April 30, 2019 Category: Digital Marketing
There is no shame in going DIY in 2019 or holding off altogether. You should only make a serious investment if you’re serious about getting something out of it, and even if you are, only if it makes sense for your business.
You’re in an initial phone call with a web designer to build a new website. She’s made a good pitch but the subject of money comes up and the tension rises over the phone line. The last company quoted you thousands more than you’re ready to part with and you’re hoping you’ll get a break. Then the question comes.
"What’s your budget?" She asks.
You freeze up. Why would she ask me that? Is she trying to rip me off? Whatever number I give her, she will match it, you think to yourself. You give the best non-answer you can muster, with the elusiveness of a grizzled NFL coach at a press conference of a blowout loss fielding questions about whether the starting QB will be benched. And then you repeat your question:
How much does it cost?"
I get it. Times are tough. You don’t have a lot of money to spend. And $2,000 is a lot to drop on something that is not a tangible asset. But she’s not asking so she can fleece you. She’s asking because there are multiple ways to build what you want.
Cost vs. Quality vs. Time
(Image Source: medium.com)
The project management triangle should be hanging on every software product team’s wall. It dictates that most products can be made cheaply, high quality, or quickly. Quite often in the field of software development demands will be made to cut cost without sacrificing quality or schedule. It’s simply a natural limitation that should be managed and understood by any client, whether internal or external, corporate or solopreneur.
So be honest with your budget. If you only have $1,000 to spend then just say that. She can probably do something for that price by cutting corners or at least refer you to someone who can either do the work for less, or someone who can help your business get funding, and at least you’re clearly understanding what you’re giving up to get it done cheaper.
But what if I don’t have a budget?
Okay, if you don’t have a budget and you’re determined to hire an expert, you need to get one by first figuring out what you need.
It's time to take a road trip down to Baja for a summer surf safari for the week! Bring your boards, booze and buds. How much do you have to spend? Who cares! Budgets are for kooks!
Don’t be this guy! Get yourself a budget and a righteous Winnebago so your buds can enjoy the fun too!
How do you set a budget?
To set your benchmark monthly spend, work backwards up the sales funnel to figure out how many visitors your site will need to hit the number:
1. - Calculate your target revenue for a given campaign (or, if you’re starting from scratch, forecast your expected earnings from this channel over the next year).
2. - Calculate the number of new customers you need to hit that mark.
3. - Factor in your industry average of visitors needed to convert to customers (take the percentage and divide into 100). That’s the number of visitors you need (https://blog.strategic-ic.co.uk/number-leads-per-month)
Click the infographic above to view an enlarged version
4. - Multiply by the cost per click for your industry (https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/02/29/google-adwords-industry-benchmarks)
Click the infographic above to view an enlarged version
You can use the following sales conversion chart to easily calculate this number (https://www.strategic-ic.co.uk/inbound-marketing-roi-calculator)
That’s your budget.
So for example, if I have a $10,000 revenue target, and each customer is worth $50 in sales, I need 200 customers to hit my target. If my vertical is consumer products, I can expect .83% of my visitors to convert. In other words, I need 120 visitors to convert 1 customer. From there I know I need 2400 visitors to make $10,000. Which means for a CPC campaign I need to spend in the range of $6,500 to make that 10K. If I don’t have a website, I would need to take the plunge and add a reasonable cost of a website that will keep me below that $10K target. See #2 below.
It’s just a benchmark, but it helps you figure out the scale of money we are talking about so that you can see that for any substantial amount of money to be made, there will need to be significant money spent as well.
Basically, start with your destination, then work your way back to your budget.
5/14 Update: For more information, check out our latest post: How much should a website cost?
"I found someone who will do the same thing for $1,000"
So you’re looking for a ride for the trip, but you don’t know the difference between this:
Nice rack! But do you honestly think you’re gonna fit your 3 surf bros on the back of that scooter?
This is what happens when you price compare quotes from web designers and agencies without knowing how to vet a proposal.
Even worse, don’t take one designers’ scope of work and shop it around. Not only is it negotiating in bad faith, designers and developers know you don’t know what it means and will take your money and simply not deliver on someone else’s scope because they didn’t write it.
As a consultant myself, I often find clients who are frustrated because their website has no visitors and doesn’t convert the ones it gets. This is usually a case of them hiring a web designer without a consultant, and without the technical knowledge of what they should be buying.
Do this instead: If you are not technical, hire a consultant so they can vet the proposals and ask the right questions. Consider visiting your local Small Business Development Center where you can get free consultations and advice that will help you vet your various suitors.
You don’t know how much a Winn— that is, a quality custom website, should cost
Say you have the answer to the first question, and you decide that you definitely should be willing to part with more than a hundred dollars a year in website design and hosting costs. And you have a consultant in your corner who can help guide your purchase decisions. Should you go out and drop 30K on a website tomorrow? No, because 30K probably buys you more website than you need as a small business unless you’ve got more demanding requirements (e.g. a large online store).
So how much should a website set you back?
If you do a bit of research online, you will find that a custom site for a small business would end up running you anywhere from $1,000 – 10,000 dollars. Here’s a handy guide (online stores, booking, etc. not included):
Don’t spend your last penny on a website design if it means you will be cutting corners with security and maintenance (see #5 below). There is no shame in building your own website with a hosted web builder like WIX. Build a long-term plan for web and SEO into your overall marketing budget and see where that puts you.
"I just need an informational site"
If I had a quarter for every time I heard this one, I’d probably be able to feed the meter for 90 minutes (this is LA, after all)!
Seriously, it’s important to understand your customers’ journey map, where they are in the process when they find you, and what they need to see when they arrive.
Are your customers mobile, anxiously looking for you because they need information on the go? Are they killing time at work looking for last minute gift ideas? Are they looking for detailed information about your special events?
Questions to ask yourself:
Note: The answer to point number 4 above should not be hidden away down the page. It should be front and center, and always visible, like the number at the top of our site.
One of the most popular locations in Los Angeles for comedy shows has a horrifically slow website (if you have ever booked a show, you know exactly where this is). The amount of money they lose in sales due to people simply abandoning the process is probably quite high. Fortunately for them, they are an iconic location, and as long as they are booked solid, they can make their money charging $8 for bottles of water inside.
So the moral of the story is, if you have an iconic location and have headline acts every night this reason doesn’t apply. For everyone else, you’d better have a good idea what your customers need or you will lose business.
"I don’t want too many hits for XYZ keyword"
If you think that your problem is going to be too many clicks, simply by having certain words on your site, you’ve got a distorted vision of your website’s capacity to build traffic.
In other words:
"I don’t want to lift heavy because I don’t want to get big"
You need a plan to build traffic. It doesn’t (usually) happen automatically. Which means a combination of strong design, keyword optimizations, a content strategy, link building, ad spend, social media, and email campaign. A plan that integrates with your customer journey. A strong design is important for engagement, which Google prioritizes for search.
That’s a lot to take in. So just think of it this way:
That shiny new Winnebago? It isn’t going anywhere without any gas.
If you think of a website as a digital brochure you just kind of leave around for people to stumble upon if they happen to type in your exact business name, you’re probably better off going with WIX.
"Can’t I just pay you if something goes wrong?"
Is it really a smart idea to wait until your car is clunking and smoking down the highway before you give your mechanic a call? If you don’t plan to maintain your website, you’re better off with a hosted provider.
With WIX, if something goes wrong, that’s their problem. You keep paying your $8 a month and complain to Tech Support to fix it. And chances are it will get fixed pretty quickly.
Otherwise, you will either need to learn to perform IT tasks yourself to upgrade your software stack and back up your files, or you should hire someone to do it (often the same individual or company who built your website in the first place).
Like that car, if you don’t want to pay someone to keep your website up to code, you’re going to end up paying someone a lot more when your site stops running or is sending spam to your visitors. Not to mention, if you’re not watching your analytics on a daily basis, you won’t be seeing problems as they happen, and it could take weeks or months to self-diagnose the issue. By that point you may have lost thousands in sales as well as your reputation, not to mention the cost of repairing the website vs. simply restoring it.
You’re better off finding someone who can keep you backed up so you can keep your mind on more important matters.
Like finding your set.