How are you protecting your web presence?
The internet has changed the world’s expectations of access to information and response times. Any business that has not seen a significant change in customer expectations is either lying or slowly going out of business. Your website and web presence, regardless of what you sell today or who you sell to, is a key component of not just lead generation success, but the ongoing customer relationship. When business owners are asked the question “How are you safeguarding your web presence?”, the answer is often a mumbled, “I don’t know.”.
If your web presence is receptionist, sales rep and customer support tool, then how come so many business leaders fail to protect their business asset?
I am not just talking security on a website. I am talking about the ongoing care and maintenance a web presence requires. Many business leaders are underestimating the investment they need to make. They are expecting more and more from their web presence but fail to perform the simplest of tasks to safeguard their web presence investment.
There used to be a time when you could get away with launching a new website and not touching it for 5 years. You trusted that site was up and running, no maintenance was required and like Dr. Evil says in the first Austin Powers movie, “What? Let’s just assume everything will go according to plan.”
But what happens when you turn your back and due to some tricky manoeuvrings, such as outside forces on your website, the captive escapes your grasp and wreaks havoc on your business. Having even 90% up-time on your website is no longer good enough. And when people point out to you, whether you sell to consumers or other businesses, that your website is down, the response is often, mumble, mumble, mumble and you’re caught off guard.
How important is your website to your business?
If the answer is, “I don’t know”, you better figure it out quickly and decide if problems on your website impacts your business. Then figure out how much it’s worth for you to keep it functioning properly.
Here’s where the mumbling often starts:
Most small and medium-size Canadian businesses I speak to today still do not have:
- A proper content management system running on their website that allows a person within the company to go in and make changes quickly when a page isn’t working or a link is broken.
- An identified process and web presence resource dedicated to checking the website on a weekly basis to ensure there are no outages, attacks or out-of-compliance issues.
- A documented web access guide that outlines all of the company online accounts including the procedures for web hosting or URL management. Often when a key employee leaves, they take the details with them causing issues for everyone who need to access accounts.
- A web analytics package running on the website that allows management to track and gauge who is visiting the website, when peaks occur and what causes traffic spikes.
If you were to turn to any forums or chat rooms right now about website attacks, you’ll notice that August was a particularly bad month for website attacks in North America. Most of the attacks are coming from overseas and there is likely not a web hosting company in Canada that has not experienced issues. However, the more important business question to be asking when these attacks happen, (and they will keep happening), is not why did they happen? The better question is what are you going to do about it?
And the answer from your web presence team cannot be, “I don’t know”.
In many cases, the answer boils down to time, money and resources. Like all things in business, you need to determine how valuable it is to your business and then determine how much you will invest to protect that asset.
Your customer expects your website to be up, running and useful whenever they want to access it.The days of no one looking at your website are over. Accept that and decide how important this asset is in your business and decide what you want to invest to protect it.
Here are three important things you can do right now to ensure you are protecting your web presence:
- Have a corporate document available on your shared server that outlines all of your online accounts including your web hosting provider and URL management company. Ensure everyone knows how to update that document if passwords are changed or contracts are expiring
- Have a discussion with your web hosting team in advance of an attack happening about how they handle threats on your server and ensure that the team can truly handle 99.9% up time of your website. You may have to pay more but when a prospect is trying to access your website and your website is down, it will be well worth the investment of time and money.
- Look at your web analytics from the last 60 days and understand your monthly web traffic, where it comes from and what people do on your website. If you have broken links or pages that lead to nowhere that are causing high bounce rates or exit rates or hackers to creep in, deal with it quickly. Don’t allow it to keep happening. This is the equivalent of having a closed sign on your office door.
As a web presence provider of these types of services to our clients, the month of August was painful for Marketing CoPilot with respect to these issues. Things are changing constantly and just when you think you have it figured out, you turn your back and something escapes your grasp. But with all bad experiences, they teach important lessons that can’t be learned when everything is running smoothly. The cost of web presence management has escalated dramatically in the last 12 months due to customer expectation and outside forces. You need to pay attention and sometimes a solution you thought was bullet-proof, is not. The important thing is to constantly be evolving your program. Twelve months in the life of the web is forever. Every six months you should be analyzing your solution to ensure you have the right one in place.