The phrase “website downtime” refers to the inability of web visitors to properly interact with your site. This can mean parts of your site remain “up” (visible) but with errors and bugs, or it can mean your entire site goes “down” (your URL won’t load at all) when a visitor attempts to navigate there. In either case, today’s digitally-driven marketplace has less and less tolerance for poorly operable or inoperable websites.
In this post, learn what the true impact may be for your business if your website goes down.
An Industry-Wide Look at Site Downtime
For medium to large businesses (those with 1,000 or more employees), just one hour of website downtime can equate to $100,000 in financial losses for all the reasons listed here and then some. For smaller companies, the losses can quickly add up to bankruptcy. Overall, site downtime is one of the most costly expenses companies face today.
Common Reasons Why Websites Go Down
Some of the reasons why your website might go down will be within your power to control. Others, such as extreme weather and other natural or manmade disasters, may be beyond your control. The key is to control what you can as much as you can to minimize the risk of site downtime.
What You Can Do To Minimize Downtime
One of the most important actions you can take to minimize downtime is to ensure you have sufficient bandwidth to handle even the heaviest traffic (if you have ever read a headline that says “Such-and-So-Personality ‘Broke the Internet’,” it was probably a bandwidth-traffic issue that caused it).
Having backup servers can also ensure your site downtime is minimal – think of this like having a backup power generator in case your electricity goes out. You can also be sure your hosting provider can back up any guarantees of 99.9 percent uptime before you sign a contract for service.
Finally, your data security is a key component of protecting your site from the negative impact of spyware, viruses and hackers.
5 Key Ways Your Business is Impacted by Website Downtime
Here are five of the most costly losses your business can experience if your site doesn’t load properly or at all.
Impact #1: Lost First Impressions
For repeat visitors who experience a temporary outage with your site, they will likely return again because they had a positive previous experience with your brand. But for first-time visitors who encounter a site that is not functioning, they likely will not be back….ever.
Why is this so critical? The answer is simple: a first-time visitor is gold. Simply attracting more inbound traffic is the single greatest challenge most businesses with an e-commerce element face. So if you do have the great good fortune to attract a new visitor, you don’t want to lose them to site downtime!
Impact #2: Lost Sales
Greeting an incoming customer with a non-functional website is the equivalent of locking your front door and hanging an “Open for Business” sign in the window. This “come closer-go away” message will be interpreted by your visitors as “go away” and they may not come back, especially if this is their first visit.
You can get an idea of what a day of downtime will cost you by looking back at daily sales averages for the last 30 days. Then divide an average day by 24 hours (or the hour time span during which most of your sales occur) to get an idea of cost per hour.
Impact #3: Lost Overhead
Depending on how your business is structured and which parts of your website are affected by slow performance or downtime, you may find yourself with an expensive workforce sitting around twiddling their thumbs during work hours. Here, you are paying them to wait until your site comes back up. For that matter, you are paying yourself to wait as well, and you are likely paying an information technology professional to try and get your site back up.
So here your lost dollars come from employee paychecks, your own salary and any costs associated with fixing your website.
Impact #4: Lower Search Engine Rankings
The more your site is slow or inoperable, the lower your browser search result ranking will go, especially on Google, where algorithms give precedence to fast-loading sites with optimal up-time. When you display lower in the search engine rankings, your website generates less organic inbound traffic. If you are running online ad campaigns, your bids will get lower preference than a site with higher up-time.
Impact #5: Lost Data
There are many reasons that your website may start performing poorly, running slowly or simply going down. One of those reasons is compromised data. If your site has contracted a virus or one of your employees has downloaded malware by mistake, this can take your site down or cause it to run slow enough that visitors and customers get impatient and leave. Even worse, you may later discover your sensitive data has been breached or hacked and you now have a messy cleanup on your hands.
There are many grades of computer malware and viruses, but the worst can actually steal and then destroy data and even wipe your hard drive. The losses from this kind of breach can be incalculable and, for some businesses, it can take them out of the game permanently.
When you truly understand the costs of site downtime, the costs of preventing downtime seem much more reasonable. Once you have bolstered your IT infrastructure to guard against threats from the outside in, you can train your employees on how to safely download and use software to protect your site from inside-out threats. By taking the time to educate your staff and improve your site security and operation, you open your doors for more new visitors, more sales and more success.