As I write, the first winter storms have descended upon Calgary, while out here on the left coast both Mother Nature and the provincial government still refuse to acknowledge the stubborn truth that fall is here and it’s high time for skies to turn soggy and kids – especially my kids – to be back in school. But facts are facts, and the traditional busy season is now upon us. That means it’s also time for your marketing vehicle’s fall tune-up.
I know, I know; you’ve been dreaming of ditching your existing model for one of those new-fangled TESLAs that are both 100% electric (fully-responsive web design that automatically adjusts for desktop, tablet or mobile) as well as being visually beautiful examples of understated elegance. But your parsimonious partner is having none of it, and insists there’s no money in the family budget for such luxuries this year. ‘Twas ever thus.
That being the case, I’ve outlined below some steps you can take to ensure your machine is at least in proper working order for the long winter ahead, along with some tweaks you might consider to improve its performance. Some of these you can take care of yourself, while others might require your preferred grease-monkey (web-developer)’s assistance. Without further ado:
1. Take an Odometer Reading (Consider Site Age/Functionality)
If you’ve got a vehicle that’s only a year old, this is just a cursory check. But if your ride is already long in the tooth or prone to breakdowns, you know you need a long hard think every time an issue arises about whether you should really sink more money into it. After all, you are not wrong that electric (responsive design) is the way things are going, and these machines do have a finite lifespan. Think about the workload you need your vehicle to handle over the next 12-36 months and make an honest assessment of whether your current model is up to the task or can be made functional with a few aftermarket accessories. If the answer is no, further negotiations with your partner on a replacement might be in order.
2. Conduct Engine Diagnostics and Check Wear on Tires & Brakes (Run a Google Analytics Report)
How has your vehicle actually been used over the last few years? The diagnostics report will tell you. Certain parts of your vehicle might be doing all the work, while others are left virtually untouched. Is your engine (home page, lawyer bios) firing on all cylinders? If your tires or brake pads (practice pages, news items) are being worn thin, consider beefing them up.
3. Change Oil and Top Up Fluids (Software Updates / Plugins)
Despite what your partner might believe, you know these things don’t run forever without regular maintenance. Check your oil (WordPress or other CMS software updates) and top up your fluids (plugin updates). Ignoring these basic tasks is one of the primary causes of vehicle breakdown, and left long enough can even result in blowing your engine completely (hacked website).
4. Perform Wheel Alignment (Optimize a User Scenario / Website Path)
Do your steering inputs work correctly – in other words does your vehicle actually go where you point it (do the visitors you want enter your site at a proper starting point and take a logical sequence of steps to your desired end results)?
Example: Client visits lawyer bio, and then clicks through from sidebar link to upcoming webinar by that lawyer, proceeds to online webinar registration form and submits registration.
5. Test the On-Star System (Contact Page + Newsletter Signups)
Does your contact system work smoothly and efficiently? (Are a Google Map and parking instructions included? Are your key contacts including non-lawyer admin staff readily accessible from this page?) Is your system up to Code? (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation – CASL). Some of the major third-party suppliers (MailChimp, Constant Contact et al.) have pre-built some of the major CASL-compliance steps into their systems so that new email signups are covered from the get-go.
6. Put On Winter Tires (Create a Seasonal Campaign Landing Page)
Conditions change throughout the year. Adjust your vehicle to adapt to the outside environment. (Create a new landing page to support a current initiative or marketing campaign).
7. Clean and Detail Vehicle (Remove Outdated Content, Dead Links)
Little things still count. Remove the unwanted debris of past journeys and keep your vehicle’s appearance in order (delete bios of departed employees, defunct practices, and check external links).
8. Plan Some Road-Trips and Preload Destinations into your GPS. (Set Up Conversion Goals)
Don’t just drive your machine aimlessly around town. It’s equipped – or should be – with a powerful trip computer (Google Analytics again) where you can load up desirable destinations in advance (Conversion points – e.g. newsletter signups, consultation request forms, event registrations, click-to-call buttons on mobile sites). The trip computer will then keep a record every time one of your preferred destinations is reached so that you can monitor your progress over time.
9. Fuel up (Create Fresh Content)
You won’t get very far if you never put any fuel in the tank. Gas up. For best results, use premium unleaded (client-focused plain English writing, original work from your lawyers, high-quality video & photography, blogs).