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Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Agency guide: How to sell website maintenance
Website maintenance service is an essential part of a web agency business. As you start a web agency, you may find it hard to jump on the bandwagon of the maintenance business. It requires a customer base that you need to build.
As your agency matures, it is a logical step to dive deeper into website maintenance to make it an important part of your business.
Website maintenance allows the agency to build a recurring revenue stream. This is why it is crucial to building a strategy for website maintenance as early as possible. At the end of the day, website maintenance can generate as much as 70% of all of your revenue.
In this article, we will dive into website maintenance and see what it can do for your agency business. Plus, we will look into the ways how website maintenance can generate new business opportunities.
What is website maintenance?
Website maintenance is a set of activities performed to keep the website operating without issues and at the best performance possible.
A regular website maintenance process ensures that the website is updated and secure. Plus, it has an impact on SEO and user experience.
Depending on the scope and size of the website, it may require quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily maintenance. Large companies usually have their in-house maintenance teams working daily to ensure the website operates smoothly at all times. Smaller businesses rely on web agencies to take care of the maintenance processes.
You can think of website maintenance as a warranty service. It comes with additional costs but reduces the risks of failure. It is important to acknowledge that website maintenance can not remove all risks (ex. human errors) but reduce the probability of issues happening.
What to include in website maintenance?
The scope of website maintenance can vary depending on the activities included.
While we will look into website maintenance packages and pricing later in the article, let's focus on the list of activities.
As we approach website maintenance, there are specific tasks to address:
Understanding the issue is the first step toward fixing the problem. As a web agency offering website maintenance, you need to investigate the issue including debugging, contacting 3rd party vendors, or performing other activities.
If the problem is due to human error, you will require to negotiate with the client as such issues are considered out of the maintenance scope and get billed separately.
Updating plugins and integrations
Keeping websites' infrastructure, plugins, and integrations in place is an essential part of the website maintenance process. It has a direct impact on performance, availability, and security.
If the website is running on CMS such as WordPress, it is a common problem to experience compatibility issues or security holes due to outdated plugins. Your job as a web agency is to address these issues as soon as possible.
While we already touched on that point in the previous section, security management goes beyond system and plugin updates. Having security tools and mechanisms in place is a must for any serious website.
Plus, it is a web agency responsible to monitor reports and logs of the security tools to uncover potential vulnerabilities and hacking attempts.
A regular backup process is a must-have part of any website maintenance package. You need to protect websites' data in case of any unforeseen incident including server crashes, hacking attempts, or human errors.
Regular website testing against broken functionality or performance issues is important. It can point you toward things that are holding visitors back from becoming customers or discovering the information they need.
Additional user experience tests can be performed to uncover optimization opportunities.
Probably the most important part of website maintenance when it comes to agency-client relationships.
Reports allow you to present to your client work done and keep them up-to-date with what is happening with their website.
Maintenance reports can include key metrics, analysis, and even customer feedback.
Depending on the scope of your website maintenance package, you can include additional services like SEO, content management, and client support.
For some clients, hosting service and software licensing is a part of website maintenance.
Such services are usually a part of the full-time maintenance service as it is harder to manage in scheduled packages.
Website maintenance and client support
Client support goes hand in hand with website maintenance and is often included in the website maintenance plan.
Your clients need to have a way to reach out to you and receive assistance with the issues they are experiencing while working on their website.
It all starts with educational sessions on how to manage content which is a larger course you may want to provide to your clients right after delivering the project. For agencies working with WordPress and other open-source platforms, it is beneficial to educate your clients on how to use WordPress-like systems properly.
In addition to the initial education, a regular contribution from your side may be required to guide your clients on best content management practices, like usage of text hierarchy, image optimizations, or even web design principles if your clients have permission to operate with the layout.
Client support can be overwhelming for web agencies that do not pay enough attention to packing and pricing it properly. As an agency, you need to define the amount of work (time) you can dedicate to client support and communicate it with your clients. Larger clients may require 24/7 support in place which should be a part of a larger full-time maintenance package.
Website maintenance plans and pricing
Website maintenance is a service that can generate a very solid portion of your web agencies' income but only if packed and priced correctly.
It requires a clear understanding of what and how often are you going to do for your clients to match both - your and their expectations. Otherwise, you risk getting a deal where either you are not getting paid fairly or your client is unhappy - in both ways it will lead to ruining relationships and business opportunities missed.
One of the easiest ways to structure website maintenance packages is based on time. How often are you willing to provide maintenance to your clients? A typical timeframe includes:
- Daily (full-time)
The timeframe also defines the scope of your service since there are activities that may require weekly attention.
A good example would be backup management. Having backups once per year brings zero value. Of course, we can say that one backup is better than no backup but it is still very doubtful.
Another case would be a plugin and integration update. Checking on new versions daily is just a waste of time and money (for your clients). A quarterly or monthly update is enough to keep the website secure and up-to-date.
Of course, critical updates may appear at any time. For such cases, it is important to have on-demand maintenance service in place billed hourly.
As for the daily maintenance and support, such plans are suitable for large clients that operate on a different scope and require 24/7 attention.
When it comes to pricing, consider the amount of time and resources you spend on maintaining a website. Typical maintenance costs vary between $400 and $60 000 a year depending on the time and scope of the service.
Some maintenance plans include taking care of the clients' hosting and licenses which may result in even higher costs.
Why do businesses need website maintenance?
Most businesses underestimate website maintenance and refer to it only when facing issues. Though, the time to recover in such cases can cost businesses a lot of money or even put them out of business.
In the age of the Internet, people become pickier when it comes to the quality and availability of services. We demand things to be served immediately and do not tolerate malfunctioning. We drop services because they are slow or have reputation issues like known data breaches.
A good website maintenance service is focused to avoid such issues from happening while taking care of the overall experience our visitors have when visiting a website or using our web services.
To back it up with data, let's look at some groundbreaking statistics that show how easily businesses can lose clients without having enough attention to the website maintenance processes:
- More than 80% of all websites have high to medium security risks
- More than 70% of all websites are running on outdated and potentially vulnerable software (including plugins and integrations)
- Around 65% of all websites don't have a backup management plan in place
- 77% of all websites need more than 10 seconds to load (55% of all website visitors abandon sites that take more than 7 seconds to load)
- 98% of all small and medium size businesses don't have recovery procedures defined
- Almost 90% of consumers decide to shop with competitors when experiencing issues with the website
- Large images and slow content makes around 40% of visitors leave your site
How to sell website maintenance?
With all of the above, it is a no-brainer that your clients need to have website maintenance in place and your job is to convince them.
It is mutually beneficial for you and your clients to build maintenance relationships from day one for both parties to prosper.
When it comes to selling the service, communication is the key. Share data with your clients from this or any other article that points to potential risks.
Do your homework by analyzing their current state and have a plan in place on how to address issues in place and mitigate potential risks.
Monitor your client sites even without maintenance service in place. A good report with health metrics in place can change their mind over time.
At the end of the day, you are not doing website maintenance service just to fill your pockets with cash. Your client's success reflects on your business by giving you successful case studies and potential partnerships in the future.
How to upsell your clients?
Website maintenance can be a powerful tool to upsell your clients.
As a web agency offering website maintenance, you need to ensure that analysis and reports are a part of every maintenance plan you have in place.
Make sure to follow all the key metrics of the site to see how it is performing over time. This can give you hints on what you need to do to improve those numbers. Present your ideas to the client with a concrete action plan in place.
Communicate with the visitors of your client's site to get feedback. Implement customer satisfaction surveys, and discover the value they are getting and the obstacles they need to overcome. This data is golden for your clients when it comes to improving their business and getting higher income.
As you start a web agency business, website maintenance may not be a service to put food on your table. But having a strategy in place to grow it from day one can change this.
Over time, agencies find website maintenance business to be very effective and generate up to 70% of all the revenue. Plus, it can uncover new business opportunities as you approach website maintenance processes with the discovery phase in mind.
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