Budgeting Your 2008 Web Strategy

A week or so ago on IowaBiz Drew McLellan wrote a post about the need to start your 2008 marketing plan now, so you are ready to hit the ground running in two months (yea, two months).

The web does change how marketing is conducted – now more than ever where all the hot marketing techniques have gone online. As you may know I’ve been working on a long post / ebook on this subject. As a young, small, and yet to be profitable startup I have to stretch an extremely thin budget as far as I can for marketing purposes.

Granted, 75% of any marketing we do is via word-of-mouth but here are a few things to plan for in your 2008 Web Strategy Budget… I also threw in time because that should be included in a good budget – especially for us. At the end of this post are some great consultants/resources that can help you with any items in this list.

1. Hosting

Cost: $3-$50 a month based on your needs / Time: 1 time setup ~ 2 hours
If you are paying more than $5 a month for your blog you are getting ripped off. Get A New Browser costs around $40/year to operate which comes out to around $3.33 a month. The same goes for any relatively simple websites. Altogether we pay approximately $70/mo on our infrastructure costs. This includes all our web applications and their associated databases.

2. Analytics:

Cost: Free / Time: 30 minute setup, 1 hour weekly analysis
Analytics is a MUST HAVE for any business website (or any website for that matter). Knowing who visits your website is the first step towards running a successful one. Would you ever try selling anything to a market you know nothing about? I’d hope not – so you should treat your website with the same due dilligence.

Get Google Analytics and start tracking what your audience is doing on your website. Knowing your potential (and current) customer’s behaviour is a HUGE advantage.

3. SEO

Cost: $200-$1000 based on the size of your website / Time: 1-2 weeks
Once you have your Google Analytics setup you are privy to a wide array of information about your website and its traffic. You know what people search for to arrive at your site. You know what pages on your website are more popular than others. This information along with your brand can be the foundation of a great SEO campaign. None of the items I am listing today will have a better ROI than a good SEO campaign.

A good SEO consultant won’t try to “trick” search engines. Mike noted a distinct feature of a bad SEO consultant:

“Some small businesses still think there are tricks to ranking higher in search results due to placement of hidden keywords, lots of meta tags, or having your site submitted to 80 search directories.” IowaBiz

A good SEO consultant will tell you how to write blog posts in a semantically friendly way. They will show you other ways to enhance your existing content to attract search engines better. This is a key element of a popular blog. You want all those archived posts indexed to increase your residual traffic.

3. New Media (Social Media)

Cost: free-$300-$12000 / Time: however long you want to spend
New media is the next wave of marketing and if you are not present in this medium you will be soon left in the dust. I’m guessing that if you are reading this blog you are full aware of it. The costs are completely variable based on how much you want to do – similar to traditional marketing. Here are the basics.

You should have some video – any video showing off you, your company, or your product. This is a far more intimate interaction to offer potential clients or anyone who is at your website to hear what you have to say. A standard video and some editing will cost around $300.

You should be present on social networks for an effective new media campaign. It will be essential in the coming months and years to know how you can use these mediums as secondary (and often primary) avenues of marketing. Basic consulting for your first month will cost you around $395. You can stop once you get the knack of it and do it yourself or continue letting the experts handle it.

Recognize the potential of different communication mediums like blogging, podcasting, video etc. Learn how to use these mediums as effective ways to extend conversations with your audience – and your potential customers. Again you can do this yourself or outsource it to the experts. Setting all this up can cost you anywhere from $1500 – $12,000 depending on what you want to accomplish.

4. Internet Marketing and Advertising

Cost: $50 – $10,000 / Time: 1 hour to 1 week depending on the size of your campaign
Please note that if you have not done SEO on your website you should do that first before entering into the Internet Advertising/Marketing ballgame. You want organic traffic before you pay for traffic. There are so many options (which will be a whole post or ebook) but the standard practices are Email Marketing, CPC and CPM, Link Ads, RSS Ads, and traffic arbitrage.

The easiest way to get started is a simple AdWords campaign – which if done properly should significantly increase your traffic.

One the other side of the coin is making money with your site. In this sense there are many options as well – from AdSense to Link Ads to Premium advertisements.

If you combine the two together you get a technique called traffic arbitrage where you pay for ads to drive traffic to a website where you are running ads. A good arbitrage campaign will purchase ads at $0.05 and sell ad space at $0.10 a click or impression. The return is obvious.

Both of these scenarios can be as confusing as handling your personal finance and taxes and often times should be left to the professionals. A good internet marketing consultant will often charge 10% of the advertising budget. It is well worth it as the ROI of a good AdWords campaign will have a significant impact on the worth of your website.

5. Legal

Cost: $17.99 – $5,0000 / Time: 1 hour consultation
There are a lot of aspects to think of when regarding legal issues with a website. You can start with $17.99 for Brett’s book Cyberlaw. After reading that you will realize there are a lot of legal issues that you did not know about when doing business on the web. If you want to cover your bases you can spend $500 on basic Terms of Use and Privacy Policies. You can also spend up to $5,000 on custom contracts. Also if you are not a legal corporate entity you should definitely look into that as there are many legal and tax benefits of doing so.

6. Production (Design and Development)

Cost: $500 – $10,000 / Time: 1 week to 2 months
If you are reading this you are obviously interested in doing business on the web. Obviously you need a website to do this – and one that doesn’t look like your teenage child made it in 1997. You may need a design audit to see if you fall in this class of out of date websites. If you do you need a new website. You can do this yourself but if you are not comfortable a basic website will cost you around $500 and is likely much better than you have if you fail the audit.

7. Intranet

Cost: Free – $10,000 / Time: 1 week to 1 month
Let’s start with the definition of an intranet… It’s essentially private web applications secured and accessible by you and maybe your clients. This ranges from good webmail to CRM’s, Wikis, Project Management, Bug Tracking, etc. If you are not using any of these you are definitely missing out an increased efficiency and productivity. If you ask me, these are a must for operating a business on the web.

Well, that was a long post, but hopefully informative as you are creating your web strategy - if you are creating a web strategy. If you do not have a web strategy or some sort of plan you should wake up and realize it’s almost 2008. In this era a web strategy is as important, if not more, than a business plan. It’s a MUST. And here are some people that can help you…

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Me: Analytics, SEO, Internet Advertising and Marketing, Production, and Intranet. Yes I am a self-professed web guru with a lot of experience in these areas. Let me know (abrudtkuhl[at]gmail.com) if you are interested in hiring me to help you create your web strategy. I know – shameless self promotion.

Chris Punke at FocalPoint can help you with all your web video needs.

Nathan Wright at LavaRow can help you with your new media marketing efforts.

Mike Sansone at Converstations can help you realize the avenues to take have conversations with your customers via new media channels.

Brett Trout can help you with your legal issues and Rush Nigut can handle your incorporation needs.

As far as anything else – I’m sure you can find someone to help you from the Central Iowa Bloggers. Let me know what you need in the comments and I can help you find the right person. Or just ask Adam or Andy – the networking guys. They know everyone.

Flickr photo from Wendibular

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3 Responses to Budgeting Your 2008 Web Strategy

  1. Larry Lehmer November 16, 2007 at 3:52 pm #

    Lots of good stuff here, Andy. It’s exactly the kind of advice non-techies like me need. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Noah Everett November 17, 2007 at 8:33 pm #

    Great post. I love articles that post real numbers, or at least real ranges.

    I spend 60 bucks a month for my hosting, which is a dedicated server. I set it up myself with FreeBSD and all the goodies I needed to run my web apps(PHP, MySQL, apache, ffmpeg, etc). All development/design is done by me as well, so I save a HUGE amount of money there. SEO and marketing are areas that I need some guidance in.

    I’ve been messing around with Adwords lately for http://www.echopic.com and I saw a decent traffic boost, but I definitely need to learn how to market better.

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