Webinar: Generating results from a legacy website or CMS

Advice on how much to invest and what tools are available to help you switch successfully.

21 Mar 2016
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Jon Eaton

This article is to support a webinar I did with one of our developers on how to continue producing results from a legacy system.

Alongside this article and the webinar we are doing another article on this subject with our UX Designer Gemma Barnes coming soon.

Generating results from a legacy CMS

As with an elderly relative or pet the latter stages of a website’s life can be painfully drawn out. Budgets, timing and other business priorities often mean that several months or even years can elapse between making the decision to move from one technology stack to another. This article is to help anyone in that period; when you know the end is coming but need to keep things ticking over.

1. Is it worth upgrading your system?

For the most part the answer here would be no. If there is no long term investment planned in the platform you are currently using it doesn’t make sense to invest heavily in keeping it up to date. 

Having said this there are other things to consider here. If your platform is business critical failing to upgrade may increase the chances of a security breach. It could also lead to higher support costs as you fire fight to fix issues on newer browsers or experience issues in integrations with other platforms. As a general rule tackling problems one by one with agency partners can be very expensive as you accumulate additional account handling, deployment and testing time. Not upgrading does not necessarily guarantee increased ongoing costs or security risks but you should talk to your techies about these areas before making a decision not to upgrade.

2. Is creating new content a waste of time?

Absolutely not. So many businesses make the classic mistake of almost turning their websites off before they switch over. This is a massive mistake. New content shows the world that your business is still active and helps to ensure that you get a steady stream of new prospects interested in your services or products. 

One thing to consider is whether you can create content that can be easily transported from one platform to another. We’ve seen quite a few companies do this by creating content which is created as a separate piece of HTML and CSS which sits outside of the core CMS. This means when moving to a new system the new piece of content is simply added as a separate static page.

3. What digital marketing channels should I invest in?

Logical thinking will get you a long way here. In short you should only be looking at pushing additional investment in channels that can deliver a result quickly. An obvious one is PPC but there are other channels that you might not consider which are worth looking at. 

As mentioned above investing in content is no bad thing especially if you can move it relatively easily. Email marketing is another route not to be forgotten. As well as giving you leads and sales right now a sustained email campaign before launch is a good way of engaging potential customers with your brand ahead of the grand unveiling. Lastly, especially for larger brands, it is worth spending a bit more time looking at your online advertising strategy. As with email marketing online advertising increases brand recognition and engagement whilst also generating results right now. Digital PR offers the same too.

4. When should I start capturing future website requirements?

Straight away. This doesn’t need to be particularly high-tech either. We use Google Docs and a ideas@ Slack channel internally to capture new features that we think we might need going forward. 

This is really useful because it means when we catch up about our website and marketing in general we have a backlog of ideas to discuss. This is so much easier than entering into completely fresh discussions which normally end up with a rambling conversation about what marketing really is for, what is the meaning of life (!), etc, etc. 

5. Are there any other tools I can use alongside an old system to produce results?

Yes. We’ve seen a lot of businesses invest in A/B testing, web personalisation and marketing automation tools which are completely separate to their core CMS. 

Image courtesy of Sitefinity.com: showing connector with Marketo 

There is normally some work required in order to get your website talking to systems like Marketo or Optimisely but it can be less work than you might think. For businesses whose websites are particularly results focussed this is a route that should definitely be explored. It might even be that investing in these technologies leads you to a completely different set of technology decisions. For example on a recent project we consulted on the client completely changed their technology roadmap; deciding to invest in a bespoke design and build and deliver the content through a separate marketing automation platform rather than using a CMS.

Listed in:  Strategy Support