A wake-up call to South African Business owners. You are grossly underspending, lowballing and getting little results from your digital marketing agency

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“The only way to change the results in your business or life is to take massive action.  In South Africa, it seems the norm has become to do as little as possible, spend as little as possible and be as little as possible (and then expect massive results)” – Albert Nel

I get it, times are tough.  You need to get maximum results for every penny that you spend.  Yet, the majority of business owners drive luxury cars, have beautiful offices, buildings, homes, storefronts, and spend significant amounts on printed, tv & radio ads.

But when it comes to their websites and digital marketing, I have 8 out of 10 people tell me, I don’t have a website, I don’t need one, and I have R200 – R300??? to spend on Facebook ads????  My question is very direct and argumentative yes but if that offends you then maybe the millennial in you needs a time out or a safe place, but really?  Since your online presence can be and will be seen by millions of people (thousands of times more than brick and mortar stores in the busiest malls), why spend the least amount of time and money on that? 

Is it because you used unqualified web designers that do not know how to market YOUR BUSINESS, did they even take the time to consider that your website must actually do something, you know like convert customers into sales?  Sell products? Gain exposure for your services?  Not just sit there and take up server space. Think we already know the answer to the question, as I am sitting with an inbox full of quotes from web designers who quote ridiculously low prices to my clients just to “make” a website, that is standard, boring, and does not convert.  And they price to undercut everyone else and then do sub-par work.  I do not even subscribe to that channel or behavior, that is what makes it harder and harder for clients to understand the importance of a good marketer or digital agency.

Where is the traffic supposed to come from?  Do people automatically just find your website, your social media page?  And what do they do there? 

Do they read your “About Us”?  Or would you like them to be so excited about your business, service or product that they seek the “add to cart” button or the contact us now button right away? Can they easily find you on social media?  Are your social media pages looked after and does it convey an authentic inside look into your business that people can identify with?

Simply put websites are just as or more important than your storefront, office, board room presentations, products, and your services.  This is where people make decisions, and decide whether they want to do business with you or not. It is up to you which way this goes.

Are you going to take the chance of spending money with the “guy I know who is good with computers” on a website to represent your brand?  Someone who doesn’t strictly own a business of his own, or has had the experience of going from no clients to thousands of clients with enormous effort, late nights, stress and hardships.

Another misconception:  We do not just sell you a well-designed website, it simply forms a base from where we can convert clients.  In 2019 and going forward we have the most amazing social & digital marketing tools.  It can put you in front of your ideal clients in your area, or internationally.  This obviously costs money.  But in all our case studies it costs far less than traditional old analog adverts. And they bring results, real results, measurable results.

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Here is what our friends in the USA use as a baseline for costs on websites, hosting, updates, backups, and digital marketing.  So back to my question, what makes you think R200 – R300, Or a R1000 website is going to help your business in any way?

So, what’s the answer?  Well simply, we know money is tight in SA, so we sell digital marketing retainers so you can spend a monthly amount with us, and we unleash our full creative suite of tools on your business and build you an ongoing and effective digital marketing strategy and campaign.  Contact us today if you are interested in this:


Basic Website Components and Costs

On average, the following figures can be applied to estimating the cost of a small business web site

Domain Name – $14/year

  • Hosting – $10 to $100 a year (depending on traffic & hosting services)
  • Web planning, design, and development time – 60 hours and up
  • Continued website Maintenance – $500 a year and up (depending on number/type of updates required)
  • Marketing your website online – $750 a month and up

Important Factors that Contribute to Website Cost

When trying to budget web design costs there are a number of factors to consider:

  • Is this a brand-new site or a redesign?
  • How prepared are you – do you have a detailed requirements document?
  • Do you need a blog or content management functionality (CMS)?
  • Do you have graphics already created for the site?
  • Do you want the site to automatically resize for mobile and tablets?
  • Do you need multimedia (animations, video, etc.) on the site?
  • How much content do you have and how much do you need to be created?
  • Do you need other special features like social media channels, SEO, eCommerce, or something else?
  • Who is going to maintain the site after it has been launched?

Below we go into greater detail regarding these items and an estimate of how much you should budget for them. The prices listed are based on 9 years of experience. Prices will most probably be higher or lower depending on your specific requirements. Be sure to contact us for an estimate.

New Sites Often Cost More Than Redesigns

When you’re starting from scratch, so is the web designer. They have nothing to work from; they can’t look at your existing site and get an idea of your online brand or features and functionality requirements.  All new sites require a “discovery and documentation” process.  This process will help define the online brand, website structure, and functionality. We think this process is critical because it helps set expectations on all sides and reduce potential frustrations. Simple business websites, where the client has a solid idea of what they want, can get by on a minimal amount of discovery and documentation, perhaps one day’s worth of effort.  BUT… more complex websites may require weeks of meetings and the creation of many detailed documents to fully define the project.

Interface Design

Interface design is also referred to as the look-and-feel or visual design. The interface design will incorporate your branding, all your photos, and images, even your page layouts. Don’t assume that if you’ve already got a pre-made template you won’t need any images or layouts re-done. Interface design is usually an iterative process, this means that the designer will show you several options and then modify those based on your feedback to arrive at an approved design.  For a small business website, budget $1,200 – $3,500 to get you from concept through to the final design that will be handed off to the developers for programming. Don’t skimp on the interface design or visitors won’t give your website a second glance.

Images and Graphics

Website graphics are tricky because they can range from $10 each for cheap stock images to $100’s of dollars each for custom or high-end stock images. Compelling and appropriate graphics can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your website. On the low-end, budget at least $100 for stock images.  If you have a good designer, they can make a cheap image look like a custom one.

But that’s not all. You will probably also need stock icons and buttons to compliment your design.  Budget $50 for them as well.

Mobile and Responsive Design Cost

Mobile devices are swiftly becoming critical to online success and your design should at least be mobile-friendly. The best designs are “responsive“, designed to automatically adjust their layout to look good on multiple devices: smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Creating a responsive design can cost 20% – 30% more than a site for a desktop web browser (the price of progress). This cost is because the interface designer needs to design how the site will look on the various devices, the programmer will need to program the designs and finally, more testing is required before the site is ready to launch. Almost all our projects these days include responsive programming.

Costs for Content Creation and Insertion

The least expensive way to go is to create all the content yourself and have us insert it into the site. But if you want us to create and add your content and adjust the layout of the text, you should budget $50 – $100 per page.

Programming Special Features Often Cost Extra

There are a ton of extra features that web developers can integrate that will improve your business but can also up the price. Sometimes these features are “included” in your website framework – but beware, just because they are “included” doesn’t mean that they look or work the way you want. The estimates below reflect the general requirements we have seen, however, there are many factors that can push these costs higher. If you don’t see your add-on here just give us a call and we can provide an estimate.

  • Custom Content Management Systems- for clients who want to manage their own content we integrate and customize content management systems (CMS). We work with PHP-based open-source CMS solutions like Drupal and WordPress. Costs for integrating and customizing a CMS can range from $2,000 to $20,000.
  • Training and documentation – You will probably need some instructions and documentation on how to maintain and edit site content. Depending on how extensive this is, expect to pay from $400 – $1,000
  • Blog– Many clients want a WordPress or similar blog within their website, customized to their website branding and design. This ranges from $100 – $500.
  • E-commerce shopping carts, catalogs, payment processing $1,500–$5000 or more depending on requirements.
  • Email Marketing Campaigns- Clients that want to gather emails and send out branded email blasts for announcements or newsletters require an Email management tool. We integrate 3rd-party tools (graphicmail, MailChimp, constant contact, etc.) and create an email blast template design, we can even manage your email blasts. $720 and up.
  • Branding/Identity Development- Logo design is something we are often asked to do. On the low-end, we start with an 8-hour process that generates about 6 rough logo concepts. If one of these is chosen, we go through several rounds of edits to arrive at a final version. $900 – $3,500
  • Style Guides- An online style guide is important because it establishes brand consistency and provides a guide for all your print collateral and online marketing. Basic style guide $1,440.
  • Targeted Landing Pages- Landing pages are pages that promote a specific product or service. They are usually part of an email, social media, or banner ad campaign. We can design and create these pages starting at $450.
  • Newsfeeds of both your content (outgoing) and adding content to the site (incoming) $400
  • Contact forms and surveys $300 and up
  • Newsletters $400 – $900
  • Advertising integration (Google AdWords) $200
  • Photo gallery $250 – $500
  • Metrics: Google analytics, custom reports, etc. $200–$2000
  • SEO: on-page optimization, off-page optimization submission to search engines, etc. $750–$4000+
  • Social media: Create and manage social media network profile such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn etc. $500–$2000

So How Much Does a Small Business Website Cost?

The majority small business websites we design, develop and launch range from $3,000 – $20,000. Using the a la carte estimates above you can see how they can add up quickly. Another way to break the budget down is to assume:

  • 15% Planning
  • 25% Interface design
  • 40% Programming
  • 20% Project Management

And Don’t Forget the Maintenance Cost

Websites don’t just maintain themselves, and the best are changing all the time. Maintenance is something that most businesses forget to budget or think that they can do it themselves. But the first time you delete your entire home page by mistake and lose 8 hours of sales trying to get it back up and running, you’ll wish you’d spent the extra money on a maintenance contract. Make sure your web developer offers post-launch maintenance; many don’t because they can’t be bothered by clients calling with small requests.

Maintenance contracts vary greatly depending upon what you expect from the firm. You should budget a minimum of $150 per month to have a designer/developer on call if you have a problem that you can’t fix. And if you expect them to do additional work such as creating new images, adding new content, maintaining social media or newsletters, etc. expect the price will go up.  Redline SEO Services offers customized full-service maintenance plans.

Final Note

A final note: If this website will be a significant part of your business PLEASE DON’T SKIMP on the design and development. If you’d expect to pay $100,000 for a brick and mortar retail shop (inventory, interior design, furniture, rent, utilities, staff, equipment, insurance, etc) – then don’t balk at paying reasonable rates for the creation of your online business.  So, for a small business website, you can spend as little as $3,000 or as much as $20,000 or more.  Your budget should be based on what your business needs.

Please let us know what you think.  Obviously, these numbers when converted in Rands in South Africa comes to a place where even the wealthiest of businesses will not go for it and take their chances.  And we understand, we didn’t spend nearly as much on our own, nor are we supposing you should. 

There is no cookie-cutter way to quote on every business digital marketing solution. So please contact us and discuss what you need to be done, we might have a cost-effective way for you to start, and make the money necessary to build out your business, brand or product. We sincerely want to help you have online success, and we continuously learn and deploy the best strategies that work today, and will work in the future.  We do not even entertain any old analog methods anymore, as the writing has been on the wall for the last decade for old marketing.  It has its place for certain customers, but since most clients are on mobile devices, to open emails, browse social media, search for services or how to’s, shouldn’t you make sure they can find your business there?  Yes, or Yes?

We would love to help you!  Please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Albert Nel

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