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What Not to Do When Launching a New Online Marketing Campaign…

October 2, 2013 by Robert Wright

So with all the hub-bub-circus-style activity surrounding the U.S. debt and Obamacare, I thought I’d check to see what health insurance would cost me if I were to purchase it through Obamacare. Being a dual citizen and having moved to Canada from the U.S. about 11 years ago, I don’t really have to worry about insurance now, but when I was last living in the States I was turned down for healthcare due to a pre-existing condition. I also travel a lot between countries, so was curious about dual-coverage. So here’s the page I received after going to healthcare.gov:

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No worries, I decided. I’ll work while I wait and time how long it takes to get the login page. Despite all the web statistics regarding bounce rates, this is a captive, one-of-a-kind site, so people will wait, right? Fifteen minutes later, I received a new screen. Here it is:

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So…I’ve given up. For now. People who are in desperate need of insurance, may try again (and again) until the site serves them properly. So a government site may get away with this, though no-doubt they will suffer further opinion erosion about the product due to the service of the website.

But what would this do to a business? A few years back, we worked closely with customers of a web hosting business that had a major server/network failure. I’ll never forget the conversations with some of the customers, which went something like this:

“We just spent our entire marketing budget on a new e-commerce campaign that just launched this morning. We can’t afford downtime. Please help us.”

Some of the conversations were tearful and heart-wrenching. While the marketing departments put major thought, effort and time into a campaign, they neglected to think about contingency plans for hardware or network problems and high-traffic.

So that this doesn’t happen to you or your company, we’d like to make a few suggestions:

1. For a major campaign, address with your IT department or hosting company how you will handle high traffic if it occurs (either through a very successful campaign, or in the case of a denial-of-service attack on your site).

2. If the delays of access to the site during your campaign are unacceptable, have a fail-over scheme implemented. This doesn’t have to be expensive, depending on your requirements. Just having the domain name registered with a separate provider from the hosting account, and maintaining a backup copy of the site allows your IT staff to quickly change the domain name to point to a different server (allowing for some propagation time through the Internet).

There are many solutions to this type of problem, just choose one or have your favorite e-commerce consultant help you implement a solution. Don’t let technical problems destroy your campaign.

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