I just read a great article by Bryan Eisenderg about Conversion Rate Basics. He points out some simple things that you should do to insure your site is converting visitors. This got me thinking about an experience I had earlier this week.
On Wednesday (August 29, 2007) I received a message from NetFlix regarding their video on demand service . I’m a big fan of on demand video so I decided to click on the email and view the offer. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted with the following message on the NetFlix website:
Now the site was not down long and this may have been an unforeseen problem. But the lesson is clear: make sure your site works. If it doesn’t you’re going to loose business.
Here’s a similar example. We started working with a client who uses their website to generate sales leads. While evaluating the website we found that their main lead generation form, if filled out incorrectly, would display a plain white screen to the visitor. No web page, no error message, no nothing. Just a plain white page.
How can you protect yourself from unexpected downtime? Try a site monitoring service. I’ve never used one but assume they all function the same way. At some given interval, say 2 minutes, the monitoring service makes a request to your website. If the web server returns an abnormal result then an alert is sent to the responsible party. The company usually charges a small monthly fee for this service. Does anyone out there have an experience with a site monitoring service they would like to share?
But what if the NetFlix issue was not unforeseen? What if the email blast was sent during the website’s scheduled maintenance period? To me, that indicates a lack of process. There should be been some type of process in place that stopped the email blast from going out while the website was down. From a web analytics standpoint, I always want to know when a client is sending out emails so I can insure that it is tagged for tracking. How about adding a step to the ’email blast process’ to check the website status before sending out the email? I know it doesn’t seem complicated, but unless checking the website maintenance schedule is a documented step in a defined process it could go undone.