Are you a business owner or do you work in a Chief Marketing Officer/CMO or Chief Information/Technology Officer – CIO/CTO role? Did you create your website already, or are you in the process of doing so? And although you know that you need a website and additional digital spending, you may not know very much about website building itself or how much your department should budget for marketing your business.
The good news first: You do not have to spend like crazy to get an amazing website. Depending on the nature of your business, spending between $3,000 and $5000 works out very well for most businesses. Going with a $50 WordPress or Squarespace template or something similar will give you a lot of bang for your buck! If you don’t know what I’m talking about – just ask those responsible for building your site, is my site custom coded or template based? A comforting fact for novices is that most people cannot tell the difference between a custom site and a template site. In some cases, you will be blown away by how good a simple $50 template site can make your business look. After your business grows and scales, then it’s time to improve the site with custom code which can have many benefits.
Now the bad news… Your digital spend should not stop at your website. Let me put that another way… if you blow your budget on your website alone and have nothing left to spend on digital promotion, you’re screwed. Internet neutrality may rule but pay to play in the web space is definitely alive and well. Having an expensive or fancy website alone won’t generate traffic or business. You have to consistently post new content, have, at the very least, a small (but effective!) AdWords budget and use social media to help drive traffic to your site. Just think about this analogy: Imagine writing a book without trying to publish it. It could be the greatest masterpiece ever, but without publishing it, no one will ever know! -Wise words from Helen Martinez, the Chief Freelance Relationship Officer at Skilled Shift. The key is promotion and it doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to put yourself out there. While some businesses should spend $25,000 or more on a website, an overwhelming majority should not. So our recommendation is to grab a template, (your developer can help with template selection if you don’t know how, which will ensure you have all the features you need), and ready, set, launch your website! The website should be roughly 25% of your budget. The remaining 75% should be spent promoting your site and your business with new web content, social media, ads and the like. Additionally, if you are a small or new business, connecting with independent bloggers and copywriters can do wonders for site content creation and promotion as many social media agencies are cost-prohibitive for small business. (SHOCKER: an independent copywriter may have helped with this article! – but I’ll never tell).
There are some instances where you should splurge for custom code and where your actual website and promotion budget should be increased:
1. Once you have your website, social media campaigns, Adwords campaign and Google Analytics up and running, you will need to tweak your website to increase conversions. (If you don’t know how to do these things or don’t want to think about it, Independent contractors and tech freelancers can help you set up each of these, which give you visibility and legitimacy). Your website layout should cater to your most successful client interaction with the site. Do they visit some pages more than others? Beef up the content on the most visited pages or ask your customer to convert. UX/UI Developers can help you with these things specifically to increase your sales.
2. Spend money to have someone tweak your Adwords campaign: do not pay for ads that aren’t generating successful leads for you and put that money to good use, buying more ads that do create successful leads/sales.
3. Now that you are making sales, you should invest your profits in generating more leads automatically and organically, and your increased budget can be used incorporate certain tools that will generate leads and increase the security of your site.
4. You are ready to reap the benefits of custom coding your website, which may help improve your website’s SEO. Custom site maps and page headers/titles ensure that Google can crawl your site effectively and not ding you for obvious failures. Developers can ensure that you don’t have broken links and that Google’s assessment of your site is what you want it to be. For example, if you are a creative digital agency targeting high-end corporate clients, but Google’s crawlers associate you with start-ups, popsicles and puppies, your clients will never find you. Our developers routinely shock people when they give them Google’s assessment of their site, says Martinez.
Ensuring your success as a start-up or as a corporate business is complicated but part of it is spending wisely and knowing your options. As a final word, run as fast as you can from anyone who wants you to blow your entire budget on your small business website. It’s like buying a Tesla without a battery. If you are not willing to promote your site, and think that people will just “find you,” then you should seriously re-think your business. Now you know the ratios for making your small business website successful (25% for the build and 75% for promotion).