If you want to effectively market your business online, then you need to get things done WITHOUT wasting time and money or risking not reaching your goal at all.
Like any marketing, web development costs need to be weighed against the leads and the money that comes in from it.
3 basic things to consider –
- A website is only part of an online strategy that involves apps like email & SMS marketers. The learning curve can’t be so complicated or the workflow so time consuming that nothing gets done.
- You need a website that loads fast enough so people don’t get sick of waiting, so it’s usually worth paying more for good website hosting ( maybe a virtual private server ).
- Being found in search results can provide really targeted prospects – but getting onto page one for useful search phrases usually takes a LOT of effort ( I find since 2018 it generally isn’t viable as the major source of traffic for most businesses ).
The ideal system is one that allows new people to find you easily online, gains their interest in what you’re offering and allows you to stay connected to them and help them out … with the least effort and so that it actually get’s done.
Here’s a standard recommendation that we make for a lot of businesses that are taking the next step beyond having just a business-card website …
Using the Best Website Platform
A platform can be any software that you use to build on.
Websites built from the ground up with a custom CMS ( content management system ) or built using Microsoft’s ASP.NET tech are still around and needed sometimes ( we used to build our own CMSes too in 2003 – 2007 ) but the trade-offs are now big.
Developing a website with community-developed, open-source CMSes, like Joomla, Drupal and WordPress that use a bunch of tech called LAMP has huge advantages …
- They’re maintained at the cutting edge of tech with constant improvements.
- There’s a HUGE amount of 3rd party software available that bolts-on and is stacks cheaper than re-inventing custom stuff.
Fast and easy workflow is a major factor in getting things done. There’s a reason that almost 1 in 3 websites on the net ( and 37% of CMS websites ) are now built on WordPress. It lets you get the most done for the least effort and faster.
Adding a few extensions made by marketers for marketers, there is no comparison on the market for the speed and ease of setting up all aspects of online marketing.
Today, wherever possible in online marketing, use WordPress.
Not all hosts are equal and some are too difficult to work with and/or run websites too slow. ASP sites inherently runs faster than WordPress on LAMP, but unless it’s a site with a huge amount of use ( like a bank ) it’s not an issue.
Suggested LAMP hosting to start off … https://www.fastcomet.com … and once the site’s done & tested, if it needs a speedup the server can be upgraded to Cloud VPS with the same host.
Early this century the internet was new and the selling online was a different flow to normal. People would click any button & sales were easy ( and in SEO – search engine optimisation – keyword-stuffing page text would move pages up in search results ).
Today online marketing duplicates the real world very closely where people need to become aware of you before they take any significant action like leaving an email address. And then actually spending money with you is a couple of steps on from that.
Website Design / Layout
There’s no point spending money on ads if the website doesn’t convert visitors into leads. There needs to be :
- An offer to exchange for contact info like an email address or phone number. Then you can build a central files of prospects, which is the biggest asset a business can have.
- Guarantees ( which still work ).
- Accreditation seals & testimonials.
Adds from publishing platforms like Facebook, Google, Linked In etc. need to be run to the correct people ( that can be targeted in these platforms ). When people click on an add they need to be sent to an appropriate page on the website ( not the home page ).
Pages for new people ( who don’t know you ) need to promote differently to these new guys than pages written for people who know & have dealt with you before.
- Give new people a good no-brainer offer to contact you or leave a number and email and new people need to be sent to pages that do that.
- Give existing & previous clients offers that suit them.
SEO ( Search Engine Optimization )
SEO is only one of many ways to get people to a website. Google is a supercomputer that now uses machine-learning to understand what a page is about and search results often return pages that don’t contain the words you search with.
Google checks over 200 things, as best we can tell in ordering the search results. Out of these, the balance has shifted back to more weight on the website content and less on external links back to the website from other websites.
The factors also include activity on the website – both updates to and increases in number of pages, and traffic to the site. I’ve had a lot of pages on other websites move higher after running paid adds to them.
With tens-of-thousands of employees who inspect websites flagged automatically as looking dodgy, it’s not possible to game Google. You can do good SEO, but after concentrating on SEO for 7 years, we now find the amount of work needed is unviable for most new clients as their main source of traffic.
A promotion budget is usually better spent on paid traffic, and currently Facebook with it’s incredible targeting options is a marketer’s dream. We usually start with Facebook, because of this and that it’s cheaper, then duplicate successful ads on other platforms afterwards.
SEO shouldn’t be overlooked, because it gives you highly targeted leads. But it should be only one of a number of traffic streams.
9 Steps to Balancing Web Development Costs
OK so they’re not totally copy & paste, but following these in the correct order will get you an effective product. They’re based on the recommendations I’ve covered above.
- Find out what the people who are your best prospects like. Follow the steps in this online research plan. If possible, survey existing clients to find out what they want re: the website and services. If 90% want a black website offering free coffee with a job, then we need to know that and make the website black and offer a free coffee deal on the website & in the search results and paid ads.
- Work out the strategy and how to measure results.
- Based on the survey & known marketing best practices, work out the site graphic design & structure.
- Build the site with WordPress and proven 3rd-party extensions.
- When the website’s OK, then make it live.
- Coach someone on maintaining content and on-site SEO ( there’s an app developed by a top internet marketer that installs in WordPress and coaches the user through what to do ). OR hire someone who can run the site for you while staying in good coordination with you.
- Test a campaign, probably with Facebook ads, but maybe with a Google Ad or one of the smaller ad networks.
- Based on results, expand or move the campaign to other platforms.
- Build a bigger central files and stay in touch with your contacts & clients consistently either by email or SMS ( whichever is found to be appropriate for your clients ).
Web development & marketing costs should always be weighed against the profit. So work out an estimate of expected profit and then a rough value of a visitor to your website. Then track everything as best as you can all the time so that you’re not losing money.