Making a meaningful change takes time — particularly when it comes to your business. A teeny tiny detail can cost you a reservation. One wrong character can cause an email to bounce; a wrong digit is a missed call. So, how do you change a key piece of information without reaping havoc? Bed & Brunch pr talks with Matt Bare, founder of Q4Launch, a destination marketing company, to find out how to best change one thing, without affecting everything.
Let’s say you want to change your inn’s email address or phone number. What should you keep in mind?
An email and a phone number change you would tackle very differently. If you change your email address but not your domain [website address], I would set up an email forwarder so that you don’t lose any mail that’s coming in. If you’re changing your website address that’s a much bigger issue. You have to get that information out there first and we recommend that you don’t just shut off your old website. If you turn it off, all emails associated with it will bounce and people will get an undeliverable message — this means either they’ll Google you to see if you changed your name, which is the ideal situation, or they’ll assume you’re closed.
If you want to change your domain name and you want to shut down your website for a new one with a new domain name, you need to have a long horizon. You need to make your marketing changes first and then you wait it out.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when they want to change something?
Phone numbers, emails, any contact information, one of biggest mistakes people make is that they change that information and do it effective immediately — no legacy, no period of time. The smartest way to make a change is to go through and remove the outdated information from all the marketing you have control over, those are things like your email signature, Google+, Facebook, letterhead, and all your social networks. I would let a year go by before I shut that number or email off because if someone has an old email, an old rack card, or an old email blast and they can’t get a hold of you, that’s a problem. The expense you have to keep to keep that phone or email for a year is so minimal, it’s worth the expense to keep it for a year as a catch-all.
Still, the real question is: why are you changing it in the first place? If you’re going to keep the domain name the same is it really necessary to change the email address? Do you just have too many spam messages? There are some great solutions to fight spam other than changing your email address. Too much spam isn’t a really good reason to change the email. I think people sometimes lack the technical knowledge and they try to solve a problem with the wrong solution.
If it is a problem of too much email, what can you do?
If you have too much email, you can unsubscribe from stuff, you can set up filters so stuff gets filtered out that’s not relevant, but again changing your email address is not a solution to ‘I get too much email.’ Plus, if it’s an email address that you’re using to communicate with guests, you shouldn’t just change that. Switch the program you’re using to better manage email or set up filters; most every email software has the ability to create some filters to get the right emails in front of you and push the other stuff out.
Let’s say it’s not ‘too much email’ but you’ve made the decision to change your email address anyway. How do you go about changing it across the web?
Well, it depends on where that email — or if it’s a phone, then that phone — is populating. If it’s an online directory, you usually have an interface where you upload your information and can just go in and change it, or you can reach out and request that it’s changed for you. If it’s on your local chamber of commerce or a third party directory then call or email them. If you’re going to make a change like that, it’s critically important to make sure all of the information is consistent. You want your name, address, and phone to be identical everywhere they appear on the web, that’s what’s Google is looking to see, so make sure you have consistency wherever that’s listed.
Google will often automatically pull up info on a business. How do you manage that? What if the phone or email for you is wrong?
Most of that is controlled through Google+ or your Google local business page, so go in there and make sure it’s all consistent. If you haven’t claimed your presence, you’ll have to do that first.
How time consuming it is to change a detail like a phone or email?
If it’s on Google and you already claimed it, it’s a 5-minute fix. If you haven’t claimed your business then it’s definitely more time consuming. Come up with list of everywhere your information exists and sit down and go through it; that’s something we do for our customers to make sure it’s consistent everywhere.
Any last thoughts?
The biggest things to keep in mind are that you should really have a good reason for changing your phone or email and that if you’re going to change one or both, you need to plan a transition period.