After months of developing your digital strategy, creating web-appropriate content, and designing and building a website that reinforces your brand, your nonprofit is primed for launch! The heavy lifting is done and you can sit back and coast, right?
To make the most of your investment, you’ll need to think about your website as if it were a new building. You would definitely tell people about something as monumental as constructing another physical location. Your website — a new virtual location — requires that same level of publicity.
There are three steps to launching your new website with a bang:
- Create fanfare
1. Share the Details
Weeks before you launch, you should pinpoint how your website best reflects your brand and make a high-level list of those details. Armed with that, determine how to broadcast each of those details in a way that feels appropriate for your community.
Some nonprofit organizations will stage a countdown to their site launch, with new messaging and teases as the day approaches. Others use social media to build anticipation and share pertinent points. For some organizations, an event — such as a gala or open house — is the right way to celebrate launch and ensure the most important details don’t get lost.
No matter which method you choose to spread the word, consider sharing the answers to these questions:
- How does this new website and its functionality benefit your community?
- What brand-focused improvements does the new website provide?
- Are there any changes in site functionality that impacts its users? For instance, if you shift the way online donations are processed, or the location of your parent/student portal, do people know so they can avoid any confusion or frustration?
2. Create Fanfare
If you don’t drive traffic to your new website, all is for naught.
Immediately post launch is your moment to build engagement and entice prospective return users. To best do this, evaluate your nonprofit or school’s regular methods of communication — newsletters, social media, signage, events — and determine how you can naturally weave in information about your new website in a way that will build fanfare.
A few ideas include:
- Include an engaging callout for and hyperlink to the new site in staff email signatures.
- Dedicate a new section of your e- or print newsletter to the website.
- Use social media to highlight new site features or new site content as its added.
3. Keep Caring
Once the initial excitement about your new website wanes, don’t slide into lethargy. Keep caring. Get into a steady groove of reminding people about your site and why it matters to them.
During this ongoing period, you should continue presenting content tailored to your constituents. Doing this keeps your audiences engaged, and that’s why you invested in a website in the first place.
Consider writing your Out of Office reply so it contains links to helpful information on your website. Build in promoting website content — blog posts, new program information, and donation options — into your editorial calendar. These tactics will help reinforce the website’s value and usefulness.
Take a look at this out of office note below:
It’s also important to welcome feedback on how your new website can improve. Solicited or unsolicited, feedback from your site’s users is how you’ll know whether or how well your efforts are landing. Is there any functionality that’s broken or buggy? Are people getting tripped up by language, navigation, or design? Is there something missing that you might add now or build in a prospective phase two?
After we launched Mission Minded’s new website last winter, we learned that tiny tweaks to our contact form could make it easier for people to inquire or provide us with leads. That helped us and the people we’re here to help.
While we recommend you always welcome feedback warmly — even when it’s negative — we don’t recommend you make changes that deviate from your brand strategy. As always, brand should lead the way.
It’s simple but important advice; don’t just launch and let go. A new website is an investment that can really pay off, but only if you share, create the fanfare, and continue to care.