What Determines Small Business Website Cost
As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
To get a real idea of what factors into your cost for a small business website, you have to look at several different things. You need to know what your goal is for the site, who is going to be building it, who your customers are, and what kind of experience you want visitors to have.
You could ask ten different people what they paid for their site, and you would get ten different answers ranging anywhere from $100 to $40,000 and up.
You could even ask why they paid that much (or that little), and they probably couldn’t tell you.
However, they should be able to tell you if their final site was worth the price that they paid. If their site lived up to the goal they had for it, then it would be worth it.
The Goals that Impact Small Business Website Costs
Typically websites will have one of two main types of goals. Small brochure sites that present information cost the least, where larger sites that are built to generate leads and sales will cost the most.
Let me show you more about each goal and give you some examples of sites that are designed to reach them.
Goal #1 - Present Information
Brochure sites are minimal and function like a traditional printed tri-fold brochure. Most of the content will answer a few critical questions for your customer:
- Who are you?
- What services and/or products do you offer?
- Where are you located?
- When are you open?
- How can I purchase your services and/or products?
Here is a good example:
It may look good - but it’s just a basic website with only three pages. It serves the purpose for someone that is already ready to buy and gives them additional information.
Brochure sites can be a great tool when you have a sales team that needs a little backup.
- They can make their pitch, and then email the prospect a link to the site for additional information.
- Or they might use it during the sales pitch to help them explain their products or services.
These sites typically don’t perform well on their own. They fail to factor in the Buyer’s Journey or account for the fact that 99% of first-time website visitors are not ready to buy.
So — what about when you want a site that generates sales instead of just being a sales tool?
Goal #2 - Generate Leads & Sales
If you want a website that generates, nurtures, and helps close leads, then you need a Buyer Journey site.
These websites are more expensive but designed to generate more leads and more sales.
Think about this like comparing the cost and time invested in printing a round of trifold brochures with the cost and time of hiring a new member of your sales team and putting him to work around the clock without a day off.
Mainstream Preppers is a great example of a Buyer Journey Site that’s designed to get people to join their community.
MSP’s website was designed to convert and went through the Growth-Driven Design Process. It begins with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) version that consisted of a simple signup form and value proposition.
After taking that basic version to three expos and making adjustments, we were able to increase the signup rate from 10% to 85%! We discovered what was valuable in the mind of his customers and the best way to communicate that.
In just a few months, we generated over 4,000 new signups and increased their social following to over 15,000. They now have features in National Geographic, Doomsday Preppers, Reader’s Digest, La Nacion, American Prepper’s Network, and more.
When you break down a site like this, there are a lot of components that go into that impact the cost.
This is the kind of site you need if:
- You want a remarkable brand.
- You want to really kick it up a notch with a great website.
- You want to crush your competition.
- You want to 10x your brand.
If that sounds like you — if you have big goals — then keep reading to learn more about what goes into that kind of website and how that will impact your cost.
1. Strategy Is a Major Investment for Success
Buyer Journey websites utilize a lot of strategies. Almost half of your total budget for the site can easily be spent entirely on strategy.
You have to develop buyer personas, so you know who you are targeting as well as what their motivations are to learn more about you and make a purchase. Their pain points and goals are what will bring them to you and keep them coming back for more information. The journey they will go through from the first touch to the first sale and beyond will need to be mapped out in the Buyer’s Journey.
Your brand voice needs to be defined and documented. Are you going to be lighthearted and funny, or will you be serious and helpful? What kind of imagery and colors match your tone?
The jobs to be done need to be defined. You have to know what tasks you're doing and who is going to do them so you can ensure that the project will go successfully.
2. Building for the Buyer’s Journey is Critical
When a website performs well, all of the other efforts of your marketing team are more fruitful. Your sales team will enjoy having a continuous flow of qualified leads to pursue.
It causes a positive ripple effect that impacts your website visitors, potential customers, your team, and your entire brand.
The ripple starts with knowing your buyer’s journey and having it mapped out.
It is part of your website strategy, but will also dictate crucial website decisions like the pages you will need and the overall flow of your site.
There are four main stages someone will go through, and your website will need to planned out to address all of them.
Stage 1: Awareness
Most purchase decisions are emotional, and in this first awareness stage of the buyer’s journey, they are very emotional. They have a problem they need to solve and turn to Google to find answers.
Stage 2: Interest
This stage is where you’ll make them aware that there is a solution to their problem. You won’t push your solution. Instead, you’ll focus on helping them understand solutions like yours.
Stage 3: Consideration
Now that the lead is interested in a solution, it’s time to show them why your solution is the best fit for their problem. You want to make it easy for them to choose you over your competitors.
Stage 4: Decision
This is where you can finally start to work on making it easy for someone to decide to become a customer. You will continue to provide value, persuade, and sell the decision-maker.
3. Key Pages Connected for Frictionless Flow
After you’ve crafted your strategy — including an exceptional buyer journey — you will know which pages that you need in your site as well as how they fit together.
In our experience, we have identified five common key pages that you should consider developing and launch first.
The Home Page
An amazing homepage should facilitate all the stages in the buyer’s journey. Since it’s the first page they hit, you don’t know what stage they are in. Don’t overcomplicate this. Focus on the essential information it should have like your main value proposition and supporting message, actionable CTAs, headlines, and subheaders that explain the value of your most important product or service, and social proof like testimonials.
Pages that Sell
Your homepage can’t always sell your products and services, especially if you have several. It makes the introduction, but your individual pages have to do the selling.
These pages communicate three main things.
- What the product or service is.
- Why they need it and what they’ll get from it.
- How to buy it.
Content pillar pages are long-form content that covers a specific topic in exhaustive detail. These should be worthy of the #1 ranking in Google for the keyword that you want to rank for.
Essential Buyer Journey Pages
Above all, your website needs to facilitate the buyer’s journey. You will build the journey to let you focus on business objectives.
- For increased traffic, you would use pillar content pages.
- For more leads, you would use landing pages and content offers.
- For more sales opportunities you would create pages and content that answer bottom of the funnel questions.
- You’ll also need to build content for the decision phase that will justify their investment in your services.
After you have these pages outlined, you can start prototyping them. A quick tip — we save time and money using SprocketRocket, which prototypes our pages right into HubSpot.
4. Website Content that Resonates
If you want to keep visitors coming back, you need to be different.
We’ve all been to websites full of redundant buzzwords. Instead of being unique, they just parrot the same promises and features that their competition does.
To communicate our unique values and keep the visitor engaged, we develop headlines and copy that triggers the right emotions, tells a cohesive story, and is persuasive without being pushy.
You want to focus on the customer and craft messaging that will show them — not tell them — the value of working with you.
Crafting the perfect website content will take up a significant chunk of your budget because it needs to be exceptional. You should consider hiring a professional writer for this. While it will cost more up front, it will save you time later in revisions, edits, changes, and lost leads.
5. Phenomenal User Experience through Awesome Design
Remarkable sites are designed to support the content. Remember — content is what anchors the visitor to the buyer’s journey. Your design should be awesome, but it should also be done to support the journey and the content.
You should start with a style guide that includes fonts, colors, shade variations, and how they should be used with your brand elements.
Your cost planning should include purchasing any stock photography as well as the cost of hiring a photographer if you need to something like taking new staff headshots.
6. Build it Right - Development Influences Ranking
A slow site won’t rank well on Google. Then, even if someone goes to it, they won’t have the patience to wait on pages and text and images to load.
How quickly your site loads will start with the development process. You have to think about what platform you’re going to use to build it on and where you’re going to host it.
I know — that sounds really technical — but it’s important to know. A lot of people that want remarkable sites are using HubSpot instead of WordPress.
It’s the best, in our opinion. You will pay a lot more for Hubspot than you will for WordPress up front, but in the long run, the results will be worth it.
HubSpot is better for consistency, reporting, speed to load, time to implement, and user experience. If you go through a growth team, like us, then you can save up to 60% off in your first year.
7. Choosing Your Team
Finally, you have to consider the cost of the people that will be doing all this work for you.
A remarkable website is built by a remarkable team. You need people that are skilled in strategy, copywriting, design, and development. Plus, you need people that will stick with you to keep making adjustments to the site over time to improve performance.
If you are using internal staff, then you need to consider the time investment that it will take for them as well as their overall experience doing these tasks. What will you be taking them away from while they work on it?
It may be more cost effective for you to outsource some, or all, of this process to professionals that do it every day and can do it right.
Understand Your Pricing Options
Your website is one of the most important investments you can make. You are hiring and continually training a salesperson that can:
- Handle an unlimited number of leads at one time.
- Won’t take a sick day or ask for company benefits.
- Will work around the clock on nights, weekends, and even holidays.
This staff member may be expensive to onboard and will require additional training to be the best they can be, but they are worth the investment.
You don’t want to trust this process to someone without experience to do it right. Instead, you should consider hiring a growth team or agency that has experience building websites that are remarkable and align with the Buyer’s Journey.
Now — it’s time to get started on your own journey to 10x your brand. Find out more about how agencies price their services (and why we do it differently), by reading the Price Wars.