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Website Maintenance Musts

Keep your online business running smoothly with a monthly checkup of these crucial areas.
June 16, 2009
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/202322

Recently, I was at the car dealership watching the mechanic work on my car, and suddenly a thought struck me: How many online business owners regularly check under the hood to make sure their websites are running smoothly?

And even if you do perform frequent checkups on your website, are you sure you're giving it a really thorough once-over? About once a month, you should "pop the hood" to perform a comprehensive checkup, find what's not working and fix it. Here's what you should be looking for:

Traffic Statistics
Your web host should provide basic statistics, but consider getting the free Google Analytics program or using the services of a fee-based web analytics company--you'll get a deeper look at how your visitors travel through your website. You should be able to answer the following questions:

Sales Statistics
Traffic is good, but sales make you money. Keep track of your conversion rates--the percentage of your visitors who actually become paying customers. Lots of traffic with few conversions indicates that there's some kind of disconnect between the message bringing people to your site and the message they're seeing when they get there. Look at where you lose those people and you'll see where to start tweaking and testing. Lower traffic with high conversions means you're doing the right things on your site and you need to concentrate on getting more traffic.

E-mail Response Rates
Always check your traffic and sales numbers carefully after each e-mail you send. You can find out which subject lines and promotional offers are working best for you, and even which times of day, week and year are best for your mailouts.

E-mail is still one of the most effective marketing techniques around, and you'll get the most out of it if you automate all those e-mail tasks from the start. An e-mail management system like iContact will save you time and deliver in-depth results in a user-friendly format so you can easily analyze what's working and what needs work.

General Housekeeping
Here are some other things related to your website that you should keep a close eye on:

A malfunction on your website can be just as damaging to your business as a brake failure would be to your car. Ideally, you should set aside one day each month to undertake a major site review. It'll keep your business running as smoothly as a well-oiled engine.