By: Alex   -  In: Blog   -  Tags:       -  0   Comments

Digital Marketing & Websites For Small Businesses

A Game Plan For Small Businesses To Better Understand How To Manage Their Website & Digital Marketing.

First off, I know few of you have time to read long articles and most of them can be boring. But the truth is we never learn anything of great value from reading short articles or posts. My goal is to always create valuable content. That being said, if you’re a small business owner who is struggling to figure out what to do with your website and how to create marketing campaigns that will help grow your business, then you should invest time in learning more about how your website and digital marketing can work for you. In this article I’ll cover the basic elements that should be in place in order to help you succeed with your website design to the digital marketing.

Why should you listen to me? I have over a decade of experience. I’ve built 3 small businesses using similar strategies. I’ve worked on thousands of campaigns from small to large size companies. I’ll give you the real deal and help you figure out what you need to do to generate more business from your online channels. Before I start I challenge you to define your target audience and the geographic area you want to sell your products and services in. Look at your current client list and figure out what they want. For your new prospects find out where they go online.

There are a number of variables to consider before a business can determine what they should invest (not spend) in a website and digital marketing. There’s also the question of whether you should hire an in-house person, a freelancer, a design shop, a marketing agency or a combination of all these. Owning a business and making these types of major decisions can be one of the most exhilarating things in life. On the other hand it can be challenging at times. This is especially true for Small Businesses where the owner/operator is wearing multiple hats as they should. The small business owner starts their day thinking about their Customers, from there they move on to Finances, Sales, Marketing, Employees (HR), Product, Logistics, Technology, Contracts (Legal), Purchasing and the list goes on and on. Love it or hate it that’s the reality for most small business owners. The good news for small businesses is that if they’re paying attention and implementing procedures and strategies within each department the job will get easier over time. I think owning a small business means different things to different people. Some enter the world of entrepreneurship as a means of an investment, others are looking for freedom, some just want the opportunity to be the driver, but whatever the reason I applaud the millions of small business owners who wake up every day, actually sometimes they don’t get much sleep at all- and give it their all to make their business succeed. In this blog I’ll briefly covers the following areas to help you navigate through the difficult world of web design and digital marketing.

Questions you should ask yourself

  • What you should budget for a good website
  • What features To Include In Your Website Design
  • What Trends To Consider
  • Questions To Ask a Web Designer or Web Design Shop
  • Questions To Ask a Digital Marketer or Marketing Agency
  • What Technologies To Consider

There are tons of technologies available for small business owners to make their business run more efficient. The one technology that is often overlooked or just seen as a Marketing and Sales tool is their Website. So the question is, how much should a small business invest on their website and digital marketing? First and foremost, the majority of businesses need to view their website as the most important tool to communicate with their customers, vendors, employees and the community.

Side note: if you have a brick and mortar operation fewer and fewer people are coming into to buy products. Now if you’re a business like a Dry Cleaner, Restaurant, Gym, Medical Practice, Salon and Auto Repair Shop to name a few then people have to come in to consume your product and service. But it doesn’t mean they have to come to your business. It use to be that if you had great customer service, a decent product, a convenient location and fair prices it was enough to build a lifelong relationship with the customer. That is definitely not the case anymore and nowhere is that more evident than metro markets. It’s not just the Millennial generation.

Ok, back to websites and digital marketing. So let’s start with the most important factor for small businesses. Price/Cost! Then I’ll move on to features that may help you run your business more efficiently and help you increase awareness of your brand. How much does it cost to build a great website and maintain it? Well that depends on a number of variables and what direction you want to go into with doing it in-house or hiring a company to design your website.

Questions you should ask yourself

·        Will I be selling products on my website?

·        Do I want to generate leads on my website?

·        Is being an expert in my field a priority?

·        Are my competitor’s ahead of the curve?

·        How many pages do I need?

·        Who will create the content?

·        What is my time frame to complete the project?

Once you answer some of these questions you’ll be ready to determine whether you should have the project completed in house or outsourced. In the case of companies who already have an up-to-date website it’s a matter of who will maintain it. By up-to-date I mean your website is responsive or mobile optimized. After all the majority of searches are coming from mobile devices. You can easily spend $10k,20k,50k on a website if you don’t really know what you want and what your objective is for your business as it pertains to the internet. It pays to consult with a Marketer or Digital Marketing agency who understands how to pull all the pieces together. While a Web Design shop may be a good choice for designing the website they may not understand your business model or your goals from a Marketing perspective. My advice for small businesses in pricing the design of websites is to look at their overall expense budget and create a line item called Digital Marketing. Once you’ve done your research and consulted with a Marketer to determine how much more business you’re expected to earn through your new or improved website then you can determine your budget. The truth is it will take time to get a return on investment.

Below I’ve created a simple chart to give you an idea for how much you should invest in your website. The investment is based on company revenue. There’s a good reason I did it this way. That reason is based on a growth strategy and 15+ years of experience budgeting for marketing campaigns that would generate leads and satisfy a company’s objective and help their sales team acquire more clients. Ultimately, I know that some small businesses will only invest what they can, but my advice is to seek experienced designers and marketers who understand your business goals. I can’t count the number of times that my team and I had to tell a business interested in our services that we would not be able to accomplish their goals based on their budget.

Chart to show you what you should budget for a good website

·        Revenue up to $250k per year – Budget for $7500

·        Revenue up to $500k per year – Budget for $10k

·        Revenue up to $1 million per year – Budget for $25k

·        Revenue up to $2 million per year – Budget for $50k

·        Revenue up to $5 million per year – Budget for $100k

As for the ongoing Digital Marketing budget you should budget the same amount you invested to build the website for your digital marketing spend. It truly depends on your goals and how aggressive you want to be in building a lead generation campaign. You have to consider other factors that will impact the cost in a big way. Content creation, SEO, PPC, Social Media and Email Marketing should definitely be included in the Digital Marketing plan and strategy.

7 Features To Include In Your Website Design

The features of any website truly depend on your business model and on the needs of your clients. In this section I listed 7, but there are hundreds of features depending on what your clients desire and what your competitors are offering them. For example your target audience may expect to have a member portal to login to a dashboard.

1.      Smart forms integrated into your CRM

2.      Marketing automation to set up email drip campaigns

3.      Appointment setting

4.      Payment processing

5.      FAQ page or Knowledgebase page

6.      Install an SSL Certificate

7.      Automatic Backups

10 Trends To Consider In Web Design

When it comes to web design trends you’ll find that you’re limited in what you can implement. As new features pop up it does not mean you should try to incorporate them into your website just so you can look like you embrace the trends. When it comes to trends I’m mostly referring to redesign or new design. However, in the case of video and storytelling this is a trend you can incorporate into your current website by adding a new page. Maybe you can add a plugin that will display your videos in a creative layout and give you the opportunity to tell your story in an interesting way.

1.      Color with Vintage Quality

2.      Menu Buttons that standout

3.      Custom Scrolling

4.      Blending Tactile with Digital

5.      Subtle animation and micro-interaction

6.      Cinematic experiences

7.      Immersive Storytelling

8.      Grid Layouts

9.      AI chatbots like Messenger

10.  Less Stock photos and more Authentic photos


12 Questions To Ask a Web Designer or Web Design Shop

If you don’t already know there’s a difference between web design and web development. I don’t believe in unicorns or jack of all trades, but I do believe that you can find a good designer and a good developer who may or may not be on the same team and work well together on your project. It’s important to understand what the designer and developer which may be working in 1 agency will be charging you for discovery and revisions. If your budget is set than you’ll want to start by creating a map of your website and the designer will be able to build a wireframe. Every agency, design shop and design approaches this from a different angle. They may use mockup tools like Balsamiq, Invisionapp, Mockingbird, UXPin, Visio and others to get you a prototype. You should expect to pay for this service. Think of it like building a house. You pay the architect to create the basic design. If you choose to hire them to create the blueprint then you’ll have to pay for the plans too. If the architect happens to work with the builder, you may or may not choose that builder to build the house. I would say that the biggest complaint I hear from businesses is that the web designer or agency hired to design/develop their website took twice as long as what they agreed to complete the website. Make sure that the designer or agency you hire can give you clear timelines.

1.      Can you send me a list of sites you designed?

2.      Do you charge hourly or by project?

3.      Do you have a project manager or 1 contact for the entire project?

4.      How many revisions am I allowed?

5.      What are the payment terms?

6.      What CMS will you build it in?

7.      What support do you offer once the site is live?

8.      Do you work using templates/themes or build custom sites?

9.      Will the website be responsive?

10.  Who will write the content?

11.  What services do you provide?

12.  What kind of results can I expect?


8 Questions To Ask a Digital Marketer or Marketing Agency

I could add 100 questions to this section, but I chose to go small and really focus on giving solid advice. I’ve been a Digital Marketer for over 10 years. In that time I’ve attended hundreds of conferences, taken dozens of classes, tested thousands of campaigns

1.      Have you created a campaign in my vertical?

2.      How will you measure your efforts?

3.      How do you stay up-to-date with the latest techniques?

4.      What kind of tools do you use?

5.      What kind of reporting will you deliver?

6.      How long will it take to see results?

7.      How much will it cost?

8.      Who will be working with you on my campaign?

Technology Tools To Consider Using

When it comes to software and technology tools it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your company. Below is a short list of the companies, ideas and tools you can use for designing your website and managing your digital marketing presence.

1.      Simple Web Design: Wix, Squarred Space

2.      Semi-Custom Web Design: Creative Market, ThemeForest

3.      Advanced Web Design: Hire Agency, Web Developer, Marketing Consultant

4.      Freelance: Thumbtack, Associations, Colleges, LinkedIn, Upwork, Fiverr

5.      Marketing Automation: Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot

6.      Social Media Management: Buffer, Hootesuite, Sprout, Klout

7.      Email: Constant Contact, MailChimp, Emma, AWeber

8.      CMS: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Sitecore

9.      Develop:, Gitbub, Bluemix

10.  Data: Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Google My Business, Google Search Console , Lucky Orange

11.   PPC: Google Adwords, Bing, Wordstream

12.  SEO: Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Spyfu

13.   Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Pinterest,Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Vimeo

14.   CRM: Salesforce, InfusionSoft, Insightly, Zoho

15.   Communication: Basecamp, DaPulse, Percolate, WP Plugins, Slack

16.   Design: Canva, Stencil, PicMonkey, Pablo

17.   Content: Buzzsumo, Mention, Epicbeat, Right Relevance

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