I often describe website/Internet work as being in a raging river….it’s never the same thing twice. Most of the best-practices, standards and tools I work with change every day… and it’s sometimes tough to stay on top of it all. Amid all the changes in 2018, here’s a few clear trends emerging in 2019:
1. Increasing importance of email “sender reputation” – Ever wonder why some email always makes it to the in-box, while other legitimate senders are chronically blocked or shuttled to your spam folder? The answer is sender reputation, which is literally, your domain name and the sending IP address’ reputation for sending legitimate email. Your domain name and/or your sending server can be blacklisted on published lists if it’s associated with spam. Wondering if you have a problem? Check your domain or sending IP here. If you notice your domain is being spoofed, or messages not consistently reaching recipients, deploying DKIM, SPF or DMARC will help, along with using a business-class email service like G Suite, Rackspace Mail, or Office 365. The bottom line is that the bar for a good sender reputation is getting higher all the time.
2. Consistent website maintenance is even more necessary now – If you own a website, you can’t just let it sit there and age. Like all things of value that exist in an ever-changing environment, your website needs to be kept up to date to avoid hacking and to provide disaster-proofing. Even reputable hosts get hacked, and the difference between vulnerability and security lies with simply keeping site code current and having ample backups to restore if necessary. With the all-new version of WordPress (5.0.2) out now, there’s frequently issued patches and updates to address discovered bugs and vulnerabilities.
3. Standards for quality website hosting are increasing – I’ve said it before, but the days of decent web hosting for $3.95 per month are over. With increasing website capability comes increasing demands on servers. Quality of hosting plays a very big role in site loading speed, security and overall uptime. If you’re budget-conscious and want to improve site load speed, check out SiteGround. If you have lots of traffic, a bit more to spend and need additional development features, I recommend WP Engine.
Web hosting decision gut-check: if you’re skeptical about possibly spending more on hosting, ask yourself how you would react if your site was hacked, loading slowly or went offline. Is it a problem you would want to have fixed immediately? Would it cost you prospective visitors or business leads? Would you consider it an emergency? If your answer is yes to any of the above, consider a hosting upgrade.
4. Options for plug & play online marketing are plentiful. You don’t have to have a huge marketing tech budget and staff to deploy sophisticated lead-generation processes. Services such as OptinMonster, Sumo, Olark, Active Campaign—and too many others to list here—allow even a one-woman show to present online like a Fortune-500 company.
5. Website chatbots are officially “a thing”—and here to stay. As noted above, tactics that were custom-programmed for big companies in the past can be set up on a website in minutes with the new chat services and CRM tools reading available for a nominal price. Whether you use chat for client support or lead generation, there’s an array of great tools to choose from. LiveChat, Olark, FreshChat, and Zoho’s SalesIQ are great ways to easily get started with chat-based visitor engagement and tracking.
These are just a few trends to watch, although this article could have featured many more! Get in touch today if you’re looking to make some changes or would like to strategize about the best ways to leverage your web presence for growth in 2019!