Archive for April, 2010

Small Business Website Owners not seeking advice

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Small business owners in the UK are becoming increasingly aware that to be competitive online means putting aside a reasonable budget if they are to have some success from having a website. But, as always the stumbling point with small businesses is the limited budget they try and work too. How much to spend on building a website and then what is the cost towards marketing that website. 

Business owners should look at budgeting for a website like how they would invest towards putting in place a reliable delivery vehicle. Then, once the vehicle (in this case a website) has been purchased, consider how much ‘fuel’ it will take to run the website for 12 months.

How Much to spend on building and Marketing a Website

The Internet Business Marketing team often get asked two questions. The first is how do I choose the right website design company to build a website? And the second is, just how much money should be committed towards marketing the website?

To start with, the website needs to be a ‘reliable vehicle’ that is both user friendly and search engine friendly. The most important thing about having a user friendly website, means being able to edit pages easily. Ideally, you would want to invest in a content managed website, more commonly known as a CMS.

This CMS software needs to have a ‘dashboard’ of features that will help generate search engine friendly website pages that must include generating proper URL addresses. So, what you DON’T want is your website page address to read:
 www.domainname.com/page1 or
www.domainname.com/dept.asp?mode=dept&cid=5
neither of these are going to help search engines understand what the page topic or theme is about.

So ensure you purchase a website that will a) generate search engine friendly URL addresses and b) provide a host of other important ‘editing’ features to help market the website and construct proper page URLs .

Choosing a Domain Name to support your Website

We may as well throw in at this point the importance of choosing a domain name. Small businesses must consider securing their brand online, so just purchasing the .CO.UK domain is not going to be suffice. To ensure you lock down your brand and no one else rides on the back of it, we recommend you also purchase the .COM and .EU version of the domain name you choose. If you have chosen a name that is easily hyphenated and could be just as strong a brand online, then consider buying those versions of the domain name also.

Once you secured your domain name decide upon which one will be the primary domain name and get your web developer to ‘canonicalise’ the others. This, is in simple terms, if I type in the .CO.UK domain into a browser, then when the website appears and the .COM is the primary domain, then the website should display in the browser on www.domainname.com.

OK, you have the domain names in place. One other thing, you must ensure , and that is your website is hosted in country of origin, this is very important

What will it cost to purchase a search engine friendly website?

With domain names and hosting in place, let’s build a website. You can get started by going and signing up for a ‘starter pack’ website, currently being offered FREE  for 1 year through a government backed initiative scheme called (Get British Business Online). But please remember your business must be based in UK.

The GBBO offer is an ideal starter kit website for young new businesses, allowing them to dip their toe in the water towards having an online presence.

But if you are seeking to be more ‘aggessive’ and much more competitive online, well you might need a bigger more powerful vehicle (website).

So, lets look at this way. How much you would spend on a small van for example? A van that had to be reliable and not let you down after every mile? If you depend on this website like the small van in keeping your customers satisfied with your services, you will know within yourself that proper investment is going to be needed. So, the price of the van can be as much as what the above link suggests when it comes to putting in place an all singing all dancing ecommerce website. You might of course get away paying less if its just a brochure website that you need.

Why do we expect you to pay this sort of price for a website? Well if the price of a website comes in at £500 or £1000, is that not the price of a cheap run around that doesn’t have all the luxury of what you would like? And in the case of your website, it probably lacks the controls and feature rich dashboard you need to assist in the proper marketing of your website. 

Get advice before building a website

So, this is the problem we see many small business owners faced with everyday. Business owners don’t know where or who to turn to in order to seek advice and get the proper assistance before building their website or indeed deciding on how much ‘marketing fuel’ will be needed to power the website along everyday.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO TALK TO IBMC?

Let us leave you with a recent website case study.

A company needed a website. They were unsure what the price might be, but had a budget tucked in the back of their mind of around £20k-£25k (including marketing costs). They approached a website agency who quoted them a staggering £75k. A figure which can be expected if you don’t provide a website agency with a proper specification document outlining your needs.

The business owner was advised to talk to the IBMC team who reviewed the quote provided by the website agency. 

The IBMC team spent time exploring the specific needs of the business owner. This led to the provision of a proper specification document done by IBMC who submitted it to the web design agency. So now the website agency were properly briefed about requirements.

The agency submitted their revised quote. This time it came in at £39k, nearly half the price of the original quote submitted. But, still offering exactly the same number of services. Like the IBMC team, you are going to look upon this revised quote with some suspicion. 

Closer inspection of the quote was carried out. Only to find more ‘hidden charges’ within the quote that now added up to a staggering £92k!! It was also found the company did not understand the brief as some specific answers being sought were not addressed.

Finally, IBMC through this structured process to find a ‘reliable’ website design team, received a few more quotes for comparison, and found a company who delivered the project for £15k. Plus this gave the client business a very reasonable £10k marketing budget for their website.

The morale of the story, get sound advice. You would not buy a van or truck for your business without getting some reliable second opinions. And not necessarily from the ‘salesman’ trying desperately to sell you the vehicle!