There are a lot of free tools out there today to help you get a website up and running. WordPress is one of the most common content management systems for building websites and it’s free.

There are many themes and templates available to help you put up a website pretty cheaply if free is the answer you are really looking for.

But let’s look beyond marketing strategy

If you canvassed 10 business owners right this minute, 5.5 of them would have a website according to Google only 55% of the businesses in Canada today have a website.

And if you asked those same 5.5 business owners if their website was helping them achieve their business goals, they would pause and in most cases say no.

Yet in a 2014 study conducted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority they say that 75% of Canadians research purchases online. In the business-to-business space, we estimate that percentage to be even higher. Various research reports we have seen cite estimates as high as 98%.

The Incredible Disconnect

If you knew a tool like your website was being used to start the sales process with your company, how much would you spend on your website?

  1. Nothing (you want it for free)
  2. The same amount you spend on your company brochure
  3. The same amount you spend on your receptionist
  4. The same amount you spend on a sales person

I know your website can’t make coffee but it is greeting potential customers and it is starting the sales process. So if you are not spending the same amount of money, time and effort that you are on one of your sales people, you are missing a huge opportunity.

From $0 to $100,000 Annually

So what should a website really cost? Assuming your website at the very least contains:

  • A representation of your brand
  • A description of your company
  • A way to contact your company
  • A detailed explanation of why you should buy from your company and not the competition

Assign a value of $10,000 if you have all of the above.

+ add $30,000 if your site provides a way to interact with your company such as a download, form, quote tool or mechanism other than a number to call;

+ add $20,000 if your site uses email marketing to push out content such as press releases, blogs or newsletters to alert people to new products or services at your company;

+ add $40,000 if you are actively alerting people via social media, group couponing, directories, portals or other places online on a weekly basis;

TOTAL = $100,000

Here’s the Rationale

  • If you were to hire a designer to build you a glossy 20 page, eight by ten corporate brochure complete with copywriting, photography, printed 1,000 and distributed them across the geographic territory you serve monthly, you would likely pay about $10,000. But your website is performing that same function and working much harder for you from a distribution perspective. The average website receives 1,000 visitors per month and is open for those visitors 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Brochures, flyers and pamphlets cannot compare to the reach of today’s website.
  • Using your website as a way to contact your company and interact with your business is the equivalent of a full time receptionist and part time sales rep. Offering sophisticated ways to connect with your company online including tracking and analyzing content popularity and time on page, is an excellent way to gage how well people understand your company and what you do.
  • If you are also using your website and web presence as a way to push out content and connect with unknown prospects looking for your products or services, you are building a lead generation engine for your business that would cost much more to build and provide lower ROI. Telemarketing, direct mail, print advertising and other traditional forms of marketing cost much more in terms of time, money and resources and are producing poorer results across the board.
  • If you are finding other places on the web to go and actively network online and drive traffic back to your website, this is the equivalent of about three people in your company networking and trying to connect with prospects. The real cost of this effort is one that doesn’t get tracked at many companies but it’s costly and doesn’t help the business scale.

You need to look at your website as an employee: an employee who is there 24 hours a day, seven days a week and working hard for you. How much would you invest in an employee like this?

Even if you are a business that doesn’t have sales people, support staff or marketing material, there is still a hard cost to selling something. The things you are doing today to support the sale of your product or service can be supported more effectively with a well-organized website and detailed digital marketing strategy.

If you are a business with more than $1,000,000 dollars in sales, you should be spending at least 5% of your annual revenue on the resources and costs associated with a digital marketing strategy for your business. You may have to stop doing other things with respect to sales and marketing but over the long run, I guarantee the results will be better and the return on investment greater. If 75% to 98% of people start their buying journey on a website, why are you cheaping out?

Are you investing in a brochure or sales tool?

Many business owners we speak to tell us the reason they don’t spend time, money or resources to improve their websites and the digital experience for potential customers is that it’s hard to figure out what to do online and who to hire. We tend to agree. There are a lot of people today who are selling digital marketing solutions that seem like cost without ROI. That’s because they are just that – a tool that is not tied back to business goals and objectives.

When you take the time to discern who you are selling to and how they want to interact and learn about you online, your ROI goes up tenfold. So instead of just building a website, think about building an online lead generation and lead nurturing tool that starts, enhances and fulfills the buyer journey.

Whether you like it or not, today’s reality is that people are looking for you online. A website costs as much as you are willing to spend on it but are you investing in a brochure or a sales tool? There’s a big difference. Food for thought!