The Hidden Costs of Stale Sites
We’ve all spent time looking for information on a company, a product or a service on the web and ended up at websites that contain outdated information or an outdated look and feel. Whenever this happens we tend to get frustrated and look elsewhere for the information, product or service. This lost customer interaction leads to lost sales, which is the most obvious cost to not keeping your website current. As if lost sales aren’t bad enough, there are many other costs (both hard and soft) that are often overlooked. The following information will help you gain a better understanding of these costs and help you increase the value of your site, assist you in maintaining your corporate brand, cut communication costs, and most of all help to grow and maintain your customer base.
- Printing, Faxing and Mailing – Everyday companies and organizations spend thousands of dollars printing, faxing and mailing information to customers, potential customers, employees, stakeholders and other entities. A significant portion of this information can be made available to your audience online. By making this information easily accessible online you can direct people to the appropriate websites for self-service access to the information. This not only reduces the costs of printing, faxing and mailing, but also reduces administration time required by administrative staff in preparing and sending the information.
- Branding/Identity – Companies spend countless hours and dollars both internally and with design firms and branding agencies to make sure that their sales and marketing materials portray the corporate identity and send the appropriate message. While most companies do a good job maintaining these materials in print, they do a horrible job reinforcing those messages consistently in electronic format. With template based content management systems in place, companies can be sure that the meticulous attention to detail that went into creating their brand identity can be preserved on the web. Additionally, these templates can quickly be changed or modified to keep up with the times or the company, as business needs change.
- Misleading Customers – Having out-dated information available to your customers causes frustrations and discouragement among the people that you value most. As ridiculous as this sounds, we have worked with customers that have had former employees, incorrect business hours, and even old phone numbers listed on their websites. In other cases, we have seen companies that list discontinued products and services.
- Shareholder Confidence – Portraying accurate and timely information about your company, your products and your services in a well designed site gives stockholders, investors and potential investors a positive feeling about the company that they have trusted their money with. This increased confidence will help keep these stakeholders invested in your success and interested in future investment opportunities with your company.
- Legal Liability – Although this may seem far-fetched for many businesses, it is not uncommon for corporations to be sued for miss-informing customers about their products and services. This is especially important when dealing with products that must be installed, with equipment or with chemicals that have specific safety concerns or precautions that should be considered when installing or using the products.
- Customer Service Costs – Fortune 500 call centers and small businesses alike are burdened with an overwhelming number of incoming calls that can easily be answered through web site FAQs, discussion forums, knowledge base articles and online troubleshooting guides. By keeping this information online and easily accessible many customers will select self-service help on the Internet over waiting on hold for a customer service representative. This translates into decreased customer service costs as well as satisfied customers.
- Informed Employee’s – All companies struggle to make sure that their employees have the appropriate information to do their jobs and to keep them informed about new products, services, health plan changes and other relevant news. Maintaining a corporate intranet allows companies to easily communicate this information to employees, which allows them to stay abreast with company news and to have the information to do their jobs at their fingertips.
- Lost Sales – Although we mentioned this at the beginning of the article, it is without a doubt the most important cost of a stale site to your organization. Make it as easy as possible for people to learn about what you offer and how to get it because if you don’t, they will look toward your competition for the answers they need.
While it is apparent that these costs affect each company differently, some or all of them affect all companies that do business on the web. Companies that allow their sites to get stale not only waste time and money on the initial development of the site, but also cannot leverage the effort into a long-term gain by the simple act of keeping the site current. With the technologies available today that allow business-users to easily maintain their web presence there is no excuse for letting your site go stale.
Liquid Development, LLP
4200 Montrose Blvd. Suite 300
Houston, TX 77006