When we quote $25K to build a website, some people get a bad case of sticker shock: I can get a website for $5K! Why should I pay $25K?
This reaction is understandable, because many companies have no way to know why a $25K site is five times more valuable than a $5K site. In this post, I’ll run through some of the most important reasons. By the end, you may feel a $25K site is ten times more valuable.
The importance of content cannot be overstressed. Since content marketing has become the fuel behind a number of critical Internet marketing activities, high-quality content is essential, not only for website branding, but also for SEO, lead generation, social media community building and establishing credibility. A five- or 10-page site with minimal content won’t get you to first base in any of these areas.
Copywriting normally does not come with a $5K site; if it does, the scope will be limited to a handful of pages. However, to make your site persuasive and to project a professional image, content must be well written, accurate, grammatically correct, optimized for search (SEO), authoritative, relevant, customer-focused, scannable and sharable. It takes an enormous amount of time, research and skill to create powerful content, and yet without it, your site will make a neutral or negative impression on customers and prospects.
How much is a positive impression worth?
For $5K, you won’t get a well-optimized site — if it’s optimized at all. The small shops or freelancers that build $5K sites may be gifted designers and programmers, but normally their understanding of SEO is limited. And, even if you’re lucky enough to find a developer with extensive knowledge of SEO, for $5K, you won’t be able to afford much optimization.
Typically, $5K sites do not include thorough (or even cursory) keyword research — and by extension, lack optimized title tags, description tags and content. It’s fair to say that competitors that invest in a $25K site stand to capture at least five times more search engine traffic that you will.
And speaking of search traffic market share, let’s circle back to content one last time. The more pages your site has, the more keywords the site can be optimized for. $25K buys you more pages and more keywords, contributing significantly to a larger share of relevant organic search traffic.
A $5K site built in WordPress or similar CMS comes equipped with basic functionality, but many firms need much more than that. For instance, if a business wants to integrate its website with its CRM system, extensive back-end programming may be required. This will go way beyond a $5K price tag (and sometimes way beyond a $25K price tag).
This raises another important drawback of the $5K site: lack of scalability. Maybe today you don’t need to integrate your site with CRM. But what if you do in the next three years? A $25K site will be supported by a team of back-end developers capable of growing with your business, whereas small shops lack the back-end development skills to scale the project now or later. It’s much easier, faster and less expensive to build new functionality on a robust platform than to start all over from scratch.
If your business is interested in getting leads, the “Contact Us” call to action on a $5K site won’t be much help. On the other hand, a $25K site that is optimized for conversion will have enticing offers that are well presented and well positioned on the page. Other conversion optimization techniques will be woven into the content and design of the site as well. The result: the increased traffic that comes from SEO and professional copywriting will produce more sales leads.
The value of a sales lead varies from firm to firm, but if the lifetime value of a customer is $20K, it only takes one additional conversion to justify a $25K site over a $5K site.
As powerful as copywriting, SEO and conversion optimization are, lead tracking — another integral part of a $25K site — allows your firm to continuously improve its marketing effectiveness and lead generation. Which marketing channels are driving the most phone calls? Which keywords are driving the most form submissions? Which leads are true sales leads versus spam calls or junk form submissions?
Lead tracking functionality answers questions like these, enabling you to put more effort into marketing that works and cut your losses on marketing that doesn’t. With a $5K site, you will never have more than a vague grasp on the value of your Internet marketing campaigns.
If you’re working with a freelancer or small shop that disappears a year down the road — then what? We’ve seen firms get completely hamstrung because they can no longer make changes to their sites or add functionality that has suddenly become critically important.
In contrast, $25K site projects tend to be handled by larger agencies with much greater depth and stability. It can be a costly miscalculation to be so enamored with a clever design that other considerations, such as ongoing support, are overlooked.
$5K Budget and $25K Aspirations
Many a time, a firm signs up for a $5K site, only to discover a month into the project that they really want the $25K product I’ve outlined above. Now, the firm is faced with two unpleasant options: settle for less or walk away from the project and start all over with another developer.
This can all be avoided by starting your website project by asking the very question in the title of this post: What is the difference between a $5K and a $25K website?
If you know what you want the site to accomplish, you can then have website companies bid on your project based on the right specifications. And, because you already know the value of what you want, there won’t be any sticker shock to ruin your day.
Business websites: You get what you pay for.
(This post was originally published on the Straight North Blog)