money-019I was researching some recent data about the trends in Small Businesses use of the internet and their satisfaction with their existing website (if they have one). I’ll write a summary post of that info later (the link about the report is at the end of this post), but I ran across another post from a CPA advising new small businesses to simply build a DIY $10 website.

On one hand she was feeling the pain of some of her clients who spent thousands of dollars on a website that was not really helping their businesses in the least. I hear stories every day myself about this, and I agree that this is a problem. However, we disagree on the solution.

Here is my reply to her post :

“A big part of the problem stems from website developers building sites for businesses when the developer doesn’t understand much if anything about internet marketing. The victim in this is the small business owner…. he or she get’s a ‘Pretty Site’ with little consideration for organic search results, traffic generation and conversion.

The small business owner may understand the importance of having an online presence, but they need a professional to help them setup an overall online marketing plan and make sure that is integrated with any offline marketing they are doing.

If all you want is a “Sign” on the internet and your fine with having your main traffic source being the URL printed on offline advertising or word of mouth…then go full out with a $10 solution. If however you want to get real traffic and position your biz to take advantage of the indisputable trends in customer searching, then you should consider getting someone who wants to partner with you and not just a “cookie cutter” or “high end graphics designer” website developer.

Why do so many people think it’s okay to pay hundreds and usually thousands of dollars on offline advertising (that has a short exposure), but balk at spending thousands to build a website (CMS platform) that can reap new customers for years to come and can also be used as a vehicle for keeping your existing customers engaged.”

– Here are a few more comments that I didn’t add in the original reply :
Not every small business needs a sophisticated website. Some may simply need a few pages that are keyword optimized for one or two local search terms, lead capture mechanism and a call to action. Depending on your market and location, this may be pretty simple from an seo /organic search standpoint.

Other businesses however are dealing with a more competitive market and the actions needed to get you organically ranked and the traffic converting are more complex, time consuming and subsequently more expensive.

Another aspect that is often missed is the lifetime value of a new customer when analyzing the cost of implementing an overall online marketing plan (website is one piece of this plan). If the average lifetime value of a customer to a small biz is $5,000, then it’s not hard to justify spending $8,000 on a site and associated marketing. It would only take 2 customers to be in the black. The converse is also true, however. If your proposing a site for the local $1 store, whose average lifetime customer value may only be $100 and the site costs $5000, then this site would have to generate a lot more customers before the ROI would make sense.

It’s all about having a knowledgeable internet marketer (not just web developer) who understands how to talk business with a prospective business owner.

BTW…before I forget…. here is the original trends report I referred to : The Great Divide