We talk with a lot of small business owners that are numerous stages of business. Some are just in the idea stage while others may be a startup or have been in business for several years. For those starting out, they ask if a website is even necessary (the answer is yes, small businesses need a website). Others ask how much they should spend on a website, what program they should use, and how can they maintain their website. All are great questions! What we DON’T get asked very often is, what are the ongoing costs of maintaining a website, and how do you know if your website is costing you too much? Unfortunately, your small business website may be wasting your marketing budget. Here’s how, and what to do about it.

The basic costs of maintaining a website

targeting the right peopleWe understand that getting a professional website built can cost money, but hopefully you understand that the investment will likely pay for itself in the long run. Here’s what you need to consider for ongoing maintenance. First, you have your domain, which you perhaps purchased through GoDaddy or numerous other domain sites. You can renew every year, every two years or however you choose but know it is an ongoing cost, so plan accordingly. Then you have your hosting fees; again, this might be GoDaddy or Bluehost or HostGator. Depending on your needs and budget, these are all solid choices. You also need a resource to maintain your website:  content updates, plugins, and other security updates. There are a lot of services that can do this for you, depending on your platform. If you’re using WordPress, a good maintenance service is WPsitehelpers. If you’re using Wix or SquareSpace or other more basic platforms, you can likely find a local marketing consultant that can help with upkeep if you don’t have the time or expertise to do it.

The hidden costs of your website

In addition to the costs listed above, there are actually other ways that your website may be wasting your marketing budget that you may not even be aware of. Here are the top five money wasters and how to fix them and save yourself and your business money.

Your website has a high bounce rate

bounce rateIf you’re spending marketing dollars to drive traffic to your site, only to have the majority of that traffic leave immediately, that’s a waste of money.  A “bounce” occurs when someone visits your website and leaves without interacting further with your site. Your bounce rate shows you the percentage of your visitors who bounce off of your site. Google Analytics considers a visitor to have interacted with your site if they visited at least one additional page. According to a Constant Contact article, you can reduce your bounce rate in three simple steps:

1.) Place your message on the left side of your home page, above the fold so visitors can quickly understand what you do

2.) Eliminate visual clutter on your content pages

3.) Present clear calls-to-action

Bounce rate tends to be the most expensive money drainer but, the easiest to fix.

Your website content isn’t relevant to your target audience

target audienceIf your content doesn’t speak to your target audience, the people you want to attract as leads and turn into customers, you’re wasting your budget. In addition to the fact that you’re spending money bringing them to your site, you may also be spending additional marketing dollars or sales dollars interacting with those that fill out a lead form or request more information, only to learn they aren’t a good match. The key to having relevant content on your site is to understand your target audience. A simple marketing strategy can help you identify who you really want as a client, and what their concerns are so that you can create website content to address those needs.

Your website doesn’t have the SEO basics

Make sure you have a solid grasp on what keyword phrases people would use to find you and then use those keyword phrases on your website. Use SEO basics to not only make sure people can find you in their searches, but also ensure your website is search engine friendly so that you rank well in search results and relevant traffic is being sent to your site. If your site isn’t optimized, all your efforts are simply wasting money. Using tools like Yoast SEO for WordPress is a good start, and then familiarize yourself with SEO basics.

Your site makes it difficult for people to contact you

People who are visiting your site for the first time may be in the early stages of making a decision. As such, many may be hesitant to pick up the phone and call you. If you only list a phone number and nothing else, you’re going to lose the opportunity for continued engagement with your website visitor. So, what should you do?  Give them several options to contact you include a phone number, and email address, and a contact form. If they’re not yet ready to contact you directly, encourage them to follow you on your social channels so that you’re still engaging with potential prospects through your social media messaging.

Your website does not have a good user experience

user experienceYour website needs to be easy to find, navigate and understand. The following can negative impact the user experience of your website:

  • Unclear navigation
  • No clear call to action to let visitors know what to do next
  • Few or no obvious ways to contact you
  • Slow load time
  • Not mobile friendly
  • Dated, clunky, or unattractive web design
  • Auto-play videos
  • Poorly sized text or images

If your site isn’t easy to use or doesn’t provide a good user experience, people will leave and not come back. Potential sale lost. Marketing dollars wasted.

Websites are an investment for small business owners. Be sure yours is working hard to bring you the traffic, leads and ultimately sales that you want so that your website isn’t wasting your marketing budget.

Patty Hughes
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