The responsibilities of web design agencies don’t just end when development and designing are completed for the clients. You also need to keep an eye on websites for clients and make sure that they are working properly. Selling website maintenance services to your clients is one of the best ways to generate significant revenue for your agency.
As a web design agency owner, it might not have occurred to you to add recurring revenue streams to your business before. If you aren’t actively focused on this, you are missing out on a significant chunk of potential cash inflow.
If you have been thinking about selling website maintenance packages to your clients and feel that adding a recurring revenue stream to your business is a good step, this article is for you. There are other types of recurring revenue models that might also benefit your business. So, once you are done with structuring your website maintenance package, you can consider them as well.
Here, we’ll talk about what website maintenance services are all about, why they are so beneficial for web design agency owners, and how you should charge your clients.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
- What is Website Maintenance?
- What Should a Website Maintenance Package include?
- Benefits of Selling Website Maintenance Services
- Best Practices for Managing Website Maintenance Services
- How to Market Website Maintenance Services As Explained by 5 Experts
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What is Website Maintenance?
Website maintenance is the simple act of regularly checking your website for problems and then making sure that everything is up to date and relevant. You need to do this consistently in order to ensure that the website remains updated, safe, and secure. This encourages growth in traffic and boosts your SEO and rankings on Google.
Whether you are a big company, an individual, or a small business owner, it is imperative to keep your website up to date. This allows you to engage and interact with consumers and potential visitors on your site and prevents major problems on your site.
9 Steps to Follow When Performing Website Maintenance Services:
- Check whether the pages on your website load up quickly and don’t display any errors;
- Run a backup to ensure that the data on your website remains safe;
- Update the software and plugins you are using on your site;
- Check all the forms to ensure that they are running without a hitch;
- Remove spam comments from posts or pages on your site;
- Check the pages to ensure that there aren’t any broken links;
- Look for 404 errors on your website and fix them;
- Update your blog to engage your community and keep them coming back.
- Manage their hosting accounts and make sure everything is going smoothly.
And this is just the weekly assessment. On a monthly basis, maintenance involves checking the speed of your website, running security scans, analyzing website statistics, and reworking blogs that are in need of an update. Then, you also have to think about updating the design of your website, or reviewing your ongoing advertising and marketing campaigns.
Website maintenance is all about bringing workload efficiencies to automate as many operations as possible. It involves checking the backup health of your website, and testing the website on different browsers to make sure it’s running smoothly.
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What Should a Website Maintenance Package include?
We have already given a brief overview of what website maintenance is all about. Now it’s time to detail the main services that you will have to offer as a part of the package.
1. Regular Updates
Updates equal stronger functionality. No matter what CMS a website is using, you need to check if new updates have been released and then execute them. Script updates also play an important role; if you fail to regularly run updates on the site, there’s a strong chance that the website will be exposed to hacks.
WordPress websites can breakdown because of several reasons. But one prominent and common reason is outdated or crashed plugins. A WordPress website can become unresponsive even if there’s one outdated plugin. When this happens, the traditional response for the agencies/ developers is to manually go through the backend and hunt for the culprit plugin.
But that’s a long process, and your clients will be really unhappy. However, it’s a necessity that clients need because, usually, they aren’t technical enough to sift through the plugins and update them on their own.
To make things easy for agencies and WordPress developers, Cloudways recently launched an add-on, SafeUpdates. This feature automatically detects plugins that have ready updates and executes them. It also ensures that the plugins work fine without any hassles.
This will make jobs easy for agencies and WP developers while they can still charge a premium from their clients for maintenance.
This one goes without saying: all of the content and data on a website needs to be backed up regularly. Backups are essential for website owners in case something goes wrong; a server crash or a hack may bring down the website completely. Regularly back up the website’s contents, photos, pictures, and templates, and then check the backups by restoring them, so you can keep the site running without breaks.
Every now and then, even the biggest websites get hacked. The stories that gain the most notoriety involve defaced homepages, messages left by hackers, and security compromises. There are many other security issues to know about.
You might not realize it at first, but hackers can use a bunch of sneaky tactics in order to compromise your website.In some cases, the hackers might even access the backend and start using it as a spam server. This can reduce the speed of your website to a virtual crawl, and can eventually get a website blacklisted. Needless to say, this can prove to be a big problem for website owners. Protection against the latest of threats is a necessary part of any website maintenance services you offer clients.
3. Site Monitoring
Site monitoring is an all-encompassing term for different activities that are carried out to test a website or web service for availability.
Basically, it refers to any activity that checks the performance, availability, and functions of a web service or website. It can involve automated testing or real user monitoring. Manual testing is sporadic, whereas automated testing can be scheduled at timely intervals.
This can be further broadened into three categories: availability monitoring (discussed above), performance monitoring (designed to check the service or website’s speed), and functionality monitoring (designed to test the functionality of a website).
Data analytics involves gathering and assessing traffic coverage and data on your website. A web development agency that offers a recurring service should ideally include assessing analytics and providing clients detailed reports as part of the package. It’s a win-win situation for both parties, as your clients will also be able to understand how to improve engagement.
Websites grow and attract new audiences when they are regularly updated with new content. Google, and all other search engines, pay keen attention to the quality of content that websites upload. Most website owners simply don’t have the time to update the content on a regular basis, and you can plug that gap.
Website owners can generate recurring revenue by offering content packages and updates to your clients, boosting their website’s rankings and improving engagement with traffic. Offering tailored SEO content is a no-brainer, and will help you boost profitability. Some of the best high-converting landing pages regularly optimize their content.
Think of web support as a one-size-fits-all service that you can offer to your clientele. Basically, if your support plan covers them, they can come to you with any problem, query, or issue that they face, and you can help them out with it. Common issues that website owners are likely to face include:
- Data or content errors
- Providing feedback
- System training
- User access issues
- System going offline
- Web hosting issues
To provide a seamless web support service, you need to have a team at the ready to handle queries 24/7. Your customers will expect nothing less. Ideally, you will get a better idea about the support requirements during the project discovery phase.
Some of the most common website maintenance services include:
- Regularly updating the website
- Running backups
- Checking for 404 errors and server redirects
- Removing spam comments
- Updating the content
- Testing page speeds
- Checking any opt-in forms
Benefits of Selling Website Maintenance Services
Let’s now talk about why you should consider selling website maintenance services. It’s going to require considerable investment on your part as an agency executive, but trust me, it’s worth the money you put in. Here are a few reasons why you should consider selling website maintenance services.
Recurring Revenue from Clients
Who doesn’t like a steady stream of income flowing in on a monthly basis? The cost of consumer acquisition is always higher than the cost of customer retention, so why not monetize your old ones? You can generate recurring revenue from clients by having them sign up to a website maintenance package (we shall discuss pricing further ahead).
This will open up doors for you to pursue new projects. If your business relies primarily on new projects, you will find yourself stuck in the time-for-money paradigm (a mistake all too common amongst web agency owners), and the only way that you can get out of it is to set up some recurring revenue streams. Check out the Cloudways webinar video on how to make money through recurring revenue.
Earning From Reselling Hosting
Normally managing web hosting is part of a website maintenance package, so you can get added revenue from reselling hosting. If you are reselling hosting from another company like Cloudways, you can just do that on a profit margin, or join their web hosting affiliate program and earn a commission for each sale. Support is available from the hosting provider as a part of the package, but you can always charge a premium from your clients. Becoming a hosting reseller is a simple and effective way to pocket revenue without having to worry about administrative costs, calling, invoicing, or even collecting.
Make more money by selling website maintenance services combined with a hosting plan!
Cloudways lets you sell recurring hosting plans to your clients at your desired price. This way, your agency can initiate a passive and stable revenue stream.
Increased Client Retention
The cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to five times higher than retaining an old one. So it makes sense to focus on the latter.
Offering a website maintenance service package will help you boost client retention. If a client chooses you to build their website, it’s just easier for them to also rely on you for maintenance,, especially if your prices are reasonable. If they see that you are on top of things, they will definitely hit you up if they ever need something else.
How to Charge Your Clients
Finally, the hard part: how much should you charge your clients?
Standard industry practice involves introducing a tiered pricing model for your clients, which covers your website maintenance cost as well, and then charging them on a monthly basis. The tiers can be defined depending upon the level of maintenance service that you offer to your clients. Here are a few examples from leading web maintenance service providers to give you a better idea:
This is a prime example of well-defined multi-tier pricing. But let’s not stop here. Here’s another example:
As you can see, it’s imperative that you provide multiple options to your clients. When you offer just one package with a fixed website maintenance cost, they won’t have anything to compare it with. If you only have a single tier, consider adding another. Remember, people won’t mind paying more, as long as they know that they are getting a higher standard of price.
Apart from setting up multiple tiers, you should always offer a custom maintenance package, designed primarily for clients who want a specific level of service and support.
On top of that, make sure that you keep your payment channels open. This means accepting payments through multiple vendors, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, directly from merchants, Skrill, or any other method that you can think of. Cryptocurrency payments are also becoming more and more popular now, so you might want to look into that as well.
Remember, never let the client set the price. You can’t be the best and the cheapest at the same price, so set the pricing plans accordingly.
Factor in the time for communication, getting clarification on requests, researching alternatives, fine-tuning, and of course, the cost incurred for the provision of the service. Set your profit margins accordingly, and make sure you convey to your clients the basis for which you are charging the fee.
Maintaining transparency with pricing will only serve to increase your goodwill with your existing clients. It also doesn’t hurt to carry out a test survey to determine how much your clients might be willing to pay for web maintenance services.
Chip Griffin, the founder of Small Agency Growth Alliance, did a webinar, talking about maximizing profits through floor-to-ceiling pricing that you might like.
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Best Practices for Managing Website Maintenance Services
Here are the best practices you should follow for managing the provision of smooth web maintenance services through your agency.
Focus on Scaling the Service
Do not be put off by big projects. Take each contract as a challenge, but you have to make sure that the standard of service does not suffer. However, that doesn’t mean that you allocate too many of your resources to each project. That is why, in some cases, outsourcing might actually come in handy.
As the number of clients continues to grow, consider adding more support staff to the team. You can even get help from a freelancer or another agency. By automating scaling, you will be able to make sure that the quality of your service does not suffer, even as you take on projects you could not have managed by yourself.
Don’t think of this as an auxiliary service tacked on to the other services that your agency services; focus on growing it, and you will see it become a significant portion of your company’s revenue.
Regularly prompting clients to make payments is a bad idea; it gives them a chance to think about whether they need the service or not. You don’t need to do that. By creating a recurring payment plan, you can charge them on a monthly basis automatically.
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Also, provide customers with a chance of upgrading their support package. If they are satisfied, they won’t hesitate to pay more.
Too many agency owners make the mistake of not providing regular reports and updates to their clients. Remember, if someone’s paying you for a website maintenance service, they expect regular updates for it. You need to make sure that you create monthly or weekly reports, and then send them to your clients at regular intervals.
It doesn’t matter whether the client views the report or not (they probably won’t if everything’s going smoothly), but you have to do your part.
Review Service Standards
Make it a quarterly practice to sit down with your customer support team and brainstorm ideas on how they can improve their service. Look for ways to introduce operational efficiencies in the mix. Figure out how you can streamline services without compromising on performance. Consistently review service standards.
You can send questionnaires to your clients to figure out what they think and where you might be lacking. It’s a pretty simple way to identify areas that need improvement.
How to Market Website Maintenance Services As Explained by 5 Experts
Marketing your website maintenance services can seem like an uphill task. We have tips from some of the top agency owners and executives to help you.
1. Sell Website Management Package as an Upsell
Kevin Geary – CEO of Digital Gravy, Atlanta
We have multiple website maintenance packages ranging from $79/mo to $499/mo (we refer to them as “website management packages” rather than “maintenance” because they’re much more than maintenance). We don’t market these packages — they’re always sold as an upsell to clients during the initial project scope without about 85% of clients paying at least $79/mo. They shouldn’t require any special tactics to sell — the packages just need to be structured properly and agencies need to be working with clients who aren’t trying to get the cheapest services possible.
2. Target Customers with Old Websites
Chris Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at PlanetMagpie
We list our website maintenance services on our website, but the most effective marketing strategy for us comes from customers with old websites. We often encounter such customers while discussing another IT service, like providing support. When we do, we ask about rebuilding those websites into something modern and secure.
While discussing such a project with them, we’ll offer website maintenance as either an interim solution, or as a follow-up service after the rebuild. – As an interim solution, we maintain the existing website to lengthen its lifespan & keep things stable. – As a follow-up service, we take over maintenance on the rebuilt website to keep the workload off the customer, and make the best use of it for their marketing.
This works well for everyone, regardless of business size. Maintenance often slips as people run from project to project. Most customers aren’t even aware you can outsource the maintenance safely. When we show them how it’s done, we usually get a relieved smile back!
3. Market Website Maintenance as an Ongoing Website Retainer
Nate Shivar, CEO at Shivar Web Consulting
I recommend marketing website maintenance services as part of an ongoing website retainer that you can bundle with content marketing, marketing campaigns, etc – depending on your agency’s expertise.
Website maintenance services are less of an upsell and more of a prerequisite to helping a client run their website so that they can focus on their business. I market it with the 3 S’s – speed, security, and saving money.
Speed – with updates, additional content, browser changes, etc – a website can degrade over time just like a car or a house. I tell clients that monitoring speed & uptime are just part of owning a website.
Security – with ever evolving tactics and software updates – a secure website can become vulnerable. I tell clients that paying for security upgrades & monitoring are just like paying for basic home / store security.
Saving Money – I tell clients that paying someone to stay familiar with a website dramatically reduces the costs of new fixing a pressing issue or starting on a new development. A regular maintenance retainer makes efficient marketing campaigns & new website functionality possible.
4. Remind Clients Websites and web hosting require regular attention
Dan Bochichio, Founding Partner at Bocain Designs
Many of our clients have big dreams for their websites but are too busy running their businesses to spend the time handling technical updates or adding new content to their website.
We usually sell the maintenance plans when we’re explaining the practical use and general security of their websites. This is an upsell during the very beginning of the process, when we talk about their goals for their website and overall involvement in marketing (if they market in-house or outsource marketing to a third-party)
We remind them that websites and web hosting require regular attention. Just like how their Windows computer may request updates, their web server or website software might require updates to keep it secure and performing well. We also let them know that by creating fresh content frequently, they are more likely to see a rise in traffic via referrals, social, and organic search. These two factors alone (security and visibility) are important to all business owners, so many of them understand the value of having a professional handle this for them.
5. Offer Development Half-Days
Jessica Rhoades, CEO of Create IT Web Designs, Cincinnati
To market the service I start talking about it briefly throughout the project. I want to plant the seed so that when it comes to the end of the project it is not coming as a big surprise. I then give them the option to purchase maintenance services through me or not. I give my Clients a brief and simple sale of the services. I don’t have any special tactics to convince potential clients. I want my clients to value my honesty and dependability more than anything. Every customer is in a unique situation…especially during COVID, so I have a no-pressure sales. I also let them know that if they ever want to book me for modifications or some maintenance that I offer Development Half-Days, where they can book me for a half-day to knock out maintenance and any other tasks as their business grows or pivots. If a client doesn’t book me for maintenance I do find that they come back for my Development Days. Giving your customer options for plan A and plan B is always a benefit to both you and them.
In the End…
Offering website maintenance services to your clients is one of the best ways to complement your monthly revenue, and also provide something of value to existing clients. Not only will it boost your profits, but it will also allow you to keep existing clients in the loop. Ultimately, this will help you grow.
It might require a bit of investment in the beginning, but as long as you keep the bigger picture in mind, it won’t be long before you are in the green.
Q1. What are website maintenance services?
Website maintenance services include all activities for keeping a close eye on the website issues and fix them as they are discovered. The idea is to make sure the website remains functional without any loss in user experience and/or downtime.
Q2. How much does website maintenance cost?
The cost of website maintenance is dependent upon the platform and complexity of the website. In general, the hourly rate for website maintenance could range from $50 to $100, depending upon the number of pages, the integrated tools and components, and the level of support required by the website owner.
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Arsalan, a Digital Marketer by profession, works as a Startups and Digital Agencies Community Manager at Cloudways. He loves all things entrepreneurial and wakes up every day with the desire to enable the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs through his work!