A human failure taught us something about digital marketing technology that improved how we work with all our clients.
While we love what we do, we’re not perfect. And we recently made an error that left us embarrassed and apologizing to a client.
On a page of content we published, we accidentally omitted a digit from the client’s phone number. Because of this, visitors saw the wrong contact information and the client missed out on potential leads from that page.
Our client was understandably upset and we quickly corrected the error. And we also wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again. Here’s how we recovered from our mistake, what we learned, and the solutions we built to prevent and resolve human errors using technology.
Prevent errors with repeatable tests
Once we corrected this error, we sprang into action. Our in-house engineering team identified where the discrepancy occurred and implemented a solution to not only identify content errors, but also alert the team automatically when a problem is detected.
We now use automated selenium testing to continually test clients’ websites for errors. These selenium tests use real automated browsers to crawl clients’ websites and make sure all elements are working properly.
In selenium tests, automated users load menus, submit lead forms, and take screenshots to test “expected versus actual” appearances on each page. If something looks different from what’s expected, one of our engineers is alerted to look into it further.
Automated testing frees up our team’s resources so our developers can focus on issues that require human intervention. We’ve also learned to find patterns in clients’ websites. When we find an issue that’s a repeat offender, we create tests to check these things to be more efficient and help our clients be successful.
Detect and resolve errors using automation
We now run multiple automated tests on a daily basis to catch and fix errors on clients’ websites. Some tests run multiple times in a day.
When we find tools we like that already exist, we integrate them into our technology toolbox and find ways to improve on them. For example, we use an inspection tool to detect a checklist of errors on clients’ sites including canonical status, server response time, and many more items. Our engineering team then creates and runs scripts to crawl sites and notify us when a fix is needed.
Testing lead forms can be done without submitting an actual lead form to clients. It’s crucial to not disrupt our clients’ businesses, so we use development environments and time any updates to eliminate downtime on their websites.
These existing tools can be run on our own servers, and we check desktop, mobile, and tablet configurations on all sites. The Home and Contact pages are ones we focus on, but all website pages are checked for errors.
We use tools that survey site speed and page load times, check h1s and meta descriptions, and monitor server response times. If a site goes down, instant alerts go to our developers through Slack and text message. Any downtime means lost revenue for our clients, so we’re diligent about responding fast to site issues.
Digital marketing technology improves chat experience
Automated chats are a form of existing technology that many of our law firm clients use to capture leads. The problem with chat is that it can sometimes cause user experience (UX) issues. Chat windows covering up the navigation or crucial information like a phone number can frustrate users and make them click away from your site.
The problem is with most chat providers, we cannot control the placement or appearance of chat windows on our clients’ websites.
Chat providers are incentivized to get users to engage in a chat, so they will often change how and where chat windows pop up on clients’ websites. This can cause errors and lead to poor user experience, causing visitors to click away from the site.
Hennessey Digital is currently working on a solution to the chat issue. With the right chat partner and digital marketing technology like selenium testing, we can control how and where chat windows appear on our clients’ websites.
This way, chat functionality works with the UX of a website and not against it. Visitors have a better experience with the website and conversion rate improves.
Enhance security with proprietary solutions
To prevent duplicate content problems, we modify WordPress in a way that prevents team members from publishing pages with a URL that already exists. Taking the WordPress improvements a step further, we also enhance the WordPress default settings by developing proprietary extensions in addition to Yoast and MapRanks.
We’ve changed permissions in WordPress so that team members can only access what they are authorized to. We use homegrown single sign-on (SSO) technology for WordPress with custom roles and permissions depending on our team members’ level.
Hennessey Digital team members never get the passwords to our clients’ sites. In addition, we use Okta to manage user access with a universal directory to the vendors we use for our clients. Because we have a 100%-virtual team, we’re happy to help clients manage their passwords and teach them how to secure their digital assets with a remote workforce.
We take security seriously, and protecting clients’ data is always top of mind for our team.
What we learned from our mistake
Technology is amazing, but it can sometimes exacerbate problems. We have to balance automation and technology solutions with human intervention.
Hennessey Digital is a marketing agency, but we also see ourselves as a digital marketing technology company. We work hard to build a culture of learning, innovation, and transparency. Each of our team members is empowered to make decisions and own solutions to problems.
SEO and web development require a high level of technical skill to get right. We truly believe that our team is our best asset, and the tools our team develops are what separates us from our competitors.
Failure actually makes us better digital partners.
“These technical innovations are classic examples of how we’ve built our agency over the last six years. The only way that you get better is to fail, learn the lessons, and change how we systemize our processes so that we fail forward,” shares Jason Hennessey, our founder and CEO.
“The failures we made three years ago have a big impact on the clients that sign up with us today. We invest a lot in research and development and in our technology to prevent these mistakes in the future. This sets us apart as an agency. Failure actually makes us better digital partners.”
A digital marketing technology advantage
While other agencies only make recommendations, we take over the client’s entire website. We educate clients on what we’re doing and we do the work.
Vulnerability is important. If we mess up, we own it. We take issues that we find to the client instead of covering them up. “Be honest and transparent” is our first guiding principle and we believe that owning errors is a big part of this.
If we find a problem, we do the research and develop a tool to solve it. Last week, we launched the Hennessey Digital Platform to bring radical transparency to digital marketing ROI. The Platform will continue to evolve with additional features coming from client feedback.
At the end of the day, we’re all human. When we use technology to fix human problems, it makes our work and our people even better.
We look forward to continuing to fail because it helps us innovate. If we don’t fail, we never succeed.
When we fail, our clients win!