Let's talk about what it costs to get a website for your business
Similar to buying a car, there isn't one price that fits all. You want a top-of-the-line luxury model or a used family-hauler? And extras like maintenance, tires and repairs… you get the idea.
Rather than asking what a website cost, it's better to discuss your site's Return on Investment (ROI). A well-engineered, safe model may end up costing more up front, but in the long run the ROI is a lot better than a cheap old jalopy that ends up nickel and diming you to bankruptcy.
Here's a starting point for the sake of discussion:
You can put in the hours to publish a "free" website, but as everyone knows, it's not really free. The really good features will cost extra or your homepage will show ads from the site host company. Securing a custom domain name isn’t guaranteed either.
- If you leave to go to another provider, bye-bye to everything you published on your free site
- Limited ability to take advantage of optimization techniques that actually get you noticed online
- Page templates are static, and not usually changeable
You get the point.
What goes into a professionally done website?Content. You can write your own, or have the company do it with your input. If you do write your own page content, do you know how many words per page are optimal? Is there a "reading grade level" to which your text should be aimed? What keywords and phrases will help you get noticed?
Project management. Do you have time to coordinate all the content, design the site map, get feedback and approvals, then make sure each page is consistently branded and performs as needed?
Design. Thinking about the visitors to your site (not your preferences), what design elements will sell? What colors? Where do you place vital interactive elements like buttons or links?
Development. Very good websites have a certain amount of coding or programming behind them to make them work, and more importantly, to keep them from breaking! Just about anything can be featured on your site with a little magic from the coding experts
Want to automate the marketing that happens through your website, such as an email or text when a person fills out an information form on your "contact us" page? A CMS or Customer Management System can work in the background to keep track of what is happening on your site.
You've got yourself the best site you've ever seen. Now how do you get everyone else to see it as well?
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, and have the time, you can promote your site in all kinds of ways, on social media, through published articles, tracking information about your site visitors, coordinating it with other marketing opportunities, etc.
It's one thing to admire a new car parked in the driveway, it's another to take it out for a spin. Some common add-ons that enable you to take your website out for a drive are:
- Managing Google AdWords- making sure you appear on search return pages for people who are looking for you
- Retargeting- creating and publishing ads that appear in response to shopping activity
- Social media publishing- Brands can win big if they invest in social media conversations. Even simply responding to reviews on Google Plus can make a difference in where your link appears in a search return page.
- Maintaining a presence on product forums or discussion boards
Can you measure website cost ROI?
As a matter of fact, yes! Google analytics is one way to keep on top of the numbers. If possible, you can even tie a dollar value to certain website interactions. For example, if a sale started with someone leaving their contact information on a form, these statistics allow you to know how much revenue you receive from your website. There are also ways to track phone calls and other interactions that can be analyzed to determine the profit your site is actually producing. Here's a simple way to think about it:
Determine the cost of creating the website. Based on your requirements, any digital marketing company should be able to tell you what the initial cost will be.
What's the cost of maintaining the site (hosting, updates, adding or changing content, etc.)
Spread those costs out over the amount of time you expect to keep your website, like you would do for deciding on which car to buy.
Then look at the traffic to your site. What do people look at? Where do they go? What pages attract the most eyeballs? Think about the fact that NOT having a website means all these numbers are zero.
Find the Conversion Rate. That simply means a visitor taking some kind of action such as a purchase, leaving their email address, or clicking on the phone number to call you.
If you think in terms of five or ten years as you calculate the ROI, you're on the right track. It takes time to rise in visibility in the competitive world of online marketing. Some industries or services, such as attorneys, are so crowded that even if you do everything right and invest a lot of your marketing budget, it still takes quite awhile before you are as visible as you want to be. If you are launching a new site, expect at least six months before you start seeing traffic grow. Two to three years of careful and strategic content publishing, social media posts and acquiring links will get you where you want to be.
What does it cost to join the club of internet marketing giants? Or more realistically, what will it cost a small- to medium-sized business to launch and to maintain an internet presence that beats the competition?
Do your research, then meet with a couple of internet marketing companies that can offer a full range of possibilities. We're a bit biased, but United WebWorks should be on your short list for firms that can find a perfect fit between our expertise and what you need.