site-costWe have been asked the question many times; how much is a website? Our former pat answer was, “How long is a piece of string?” In hindsight, that was not very helpful, and the actual answer is much more complicated. There is an easy way, however, to decide how much a website can and should cost.

What do you need your website to do?

First ask yourself, what role does your website have in the big picture when it comes to marketing your business? Is your site an online brochure designed to direct potential clients to more information? Or are you using it to attract potential customers through search results on Google, Bing and Yahoo and then enticing them to get in touch via filling out an online form or calling a phone number? Even more, is it an online store that introduces your brick and mortar business to a larger online audience? There are other scenarios as well, but we have found that these are the three big requests 110RPM has been tasked with in the past by our clients. In any event, the first step is to decide what you need your website to do. The second step would be determining your budget.

How Do You Figure Out Your Budget?

A website can cost your business nothing (Web.com, Wix and Squarespace) or hundreds or more often, thousands of dollars. The cost can vary greatly depending on your marketing needs and even the size of your business. For instance, a website for McDonald’s would cost far more than one built for your local mom and pop restaurant. 110RPM has created websites for as little as $2,500, but others have cost into the tens of thousands of dollars. And, of course, we have done everything in between as well. So all this begs the question, how much should you spend? A typical baseline marketing budget should be 5% of your gross income. That 5% should include all of your marketing for the year. That means your business cards, collateral, networking and meeting expenses and general advertising. Let’s say your business grossed $1,000,000 last year. You should set aside $50,000 for your yearly marketing budget. Should you spend that all on your website? Probably not, but it could be a large portion of that depending on how much your business relies on your website for generating new customers. If you have an online business, we would suggest you put at least 20-40% of your $50,000 into your website. That will cover a lot of the elements that need to go into a successful website, such as professionally written content, photos, graphics and top-notch development. And don’t forget about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)! It will help your site rank higher on major search engines when customers are looking for your specific products and services.

Where to go from here?

Keep in mind, this is a rule-of-thumb approach, but it also represents real-world costs of doing business. It’s a great way to determine where and how you should allocate your marketing dollars. So in closing, buying a website is like buying a vehicle. Do you need a Cadillac, a BMW or a Ford? They all satisfy different requirements and come with different costs depending on the features that are included. So just ask yourself, where do you need your website to take your business and what can you buy using your 5% budget rule?