Creating a strong online presence for your business is one of the best things you could ever do to market your products and services. With just about every transaction starting online, from buying books to buying homes, it is necessary for your business to have the proper exposure on the web. Consumers are looking for you. If they cannot find you or if your branding and marketing are not strong enough, then they will, without a doubt, go to your competitors who do have a better presence than you do online.
How Do You Create a Strong Presence?
People spend more time on the Internet today then they ever have in the past. In many cases, people spend more time on the Internet than they do watching television or listening to the radio anymore. Best of all, people on the Internet are specifically asking for advertising. This is called inbound marketing.
Unlike traditional marketing where advertisers interrupt people with messages, like commercials in the middle of your favorite TV show or phone calls to your home during dinner, inbound marketing makes consumers come to you. These types of consumers are more receptive to your marketing message because they are specifically asking for it. In addition, they are going to be much more likely to purchase something at that point as they know specifically what they are looking for compared to the guy watching TV that just viewed a 30 second commercial for woman’s shampoo and conditioner.
With that said, you need to create your presence online. The BEST way to create your presence online is to start with a website. If you do not have a website already, then read on to find information on how and where to get started. If you already have a website, don’t click away just yet as you may find that you should revisit or rethink your current website.
Is There Anything You Need to Do Before Getting a Website?
Yes, before you think about getting a website you need to answer the following questions:
1) Is your company’s brand strong enough as it is right now or does it need a makeover?
HINT: If your brand is weak than you are going to need to think about hiring a brand specialist or, at the very least, a logo designer to give your company’s brand a makeover. Your website will be built off of this brand / logo so it must be strong or the whole site will be weak.
2) Do you already have a domain name?
HINT: Your domain name needs to be something short, sweet and easy to remember. Here is a great article from our sister blog on choosing a great domain name.
3) What is your marketing message and what is its purpose?
HINT: Define what your marketing strategy is before you start building your website. You will save tons of time, money and effort by having the proper planning in place first. Here is an article on how to create a marketing plan if you need help.
4) What is your budget?
HINT: Know what your budget is before you even think about getting quotes from web design companies. You can expect to pay about $2000 – $5000 for a nicely designed, functional website and $10,000 and up for a full blown custom website with all of the bells and whistles. This investment will be one of the best ones you make so don’t cut corners or focus only on finding the cheapest solution.
5) Who is going to maintain and help with your website?
HINT: If you don’t have the time or technical savvy to work on your site then hire someone who does or pay that extra service fee that most web design companies provide to have them maintain it for you. Trust us, you will waste more time and money trying to do things yourself unless you can honestly dedicate the time to learning about your site and constantly keeping it updated properly.
How Do You Choose a Website Design / Development Company?
Assuming that you have wisely decided to employ a professional or company to build your website for you (RECOMMENDED), it is important to have the following questions ready before approaching web design companies or professionals. Unfortunately, there are many shady companies that rip naive people off every day, so be sure to do your due diligence and don’t be afraid to ask any and every question you have.
1) What is your approach on usability?
HINT: The company’s answer should revolve around the end user of your website, which is the visitor. If their answers do not focus on the visitor, then move on to the next company.
2) Do you have examples of website projects with similar goals and purposes as mine?
HINT: It is always good to use a company that has experience and knowledge of your industry. You will find communication between you and your company to be much more efficient.
3) What if I want to make changes later to my website, how are those handled and what are the costs in doing so?
HINT: Get this information upfront and make sure you understand it 100%. You want to assure that your company is going to be available, responsive and also affordable when changes are needed on your website. At the same, know that any changes or requests outside of the original scope of your project should and will cost extra.
4) Does my website project include any type of search engine optimization or conversion optimization?
HINT: Your web design company should most definitely have a working knowledge of search engine optimization, especially as it pertains to building a website. However, just know that you should not expect a full blown, aggressive search marketing campaign from a web design company just because they are building your website. They are responsible for building the website, not marketing it. Marketing it is your responsibility and you can and should expect to pay about 2-3 times as much as the cost of your website for an aggressive, effective internet marketing campaign.
ADDITIONAL HINTS AND TIPS
- Ask for referrals and use them. Or, even better, find your web design company through a referral that has raved about their website company and start there
- Be clear on the pricing you receive. Make sure to ask if it is an estimate or a firm price quote.
- Be comfortable with them. If you do not feel like they understand you or your business or you just don’t feel comfortable with them, then move on.
NOTE: It is recommended that you do the proper research on your own. However, if you are strapped for time and need some really good, reputable companies, then we will be happy to provide some of our preferred vendors. Please know that we are not affiliated with these vendors in any way, but rather, we have done our research and have received tons of feedback over the years and our vendor list is very exclusive to companies that we feel comfortable putting our name behind.
There are many more things that can and do go into the process of getting a website. For the sake of a digestible post on where to start we did not include everything. If you need more information or detail please do not hesitate to let us know and we will be happy to oblige.
Good luck with your search! Remember to spend the time doing your research…it will pay you back in the long run.