As a business grows, there comes a point where the do-it-yourself (DIY) or roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-it-done approach starts to produce diminishing returns.
Back in the days (let’s say the mid-90’s), websites served as simple sources of information about a company—an online brochure that wasn’t all that technically complex.
Today, websites exist in a complex business ecosystem. They tie into other business and marketing tools and also serve a variety of functions including as client portals, inventory management systems, accounting systems, content marketing automation systems, etc.
Company websites range from very simple to extremely complex, but they are (or should be) an integral aspect of a business’s sales and marketing strategy. There are many metrics and factors to assess and consider when calculating and measuring a website’s return on investment (ROI), however if I had to sum it up in one word, it would be conversion! Your website must be setup to successfully convert interest and intent into customers and/or purchases.
DIY platforms are better than ever
The approach to building websites has certainly evolved over the years. Think high visual appeal; thoughtful, data-informed user experiences; complex e-commerce sites and agile approaches to development.
In addition, the time and cost needed to create a website have been significantly reduced. Platforms now also offer built-in tools to help optimize search engine results and performance measurement, for example. DIY web platforms offer a great balance of ease of use, flexibility and cost. They provide those with little-to-no web development experience the ability to quickly create a professional website, for a low cost.
With these affordable options available, when and why would you choose to pay thousands of dollars for a website?
You’re not building a website, you’re building a sales tool
There is a difference between developing a website and creating a conversion focused sales and marketing tool that will pay off and help you achieve your business goals.
You need to invest time and effort to obtain a high quality website that produces results. In other words, it’s worth digging deeper to understand what returns you can (or should) expect for any level of investment.
Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to build a DIY website or get expert help.
Great websites offer valuable, customer focused content
One of the biggest challenges to setting up a website is developing content that speaks to the needs of customers and aligns with the value of your products, services and brand. To get this right, you need ask the right question to go beyond the technical and design considerations of building a website.
Questions to ask when creating content for a website
About your customers
- Can you accurately describe who your key customers are?
- Can you clearly and confidently describe the unique benefits your customers can expect from your products and services?
- Can you identify and describe your competitive advantages?
About content creation
- What’s the difference between good and great content?
- What is the cost of great content creation (images and writing, even video)?
- Do you know if the content will resonate with your customer needs?
- How will you distribute the content?
Conversion focused content needs to be customer and value focused. You’ll need to find the right “fit” by mapping out your content to:
- Identify your priority segments
- Develop customer personas
- Ensure messaging is aligned to your core brand offering
- Provide customer proof
Think about your customers’ needs and create content that fits their needs. This will create trust and proof that your company’s offering (and core values) is what they are looking for.
Identifying what sets you apart from your competition takes time and effort, which is a cost you’ll need to incur no matter what path you take. But approached the right way, it is now an investment to increase your conversion potential and boost your ROI.
4 stages of the online customer journey
Identifying customer and value-focused content is the first step to building a conversion-focused website. Mapping this to the right experience is next.
Don’t sell me something—fix me something
There are four key stages a website user moves through. These need to be considered when mapping how people use a website.
There are different types of requirements for each stage. Depending on how someone enters your site, you’ll need to consider what content is most applicable at what stage and anticipate how to offer the right content in the right place to move them though the process.
This is similar to an in-store experience, where a sales representative will identify the intentions or needs of customers, and then guide them through the store while explaining your products and company. This is moving them from initial awareness, to evaluation—and if done well—purchase.
Create scenarios to anticipate customer needs
We do not have this hands-on opportunity to help clients online, so we explore scenarios to anticipate the needs of customers and what they require at each stage of their journey.
The goal is to create a valuable and intuitive experience that leads to conversion.
Whatever term you use, it is all driven by planning your customer journey with your customers’ needs in mind.
DIY or custom website?
Most of the top DIY web platforms offer template design themes that are mobile responsive. You can then plug in your images and text, adjust a few settings and press the button to launch.
However, that’s where their support for website planning stops. If you can find a theme that directly fits your navigation needs, then great and a DIY platform may be right for you. Carry on.
That said, if you’ve mapped out your customer profiles, content needs and user journey, you’ll likely discover that an optimal user experience can’t be found in these pre-set themes. You will need to modify them meaning you’ll soon need a developer who knows what they are doing.
You may be somewhat technically inclined, and if the modifications are minor, you may be able to do them yourself. However, you’ll need to understand that as you add on and modify features, there is a good chance you’ll eventually need professional help. When that time comes, they will spend time (i.e. cost to you) to deconstruct what you’ve built, in order to put it back together and add to it.
Bottom line, any modification to a standard structure or theme means you are now in custom-build territory and you will need a web professional to step in. Once that happens, it may or may not be a simple update.
Up to now I have only been talking about the look, feel and content of the site, and not about any customized integration you may need. This includes the thousands of plug-ins and custom solutions you can use to add functionality or may need to integrate your website with other systems. All of this needs to be thought out to ensure it fits technically and logically.
How will you measure performance?
Understanding who uses your site, where they come from and what content they enjoy is crucial to building your online presence. Without this information, you have no way of knowing if what you are creating is helping you achieve your goals.
Many DIY web platforms can easily integrate Google Analytics, or even have their own measurement systems in place (e.g. Shopify). Google Analytics integration is not difficult to integrate with a website. However, it is yet another step outside the website set-up process that DIY web platforms don’t provide as part of their turnkey offer.
The $150 website probably won’t suit your needs
So when contemplating a new website for your business, be it to support a marketing campaign, launch a new product or develop awareness for your products or services don’t just think about the cost. Because it’s just as important (even more so) to think about what you will say and the unique experience you are trying to create.
This way of thinking will ensure you can maximize your ROI—meaning you’ll be converting potential customers into leads or sales, not just building a website for the cheapest possible price.
You may have heard someone say: “I can build you a website in a matter of days, for as little as $150.”
You certainly can go that route. But I hope you can see there are a few things to think about before making a final decision on what will work for you and your business.