This is the second in a multi-part series on the 7 Deadly Sins of CAM Management Company Websites.
Is your website making it hard for people to connect with you? Do people visit your site then turn away and go elsewhere?
In my role in marketing at TOPS Software, I see a lot of management company websites. Some of them are fantastic. But many more commit serious sins that are detrimental to the effectiveness of their website. At the 2016 CAMfire Conference, we tackled this issue in my session, The Seven Deadly Sins of Management Company Websites.
In part one, we talked about how the sins of Greed and Lust can damage your website's effectiveness. Today, we tackle the deadly sins of Sloth and Pride:
Sloth: 1998 is Calling, It Wants Its Website Back
Does your website look a little out of date? If you've got holiday wishes in the middle of April, a link to your organization's MySpace page, or dead and broken links, your website is sending out the wrong message. An outdated website says your organization does not pay attention to details. And that's a message that's particularly deadly in community association management, where your primary selling point is attention to detail! Even if you cannot afford a full redesign of your site, some simple tweaks can prevent the appearance of an uncared-for website:
How to Repent from a Slothful Website
Check these items on your site to make sure you are up to date:
Social Media Icon Links
I see this one all the time. If you don't have social media accounts (and why don't you?), you should not have the icons on your site. This happens a lot because management companies use a website template that has social icons on it already. Either setup your social accounts and link to them, or remove the links.
If you have a blog or articles section that hasn't been updated in a while, you need to get back on the wagon. Even if it isn't dated, returning visitors will note that nothing is changing. Even search engines give priority listings to sites that have frequently updated content.
Just like the communities you manage have rules to prevent holiday decorations from staying up year-round, you should be doing the same on your website. If you are regularly updating your articles, social feeds and announcements, then it's fine to include holiday messages, but if your last post just happened to be Happy New Years in 2015, it's making your website look bad.
A lot of websites have copyright notices on them. If yours is more than a year old, it's making your site look old too. Time to update it.
Remember back in the days of the browser wars when every site declared allegiance with a browser? If your site boasts 'Best viewed in Netscape Navigator' instructions, it's showing its age.
In the early days of SEO, to get top listings in Google, businesses were encouraged to stuff the text of their pages with keywords. If the text of your pages is something only a search engine could love, it's time to rethink your page content. Not only does it make it harder for your human visitors to process, the practice even leaves a bad taste in Google's mouth these days, and your site can be penalized in search engine results pages.
Pride: I am a Legend In My Own Mind
While some websites are not up to date simply due to lack of attention, still others are falling prey to the sin of Pride. No matter how much name recognition you have, or how many communities are knocking down your door to engage your management services, your website is still an important vehicle to get the word out about your business. If you are not providing a way for your website visitors to connect with you, you may be unwittingly sending them away.
And yet, so many management websites fail to include even the simplest ways to connect with their visitors, such as:
- Not giving visitors a way to contact you.
- No location or service area listed on your website
- No Social media links on your website
- No blog or email list (or no way to subscribe)
How to Repent from a Prideful Website
Make it easy for your website visitors to find and connect with you with these tools on our website:
- Add contact forms
A simple 'Contact Us' form that directs to your general email box is a good start. If you want to take it to the next level, provide different forms for the different actions you want your website visitors to take, such as a RFP proposal request.
- Give Contact Information
List your service area and location information prominently. Add your phone number!
- Provide social proof
Social proof (quotes and testimonials from your happy customers) builds trust by showing potential new clients what they can expect when they engage your services.
Finding the Time to Maintain Your Site
You probably don't have a full time website manager. And it's not like you don't have enough to do. So it's understandable that your website can often wind up taking a back seat to more immediate fires that need to be put out. But you should understand by now that it IS important! So here are some tips to help make sure you not only get your site up to date, but to make sure it stays updated in the future, even with your busy schedule:
Implement a Content Management System (CMS) and give key people access to help you maintain content. Don't be afraid to delegate - you are not an island! If you are using Wordpress or one of the many industry website providers, you already have a CMS, so the hard part is done!
Set a schedule to update and stick to it! Make your website part of your routine. Instead of looking at a daunting project that will require hours upon hours of your time, just devote a couple of minutes a day to it. Even 20 minutes a week is more than sufficient to bring your site up to date and make sure it stays that way.
Use Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console) to check for broken links (and much more). Not only can you get a simple report of all the places on your site that are linking off into nowhere-ville, with the search console, you can also monitor the health and well-being of your website. It will even give you suggestions on things you can do to improve your site.
Now pat yourself on the back. Just the fact that you are now thinking about your site and paying attention to the details can help make a difference between a website that seems abandoned or aloof and one that feels vibrant and alive.