Digital Marketing

The Senior Executive’s Guide to Site Migrations – Step 3 of 4: Launch

This video is the third in a series of videos designed to help you execute a successful site migration project. If you missed the other videos, watch them now: Step 1: Plan, Step 2: Build.

A site migration requires a significant monetary and time investment, so when it’s time to launch, it’s crucial that it goes well.

In this video, Matt Ruud, Director of Digital Marketing at Perficient, and Eric Enge, Principal of Digital Marketing, dive into Step 3 of the 4 steps to a successful migration – Launch – and discuss what every marketing executive needs to consider when launching their migrated site.

Watch to learn what to plan for now to prevent pain at launch and how to minimize (and compensate for) organic traffic loss in the weeks after your site goes live.


Questions? We Have Answers.

A website migration or re-platform is a complex project and there are a lot of considerations that must go into the process. We have migrated and re-platformed hundreds of websites. If you have questions about your site migration project, we’d love to answer them and discuss how we can help position your team for the best chance of success. Contact us to get started.


Matt: After heavily investing in time, effort and cost to prepare your new site, it’s crucial that you get it right when it goes live. A little preparation can truly prevent an ounce of pain here.

In this video, we will dive into Step 3 of the 4 steps to a successful migration – Launch – and discuss what every marketing executive needs to consider when launching their migrated site.

Matt: Hello, I’m Matt Ruud, Director of Digital Marketing at Perficient. And I’m joined today by Eric Enge, Principal for the Digital Marketing Solutions business unit here at Perficient. So, the big day is rapidly approaching – Launch. Will your site be ready? Will your team be ready? Are you ready? Here’s how to best prepare yourself, your team, and your organization for a significant change with your new site. What’s the number one thing you can do to prepare for launching your new site?

Eric: Well, above all, Matt, build a checklist or plan and assign parties for each task. Build in redundancies if you can. Launches can stretch for some time actually, so have planned rotations for the team, in case it takes longer than expected. No one needs to be on for 48 straight hours, unless absolutely necessary. And then have stages of review and attempt to check everything at least once before it goes live. Similar to a pre-launch checklist, you don’t need to wait until the plane is in the air to check many of the instruments and functions. You can even test your redirects before launch with the proper planning and advanced work.

So, what do we usually have as the top things to check for at or before launch time?

Matt: Well, as you mentioned, redirects is usually number one. But really, our checklist goes beyond that to look at things like paid ad landing pages, images, CSS and font references, SSL settings, and your migrated content to make sure that everything that was supposed to move actually did, especially if you use an automated solution to do it. But occasionally, and most times, something is going to go wrong. What do you do, then? What should your plan be? Do you roll back? Or do you have to live with what you launched with?

Eric: Yeah, great question, Matt. And I think the important thing is to understand that it’s pretty normal for some level of losses to happen for some period of time, SEO or organic search, if you will, or otherwise, as customers and search engines adjust. Know what you can do to keep traffic consistent. Increase your paid search and paid media campaigns, social media campaigns. Do what you can to drive additional traffic from those sources to balance the revenue out while other things adjust. Leverage email to urge your existing customers to return and visit the new site. But don’t wait to figure this all out when your traffic is down 20% to 30%. Have a plan in advance.

But that kind of leads to the next question, how do you measure success? When you need to report out to other executives on the launch, what will you focus on? How do you ensure that those metrics can be trusted?

Matt: Well, it all starts with good tracking. And you hopefully took care of your analytics set up during your build phase and nd you’ve got confidence in the numbers that you’re sending out. But, really, plan ahead and cement your KPIs. Have discussions. What is the organization, what is your team, and what are those that you report into going to use as the measure of success? Then, build a dashboard that hopefully updates automatically, reducing the amount of time the team needs to spend reporting out. But also, during this time, you should start looking for those opportunities to start testing.

You should make the most of the traffic you have. As you mentioned, it’s going to go down, so you need to get every dollar and every conversion you can, so start running CRO tests. You should have some initial tests that you planned and had kind of ready to go at launch. Watch them, see what happens as soon as you’re stable because now’s the time to try to milk every single dollar that you can.

Eric: Yeah, and assuming that you’ve done everything well, then ultimately, you’re going to have overall success on your hands. But how do you plan for that? And what will you do to keep up or continue to build demand depending on what happens?

Matt: Yeah, and it really comes down to having benchmarks for success and issues. So you can look at kind of how you’re trending against where you thought you were going to be. And then check against them at planned intervals, like actually have meetings or roundtables to talk about them at two weeks, one month, one quarter. You should be monitoring for issues still, though, because even though things look like they’re heading in the right direction, and your site is maybe performing gangbusters, that can change pretty quickly. You should really have still in your mind, what is your canary in the coal mine? How are you going to know when something’s kind of gone off the rails?

We had a client that launched. It was a prolonged launch. It took about four days. The site was up and stable for a good two weeks and was performing better from a conversion rate perspective than the old site. And then suddenly 15 days in, we noticed that a bunch of traffic from organic started winding up at unique landing pages – the old landing pages, not the new ones. And as a result, we knew something had gone wrong.

What had really happened was the 301s switched to 302s. And Google started sending traffic back to the old pages because those redirects were now seen as temporary. When that happened, we knew there was an issue, but we had a plan in place. We were able to go communicate with the team and have it resolved in about 16 hours. It’s kind of when you have these mechanisms and these plans and procedures in place, it allows you to start to build plans beyond launch as well. You can really start to figure out how are you going to have a plan to handle your ongoing digital marketing campaigns, what we call Run.

You should be constantly asking yourself at this point, is the team set up for success post-launch? Do they have the things that they need in order to be able to execute and report on success? There has to be that plan for post-launch as well. So, now’s a pretty good time to take care of it.

Eric: You know, Matt, this has been a great discussion. But let’s summarize the key takeaways from launching your site.

First of all, number one, build a checklist or plan with assigned parties for each task throughout that process.

Number two, understand that losses will happen for some time, organic or otherwise, as customers and search engines adjust. And know what you can do to keep your traffic consistent.

And number three, have benchmarks for both wins and losses, then check against them at planned intervals.

And then finally, once you’ve launched your new site, it’s really time to run with it and implement successful digital marketing programs and push them out across all channels. Watch our next video which details key considerations for step four of the four steps of a successful migration – ongoing digital marketing campaigns or what we call Run.

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Victoria Bradley

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