The Case for Managed WordPress Services
The slide above attempts to describe why professional website management is important and necessary. The effort required to manage small business websites is increasing.
Visitors are expecting more of websites. Responsive designs that perform well on any device are the new normal for business owners seeking online revenue. In Hawaii, ecommerce is helping traditional brick and mortar retailers stay competitive.
“In an attempt to play every angle possible, retailers poured money into new mobile capabilities this year by adding WiFi to key stores, expanding mobile application offerings, and optimizing Web sites for easier transactions from small screens. These investments in mobile paid off, driving customers to use their smartphones and tablets more this year. Over the two shopping days of Nov. 28 and 29, nearly one out of every four online sales dollars (24%) occurred on one of those mobile devices. This resulted in a 118% increase in sales year-over-year (YOY) coming via these devices.” – Adobe
Online business owners expect more from web professionals. Unless your revenue increases proportionately it’s difficult to afford the knowledge, skills and abilities required to maintain the online portion of your business. Managed services have an economy of scale that works similar to hiring an outside contractor without the added expenses.
From the top down.
Selling products and services online requires a very similar feature set as a large business. Ecommerce websites have increased security, performance, content management and promotional requirements.
Lead generation and sales requires content marketing, lead capture, sharing and follow up requirements that must be created and managed to be effective.
“If a piece of content costs $3,000 to produce and you spend $4,000 to promote it, your total investment is $7,000. Say each lead you get has a value of $70; to break even on your investment your content piece must generate 100 leads. If you have never determined your lead-value price, it’s highly recommended you do so. ” –Content Marketing Institute
Social media has it’s own set of unique requirements and specialized knowledge. Engagement and follow up is required to warm a lead into a sale online.
“Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.” (Demand Metric)
The basics of maintaining a content management system, plugins and themes have their own regular updates as security and performance updates become available.
“12% increase in year to year security events.” IBM
As hackers find more vulnerabilities, servers and the core code that runs your website must be updated. End to end encryption technologies are now considered requirements for cost control.
From the top up.
WordPress is still the best platform choice for two reasons; 1. It’s has the lowest maintenance costs and 2. New features are more affordable, easier to install and automate. Whether it’s WordPress or a homegrown website built using Dreamweaver, Drupal or Joomla, the platform you choose will have it’s own growth and support costs. Small online business owners benefit greatly when total costs of ownership are considered carefully before any money is spent. Everything should be measurable and costs should be reduced each step of the way.
Automation can help a small business owner in several ways.
- WordPress publishing automation – Write a post in one place and it can publish to all your social media networks. This is really easy to get wrong. Doing it right gives your brand the best possible introduction to potential customers.
- Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools – All major search engines have their own webmaster tools. Acquiring and understanding this information can help you identify what’s working and what’s not working. This is similar to brick and mortar storefronts. When a visitor comes into your online store, you need to know why, where they came from and the path they took to the cash register.
- Permission-based Marketing Campaigns – Automate posts to targeted user’s inboxes using constant contact and mailchimp. When setup properly you can set it and forget it. Your analytics can be directed through the same automate reports you setup in Google Analytics.
- Security – Increasingly difficult to automate but starting off with Securi and or Wordfence is a good start. Active blocking of network IPs and domain name patterns is the new norm. It’s increasingly too expensive for a small business owner website to get blacklisted and blocked by Google. Look for this to get less attention yet create much larger impact than the recent Sony hacking. Sony gets hacked and it’s a national emergency. Millions of small online business websites get hacked and no one knows. To be clear, whole-site SSL and unique IP address will be the new normal for security and seo.
- Performance – Can still be automated but like security, must be monitored. Like your social media accounts, page speed is now a Google ranking factor. If you think getting blacklisted for malware on one of your pages was bad, imagine getting ignored for pages loading too slowly and not knowing it’s happening. Consider having your designer/developer minify your code, re-optimize your images, reduce server response times, use dynamic caching, mem-caching and varnish. Use content delivery networks.
2015 will be a pivotal year in managed wordpress “awareness” for all business owners. Some will over-spend, some will under-spend and all small business owners will learn a lot this year as they experience lessons in website management.
“Unmanaged WordPress not usually worth the risk or trouble” – ZDNet