Design / March 15, 2021
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In today’s marketing ecosystem, an A/E/C firm’s website warrants ongoing attention, time and fiscal resources. Your website—like hiring the best talent—should be viewed as an investment and not an expense, and it deserves an adequate portion of your annual marketing budget.
Our world has become increasingly digital and web-centric, making a firm’s website more critical to success than ever before. For many firms, they’re an integral part of a their business development, content marketing and talent acquisition efforts. So does your 2018 marketing budget reflect these changes?
You need to budget for more than simply covering hosting, CMS maintenance, security, domain registration, SSL certificates and other related items. Regardless of whether or not you’re planning to build a new website, you should set aside considerable funds each year for continuous improvement of your firm’s existing website. Your website is arguably your greatest marketing asset and should be given strategic attention on an ongoing basis.
Here’s a simple fact: the best performing websites of today are not static, online brochures, but rather living, breathing, active, marketing machines. The “launch it and forget about it” approach just doesn’t cut it anymore. With the changing nature of online marketing and the proliferation of content management systems, your website should be continuously improved and updated. So adequately investing in your website goes beyond an initial full-fledged, top-to-bottom redesign—something that may only happen every 3-5 years for many A/E/C firms. It extends to ongoing annual, monthly, regular investments in improvement.
Some firms may think that because they invested in a fully-customized content management system (CMS) that they won’t need to invest actual dollars into their website for a while, just staff resources to maintain it and update it. While it’s true that you shouldn’t plan to have the same level of expenditure each year between major redesigns, you should, however, set aside a portion of your budget each year specifically for improving and maintaining your website.
And improving your website involves more than simply keeping your news and blog up to date and adding in your latest product and service offerings. Inevitably, there are going to be certain enhancements and refinements that you simply can’t make without spending money.
The nature of the web is that of constant change. So even the best websites that seemed perfect upon launch, need to be refined along the way. Because things change: technology, web standards, search algorithms, browsers, best practices and even your firm’s business strategy. Your website should always be an accurate reflection of your business, and position your firm in the most impressive way possible.
Websites are very much like houses: once they’re built, they still require a lot of your time and money to maintain and improve. Hopefully, like an unfinished basement, your website was developed in a scalable manner, with all the “plumbing” in place to make future expansion doable without the need for a complete overhaul. But, you’ll also likely need to make updates, add new features and functionality and build on the current infrastructure.
Your initial website redesign budget wasn’t limitless, so you likely had to nix some components and functionality to fit within your means. You might have also intentionally planned for additional features to be added in as a second or third “phase” of the project. This could include adding in a blog, a client portal, marketing automation and CRM integration or building out certain sections of your website with more robust functionality. Developing a powerful website that functions as a platform for business development requires the necessary building blocks. This is one of the reasons why having a sizable website budget each year is so important. It gives your firm the means (and the motivation) to continuously add to and improve your website.
It’s also important to note that your website budget should go beyond traditional web design and development expenditures. After all, today’s websites are about much more than code, they are complex marketing tools that should serve as a platform for attracting prospects and generating leads. So when thinking about your marketing budget, be sure to set aside resources for your website that include ongoing lead generation strategy, content creation, search engine optimization, video production, infographic design, landing page optimization, marketing automation and other important website components.
While I don’t want to downplay the importance of superior web development, today’s A/E/C websites demand more than the capabilities that a traditional web development shop can offer. Your website is first and foremost a marketing tool and therefore it requires deep marketing expertise to provide the strategy and content necessary to make it more than just technically and visually impressive. So be sure that you partner with an agency that not only has the design and development capabilities needed, but also experience with similar clients and strong capabilities in strategy, content marketing and brand development.
Gone are the days when your website was just an add-on to your overall marketing program. Your website is the hub of your online marketing and a vital component of your overall marketing strategy. So be sure that your firm invests adequate resources—both physical and fiscal—to ensure that you maximize its effectiveness in your marketing program.