A website doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Actually, very simple websites, between $400-$800, can do wonders in improving conversions and lead generation. (It’s not all about flash and glam. It’s all about content, quality content, accessible content and a simple strategy to convert visitors based on that content.) Of course, if you have a very complex idea and it requires complex features you could be looking upwards of $30,000, but as a small business looking to get into online marketing this won’t be the case.
Rule of Thirds
Before we talk about how much to actually spend we should lay down some ground rules about online marketing, specifically the Rule of Thirds. I read about the Rule of Thirds in a great book, Guerrilla Marketing, written by Jay Conrad Levinson. The Rule of Thirds basically states:
- One third to build
- One third to maintain
- One third to market
So many times I’ve heard from clients, “I have a website, but it doesn’t do anything for my business.” After asking them if they had marketed the website they stare back with a blank face.
A website is just like your store, except online; For anyone to find your website, like your store, you will need to be able to maintain and market it.
How much should I spend?
The answer is part subjective, but should always be rooted in your business’ budget. If you are already online then you probably have a budget for online marketing, if not, then you’ll have to make a decision how much of your business you want to move online.
Based on today’s marketplace I recommend moving at least one third of your marketing budget to efforts online. If you sell a product that you can ship to buyers, shift closer to 40%. If you offer a service based on reputation, shift 30%.
The first year concentrate on getting up and running. After the first year you can decide how to change that number or more importantly your strategy to be more productive.
If you spend $90,000 per year in marketing and advertising, it should translate to about $30,000 in online marketing. That includes your website, social media, banner ads, email marketing etc… Now apply the Rule of Thirds.
- $10,000 should go to creating and building your website, social media platforms, graphic design and all other marketing and advertising channels
- $10,000 should go to maintaining those channels. Nothing is constant, especially the web. This money should be used to analyze the results of your marketing efforts and make changes. Site redesigns, feature expansions, social media campaign changes.
- $10,000 should go to marketing your website and web profiles. This includes buying ad banners, Facebook ads, paying for your email marketing platform, print ads that push people to your website site, paying for social media management, etc…
The idea here isn’t that you need $30,000, but that you should spend only what you have. Having a website with a lot of bells and whistles is great, but if you can’t tell anyone about it what’s the use of having it. If you only have $3,000 to spend in online marketing that’s fine. That’s still $1,000 to build a website, setup social media profiles and any other channels you would need.
Be proactive and tweak constantly
Throughout your marketing efforts you should be collecting data and analyzing it to see which efforts are most effective. I’m a big proponent of the 80-20 rule, when applied to business states:
“80% of revenue will come from 20% of sources”.
This means that after month 3, 6, 9 or 12, you will have a lot of data telling you which channels bring you the most revenue. And those channels will only be 20% of all your efforts. Does this mean you should drop all other efforts? Probably not, but it means that you should be spending 80% of your time and money on the 20% of efforts that bring you the most revenue and spend only 20% of your time and money on the rest.
This will ensure that you are using your marketing budget on the most effective channels and should see a greater return for doing so.
Who should I spend the money with?
Finding a designer, marketer, or developer isn’t easy. I was just talking with a client and said, “Finding a partner is like shopping for a car, you take them for test drives.” My advice, don’t put all your money in one basket and don’t make the first project the “big one”.
Spread your projects out among multiple solutions and see which ones do the best work and weed out the ones that cannot hit deadlines, have hidden fees or raise their rates mid project. Then move forward supplying the remainder with larger projects and larger projects until either all of your piece are built or you have one or two partners that do all of your work.
KISS Pt.4 will touch on ecommerce opportunities and solutions and Pt.5 will talk design.