Most clients shopping for a website take a hot second to pop the big question, “how much does a website cost?” It's a fair question, but silently we're setting our hair on fire. But annoying developers and account managers want to know what you've allocated in your budget for the project. The tug-o-war begins. Frequently a new website is viewed as a do-over of its ancestor. Update the look, rattle the copy around, and make it faster.

Websites don't exist in a vacuum, so it's important to consider the entire digital ecosystem

Of course, this skips over the changing market and business conditions since the grandpa site was built. We believe the best approach to this conundrum begins with analyzing the current site, marketing challenges, and business issues. Websites don't exist in a vacuum, so it's important to consider the entire digital ecosystem – social media, landing pages, content, automation – before you start laying brick.

Define the problem(s) worth solving

Start by expecting more. List the items you already have on your team's web wish list but probe deeper into what the purpose of marketing in your organization and how it links with other business processes. So, what do all websites need more of? Sales, of course! Unless you are transacting business through e-commerce, the job of the website is to deliver the best-qualified prospects possible to sales. That means people who understand the advantages of your brand, can pay for it and have a near-term need. What's a lead worth to you?

Level up to the web competition

In the web marketing process, you should tear into the sites of your competitors. How are they presenting their products? Are they identifying points of separation for products and services that compete with your brands? And find out how their claims are supported: physician or patient testimonials, white papers, videos, blog posts. The purpose is not to copy a competitor's site, but to make sure you look like a player in the space.

The cost of organic traffic

Traffic from search engines is the lifeblood of any website. Don't skip the step of identifying the keyword set that's critical to your site's success. More product types mean more keywords, and more focused pages and more supporting content. How much is a top-three ranking on Google Search Results worth? Use Google's Adwords and an SEO tool to determine how much a keyword costs, and the relative difficulty of achieving a top ranking. Based on your expected conversion rate, how much is traffic worth to you?

Who will influence the sale?

The higher the price of a medical device or service the more people who will be involved in the purchasing food chain. For capital equipment, count on scrutiny from the CFO and/or CEO, but even a major sale can be derailed by an OR Supervisor, a mid-level accounting manager, or a physician. These people all have different information needs and reference points, and you can handle them with a layered information scheme, or microsites. How much is it worth to talk to more than one buyer type?

Invest in visuals

Scientists estimate that 20% of written communication is retained compared to 65% for visual information. That means poor photography, videos and graphics can be a major fail for your website by note making a great first impression. Also, find ways to turn your difficult communication problems into infographics or flow charts. Smart visuals will also command attention, hold it, and prevent a prospect from clicking away to another website. How much is it worth to make a better first impression, communicate more information, and surpass the visual presentation of your competitors?

Content that converts

Signups for videos, white papers, e-newsletters, online education, e-books, and other digital chotskies are the key to building search rankings, driving return visitors, demonstrating expertise in your field, and making your site important in your category. The quality and targeting of those tactics will directly affect the quality of the leads these tactics produce. What is the value of creating more reasons for prospects to visit your site, and capture a lead?

The power of integrations

Integrated platforms are faster. And speed is critical if you hope to interrupt a prospect's consideration of other alternatives. Instead of downloading leads from your website, connect it directly to your email platform. Have it trigger a schedule of mailings that the prospect receives immediately that support their reasons for visiting the site. Consider integrations to your CRM system like Salesforce. How much is it worth to nurture new prospects?

Fast answers for common questions

A robust and searchable blog and FAQ section allow customers to find the information they need 24/7/365. This keeps them on your site, engaged, and less likely to feed their info hunger elsewhere. An added benefit is saving customer service time spent answering common questions. Considering that 75% of the purchase is conducted through online comparisons and exploration before a prospect ever talks to sales. By focusing on the results and gaining buy-in from your team upfront, you'll have an important tool for allocating your budget and discouraging scope creep. The price of a website is important, but it exists in relationship to the results you'll derive from it.