easy for a marketer to do. Additionally, since the update was timely, the company likely needed it published immediately. This can be hectic for marketing teams that don’t have a developer they work closely with or money set aside to hire one. Hiring a developer or keeping one on retainer will be costly. However, their work is directly tied to sales, brand awareness, and customer satisfaction.
Pixels and Conversion Event Script Installation
Digital ad campaigns don’t just involve social media platforms. From personalized landing pages to monitoring web traffic, your website plays a critical role in the success of your paid ad strategy. One of the most technical aspects of your ad campaigns is installing the ad platforms’ pixels. Pixels are lines of code that you need to add to your site. They track visitors and enable you to retarget them with ads on their respective sites.
Have you ever visited a website and saw an ad for that same company minutes later on Facebook? That’s the Facebook pixel at work. For example, if you click on Future Kind’s website, there is a high chance you’ll see a Facebook ad similar to the one below in the coming days.
This is because Future Kind, like many businesses, leverages the Facebook pixel to make their ad campaigns more targeted and relevant to customers who may be interested. Installing a pixel consists of adding a specific line of code to your website’s theme header. In some cases, you’ll want to add another script to certain pages like your checkout and confirmation page.
These scripts track conversion events, or the amount of times a sale is transacted and the total value of each one. This helps with attribution for your digital ads. Installing these lines of codes can be challenging. You may think you know what you’re doing, but then realize that the pixel is not firing. At that point, you might have to pay someone to troubleshoot or work with your developer to get it working properly.
Due to the frequency of new ad platforms popping up and multiple conversion events needing to be installed, this can become a frequent task for some businesses.
User Experience and Interface Optimization
You’ve probably heard of UX and UI mentioned frequently when it comes to web design. User experience (UX) refers to the core function of your site and how the consumer interacts with it. Improving UX involves changing your site’s features or functions to make the experience more enjoyable for the end-user.
User interface (UI) focuses on the design aspect of your website. This includes your branding, colors, creatives, and messaging that live on the site. Marketers and developers should work together to continuously improve the UX and UI of the site. You don’t want the reason that you’re missing out on opportunities to be because of a clunky, confusing site.
That’s why continuous testing and optimization is needed. This can be overwhelming at first. There are so many different aspects of your site that you could test. Start with what you believe is your most clicked or most viewed parts of your site. Look at minor changes like where buttons are featured and how they’re labeled.
For Sleep Junkie, what would happen if they changed the wording of some of the options on their main navigation bar. Would it drive more or less clicks? What if they changed their navigation bar entirely and simplified the options they could choose from?
After you’ve mastered the small stuff, go onwards to the larger, more impactful site changes. Test new headlines, try new homepage sliders, and see what happens when you add more interactive features like moving images, email capture pop-ups, and more.
Elemental Labs could test different variations of their headline, “A Tasty Electrolyte Drink” to see which performs the best. They also could try animating the objects in the background, changing the homepage’s color, or alternating the call-to-actions.
Software like VWO and Optimizely can show different versions of your site to two groups of visitors. These insights can inform web development and design decisions. Adding this software subscription on a recurring monthly or annual basis can add up, but it will likely pay off with added revenue over time.
Site Analytics Dashboards
In addition to performing A/B tests to inform site design, you need analytics to understand who is visiting your site and where they’re browsing.
Important site metrics to track include:
- Pageviews – total number of user visits to a page
- Bounce rate – what percent of customers visit a page and exit
- Time Spent on Page – total duration of time spent on a specific page
- Traffic Sources – where are your site visitors coming from (i.e. – social media, email, etc.)
- Exit Pages – pages on your site the users leave after visiting
Google Analytics is an excellent source for this information, but it can be time-consuming to aggregate the data and set it up in a way that makes sense for marketers.
There are many SaaS options on the market that integrate with Google Analytics to make marketer’s lives easier. They include Funnel.io, Domo and Dash This. Although they do cost a nominal fee, they will make your team smarter and help you understand your customers better.
For example, the Medical Alert Buyer’s Guide is the go-to authority for medical alert system reviews. They publish reviews for nearly every medical alert system provider on the market.
To gauge site traffic and understand which content is performing well, they could use one of the aforementioned software options to make sense of their Google Analytics data. This will provide them insight into what future content their audience wants to see.
They can also share these insights with advertisers, sponsors, and affiliate partners who may want to get their products in front of a similar audience. While an investment in site analytic software isn’t always necessary, it can be useful if you have unanswered questions about your site’s visitors.
Even the most skilled budgeters are met with surprises when it comes to site maintenance costs. There’s always a costly issue that occurs or new software to integrate. Businesses need to plan for additional site maintenance expenses throughout the year. The company’s website is an investment that shouldn’t be shortchanged.
Some of the most common site maintenance expenses include custom web development, pixel, and conversion event installation, UI/UX optimization, and site analytics dashboards. By planning for the unexpected, businesses will be able to create a site with limited downtime that they are proud of.