This is going to be a rant. Not a week goes by that I don't have companies asking me how much we charge for a new website. The question itself raises an ugly red flag that typically means that it's a waste of time for me to pursue them as a client. Why? Because they're looking at a website as a static project that has a start and an endpoint. It's not… it's a medium that must be constantly optimized and tweaked.
Your Prospects Are Well Beyond Your Website
Let's start with why you even have a website to begin with. A website is a critical part of your overall digital presence where your reputation is built and you can provide much-needed information to potential clients. For any business, their digital presence isn't just their website… it includes:
- Directory Sites – do they appear on the sites where people are searching for their product or service? Perhaps it's Angi, Yelp, or other quality directories.
- Ratings and Review Sites – Along with directories, do they appear on review sites and are they managing that reputation well? Are they soliciting reviews, responding to them, and correcting poor reviews?
- YouTube – Do they have videos on YouTube that are targeted towards their market and industry? YouTube is the second largest search engine and video is a critical medium.
- Influencer Sites – Are there influential sites and personalities that have a wide following from a shared audience? Are you pursuing getting recognized on those sites?
- Search Engines – Buyers are actively looking for information online to help them in their decision-making process. Are you present where they're looking? Do you have a content library that's consistently up to date?
- Social Media – Buyers are watching for organizations online that are providing ongoing value and responsive to customers. Are you actively assisting people on social channels and in online groups?
- Email Marketing – Are you developing journeys, informational newsletters, and other outbound communication media that helps prospective buyers navigate the journey?
- Advertising – understanding where and how much effort and budget should be applied to acquire new leads throughout the internet should never be ignored.
Coordinating your digital presence across every medium and channel is an absolute necessity nowadays and it's well beyond just building a new website.
Your Website Should Never Be Done
Your website is never done. Why? Because the industry that you work in is continuing to change. Having a website is like having a ship that you're navigating open waters with. You need to constantly adjust to the conditions – whether it's competitors, buyers, search engine algorithms, emerging technologies, or even your new products and services. You must continue to adjust your navigation to succeed at attracting, informing, and converting visitors.
Need another analogy? It's like asking someone, “How much does it cost to get healthy?” Getting healthy requires eating healthy, exercising, and building momentum over time. Sometimes there are setbacks with injuries. Sometimes there are illnesses. But getting healthy doesn't have an endpoint, it requires continuous maintenance and adjustment as we grow older.
There are a number of changes that constantly need to be measured, analyzed, and optimized on your website:
- Competitive Analysis – adjustment and optimization to differentiate yourself from your competition. As they produce offers, share recognition, and adjust their product and service offerings, so much you.
- Conversion Optimization – is your trend for collecting leads or customers increasing or decreasing? How are you making it easier? Do you have chat? Click-to-Call? Easy-to-use forms?
- Emerging Technologies – as new technologies are becoming expected, are you implementing them? Today's website visitor has far different expectations, wanting to self-serve. One great example is appointment scheduling.
- Design Advancements – bandwidth, devices, screen sizes… technology continues to advance and designing a user experience that accommodates these changes requires constant change.
- Search Engine Optimization – directories, information sites, publications, news sites, and your competitors are all trying to beat you in search engines because those users have the greatest intent to purchase. Monitoring your keyword rankings and optimizing your content is critical to keeping on top of this critical medium.
Whatever marketing agency or professional you hire should be keenly aware of your industry, your competition, your differentiation, your products and services, your branding, and your communication strategy. They shouldn't simply be mocking up a design and then pricing out the implementation of that design. If that's all they're doing, you should find a new marketing partner to work with.
Invest In A Digital Marketing Process, Not Project
Your website is a combination of the technology, the design, the migration, the integrations, and – of course – your content. The day your new website is live isn't the endpoint of your digital marketing project, it's literally Day 1 of building a better digital marketing presence. You should be working with a partner that is helping you to identify the overall deployment plan, prioritizing each stage, and helping to execute that.
Whether that's an advertising campaign, developing a video strategy, mapping out customer journeys, or designing a landing page… you should be investing in a partner that understands how everything works together. My recommendation would be to toss your website budget and, instead, determine an investment you wish to make each month to continue to execute your digital marketing strategy.
Yes, building a new website can be part of that overall strategy, but it's a continuous improvement process… not a project that should ever be completed.