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Monday, January 11, 2010

Free Guide: Website Marketing Budget – The Real Costs of Going Online

Posted by @ 1:57 am
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Whether you’re just starting out, or re-evaluating your website strategy, it’s important for you to get your plan and budget right.

The rule “Build it and they will come” rarely works in the online space. For you to be successful with your website marketing strategy – you need to have a solid plan and be realistic about the real costs of doing it properly.

Too many business owners spend $1000’s on getting a fancy website developed, only to find they have no money left to promote it.

One of our sales guys uses this analogy

“It’s like building a shopping mall in the desert. Without the budget to promote it – who’s going to find it?”

So to help you get your website design and marketing budget right – here’s a quick guide to what you need and the approximate costs to do it properly.

  • 1. The website: Development/Design & Maintenance

The development of a website has many variables. Accordingly the costs can vary significantly depending on factors such as whether its static or dynamic, whether it includes a shopping cart, is the design bespoke or templated etc, etc, etc.

The reality is that websites can vary from $1000 – $50,000, and 90% of the time, you get what you pay for.

If it’s really cheap, it’s likely that there won’t be much functionality and it’ll use a template. The flip side of that is that if it’s too expensive – ask yourself whether you “really” need all the bells and whistles.

And most importantly – shop around. Draft a detailed requirements document and then check with a few website designers/developers to get the best price.

Also, don’t forget to budget for hosting and maintenance. Websites need to be updated in terms of content and systems (e.g. cms) regularly, and without hosting – you wont appear anywhere.

  • 2. SEO – Search Engine Optimization

The simple truth is that the majority of website traffic comes from search engines and directories. Most of our clients see upwards of 60% of traffic coming from search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. While the organic search engine traffic is free (no click costs), you do need to invest in a professional SEO program to ensure you’re maximizing this free search engine traffic.

SEO campaigns again vary significantly. To hire an industry leading SEO consultant can cost as much as $1000 per hour.

Here’s a guide on SEO pricing that Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz posted 2 years ago. As you can imagine – prices have grown since then…but it serves as a guide for the premium end of the scale:

Service

Low End

Mid Range

High End

Site Review + Consulting

$500

$2,500

$10,000

Hands-On Editing of Pages/Code

$2,000

$10,000

$50,000

Manual Link Building Campaign

$500

$5,000

$20,000

Keyword Research Package

$100

$500

$2,000

Monthly Retainer for Ongoing SEO

$2,500

$7,500

$20,000+

Professional SEO is an investment. If you’re in business for the long haul, you’d be crazy not to allocate a decent proportion of your initial online budget on SEO – (or if your budget is tight, then study hard and invest the many hours needed to do it yourself).

To get started with an SEO campaign (fully managed by an experienced SEO professional) that’s going to generate serious ranking and traffic results – you should be looking to pay at least $500 per month – minimum.

  • 3. PPC – Google AdWords and Other Search Advertising

As with all things, you’re probably looking for some quick wins in terms of traffic and results from your website. This is where PPC (pay per click) Search Engine Advertising (e.g. Google AdWords) helps.

With a well setup Google AdWords campaign, you can have highly targeted visitors delivered to your website almost instantly. It’s a great way to ensure you’re still getting a return on your website investment while your SEO and other strategies take effect.

Professional PPC campaigns, depending on your industry and how much traffic you need, can cost as little as $200 per month and the sky is the limit. But be aware that with cheaper campaigns, you’ll find most of your investment is going into the setup and management – rather than the media (click costs) – which makes it hard to generate decent ROI.

A serious PPC campaign for a small business should start at approx $500…and depending on your goals – go up from there.

  • 4. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a very cost effective way of generating traffic for your website. With most affiliate networks offering CPA models (cost per acquisition) – it allows you to generate traffic that you only pay for when the visitor converts (makes a purchase, signs up for a newsletter, submits a query).

The challenge with affiliate networks is that they take time to be effective and the best networks are often very selective as to who they promote.

Most decent networks will charge a small set up fee ($50-100 upwards) and then take a commission on every sale or acquisition. Some of the larger ones will also charge a monthly management fees to help you optimize your campaigns.

Most publishers will be looking for between 10% – 30% commission on sales, or a decent bonus for lead/enquiry based programs.

  • 5. Social media, Email marketing & Ad Networks

There’s a range of other website promotion opportunities such as Social Media, Email marketing and Ad Networks.

With Social Media, it’s definitely an area that small businesses should be getting involved with, but remember; it’s not a fit for every business and Social media is like SEO – it’s an investment and normally takes a while to generate good results.

Email marketing is a very cost effective form of website marketing. It’s CPA rates are often as low as search engine marketing, but the biggest challenge is finding and building lists. So it often comes into its own after a business is up and running for a while, and you’ve had a chance to build a decent subscriber base.

There are also a range of ad networks to promote your website. Most work on a fixed monthly fee or CPM (cost per 1000 impressions basis). As neither of these models offers any guarantee on traffic to your website, they have fallen out of favor with the emergence of PPC models such as Google AdWords. That said – if you find the right network, they can still provide great exposure and traffic.

There are plenty of other ways to drive more traffic to your site, but in reality – the areas mentioned above will be your main traffic sources.

So with that in mind – you can now get a much clearer and more realistic picture of what it costs to get serious results online. Even if we use the lower end of these costs as a guide, small business owners should be looking at

Cost Guide
Website Development $1000+
Hosting & Maintenance $120+
SEO – 6mth program $3000
Search Advertising (PPC) – 6mths $1200
Affiliate Marketing Depends on Program
Others Depends on Tactics
TOTAL $5000+

Now that’s only a starting guide, and as I’ve mentioned previously – the cheapest options aren’t always the best in terms of results and generating good ROI.

So if you’re starting a new website project – you can see there’s more to consider than just the website design costs. If you want your new website in 2010 to be a success – be realistic when doing your planning and budgeting!



Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of ineedhits.com - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for Gooruze.com - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile






Discussion (31 - comments)

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This post was mentioned on Twitter by businessplan_it: Free Guide: Website Marketing Budget – The Real Costs of Going Online – Search Engine Marketing (blog) http://tinyurl.com/yd42u3h

By uberVU - social comments - January 11, 2010



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Thanks for the post and for sharing the very useful information here.

By Tag44 - January 11, 2010



The table that gives an approx value for website development and mainatainanace is really helpful. Instead of guess work now I have a definite range in fromt of me giving me lots of room to think.

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By Ashish Kulkarni - January 11, 2010



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Don’t forget manipulating/seducing the independent press.

If you’ve got a “hook”—some kind of local angle—you can get free press coverage. If it’s compelling enough, the story will go viral.

There’s an app for that. Well, there should be.

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hi rene
well done
but i not understand much about Affiliate Marketing,
this seem new 4 me
can you explain more clearly, please
regards

By camelia - January 11, 2010



camelia,

Put simply – affiliate programs are ad networks that work on a pay for performance basis.

Advertisers place their creative (links, banners etc) on the ad network and publishers (blogs, website, networks) then promote these creatives.

Publishers are rewarded if they deliver traffic to an advertisers website that converts/takes a particular action (e.g. buys something, signs up to a newsletter, downloads a whitepaper).

You as the advertiser decide what offer (commission or bonus) to provide publishers for conversions. The more attractive your offer – the more likely publishers will promote it.

I hope that makes it a bit clearer.

By Rene LeMerle - January 12, 2010



Rene, You’ve knocked it out of the ball park with this one. If a small business owner doesn’t know what to do after reading this, they’re must be illiterate. You’ve made everything here crystal clear. Bravo! And thank you, too.

By Carlo - January 12, 2010



Thanks for sharing information. I’ve written and shared my thoughts around this on my blog.

By payday advance - January 13, 2010



I have looked at many sites and not come across such a site as yours that tells everyone everything they need to know.

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Very good advice. My site (www.buysellswap.ie) is launching soon and we will take a lot of this information on board.

By Darren - January 29, 2010



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Another great post.
Thanks for the tips and help.
Everyone, bookmark this site.

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Great post! I

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Financial news…

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All the gurus selling data about how to make an online business profitable don’t mention any of this because if they did, then they would hardly sell anything because most people just don’t have the working capital. This knowledge should be compulsory on all internet marketing promotional material.

By Tim - March 4, 2012




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