So we all know that a website is an vital part of generating revenue for businesses. But there’s more, you have to market it and measure its success too. Today there are more terms, tools, and companies to choose from than ever before. Many companies want to know how to choose a web design company. Choosing the right Indianapolis web design and marketing partner can be overwhelming. As the owner of the Indianapolis web design company, Exceedion.com, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories over the years. “The company we worked with is no longer in business.” and “I don’t know if we have analytics.” To protect your marketing investment and get a positive ROI you need to find a trusted digital marketing firm – but how do you do that? Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. So we put together 8 crucial tips you need to consider when choosing the RIGHT web design firm that aligns with your brand, budget and business goals.
1. Creditable and Established
To avoid the horror stories above and to get a positive return on investment (ROI) it’s important to find a credible and established web design firm that aligns with your needs. You should find out how long the firm has been in business and are they incorporated. You can find this information by searching the state’s business entity directory or Dun and Bradstreet website. This helps weed out the garage shops that are here today and gone tomorrow leaving you stranded. Read customer reviews on Google, LinkedIn and Facebook to learn what their customers experiences have been. Finally, ask for 3 to 6 references from the firms you’re considering – and call them.
2. Great Work
Find a firm that produces professional websites and solid marketing strategies that align with your brand and business goals. Take a close look at the firm’s website and their clients. The firm’s website should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, provide easy to find information about their services, contain a portfolio of credible work and must be mobile friendly. Typically a design firm’s own website is an example of their best work. If it’s bad, run – fast. If they are doing great work their portfolio should include some major projects, companies or brands in your area. Lastly, ask for client case studies showcasing great design and results from traffic increase, leads generated, conversions and new business.
3. Full Service Agency
It’s essential to understand what services the web design firm or marketing agency provides. The days of build it and they will come are long over. Today’s websites must also include a marketing strategy to increase traffic, generate qualified leads, create conversions, close customers turn them into promoters. Take a look at HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing for and example. Find a full service (all-in-one) agency that provides integrated digital marketing services. More specifically, look for a firm that offers; digital marketing strategy, web design, website development, responsive websites, inbound marketing, content marketing, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics. It’s also a good idea to know what certifications they hold as well as what services they provided in-house versus outsource.
4. Understand Pricing
Typically, professional web design firms and agencies use a fixed pricing model with a percentage due to begin work and a percentage due upon completion. There may be some payments due in-between at predetermined milestones depending on the size of the project. Ongoing marketing campaigns often utilize a retainer or monthly fixed fee to execute the strategy on a monthly basis. Most ongoing marketing campaigns require some time (6-12 months) to build momentum and ROI. You should also understand the firms policy on out-of-scope work. What’s considered out-of-scope, what’s their hourly rate and what’s the approval process. To avoid surprises, put together a detailed project requirements document and obtain a detailed scope of work (SOW) agreement from the firm. It’s also important to understand the terms of website maintenance, support and ongoing marketing campaigns. Lastly, know your budget and business goals and think in terms of ROI. Check out this free ROI calculator from HubSpot.
5. Details, Details, Details
You’ve heard the term the devil is in the details. Like in many things, this is very true in web design and marketing. Details will make or break your project. Protect your investment by working with a highly detailed firm or agency. A detailed SOW is critical to the success of your project. It defines exactly what you are getting and tells the firm exactly what they are producing. It also eliminates failed expectations and keeps scope creep to a minimum. Investing in a detailed marketing strategy including such things as; SWOT analysis, buyers personas and a well defined content marketing plan, are critical in reaching your audience and maximizing your ROI. A qualified firm will have well defined and documented processes throughout the lifecycle of your project to assure quality and efficiency. Check out these 25 things to test before your website goes live.
6. Content Management System (CMS)
Today, many companies want to maintain or update the website content themselves once the site is launched. If that’s you, here are some things to consider. When selecting which firm or agency to choose, ask them what CMS the new or redesigned website will utilize. WordPress powers 68% of the know CMS, according to Forbes, and is an excellent choice. WordPress offers drag and drop functionality, thousands of awesome plugins and easy to use text editing tools. These allow businesses to easily add, edit and delete pages and blog posts. Make sure, i yo want to manage the content yourself, that the firm you choose includes WordPress training. There are a few areas which require a web developer or digital marketing professional such as custom HTML, CSS, plugin configuration and keyword optimization. It’s important to understand when and where those services are needed and the fees associated with them up front. Read more about our WordPress based CMS solutions.
7. Ongoing Support
When choosing a web design firm or marketing agency you need to consider what support is offered. Just having a website is NOT enough. It’s critical that you choose a firm that is highly skilled in designing, building AND marketing the website. You will want to find a firm that has proven expertise in inbound marketing, content marketing, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and metrics. Gain an understanding of the strategy moving forward and the costs associated with that strategy. Find a firm that offers training, regular analytics and ongoing maintenance support when needed. Lastly, look for a company that is interested in a long term relationship, communicates well and you would love to work with.
8. Measure and Track ROI
Your website is an investment. How will you know if your money is being well spent? You’ve probably received hundreds and hundreds of search engine optimization (SEO) SPAM email offers claiming to increase my search ranking and traffic. Claiming is NOT enough. Find an agency that provides regular reports on new site visits, leads generated, landing page conversions, e-commerce transactions and new business. Also look for a firm that provides regular social media metrics such as top posts, impressions, clicks, likes and shares. These metrics will help your business determine what marketing activities are working effectively to provide a positive return on investment (ROI).
In summary, you don’t just want to hire a web design and marketing partner based on price. These 8 awesome tips for choosing your web design and marketing partner will help you choose a qualified firm that fits your needs.