There are some fundamental questions you should ask yourself before building a website and I have put a few below;
What is the purpose of the website?
In my opinion the most important question and in my experience the one that the owner rarely asks themselves……The amount of times I speak to someone because their website is not delivering what they thought It would, I say “what’s the purpose of this site? and what do you want from the user?” they do not have an answer I end up telling them……seriously!!
Perfect example; someone has a site to sell a service – this site should be all about generating leads for the sales team to follow up, yet they have no form on the site, no call to action and to find the telephone number you need to be Sherlock homes! The owner is often thinking of themselves and what they like the look of aesthetically, they are not thinking about what they want from the user and how to get it.
Offering something to the user is such a good way of getting what you want i.e. a simple form asking for a name and email is not going to be completed if the user is just having a browse for some information……Offer them the option to download a free ebook full of useful information and all of a sudden, they are entering their details quicker than you can get the team to call them. I could go on for days and days about sites not fulfilling their purpose but I’ll save that for now!
What is your budget?
People are often in dream land when it comes to what they want to achieve from a website and the budget they have. The unfortunate truth in telling people to forget the idea and put the money on a horse does not always go down to well……only joking even if that is what I’m thinking!
I have people that want to start the next big consumer electronics store and their budget is $5k – it is just not going to happen. What people often forget is that building the website is just the first stage – you can have a fantastic site with quality products priced competitively with your competition, but not make a single sale and you scratch your head and wonder why?…well mystery solved…Nobody can see it!
That’s right, without the right marketing and advertising campaign your site will not succeed. Unfortunately, your huge social media network of 600 people – made up of family and old school friends – oh not to forget that lifelong friend you made in South East Asia is extremely unlikely to cut it when it comes to launching the next big consumer electronics company! – Especially when Harvey Normans weekend sale is selling that 58” Samsung TV for under a $1000 and it costs you more just to land it in Australia!
See my point? – The fact is, running a successful e commerce site involves monthly advertising and marketing and people just do not always allow for this. If only you could pay your bond and months’ rent to move into that commercial space and never pay another cent but keep that prime position wouldn’t that be a wonderful world?!
The fact is if your competing with the big boys then you need big boy budgets or they will quite literally squash your chances! So how much does it cost? – well that all depends on the niche you are looking to compete in and knowing your competition. If you want my opinion on it then leave a comment or contact me directly.
Advertising and marketing of the site.
As I said earlier, building a site without ways to advertise and market it would quite simply be a waste of your time. The only scenario where this would be worth doing, and the only one I have ever come across is when you already have the network that you need and the only reason you have the site is to put on a business card or to show the existing network that you have one. For the other 99.9% of us we need to get the website noticed!
Compared to the old days, there are hundreds of ways to advertise your site. I have listed below some of the most common ways of advertising and marketing your site. Remember there is no way you can do all of these on your own so you should focus on specific areas that best suit your business and master them. Too many people try 5 different ways of advertising at once and succeed at none. The phrase “Jack of all trades master of none”, springs to mind.
Hiring the right team can be the difference between success and failure – The one thing that you should ask yourself with any money spent on promotion should be ROI (return on investment) and this is where so many individuals and agencies get it wrong. A digital agency may think they are performing well by bringing you 1000 new visitors every month but this is irrelevant if you are not seeing ROI.
i.e. An agency brings you 1000 new visitors a month through an AdWords campaign- this brings you an extra $2000.00 profit – it sounds great……. but the campaign is costing $3000.00 per month…. No good!
Don’t over complicate it, it’s pretty simple. How much are you spending? How much are you getting back?
Social media – The new player to join the game!
with the likes of Facebook/Instagram/You Tube and Twitter you can start of your campaign with relatively little training and a budget of $5 per day! You’ll find there are professionals in every area and social media marketing is now a full-time job…..That’s right the good ones are paid in excess of 100k per annum to tell you that a kangaroo was seen shopping in Coles on the Gold Coast!
But on a serious note – a good social media campaign can have such an impact on the right business that 100k per annum may seem like peanuts for the revenue it can bring – Engaging your audience through social media is key to long term success
AdWords – Google we cannot forget this powerhouse!
A good AdWords campaign can work wonders for your business – It is straightforward, for those of you that are new and it goes a little something like this;
You have an ecommerce site based on the Gold Coast selling bean bags – the search term “buy bean bags Gold coast” would be a good search term, right? So you pay Google a price per click…. there are lots of variable that go into this cost pending on the demand and competition but let’s say it costs you $3 per click every time someone clicks through to your site. It takes $3 from your account and you get the visitor – if you are converting these users it can be a licence to print money, if you don’t it can cost you a small fortune!
I speak to people that love AdWords and people that hate it, it all depends on their experience. The key is choosing the right people to manage it for you! – Trying to run a successful campaign without experience could be compared to trying to build a house on your own because you were a whizz with the lego set as a nipper!
But a word of warning – don’t fall for all the “Google partner stuff” I’m not saying this is not a sign of merit but by no means does it mean they are going to get you results! Ignore anyone contacting you out the blue – Spammy emails should be deleted and if you can then go on referrals or reviews. Most importantly judge your own results – if they are not coming then stop and go with someone else!
Don’t get tied into any type of contract scenario – any company doing this is obviously worried you will be leaving and want you locked in. At the end of the day if they are confident you will get results why would they need you locked in? – surely you would be coming back anyway right?
We do not lock anybody in to contracts – we go off results and the understanding that we deliver good results you’ll come back to us.
A real-life example in my earlier days; I was running a website that I was using AdWords to promote (my budget was of a decent size). The guy I had running it (now my head of AdWords marketing) was delivering me fantastic results so my budget was going up. It got noticed by Google they contacted me and offered their own staff to run the campaign for me! I thought Wohooo surely these guys would have tricks nobody else could possibly know so I took them up on the offer – How wrong could I be! – I went from under $10 per conversion to over $70 in the space of 2 weeks – Needless to say, I learnt a lesson.
So, to sum up, Adwords can be a great way of creating revenue for the right business and especially at the early stages if you are looking for instant results, although in my opinion it should always be a short term way of generating traffic – It is not a good long term investment.
SEO – The long term winner of all advertising!
Looking for instant results? Forget SEO!
If you are Looking for long term results and a trusted website and brand, then SEO should be your focus from the outset. In my opinion the best way to be seen is to be number one for natural results trusted by the user and ranking organically. In short SEO is the one! Ranking your website organically can vary massively pending on so many factors I could write for the rest of my life and still only be half way there.
The fact is no one knows all of the algorithms used by Google, I even asked Google and he wasn’t even sure oops bit sexist she wasn’t sure…but then what women is???? Only joking! – It’s said that Google algorithms are changed 500-600 times a year but could be many more. The basics to remember are provide your user with engaging and useful content and update regularly, if you do this your site will improve its rankings steadily over time.
If the information you put up is used and shared Google will love you! however if your competition are big players then just adding useful content to your site will not be enough to see you on that first page and the fact is being on page 2 is like being in the graveyard! Seriously who goes to page 2? – unless you’re bored at work of course! If you search and you don’t get the result you wanted you don’t flick through the pages – you search again…don’t you?
There are some general things that assist with your rankings such as; your content, backlinks, social media presence and blogging to name a few. That’s the whole reason I’m writing this, it has nothing to do with helping you – I just want to see my words hitting the first page and brining me traffic! Or is it my ego hmmm not sure!
Choosing the right company to run your SEO is key. I would be very wary of anyone who contacts you out the blue or spammy emails guaranteeing you results or your money back. The way you judge results may be very different to how they judge results. Same as these 1st page guaranteed emails, I mean they may well get you to the first page for some phrase so ridiculous its only typed once an annum normally by the dog falling on the keyboard and hitting the buttons. So unless your selling doggy treats and after 1 sale per annum just delete!!
You will often see agencies advertising set prices for SEO you know the old Bronze, Silver, Gold package – this again is absolutely ridiculous as every site is completely different and so is the competition therefore what is involved in getting you there will vary vastly. For example – a women’s fashion site full of competition will be harder to rank for the good key words than something much more niche such as specialist stone masonry, but so too will the number of searches.
SEO is a longer-term investment but investment non-the less and should be judged accordingly. If you are spending 2k per month on SEO at which point do you expect to start seeing a return on this? When will it be paying for itself? When will you be in profit? You should have a plan in place and an expected time frame to start seeing results and first page rankings.
Know your competitors
You would think this is a given but I can assure you it is not. I find it unbelievable how many people go into business and do not know who their competitors are. Even worse they will not acknowledge who their competitors are.
I’ll give you an example; so you contact me because you are a Chiropractor and you’re just setting up your own business in the Northern Beaches of Sydney. We are on the phone and I say ok do you know….. “best back chiropractors” do you know “chiropractic health clinic” and so on, how often the person on the other end is in utter shock, I can literally hear their brain ticking over wondering how I am such a wealth of information on their given field! Simple really a quick Google search. You can also check local directories for a list of companies in your given field.
Now this my friend is your competition! But it is not unusual to hear “No No No – Chriopractic health clinic are not a competitor of mine, they also deal in life coaching and relaxing massage – very different to me as I specialise in one field”. So I say, “Well actually Phil they rank on page one for the last 5 keywords I just searched while we were speaking, so I do believe people looking for Chiropractors on the Northern Beaches may well contact this company.” Phil says “Well yes they do, but there not a competitor of mine”. This is when I realise Phil does not know what a competitor is. This is a made-up scenario, but the point is you should know your competitors and far too many people do not!
By researching your competitors, you should also get a very good insight into what type of budget you will need to compete. If your competitors are all global corporations or even Australia wide companies, then you are going to need a very healthy budget indeed. If your competitors are all independent traders, then you should not be looking at breaking the bank to out rank them.
Finding out who your competitors are, is just the first step. The more information you have the better, some ideas for you;
- What Products and services they are offering?
- What do their customers see as their positive points and negative points? (tip check reviews)
- Do they have a long term loyal customer base?
- Do they get new customers in influx’s or have they grown steadily over time?
- Who are they advertising too and how are they doing it?
- What new products and services are they offering?
- What financial resources do they have?
- You should be thinking about what you can do to be better then all your competitors. What is your USP and how are you going to get this across to the customers you target?
Who’s should build my site and help me with all of this stuff?
This parts easy……we should!!!
The truth is there are so many options out there these days that people do not know where to start. There is such variation in cost when it comes to web builds/advertising/marketing it can become a mine field. As a general rule you are going to pay for what you get (not always but generally). Websites can range from $0 – you can build one yourself these days with relative ease with the likes of wix e.t.c to quite literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The thing to bear in mind is what impression are you trying to give off – if you are selling a premium product then building one yourself or getting your friends, brothers, sisters mates son who is studying IT in year 12 to do it may not cut the mustard! – But hey he can do it for $150 so I’m going that way.
Well set yourself up to fail if you wish. But look, if you offer a local service as a hairdresser, accountant, tradesman e.t.c and all your work comes locally from flyers or word of mouth e.t.c and you just want a site to be able to show people as you know they want to see it these days and you can list in some on line directories. Then spending $1000’s of dollars makes no sense at all and perhaps building one yourself will do the job for you.
What I suggest is contact an agency, a good one with a reputation to uphold, they should give you a truthful and honest answer. You should get quotes from 2-3 agencies to compare and see where they stand against each other. The right agency should be able to put not just a website but a whole marketing plan together for you and be able to work that into a budget that suits you. The most important thing is they care and understand your business. If they do not understand your business or care, then I can assure you that you will just be another number in the database and the passion you require to succeed online will be missing!!
Well I hope you enjoyed your read and that there was some useful information in here for you. Please leave your comments below. Please feel free to add anything that you may believe I missed or that you consider important. Any personal experiences you’ve had with agencies or starting out?, successful or otherwise are always welcome. I will reply to all comments left and answer any questions that you have. If you wish to contact me directly feel free to do so. Most important thing to remember is that setting up your own business should be a fun experience so try to enjoy the journey!