If you’ve managed and/or owned a website since the Internet’s inception, then you’ve probably noticed that your website’s traffic declines during the summer months. Some causes of decreasing traffic are obvious:
- People are on vacation
- Your audience is stepping away from their computers and mobile devices, and are instead jumping into their local swimming pool
- A website that is not responsive or mobile-friendly is a recipe for strong audience abandonment. No one wants to waste time on their vacation trying to figure out how to stretch, turn, and twerk a page to fit their mobile device.
However, it’s still important that you don’t encourage visitors to abandon your site. Here are 10 ways that you can keep your website from going on vacation this summer.
1. 86 PDFS.
If you aren’t familiar with the term ’86’- you’ve never waited tables through school like we did. This to us is easily number one our list. There are so many reasons why PDFs need to be removed from your website vocabulary.
- PDFS can be slow to navigate and download from mobile devices, and they do not allow your audience to truly engage with your content.
- PDFS do not provide easily digestable, scannable content.
If you are concerned about people needing the ability to print, please don’t be. Accordingly to Contently, 95% of people do not print web content anymore. That. Is. Huge. Still need convincing? Please see this excellent, excellent, excellent Benchmarking Report that was just released from Contently.
2. Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean that your content should be.
We all should decompress and take some down time in the summer. Before setting off for your vacation, make sure that you’ve taken advantage of tools that allow you to prepopulate content. If your content management system (CMS) enables you to preset content, do it. Blog tools such as WordPress will allow you to generate content in advance. And for social media, turn to great tools like Hootsuite to upload numerous messages, and then schedule their automatic delivery across your various social networks over the summer.
3. Make the worst time for fundraising, the best time for fundraising.
It’s no secret. Non-profits struggle with fundraising in the summer. People feel much more generous during the winter when they know that the colder weather is impacting someone’s ability to stay warm. Or, that a child may go without a holiday dinner or gift. However, it is a good time for your non-profit to evaluate new trends and tactics, as well as to review what’s worked well for your organization in the past. Take this time to plan early for critical end of year fundraising.
However, if your non–profit can build an effective campaign related to the summer, do so. For example, the United Service Organizations (USO) recognizes the six week period between Memorial Day and the 4th of July as the Patriotic Six, and does key campaigning in this time frame.
4. And the survey says!
With less customer service inquiries, and smaller audiences- the summer is a great time to test the strength of your website. Consider hosting some user testing and focus groups where you can hear from your audience. How easy is it for them to truly navigate your website? Do the navigational headings you came up with best suit their needs?
5. Check in with stakeholders.
Take the quieter summer months to check in with the stakeholders that contribute content for your website. Along with your vital audience, ask them if they like the content organization and navigational headings. Is the appropriate amount of real estate being given to the most important resources? Don’t wait until a website redesign or refresh to listen to what your staff truly thinks of the site. If they don’t’ believe in your site, they won’t use it or promote it to your current and prospective audience. But don’t forget critical website governance. This should not be a free-for-all process. A majority voice still needs to prevail as the lead in managing your website, and this voice should be the gatekeeper of what revisions and enhancements should be considered, and which ones are just griping.
6. Peep in on your competitors.
A competitor analysis is a great way to evaluate what your key competitors and comparable organizations are doing well and not so well online. It’s good to check in with them to see if your site is keeping up with the Joneses.
7. Paper or plastic?
Think about the packaging that your content is in on your current website. If it’s all just web pages, stop. Stop now, and start thinking of something new to offer that enables your audience to truly engage with your content. Replace boring, long passages of content with infographics, polls, quizzes, and slideshows. And don’t forget video! Which brings us to number 8.
8. Make a video.
So many of our clients have fully embraced content strategy, and are now seeing the tremendous value of video. Please refer back to that great benchmarking study we referenced in number 1 to see more about the power of video. Use the slower summer months to begin evaluating video production companies, and begin developing a video strategy for your content.
9. Grow and clean your list.
While looking at an article about Mike Tirico’s departure from ESPN the other day, I saw a brilliant overlay on a sports website that encouraged me to follow them on Twitter. While I had never considered following this particular brand, the overlay was so clever that I signed up. Take advantage of the quiet summer months to do some purging of old data, and to prepare campaigns for loyal subscribers, as well as those baddies who you haven’t heard from in months.
10. Get your customers offline.
What?! Yes. We. Did. If your business model allows, recognize that your clients aren’t online in the summer, and have them meet you in person. Have a great client that you connect with solely through email? Ask to meet them for ice cream or gelato, and game plan work, post-summer. Have a non-profit that serves the environment? Get your constituents to meet you at a local park to help you with a clean- up. And then of course, blog or Tweet about it afterwards. Do you have staff of writers and designers that churn out incredible work inside of their cubicle all day? Take them to an outdoor farmer’s market or festival to inspire creativity.