One of the questions that we ask on our new client questionnaire is how important is a website to you and your business and the success of your business on a scale from 1 to 10? Sometimes we have people say, “100%, 10 out of 10. Without a website, my business would not be successful and effective.” Then we have a question later in the questionnaire that asks what they are looking to invest or willing to invest into their website and marketing. Honestly, I’ve gotten a response that says, “As little as possible.”
What’s interesting about that to me is that they say they value and prioritize a website as they literally could not operate their business without it and yet their level of investment does not reflect that same prioritization like they said before. Really what I want to focus on in this article is talking about what is a website worth to you and determining what it is worth. I think it’s a really important question for business owners and entrepreneurs to ask themselves: how important is a website for my business?
Maybe A Website Is Not Your First Step
One of the reasons that this is an important question to ask at this stage is because maybe a website is not your first step, which seems like a really crazy thing for a web designer to say. But, let’s give you an example:
I had a client come to me who said, “Okay. I’ve got my branding. We are a content creator. We’re going to start a YouTube channel and most of our content is going to be creating YouTube videos that are for entertainment for moms and young children. Now we’ve got our logo. I think we’re ready for a website.”
After chatting with them, I asked them some questions like:
- “Why do you want a website?”
- “Why do you feel like you need a website?”
- “How important is that to you?”
Essentially what it came down to was in order to reach their goals … They had a goal of reaching a certain number of subscribers to their YouTube channel within a certain time period. I said, “Okay. If that’s your primary goal, that’s your number one goal, how does the website contribute to helping you reach that goal?”
They were a little bit dumbfounded. While, yes, there are some ways that a website can help drive traffic to a YouTube channel, and help promote that YouTube content, they didn’t even have their YouTube channel started yet.
It became very, very apparent in asking that question that based on their budget, the appropriate approach was to focus solely on actually creating their YouTube channel and creating that high quality content. Then in that situation, a website would then be used as an alternative means of promoting the content but the content itself was actually the heart of the business and was the most important piece to focus on.
Ask the Right Questions
When you start by asking yourself, “Hey, how important is a website to the success of my business?”, especially if you ask that question with a web designer or a web consultant, it can actually open up a lot of new opportunities that maybe you weren’t aware of before.
What's the ROI on a Website?
Another way that we can look at how important or how valuable a website is to a business is based on ROI. Let’s say for instance you want to determine ROI. A lot of people will make that investment decision– or in other words ask, “How much can I invest in my website” or “How much should I invest in my website?”–based on the potential return on that investment. A lot of people will ask me, “Well, if I pay you $5,000 for a website, am I going to see that return?”
Well, there are a lot of factors involved in that and…there is no way for me to guarantee in an initial 30-minute discovery call with a client that you that you’re going to receive $5,000 worth of product sales within a given timeframe after your website launches. There are too many factors involved.
Let’s take a look at it. If you’re trying to sell products online, you probably would say that a website is 10 out of 10 for you. It’s an absolute essential because otherwise you can’t sell products online. That is, unless you go through a third-party platform like Etsy or Amazon, etc. in which case you’re paying large fees directly to that third-party service provider. That’s one strategy as well that we can talk about another time, but you would most likely say that a website is pretty essential.
What Makes a Website a Worthwhile Investment
Let’s take a look at a couple of factors.
A website should be your number one marketing platform.
A lot of times, even for small businesses, we see business owners who just want to be present online, which is good. That’s absolutely essential. That’s a great start and it’s important. If you’re not even present online, you’re losing a lot of opportunities for that business. Number one, I just need a website so that I can have a digital business card up on the web. That way if people somehow search for me, at least there’s an opportunity for me to show up. Or I can direct people to a website if they ask questions directly to me as the business owner.
Something really important to consider as well is that a website is not just a digital business card. When people look at a website, you have to think about the frame of mind that they are in and this could be a very different frame of mind depending on where the people come to your website from.
Let’s say you have a one-on-one interaction with a potential customer and you say, “Oh, yeah. I actually do that. Go to my website to learn more.” Well, maybe they were already inquiring about that service and they were asking you, “Hey, do you know anybody who does this?”. That person is very, very interested in making a purchase decision. When you send them to your website, it should have all the information that they need to make that purchasing decision or maybe it’s just that first step of the sales process. Maybe that’s reaching out for a consultation call or something like that.
The other thing that a website is used for, it’s a signal of credibility and trustworthiness. If you say, “It’s important that I have a digital business card out there, but I’d rather not pay a lot of money and just throw something up there. It doesn’t have to be the greatest or the prettiest. It just needs to be something up there.” Well, if somebody is searching for a service that you offer and they come across your competition who’s actually putting quite a bit of time and effort and money into their website and has a very credible brand presence online, that’s definitely something that they’re going to consider when making a purchase decision. Is this a company I feel I can trust?
Additionally just speaking from a consumer perspective, I’ve heard this a lot from consumers as well as experiencing this myself, but if I feel like a business clearly didn’t invest in their website, are they even making money? Are they providing services that people actually want to pay for? That’s a question that runs through my mind when I see a website that’s not … It doesn’t have all the information I’m looking for or maybe it looks a little bit untrustworthy.
The important point that I want to make is that there are actually a lot of factors and a lot of things to consider when determining how to move forward with your business at whatever stage you’re at or should I redesign my website? Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and really trying to understand what it is that they are looking for when they come across your website is really, really crucial.
In an age where we have so many free website builders and quick & easy platforms where you can set up your website yourself in a day… it can be very frustrating for a business owner who actually listens to that and then is frustrated by the results … Often times we work with clients who have tried something themselves and thought, “Well, I thought it was supposed to be easy. Why am I not seeing the results that I was promised?” That’s something that we see a lot.
One of our major goals is to actually help business owners take a big step back and just look at their whole business from a bird’s eye view. Let’s just look at the big picture. Let’s look at where you are now. Let’s look at where you’ve been and let’s look at where you’re headed.
The Short Answer
To circle back to the client that came to us and said, “We’re ready for a website,” who we actually advised against starting with a website, what we ended up deciding to do for them based on their budget, based on the nature of their business and that they are content creators…We decided to help them from an organic SEO perspective. Rather than doing a paid media strategy or a building them a website, what we decided to do for them was focus on optimizing the content that you’re creating from an SEO perspective to try to get more viewers to that content.
The client’s job was to produce really high-quality content. Then they actually took it upon themselves to utilize Facebook and Instagram and some of these social media channels to promote their content themselves. Our role was to help them from an SEO perspective, optimizing each of those videos with keywords and metadata to try to get it found by more people.
What happened in the four months that this one particular video ran for … it got over 3,000 views organically by the work that we did to help put it in front of related videos and the work that the client did…through Facebook and Instagram. Was it profitable? They were actually able to generate some income through the affiliate links from some of the products that they promoted and talked about in their video. It was watched over 3,000 times and now they’ve been able to see a little bit of affiliate income come from that organic result.
They’ve still got a long way to go. There’s still a lot of work that we intend to do with them to grow and expand over time but it’s one of those things. We have to look at where you are and just be realistic about … What are my goals? What’s a realistic timeframe for achieving those goals and what’s a realistic budget that I have and what can we do within that budget?
I talk to a lot of business owners who are very overwhelmed by all the “should”s out there. There’s a lot of, “well, you should be using social media. You should be doing email marketing. You should be doing SEO…” There’s so many “should”s out there.
Working with a Web Strategist
The value that we add for a lot of business owners in this stage of their business as they’re trying to decide how to grow, how to expand, how to move forward, or even how to start is that we help them understand the roles of each of these channels and each of these marketing tactics and tools. We help them understand the roles that they play and the overall mix of growing a business and moving forward with different marketing activities. How does it all fit in to the big picture and where do I start? In rare cases, sometimes it doesn’t mean that you start with your website. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of understanding about the purpose of your site and how you can actually leverage that extremely powerful tool to help you get to where you want to go.