Investing in a Professionally Developed Website
A good website holds more value than you think
When clients approach us to redesign their website, they’re often quick to talk about cost. And why shouldn’t they? It’s an important consideration. When small or medium-sized businesses compete with large enterprises, they often do so with a limited budget and they face an uphill battle for brand awareness. But to really understand the cost to your organization, you should also understand the tremendous opportunity of having a strong web presence.
Websites can be powerful advertisements for your business, but they’re also unique in that they serve as a digital address or storefront. As the old marketing cliché goes, “location, location, location.” This goes for businesses of all shapes and sizes. And in the case of ecommerce, your site serves as a silent salesperson—a free employee working day and night to help sell your products and services.
A professional digital presence that speaks to your target audience will make a much greater impact than a billboard, a van wrap, or a social account. A digital identity also fosters trust and legitimacy. And because large enterprises are slow to embrace change, an up-to-date website can give small to medium-sized enterprises an advantage.
In this article, we’ll go over what to consider when budgeting for a website that represents your brand accurately—and shed some light on opportunities an enterprise-level site presents.
The 10% rule
There are of course many rules to follow in advertising, but one that comes up often is budget allocation. The rule of thumb being, and according to the Business Development Bank of Canada, a business should spend 10% of their revenue on marketing. This is especially true for B2C enterprises, new brands, or when rebranding.
But marketing is tough.
Advertising doesn’t always translate into immediate results and it can be hard to track those results. And while that isn’t true with online marketing (thanks to a plethora of available tracking tools), it might as well be, since most small to medium-sized enterprises have neither the time or expertise to find, set up, and understand this data. With low attribution, it seems like an easy place to save money.
A powerful marketing tool.
Whether you’re marketing to consumers, other businesses, investors, or other stakeholders, your website is likely to be one of your most powerful marketing tools. It’s a source of incredibly rich data about your audiences, a powerful sales and lead generation tool, and an easy means to share information.
According to HubSpot’s 2021 State of Marketing Report, companies rely on websites for their marketing second only to social media. And in fact, websites were the number one source of marketing the previous year, making this statement a close call.
But unlike social media, you own your website. In our opinion, that makes your website the most valuable marketing asset you have (next to your brand itself). And it makes investing in a world-class online presence, a no-brainer.
“Your website [may be] the most valuable marketing asset you have (next to your brand itself).”
Moreover, according to this same report, when marketers analyze performance—including on social media—they often correlate it to their overall web traffic. Social media is, more often than not, a means to drive traffic to, you guessed it, your website.
Add your website to your list of business assets
Aside from the immediate benefits you’ll gain from having a strong website, there’s also a case to be made for its value as an asset. Websites, especially attractive, well-ranking websites, have residual value.
Other marketing strategies don’t stand the same test of time. A radio campaign, for instance, costs money upfront. Once it’s done, it has zero residual value. Similarly, social media might generate attention, but it’s difficult to assign a value because it’s owned by someone else. Your website is something you own. You own your website.
Accordingly, you can expect more and more buyouts to include due diligence around the value and traffic of your website. And like curb appeal, you can expect more and more goodwill to be based on your website’s overall appearance and user experience.
A quick word on amortization
It used to be that a website would generally last around five years before it needed an overhaul. That seemed to be how long it took for design trends and technology to change and by then, most business goals would have also changed. This was a helpful figure in calculating the cost per year of a website, with the logic being that you could and should amortize the total cost of a higher quality website over that timeframe. In other words, it’s easier to rationalize a $20k marketing expense per year than a one time project for $100k.
For established businesses in less competitive marketplaces that are living comfortably a little behind the trends, this logic may still stand. But for newer businesses in competitive marketplaces, change is required much more frequently. Getting the right website to start with hasn’t gotten cheaper, but the need and routine investment necessary to keep your website up-to-date has grown. That’s where WebOps (website operations) comes in.
Maintaining your website keeps it relevant
While a website may last upwards of five years before it’s more or less outdated, this doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. Websites need maintenance just like anything else. Below are a few examples of the maintenance we consider essential.
Software updates. Updating your software on a regular basis prevents your website from crashing and minimizes the risk of privacy breaches and break-ins.
Content updates. Your branding might remain the same for the next five years, but the content on your website should be updated regularly to reflect your current business needs.
Fresh photography. Did you recently change the look of your space or products? Your photos should reflect that.
Relevant Information. Fresh content is especially important for e-commerce websites. Where products or services change, copy should be updated.
SEO. To stay ahead of the competition on search engines, we regularly update and optimize certain aspects of your website such as headlines, photo captions, and content.
Consider your long term revenue objectives
A powerful online presence supports long-term revenue objectives in a variety of ways. For one, it builds brand awareness. A unique, branded experience attracts new customers. You can get an idea of the amount of traffic searching for your products or services, using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends. Needless to say, even with niche products or small markets, there is a lot of quality traffic.
But even if your organization is built on referrals, your customers will still visit your website after they’ve been referred to your business. This due diligence provides a great opportunity to communicate your values, build trust, and qualify those leads.
That traffic—whether new, repeat, or referral—drives sales. Conventional wisdom suggests that an average from 2 to 5% of your traffic will convert. That’s drastically higher than any social, radio, billboard, or television commercial. But it’s also impacted drastically by the user experience offered by your website and the quality of your content.
The era of online shopping
Online shopping is one of the greatest modern conveniences. Within a few clicks, you can narrow your search, read product descriptions and reviews, and have your goods sent directly to your doorstep. This approach to shopping has been going on for decades now.
But these past two years have proven that online shopping can actually be the holy grail of businesses. We’ve learned that all business transactions can be conducted entirely online.
The pandemic created an enormous shift towards online transactions. Here in BC, the government even provided grants to businesses to support their efforts to move online and organizations like Small Business BC invested heavily in programs like Marketplace BC to make it easier for small businesses to get found online. We worked with a wide variety of businesses to help them sell more online.
It’s simple: people rely on the web to find information. The sooner businesses realize this, the more profit they’ll make. These stats by BigCommerce support this entirely.
- 43% of global shoppers research products online before purchasing them.
- 22% of sales worldwide will be conducted via ecommerce platforms by 2023.
- 75% of people shop online at least once a month.
Not only are websites the way forward for businesses, it also makes it easier to track data. For instance, business owners can see how long customers are spending looking at certain product collections.
And finally, the pitch.
Budget a lot.
But be honest about the value and expectations you set for the website. How important will it be (or can it be) to your business. How many leads or sales can it generate? What will it take to outperform your competitors? What sort of asset can it become? How much value would a silent salesperson add to your business? How can it streamline your processes?
Be prepared to answer those questions before arriving at a budget that makes sense for your organization, or speak with an account manager who can help. If you’re willing to invest the money it’s worth, you’re guaranteed to be satisfied with the results.