Part of my job as an SEO consultant and web copywriter is working with clients while they are in the process of redesigning their website. For business owners, a redesign is a laborious undertaking that feels, at times, endless. But the process can be rewarding, because you get to think about how you really want your business to be represented on the web and then shepherd that vision from idea to reality.
When that vision finally launches, you feel like celebrating. Your new design is the embodiment of your business online — it represents exactly how you want to be perceived and you're eager to welcome people into that space, much like the grand opening of an actual storefront. So it makes sense that you'd want to make a big announcement about your new website, right?
But you should totally not make that announcement.
In 2016 and beyond, it's expected that you redesign your website every few years. Would you send an email to customers letting them know you filed your 2015 taxes? Probably not. Redesigning a website, at least where your customers are concerned, is a non-event.
For that reason, you should restrain yourself from sending a broadcast to your entire email list with a subject line like, "Check out our new website!"
People don't give you their email address because they want to keep up with the monthly goings-on of your business; they sign up for your email list because they think you're going to offer them something of value. Anything that doesn't add value to their life, or require their immediate action, will end up in the trash, or worse yet, prompt customers to unsubscribe.
So if you want to announce your new website redesign to your email list, ask yourself: how does this redesign add value to my customer's life?
(Hint: it's not "because using our website will be much easier for them now!" Unless you're Healthcare.gov, and bad user experience on your website is seriously getting in the way of your customers living their best lives, that's not a strong enough reason.)
Here are some ways you can make spin a new website announcement in a way that's valuable to your customers.
Create an Offer
Offers are always a good reason to send an announcement to your email list. You don't even have to mention the site redesign (unless the offer is a direct tie-in). Just create a special package or discount that requires customers to visit the website to take advantage of and they will experience the redesign for themselves.
Explain New Features
I worked in the startup world, where people redesign their websites literally every day (it's called "iterating!"). The redesigns only had value to the customers when a new feature was unveiled. Maybe part of your new website does have inherent value to the customer — so focus your announcement on that one, newsworthy feature, like ability for customers to instantly book their appointments online, for example.
Check out these two email subject lines for comparison:
"Check out our new website!" versus "Now you can instantly book your appointments online."
Which one would you open?
Invite them back
When your website sucks, it sometimes means your business' best features are cloaked in bad design and extraneous content. You may have even lost customers because of it. If this is the case, send an email inviting them back — and let them know how the new website will improve your ability to do business with them. You can even combine this with a discount if it makes sense.
Create and host some new content
Write and send out a blog post, host a Q&A series — somehow create content that is useful to your customers while at the same time showcases your new design. This way they have a compelling reason to interact with your new site.
Write about the website redesign process
Go meta, and write about your experience as a small business owner undertaking a web redesign. What did you learn? What would you never do again? You could post this content on your site, but it's better if you share it somewhere else, like a guest post for a professional organization, or on Medium, LinkedIn, Facebook (especially Facebook groups!), etc.
Ask for feedback
Get a small but dedicated group of customers on board with the new design before it launches by asking them for feedback and to test new features. It's a great way to strengthen the relationship you have with some of your best clients — turn them into beta testers!
Remember that you only want to reach out to your customers with messages that require their action or add value, so whatever way you craft your new website announcement make sure it ticks one of those two boxes.
Unless you want to just throw an actual party, with champagne, and then you can email everyone.