Getting your small business website launched and ready to start taking orders has come to the top of your priority list. But what's the cost? How much time do you need to invest each month to keep it working? How do you know what needs doing anyway? What's this all about!
Choosing an eCommerce website builder is just the start of your journey. Continual development and evolution are what's needed to make it a success. Approaching a website design company with a “fixed cost” mentality is the wrong way to go about everything.
Paying for a website and leaving no budget for marketing will be an expensive digital paperweight so to prevent that happening here are my small business website design budget tips.
If you want to build a website as opposed to an eCommerce site you might like this post as well.
Begin By Reducing Your Website Design Up Front Cost
By investing in an online website builder, you drastically reduce your initial outlay. That £1,500 you had earmarked for a Wordpress site can be put to better use. With no upfront fees to pay you've slashed your website design budget. On top of that, the cost of hosting as well as ongoing development and improvement of your website is all taken care of.
Shopify is the most popular choice for new eCommerce stores. You can read my Shopify review here
Your initial cost is the setting up of the website. If you are tech savvy, you can do it all yourself although you'll probably need some help with graphic design and the finer points of styling to do a professional job. A basic Shopify setup, for example, should cost you no more than £250.
Once your website is up and running is where the real work begins. The big mistake website design companies have made in the past is to charge a fixed price for building the website and then tagging on a retainer as an afterthought for extra work like SEO (search engine optimisation) or copywriting. Or in the case of Magento a whopping fee for the never ending round of software patches and spiralling hosting charges.
What Should You Be Paying On A Monthly Basis?
You don't need to build every feature you've ever thought of into your initial website design. Start with the minimum viable product and move on from there. The biggest delays to new website projects are caused by continually adding new features before you've launched.
Generate revenue first and then further develop your site as the traffic grows. Refining your site and improving the sales funnel is a process of continual improvement. It's a job that's never finished.
This is why working on a fixed cost basis with a developer is such a bad idea. The developer needs to monitor the site and makes changes based on the data being fed back. For example, analytics may quickly point out pages that need to have content improved or usability issues that need to be addressed. If no one is looking at the site from a development perspective, then your site is stagnating.
This is where things get interesting because once you start engaging with your developer, you'll begin discovering opportunities for improvement. Money spent on finding those opportunities can lead to profit returns far more than your original investment.
Building up a relationship with your designer/developer should be a priority and is the way to ensure that your site functions properly at all times.
A good developer/analyst at a respected digital agency would charge out at around £35/£45 per hour which means you're not going to get a lot of hours for your money. But I have a suggestion for you.
Forging a long-term relationship with an agency is the way to improve your eCommerce business. But you need to see results or improvement before you commit. I'd suggest an initial 8 hours at £25 per hour for the first month giving you a reasonable £200 outlay. After that, you can negotiate a long term deal if you are happy with the improvements made.
Improvements that you gain through having an experienced developer analyse your site can make a huge difference to the bottom line, so it's money well spent. Improving the conversion rate for a few customers today will also work for hundreds of clients in a few months or a years time.
An alternative is to offer a percentage of sales. If the developer is good and you make the right offer, then you should be able to make this work for both parties.
Budget For Site Improvements £200 Per Month
This isn't about randomly writing a 500-word article. This is about customer engagement.
Adding more content to your site is always a good thing. FAQ's, tutorials and better product descriptions are all part of your content marketing plan. You should spend at least a couple of hours a week producing new content for your site. That's the bare minimum.
Have you noticed how all of your favourite sites are regularly updated? It's no accident. These sites put a huge amount of effort into their content marketing drive.
Good writers charge around £25 per hour and the busy ones on freelancer sites like people per hour charge the same. You may get lucky and find someone excellent for less, but after a while, they'll start to resent the work. Pay the going rate and get your work done on time to budget. Around 8 hours a month to start with.
Budget For Content Marketing £200 Per Month
The only social media I would entertain spending money on for a new small business start-up is Facebook advertising. The cost is rising quickly, but it still represents good value for money.
As with all PPC marketing, the amount you spend depends entirely on results. Theoretically, you could spend every penny if money was no object, stock fulfilment was not an issue, and your cost per conversion had you in profit.
Start small and measure results. Budget around £50 per week to get started with a Facebook campaign.
The noise level on Twitter means it's almost impossible to get any meaningful message across and you will be adding to it. Trying to build a Twitter following by following other people in the hope they'll follow you back is a waste of time.
Twitter is perfect for individuals who have something meaningful to say. For everyone else, it's a cacophony of noise that is distracting. I've found the best use of Twitter is to accompany #universitychallenge or #thechase and belly laugh at the comments.
If people want to follow you on Twitter they'll seek you out, but I wouldn't waste any time trying to use this as a marketing channel, you don't have the budget for that. It may be free to use but your time is not.
Budget for Social Media £200
Customer Relationship Management
Recently I reviewed AgileCRM, and this brings CRM software into the hands of small business for a small ongoing monthly fee (£5 per month per user for the starter package).
Getting this software setup and integrated would be incredibly good value if you can spend the time making it work. If you are more than a one-man band, then I'd encourage you to try it out. You'll want someone to keep it running smoothly with a monthly check up and to suggest improvements.
The budget for AgileCRM £50 per month.
Building a website in Wordpress and then leaving it to wither on the vine is old school. Building your site with a modern online website builder will save you a small fortune in development costs.
Use that money to proactively manage your site. Continually refining the shopping experience and reducing your abandoned cart rate is a never ending cycle of improving, assessing and making changes.
Add more content to your site consistently. It will make it more attractive both to your visitors and search engines alike.
Start small with a Facebook campaign and ignore the noise on other social media channels, to begin with.
Start looking at ways you can integrate with other cloud based software like AgileCRM to improve your customer service.
Implementing the above ideas and including the cost of running your eCommerce store will give you a monthly outlay of around £700.
£2,000 as a ballpark figure will get you up and running for three months by the end of which you should have a good idea whether or not your idea will fly.
Not found an eCommerce solution yet? Try Shopify, Over 280,000 store owners can't be wrong!