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September 16, 2021

Creating happy managers, pleased customers and cooperative resellers is usually the primary objective during web content migration in the event of a merger or spin-out. This poses some challenges as more often than not such a shift is done under a time constraint. As the migration is scheduled for a particular date and the work is focused upon completion, the approach is often tactical, and the performance consequences are overlooked. We can work under tight schedules, and yet ensure our customers are happy with the end result by looking at some key factors:

  • Have we successfully moved all the digital assets? This may include text content, graphics with logs, videos with references to an old company, or even artwork for physical brochures.
  • How do we manage the software-created content? When a company must deal with a name change, numerous dynamic pages are affected.
  • Have we managed the status of web pages so that we don’t lose our Google ranking? This typically means using a 301 redirect and creating the same URL structure in the new website.
  • Are we focusing on performance? Just transferring content does not keep marketers happy. They want to know if the new content is being found at the same rate as the old content. And, they would like to know what the impact is on close rate, revenues and brand attributes.

Modifying a dynamic page

Dynamic pages tend to come in two flavors. The first flavor is content specific to a company. The second flavor consists of marketing tags used for tracking visitors. The amount of work for both can be high. Tailoring hundreds of pages for a name change is important to get right.

Marketing tags generally have two architectures. The first - like customer data platform Tealium - tends to put lots of code on each individual page. The second type such as Ensighten only puts a single line of code on each page and keeps functionality on a server. The amount of work with each architecture varies.

Messaging strategy: Let people know

A key task in a spin-out is to communicate that the spin-out is occurring. This task is important for customers, prospects, employees, resellers and suppliers. A best practices approach is to plan the spin-out in advance. This means having a messaging strategy for the transition. Blogs, press releases, videos – all represent potential tools to inform stakeholders.

A side note here is that keeping the old URL for as long as possible will help with Google ratings.

Spin out gains

A spin-out transition often raises the possibility of performance improvement. We recommend a three-stage process.

  • In some circumstances, Google may need to be notified if the spin-out results in duplicate content. No notification is necessary if the duplicate content is published in another country market.
  • Measure performance from the transition. Then move to an incremental approach to optimization.
  • Experiment with new approaches to your website. For example, if you have an inside-out content strategy, it’s worth experimenting with a design-led or outside-in approach. Let the customers or prospects tell you what their problem is, then feed them the salient content. Avoid the situation where you force the customer to wander aimlessly through your website.

Business models: Do the spin-out first

The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged many companies to reconsider their business model. Product-oriented companies are often looking at subscription models. Service-oriented companies are focusing upon experiential marketing.

Once a spin-out has been completed, there is often an opportunity to think about these different value-added strategies. Understanding your cost structure and individual customer profitability are key tasks in making this kind of innovation work. Many companies find that their profitability is focused on a small number of customers. Typical statistics are that roughly 20% of customers account for 220% of profitability. Understanding this distribution (often referred to as a Pareto distribution) allows marketers to focus on increasing the profitability of the 80% of customers who are currently unprofitable. In some cases, a marketer may decide to drop such customers.

Global enterprises: Translation, regulation and CMS

For large companies, managing their web property across multiple countries is a large issue. Use of a content management system or CMS is important. Without a CMS, it may be hard to keep track of the original document from which other language versions are created.

In regulated businesses, ensuring that each country’s content complies with the local regulation is important to maintaining the business.

Historical ‘barnacles’ mess up pages

A typical web problem is the accumulation of bad HTML, metatags, descriptions and titles. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that CSS and HTML content is reviewed regularly. Any HTML or metatags over three years old is likely to require editing. Think of your website as growing barnacles over time.

Graphics: Load times matter

Many websites have attempted to add graphics to their content to make them friendlier. However, slow load times on graphic-intensive pages may reduce the willingness of visitor to wait around. It will certainly reduce your Google ranking. Measuring your latency is an important but sometimes overlooked task in any content migration.

Migration activity is often overwhelming in its workload for teams. The tendency is to focus on just getting it done. But this is a tactical approach to what may be a strategic problem. Measurement gives a migration team a way of looking at the results of its migration. At the very minimum, the measured performance of the transformed website should match that of the old site. But a new website often provides the ability to improve its performance. Improved performance may pay for some of the transition costs.

Alistair Davidson is a marketing strategist with particular interest in content. He has been the CEO of a number of software companies, developed and launched more than 20 software products, authored six books on strategy, IT strategy and innovation. He has an MBA and undergraduate degree from Harvard University.

Nikhil Tevathia is a digital marketing consultant with core expertise in developing and executing online marketing strategies. He has worked for multiple Fortune 500 customers, helping them with a seamless SEO transformation journey that increased search visibility and ROI.

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