$60,000 Mugging

By: Paul Lorinczi

I was referred to a prospective client recently that had their website redesigned. They paid $60,000 for a site that really does nothing for them. It is a simple brochure site that provides visitors nothing and it certainly does nothing to convert traffic into sales. Since all their budget went to design, they have no money left over to properly market the site. Mistake #1, don't pay $60,000 for a branding exercise.

A corporate website is about supporting the business. The beauty of the Internet is there is no guessing. You can measure pretty much anything. What are you trying to accomplish? Increase traffic? Generate leads? Increase sales? If it is yes to one of these questions, then a $60,000 investment should get you another $600,00 to your bottom-line? Can a brochure site deliver a 80-95% ROI?

Web design is a commodity today. The cost of design should represent about 25% of your total spend. Design costs are competitive today, so spending more than you have to should be the last thing you do. There are excellent open source Content Management Systems (CMS) that give you the power to manage your own content. The cost of the software is $0 to you. We recommend using either Plone or Joomla. Both of these platforms provide you with Web 2.0 compliant back-end at low cost for setup and maintenance.

The value in web design is working with companies that can properly market what you do. To properly market the site, you should be spending 10-12x what you should spend in design. So, it is possible to get a Web 2.0 website at an affordable cost. If you are a small company that is spending $4,000-$8,000 on a basic website, you should plan over 12 months to spend an additional $30,000-$80,000 on marketing. The dollars spent on marketing brings the traffic to the site. Simple rule, more traffic through the front door means more business.

Unlike other advertising, you can control your spend and measure your ROI pretty quickly. You can turn your marketing dollars on and off depending on the performance, it is all measurable.

DeFabis Photography is an example of a client that went through the redesign process. We built a Search Engine Friendly website that allows him to manage content on the site. Prior to working with us, his website was not listed in the top 100 on Google for the popular keywords. Since working with us, his visitors and page views have increased. But most important, he has doubled his bookings from this time last year. And, he did not spend $60,000 on his web design.

If you need help in evaluating a prospective vendor, here are some question that may help you understand their knowledge:

1. How do capture visitor traffic off the Internet? Can you track their movement through my site? If so, how?
2. How do manage pay per click advertising dollars to ensure I am maximizing my spend and not wasting money?
3. How do you measure whether my site is friendly to my users?
4. How many page views would you estimate my site would get to determine the right level of hosting?
5. What things will you need to change on my website? What things can I change on my own?
6. If I want to change the look, does it require changes to the backend scripting on the site?
7. What will it take to add a new page to match an ad we are running to the new site? For instance, I want to advertise a special and build a page specific for it, what will it take for us to do this?
8. What do you anticipate the average cost per lead for the website to be?
9. Who owns the source code to the site?

So, think about your objectives. Think about what you want to accomplish and spend your money according to the results you want to achieve. A pretty website just does not generate the type of results you should and can get using the Internet. Don't get mugged for $60,000. It's bad for your business.

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Paul Lorinczi is a Partner in Indy Associates, an Internet Marketing Consulting firm located in Indianapolis, IN. Visit their website at: www.indyassociates.com

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