Whether your redesign is taking too long or you’re just starting out and have yet to finish your website, if your site isn’t ‘open for business’ there are several website substitutions you can use to keep your current online audience connected to you and your organization.
Ideally, your event or event planning business’ website is up-to-date with evocative imagery and captivating content. But trends change so quickly these days that an ‘up-to-date’ website may be out-of-date shortly after it’s published. If you’re in the middle of a web revamp, rebranding, or launch, you need to make sure that your online audience is still experiencing your branding in a positive way while they wait for your website completion.
Sometimes for extensive, lengthy rebrands and a seriously out-of-date website, it’s better to direct your audience elsewhere until you can get your new one launched. That does not mean that you should shut your older website down, but most of your directs and content exchange could be funneled elsewhere.
You will also need to do this if your website is brand new and not launching as soon as you expected and you want to begin marketing. While it’s not ideal, there are other options to websites that you can use as placeholders, or intro cards, until your site is ready to come online.
If you choose to do this, whether it’s under the guise of a rebrand or a new launch, make sure that when the time comes your newly designed website gets a lot of fanfare. That way, people who have been interacting with you know to return to your website. More about that in the ‘Relaunching Your Website Section’.
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Non-website Alternatives For Your Event’s Online Presence
As you wait for your website to be completed, you don’t want to completely neglect your online presence. While your designer toils to get your site into the showcase for your event or services that you need, here’s where you can be spending your time.
1. A Microsite
A microsite is usually a much smaller undertaking than a business website so getting one of those up and running doesn’t take as much effort. They’re usually only a page or a small number of pages so it’s easy to create just enough fresh content to get people interested. Their message is very targeted and simple to digest. There aren’t a lot of options, just a handful of things to do.
Somewhere on your microsite make sure you tell visitors about your future site launch. You don’t want them thinking this is all you have to show for your event planning business. Ask them to connect with you on your social media platforms. Provide quick link icons to make this easy to do. Here are some good examples.
There are also companies that specialize in one-page, template-based sites. These sites are easy to get published but have the limitations of only being a single page and a templated design. However, if you’re just looking for something to get you through until your site is ready, this is certainly an economical option. However, be aware that most of these sites contain a footer with the company’s branding.
2. A Landing Page
This is similar to a microsite but it’s usually one small, screen-sized page. No scrolling or tabs. It usually announces that your site is under construction. For a successful landing page you’ll also want to give them a call to action or something to do. They found you so don’t waste the connection.
A call to action might be to connect with you on social media or to visit another page. You could also create a sign-up page for them to be notified when your page is live or if you’re confident of the roll-out day, add a countdown clock. Other options include creating a poll to garner interaction or a contact box for questions. You could also offer a free download. Again, they’re there. Don’t lose their attention. Here are a few examples of good designs.
3. A Facebook Business Page
A Facebook business page is something you should have anyway because of the large number of active users on Facebook. This can be a nice place to stay in touch with your audience while you build out your full website.
Tips for a Successful Facebook Business Page
You are limited in what you can display on a Facebook business page so use every bit of real estate available to you such as:
- An engaging cover image or video.
- A clear profile picture. In August, business profile pics went from square to round. If you already had a page, make sure your profile image still looks good.
- Upload images, image memes, and image quotes. They get a lot of engagement and shares on this platform.
- Livestream events, tours, tips, and more from your page. This is not only more engaging, but expands your reach. It also shows your audience you are active.
- Post often and regularly, as much as 2-3 times a day, or even more if your audience seems to be enjoying it and interacting with you. There’s no special number that is ideal. Do what works for your followers.
- Consider posts on the weekend. People are on social media at all times and all days of the week. Post and measure interaction. You may get more on your weekend posts because you’re not competing for attention with as much noise.
While this applies for any place on the web that you are using to represent your business, it is especially true of Facebook where the potential for amassing a large audience is possible. Always make sure the images you use are of high quality and are the size required. You don’t want anything pixelated or stretched.
If you have an active page following, you may want to consider creating a Facebook group to foster exchange. You could create a group for event planning ideas or your niche industry. Whatever interests and problems face your ideal client where you can interact with them in an informal setting, might be worth a group. However, it’s a major commitment to seed it with content and encourage discussion so don’t take on this responsibility without fully setting aside the time it will take to be successful.
4. A Google Business Page (and website)
If you have a brick and mortar office location, you might consider using your free Google business page listing. On the page you can include:
- Your hours and days of operation
- Share your latest news
- Offer specials
- Your company info
- Photos of your events
- Reviews. Ask current and past clients to review you and their ratings will appear with your listing. You can also respond to these reviews.
Google also offers businesses a free basic website. This is something you could use while you wait to launch your other one. Their easy-to-use, template-based designs can help you create a basic site in under ten minutes. It’s mobile-ready and can make a nice spot for your business while you design your new site.
Of course, Google Analytics and traffic tools can give you a lot of good insight as to how people are finding your listings as well.
While you may not feel like you need a Google listing because most of your business is not from foot traffic like a retail store, Google still owns search for the time being. Playing with their ‘toys’ and using their offerings may not be a bad idea. While no one from Google is saying, ‘use our tools and you’ll place better in organic search’, we just can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some of that going on.
5. LinkedIn Group
LinkedIn is not a direct replacement for your website the way some of the other options are but it also wouldn’t be a direct competition for your main site once you’re back up. For this reason, it’s a good alternative. But just like a Facebook group, you’ll need to invest a significant amount of time on content and discussion.
Groups on this site function much the way bulletin boards used to with either questions asked or posts shared and then members of the group giving answers or feedback. If your posts are largely self-serving advertisements, it will be difficult to build community and engagement. Instead, you want to share content your audience will find valuable. As HootSuite wrote in their post, LinkedIn for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide, “Groups can help you gain insight into your target audience. You can join Groups with audience demographics you think may be interested in your brand’s product or service to see what kind of information the participants deem valuable and worthy of sharing.” Hopefully, your audience will see you as a source for good content and follow you to your website after the (re)launch.
Facebook and LinkedIn groups are a long-term strategy. Don’t plan on using them as you build your site and then shutting them down once it’s up. If you commit to them, keep them going after your site launches. Just make sure that when you post valuable content to those groups, you link back to your event business’ website.
6. Tumblr Page
Some businesses prefer a Tumblr page to showcase their information. This site tends to attract a younger crowd so if your clientele is under 35, this may be a good direction for you. Tumblr is best for building buzz. You can share pictures and posts. There’s room for an About Us section, contact box, and latest tweets. People can follow you and others can see who your followers are. You can customize the heading to your branding and can post from your phone making it very easy to do.
Relaunching Your Website
When the time finally comes that your website is now a wondrous thing of event marketing splendor, you need to tell everyone. Here are a few tips on making the most of your website relaunch (or initial launch as the case may be):
- Announce it on social media. Tell all of your audience everywhere and invite them to see your new spot. Use a scheduling tool to do this so you ensure it gets done. Before you do, make sure you know how many average visits you were getting a day. It’s nice to see the spike.
- Add the URL to your email signature and invite people to check out your new look.
- Make sure that whatever substitution you were using above speaks very clearly about your new launch. Don't mention it once. Mention it over and over. You can make it a joke if you’d like but make sure people know about the new spot.
- Create an offer. Offers are always a good way to get attention, particularly if you have an existing email list. Just create something of value and offer it for free to your audience from your new website. They have to visit in order to dowload it and when they do, they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- Run a social media ad to drive traffic to see your new design but make it about something other than checking it out. Who’s going to drop what they’re doing to look at your design? Maybe your mom or significant other? Maybe your BFF? That’s why you need #4.
- Write a blog post or do a video about what’s changed on your site. If you’re launching for the first time, tell your story. Changing your design is also a great time to revisit your mission and your content. If you’ve changed your client focus, let everyone know.
If you’re new to the business of launching a website but want to get a jump on marketing your services or your rebranding and it’s taking a while and you don’t want people spending a lot of time on your current site, there are alternatives out there. Just make sure you select one of them. You don’t want to let your online audience languish while your designer works.
Once you roll-out your masterpiece, tell everyone and drive traffic back to your site. After all, you want to invest the time and energy on a site you own. Finally, you spent time building your secondary platform. Don’t let it fade away into nothingness. Use the energy and buzz gained on those other channel(s) as a bridge back to your site. Your audience engagement could become stronger for it.