Whether you’re simply redesigning your site or are completely overhauling your web presence, a new website is a perfect opportunity to strengthen your customers’ loyalty—and possibly attract some new customers in the process. On the other hand, if you mismanage your website launch, or if your customers aren’t ready for the change, it could hurt you.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to prepare your customers for your new website—and make the most of the transition.
Make Sure Your Migration Is Technically Optimized
First, have a plan in place to ensure your migration is technically optimized. You want your customers to be able to find your website seamlessly; if it’s hard to find, if it’s inaccessible, or if it doesn’t work properly, you could lose a share of your customer base.
For these purposes, you’ll want to consult a website migration checklist; establishing 301 redirects for old links, updating your Schema microformatting, and managing your old domain are all vital if you want to remain visible in search engines, with your old links active. If your site is large, these steps may take a while, but they’re important if you want to succeed.
Incorporate Real Customer Feedback
Before you finalize the design or structure of your new website, make sure you collect customer feedback on the old site. What did your audience like about the old site? What did they wish was different? This is a perfect opportunity to show that you care about your customers, and that you listen to them, by incorporating elements of their feedback. For example, if customers frequently ask for a more robust section of help content, your redesign is the perfect time to include it.
Announce Your Coming Changes in Advance
There are some advantages to keeping your website overhaul a surprise, but in most cases, it’s much better to announce your changes in advance. This is especially important if your customers are used to taking habitual actions on your site; for example, if your customers typically login to access their personal information, you’ll want to prepare them for upcoming changes so they aren’t taken aback when they try to log in next.
It’s also helpful to explain why you’re making these changes. Some of your customers will likely be resistant to change, naturally, and explaining why this new site will be better could win them over. For example, you could explain that the new site will work faster, or will be better optimized for mobile devices. In any case, your customers should understand that this will ultimately result in a new positive experience for them.
Depending on the complexity of your rework or relaunch, you may also want to provide your customers with tutorials; screenshots of the new login page, for example, could help them integrate seamlessly into the new environment.
If you want to keep the announcement within your existing customer base, you could announce these changes via email newsletter; this is also a good chance to push for more email newsletter signups, so you can keep more of your customers in the loop.
It’s up to you whether you want to set an exact date for your new launch. Doing so could build anticipation, but could reflect poorly on you if you miss this date. Something more vague, like “aiming for Fall 2020,” may be superior.
Even the best website development process is bound to have some gaps to fill. The only way to notice these bugs and fix them proactively is to test your new site before launch.
There are several components to an effective website test you’ll need to consider before launching. For starters, you’ll want to experiment with the site as if you were a user, on many different types of devices and using many different browsers. Are there any pieces of content that simply aren’t available? Are there any glitches, bugs, or hiccups in the system that shouldn’t be there? Try to iron these out before you launch the site.
Submit a Press Release
Finally, when you’re confident that your website will be ready for launch, consider submitting a press release. It doesn’t take much time or effort to put a press release together, but it could end up getting published across a wide variety of different news syndication outlets. It’s a great way to get visibility for your new work, and reach existing customers who you’ve failed to reach through other communication outlets.
Ultimately, launching your new website should be a good thing for your brand. However, you’ll want to nurture that site and follow up to make sure it’s functioning as intended. Keep measuring onsite activity and collecting customer feedback after launch.