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How Much Should I Spend on My Website?

How do you plan to use your website?

Some business owners plan to use their website to acquire customers or generate leads and expect it to act as a 24/7 sales person. Other business owners plan to use their website as more of a secondary marketing tool, a place to send prospects after they have made contact through a face-to-face meeting or a phone call. Either way, your website is going to account for a percentage of your annual budget.

If you plan to use your site as a secondary marketing tool, then you may only need a static website. Static websites are usually under 15 pages and do not include a content management system. It is like an online brochure. You will want it to have a polished, professional look because it does represent your business, but you may not need any interactive features. It is simply a place prospective customers can go to learn more about your business and decide if they wish to contact you. Make sure that the graphics and colors are impressive and that you have the right look and feel because your site could be the determining factor in your prospective customer deciding to go with you or not.

If you plan to use your website as a primary marketing tool, then obviously you will want to allocate a greater percentage of your advertising budget towards it. You will probably want some interactive features such as a contact form or a search feature which will make the cost of your site go up, but if you plan to use your site as a marketing tool, you must invest the money to get it right, otherwise you will convert very few visitors into customers.

How much to spend on marketing?
You will also want to allocate a portion of your budget for marketing. Many business owners are still under the impression that simply building a website is enough to start generating business online. This is not true unless you happen to be in an extremely niche market with few competitors. For everyone else, showing up high in the search engine results requires an investment of time and money.

It is important when starting out, to properly allocate your web design and marketing budget. If for example, you have a $10,000 budget for the first year, you don't want to spend $1,000 on your website and the other $9,000 on advertising because you will probably have a low conversion rate. If you're going to spend money sending people to your website, you want it to represent your business well and for that, you won't want to scrimp on the design. On the other hand, you cannot spend all your money on the design and not have any left for marketing.

How to divide up your online advertising budget
A good way to determine how to carve up your web design and advertising budget is based on how long you've been in business and how you're planning to use your site.

If you are an established business looking for a website redesign, then you will want to spend more on the marketing than on the website, approximately a 70/30 split. If it's a new business, you will want it to be more evenly split, approximately 50/50. For a business that relies solely on the website for its income, such as an ecommerce site with no brick and mortar storefront, an a little less on the marketing and more on the website. Approximately a 40/60 split would be reasonable.

Choosing a designer

When you contact a designer to create your website, make sure they take the time to sit down with you and get to know you and your business. You will want someone who understands how you plan to use your website. After all, you don't need an expensive custom-designed site with a plethora of interactive features if you're planning to use your site as an online brochure. If you plan to use your site as a primary marketing tool, then it needs to have all the necessary features to convert prospects into customers.

Kevin Kielty writes for Internet Marketing Advantage in Raleigh. Web design is his area of expertise. Internet Marketing Advantage specializes in website design Raleigh. raleighseocompany.net

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