Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade you’ll have heard about the WordPress Content Management System. It powers somewhere in the region of 25% of all websites, online. Latest estimates put that figure close to 80 MILLION websites, by the way. We’ve been working with WordPress, building websites, sales pages, e-comm sites, online courses and membership websites and even custom online marketing mechanisms like Loyalty programs and stock management systems, using WordPress since 2007, so it’s really second nature to us. It’s a fantastic, but flawed system.
WordPress Website Design Costs
Of course, if you have heard of WordPress, you’ll know it’s what is known as an “Open Source” Content management system (CMS), meaning it’s absolutely, 100%, always and forever, free. Also worth noting you can get WordPress themes which install into WordPress for as little as $0 up to $100 for ultra-premium themes. So you can get a WordPress website for your business for free, right? Wrong. There is an important range of differentiations to make here.
1) The Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
WordPress.com and WordPress.org are not technically the same company, though they did start out that way and their interface is fairly identical. The difference is that WordPress.com is a hosted platform (“software as service”) with very limited appeal to serious marketers. Functionality and flexibility of themes and feature sets are not really controllable (you basically have to live with what they allow you and that doesn’t always add up to a marketable platform).
How you like them apples? WordPress.org on the left
WordPress.org on the other hand is an Open Source CMS with an enormous community of developers behind it, creating and managing plugins, code and software for the community. This is the CMS you need to use for your business website as it is endlessly flexible and provides marketers like us a real, viable way to create custom websites that serve the owner (business) in marketing, generating leads for the business and converting (and remarketing) to prospects.
So, while you can basically get a ‘free website’ without more than $100 outlaid, and install it in likely no more than 5 clicks, why in the world would you (should you) pay a company like ours an average of $4-6k to ‘build’ you a WordPress website? Is this whole thing a scam!? How could we ever justify that price for a WordPress website? Outrage! Lol.
The truth is probably pretty obvious, but in the interests of clarity, I’ll outline it all here so you can move with your best foot forward.
Is Building a WordPress Website Simply Choosing the Right Theme?
First, a ‘website’ is not just choosing a theme, or an aesthetic. Sure, some of the WordPress themes you can purchase for $59 come with demo content and look superb out of the box (we do actually use a select few of these for the basis of clients’ websites, as well as semi-custom designs). However, more and more, in every industry and niche, having a ‘nice looking website’ simply isn’t nearly enough to ensure that your website is a lead-generation magnet for prospects and new customers, or that it competes (and wins) against your competition. And I’m guessing your competition is pretty stiff these days, am I right? How to beat your competition with your website, you may ask?
In fact, if you watch my free “Pillars of online marketing” training series on my Youtube Channel, you’ll discover that this aesthetic aspect is little more than 1/5th of what you actually need to have a successful website for your brand.
Aesthetics form the first ‘pillar’ of online marketing, so of course you need to make sure your site looks attractive, clean and engaging. But after that, how do people interact with your website? What is their impression of your brand and its’ highly individual story?
The truth is that, in behind the aesthetic first-impression people are met with, you must (MUST) have a succinct, fluid User Experience (UX), User Interface (UI), Conversion Strategy, traffic generating strategies, fulfillment mechanics, analytics and funnel systems in place on your website to appropriately siphon visitors (traffic) into “buckets” from those who are:
Not interested and never will be
Not interested now but could be in the future
Interested right now but need more convincing
Interested right now and want to buy now
So what do you need in order to do this? You need a funnel. A funnel is a strategic, automated sequence of pages, communications and deliverables which engage with your prospects and place them in the appropriate ‘buckets’, as above. It’s basically a segmentation approach that your website should automate.
Each visitor type might have a very distinct, custom user flow through the website. So those in bucket 1 will leave and never come back (and that’s ok!), those in bucket 2 will want to be added to your marketing list so you can build trust for when they are ready, those in bucket 3 will also need this, but perhaps more of a proactive prompt to purchase through a strategic email sequence, and those in bucket 4 will need to be provided with easy steps to buy from you right now.
So how does this all happen? Hint: it’s not by magic. It’s strategic down to the nth degree. We start out with the process we call “Strategic Systematic Deployment” when building out our strategy and work our way through each component in a pragmatic, logical way. Here’s the exact process we follow to build the ideal WordPress website for our clients (or even our own agency website).
STAGE 1 – Due Diligence.
We get to know the clients’ brand, the products/services, the messaging, the competitors and the marketplace. We offer website design for so many industries that this is an essential component to our process and how we set up sites for success from day one. By interacting with your brand we begin to understand your ideal client type, your products/services, and from there we can retro-engineer the ideal mechanisms to engage appropriately with each of the client types.
STAGE 2 – User Journey Mapping
(UX, UI and Conversion Strategy). We create a unique journey in ‘sketch’ format for each audience type (e.g. those in the buckets above). This is really a skeleton outline of how they will interact with the site, and a step-by-step mapping of where they go, dynamically, when faced with specific decisions or Calls to Action on the site. This MUST be custom to be successful for the client site so this is why a ‘stock theme’ is not nearly enough.
STAGE 3 – Wireframes.
From the ideal, optimized User Experience & user Interface, we plot out content blocks with strategic precision. Why a message should go here or there. Why a button should be placed here as opposed to there. This process plots out the pathway to success on your site and the great thing is that using WordPress.org we can build absolutely anything we desire. Hence a custom process coming to life through intelligent design and programming.
STAGE 4 – Aesthetic Design.
So hang on, aesthetic design is the first impression people are met with, but it’s the 4th stage in the process!? Yes, that’s correct and it’s important it’s done this way (assuming a custom aesthetic is required) so that the aesthetic overlays onto the UX/UI and conversion mechanics, and not the other way around. We start with the brand identity, color palette and existing assets, if these are present. This is key because on the website we need to create a consistent messaging and voice for the brand as this will lead to faster trust, better engagement and higher conversion rates, when visitors interact with the site.
This process can be done A) custom (blank canvas), B) Semi-custom (utilizing a premium WordPress theme but customizing key pages on the site like the homepage, to match our custom UX/UI) or C) “stock” (i.e. taking a premium theme and living with its’ in-built UX/UI and populating the site with client content.
STAGE 5 – WordPress Website Development Service.
We take the approved aesthetic designs, built onto of the custom UX/UI and Conversion strategy and bring it to life in the development room on a staging server. Of course, we normally use WordPress and build the site on that CMS, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. This can be done using a stock WordPress Theme or a fully custom website design but it can also be created using other platforms (e.g. Shopify). This process can therefore take anywhere from 3-4 days to many months depending on the complexity and functionality involved in the site, and is ultimately one of the major reasons that a WordPress website can never just be as little an investment as $59 for a theme, rather it takes weeks to form a tailored approach for your business, your customers and ultimately your success, online.
STAGE 6 – Mobile Optimization, Testing & Migrationto Final Server.
When the desktop version of the site is set, mobile optimization will be mostly done already but this is also the ideal time to fine tune mobile optimization for multiple devices. All sites should be either responsive (i.e. they shift form and layout to best display the site for any and all screen sizes and resolutions) or a separate mobile site should be built (e.g. Amazon.com). Once that’s done, we test all the links & performance of the website (e.g. image sizes, load times) and push the thing live on your desired end server. It’s an oddly exciting and rewarding process for us!
STAGE 7 – Analytics & Refinement
The bit that most people leave to chance is one of the biggest mistakes they make in online marketing. Without an analytical approach to your online assets you’ll be doing everything blind. Every decision you make post-launch in terms of improving your website should be guided and informed by strong analytics (and the analysis of those analytics, by someone who knows what they are looking for). The sad truth is that most web designers, marketing companies, in this day and age, do not understand how to approach analytics, draw inference from them, or indeed strategically adapt their approach for future performance.
Only by looking at user behaviors on your website, for instance, can you measure the changes you make when compared to that initial baseline. Change some text here or there, add a video in this spot, a call to action button here or there… All those things should be measured so you can ensure you never regress from the point of launch.
*You’ll also have to factor in hosting costs and website security. We recommend WP Engine or Liquid Web for most uses and would genuinely recommend you stay away from companies like GoDaddy, 1and1, Bluehost, Hostgator and Network Solutions. These companies offer little support, poor security and website performance and are often the sites we see getting hacked, penalized in SEO and lose visitors.
In Conclusion – WordPress Websites Need Us 🤗
… And THAT’S why we charge between $4-6k+ on average for a website. The process detailed above involves multiple layers and strategies that most ‘website designers’ simply are not aware of. The psychological approach to marketing, the essential nature of a fluid, frictionless UX/UI and even a conversion strategy. Those things take time, expertise and crafting to ensure they work for the client in creating a lead-generating home on the web. And if you ignore one or other, well, the website simply won’t be as successful for your business as it should be.
Add to that, the importance of ensuring your website uses a consistent brand messaging and voice that reinforces your Brand/product benefits in a way that is conducive to building trust and that’s a pretty tricky thing to achieve as you can probably imagine. Which is exactly why experts like us have continued to thrive in the marketplace over the last decade, because there just aren’t that many of us around.
Hopefully this helps lay out the features a successful website should have and why a good WordPress agency can make the world of difference to your business if you go the semi-custom or custom route.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below for us and make sure to visit the Youtube Channel for more free training.
If you missed Part 1; watch it first, here https://youtu.be/rt1qLn8OJ54
In this second part of the training I’ll show you the keys to the last stages of “Conversion”. Including how to design effective Calls to Action, a strategy for instant conversion success and what “Fulfillment Mechanics” mean to your long-term success in online marketing.
I know that, for a number of reasons, almost 100% of clients who come to us for consultation have websites that are missing a number (if not all) of the key elements that I’ll detail below, which would have certainly brought them more success if they’d been in place earlier.
The truth is that very few small-to-medium sized businesses have an effective online marketing strategy, whatsoever. If that’s the case for you, unfortunately you’re mainly gearing yourself for failure or at best, hoping for a miracle.
So, what are these key factors to website success, the “big mistakes” you’re making, I hear you ask? At their most basic level (essential ‘pillars’), they are:
1) You Don’t Have A Good Aesthetic
Guys set up “web design businesses” all the time as they feel that, with a little coding knowledge, they can be a web designer. The problem is that it’s not just about being able to code up some incarnation of a site that can be placed ‘online’.
The aesthetic can build trust, impress, hell it can even do a good portion of converting a prospect, for that very reason.
Plenty of times online I’ll buy from a site simply because it looks professional or trustworthy. The effort that has gone into designing a slick site builds confidence in the company because it looks like they take their business seriously.
2) You Have no Defined Traffic-Generating Strategy
It’s one thing to have your beautiful website sitting waiting for your next big prospect to arrive. The problem comes in targeting those prospects and bringing them to your website in the first place.
This is where you need to develop and implement an effective strategy for actually attracting people to click on the link to your website. Here are some of the base strategies you should be implementing right now:
Online Advertising – Run a Google, Facebook, Linked In, Youtube or Bing Ad Campaign – Paying for your traffic is an essential form of traffic generation, especially upon launching your website. It’s super easy, though Google sometimes make it trickier than necessary – so, I’ve done a quick, free Google tutorial here which should help.
Social Media – If you’re interested in using social media to drive traffic to your website here are a couple of important tips. First, on your Facebook page, make sure your website link is right up top in that page description. It makes it easier for people to just ‘click’ through (see image below). Next, make sure any relevant links back to your website have a call to action attached (for instance “Click here for the full article”)
Blogging & SEO– If you’re a small business with a goal of building interest and engagement on your website, blogging is almost essential. The reason I’ve included SEO here is that it’s actually very difficult to build ‘organic’ (free) traffic to your website without SEO and it’s subsequently much, much easier to do that if you are blogging about what you do.
Direct Response Marketing (in the email sense) – This sounds a little confusing but all the term really relates to is the strategy of email “list building” and then marketing to that list. When I refer to ‘direct response’ or ‘list building’, you may also have heard it called “database marketing” or “email marketing”. So the key here is to start building a list. You do this by having a focused area of your website geared toward offering something of perceived value to your prospect… in exchange for their email address. The most common forms of “bribe” are ebooks, video training, webinar access, discount codes etc. The key here is to identify something that really is of ‘value’ to your visitors and then making sure they can get instant access to this by signing up there and then. To facilitate this you would need to use a service like www.mailchimp.com to manage your list for you. You would also need to set up a sign up form on your site. There are many ways to do this but often they look something like the image below, which we designed for a client (also see first image, above for another method within the design).
3) Your Content Sucks (e.g. Poor Engagement)
It is highly important that the images and written content on your website attract, and then engage, visitors. This ensures loyalty, trust and ultimately, conversion.
So, pay attention to each image, written word, link on your website – throw out images or text that are surplus to requirements. Make sure they all make sense, are free of typos and offer valuable, bite-sized chunks of information for visitors who will then be prompted to subscribe, buy or contact you (whatever your goal may be).
This is especially true if you are blogging as your website will be regularly updated with new content – so make sure it’s “all killer, no filler” by writing information down which is of true benefit and value to your potential customers. The era of hiding your information away is dead; people want answers and help, and they want it now – if they can’t find it with you (fast) they will simply go elsewhere.
So give it to them in order to establish and cultivate all important trust, upon which you can then build upon and convert them into paying customers.
4) You Have no Conversion Strategy
It’s baffling how many websites have no real focused “calls to action” present within them. A call to action is simply a link, button or instruction which tells the visitor to take a very specific, intended course of action. It is effectively telling your visitor what action they need to take next to get the most value out of your website.
Depending on your website, your core focus for conversion may be for the visitor to ‘subscribe to your email list’ or simply to ‘buy your product now’. Whatever it is, you need to decide on that core focus and then strategise about how to get that visitor to take that specific action.
The key here is to not give your visitor too many options, as this can result in ‘paralysis through analysis’ whereby the visitor cannot make an informed decision and will therefore simply exit your website. So be clear with your instruction to improve conversion and retention.
Without these strategic prompts on your website you’re leaving a huge chunk of money on the table, because it makes it very difficult for a visitor to decide what to do next.
So, you may use buttons/links that say:
Add to Cart
Get Instant Access
Start Your Free Trial
Take the Next Step
Secure The Deal
Whatever you choose to use should be affirmative in its’ wording and should make it abundantly clear to your prospect exactly the course of action they need to take next to get access to your product/service.
If you start by making sure each of these key elements is in place on your website you will eliminate a vast majority of ‘bounces’ away from your website (where people land on it and then leave it immediately).
If you’d like a complete A-Z online marketing blueprint, with no technical experience required, you can get instant training by clicking the button below:
4 Secrets That Online Marketing Companies Won’t Tell You…
I could get in trouble for this with other online marketing companies, no doubt.
In this article I want to expose and discuss a few of the biggest secrets that online marketing companies everywhere are keeping from you, as clients, that you need to be aware of to achieve success online.
1) You Can Get it Cheaper Elsewhere – Online Marketing Companies’ Prices Vary Wildly
Secret no.1 is potentially the biggest of all because you can always get it cheaper elsewhere. There are hundreds of resources online which will connect you with web designers, developers and full-service online marketing companies around the world who can do it cheaper than your existing online marketing company, or even our web agency. It’s just a fact of life.
Next, your options are less limited than ever before and it’s now truly possible to do it yourself and build a pro website and online marketing strategy (sometimes even to an agency standard), without the need for a programmer or experience in online marketing. It can be quite the revelation.
Whether you choose to put the time into that learning curve alone is your choice, but it’s important to note that the resources are right there, at your finger tips, online.
What Content Management System to Use For Better Online Marketing Performance
If you are open to putting the effort in and spend a little time learning systems like WordPress, you can pretty effectively build a relatively professional website for less than $100.00 using ‘themes’ which are designed by industry-leading programmers and online marketing companies; some that can be installed in seconds.
If this sounds like a good option, we have a complete blueprint for doing this here.
Websites Should be an Investment
However, the reason why I’m open to revealing these secrets is that online marketing companies like ours still get all the high-paying private clients due to the fact that we specialise in offering bespoke consultancy packages based on a number of major benefits.
First, we build excellent websites, we research the niche, we offer services in all areas of digital marketing to ensure the strategy & website are polished, Search Engine Optimised, positioned correctly and effective for our clients.
That is a hard task to achieve yourself unless you have a strict blueprint to follow or someone to hold your hand through it all.
Our Recommendation In Terms Of Website Build & Online Marketing
If I had a personal recommendation for businesses, it would be to sit at either end of the scale – either do it all yourself or invest heavily in a one-to-one consultant who will develop a strategy for you and either show you how to implement it, or do it all for you.
By sitting in the ‘middle’ and opting for a mid-level-agency you’re guaranteed to get mid-level results because your agency will not be heavily invested enough in getting you what you really want… which is those high-end results.
Cheap or mid-level agencies will generally provide a nice looking website but rarely will they hit all the sweet spots between aesthetics, online strategy, SEO and so on (see below for the “four pillars”).
It’s a personal approach but one that we value (and our clients value, above all else). To see why, please read our testimonials at the base of this post.
2) “You Don’t Need to Pay $5000-10000 for a “Custom Built” Content Management Solution” From a Flashy Online Marketing Companies
Lie no.2 is simply designed as a money-recoup. Some online marketing companies spend thousands, even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, on building their own content management systems, which rarely, if ever come even close to matching the free resources available online today.
Content management systems like WordPress, e-commerce resources like Shopigy and even shopping cart solutions like Stripe… These companies have spent years and $millions employing some of the smartest coders in the world, all to bring to the table simple, easy-to-use resources which WORK and function as they should.
That is a hard pill to swallow for most web agencies who have developed their own systems but it is, nevertheless true.
So, when a small company tries to push their own CMS on you, just be wary, that’s all. Ask questions, see it in action – if it does all it says on the tin, then why not use it, but otherwise you’ll probably find better solutions out there for much less of an investment.
However, I’d suggest there’s probably already a better solution, for less money, out there already. Just do your research and ask advice.
*Caveat – While most online marketing companies can provide for clients to find their maximum potential for success online by using open-source Content Management Systems like WordPress, some companies do need bespoke solutions. This depends heavily on their industry and the functionality required of the website, so you should seek advice or do plenty of research.
3) “A Good Website Is NOT Just About Aesthetics” – REAL Online Marketing Companies Know This
Equally important are the other aspects, which a website must accomplish to be in any way “successful” for a company or an individual. These important aspects of online marketing are:
Conversion (Call to Action)
A website with traffic but content which doesn’t “engage” the visitor (i.e. that doesn’t make them want to stay on the site for more than a few seconds) is equally ineffective.
And, if you have these other factors but do not ‘convert’ the visitor into an enquiry, purchase, subscription (or whatever the goal of your website really is) then it’s all a bit wasted, isn’t it?
Online Marketing Companies & The Lack of Focus On Key Principles
Most online marketing companies pay attention to the first pillar (design/aesthetics) but either ignore completely the other important pillars or vastly undervalue them. This can prove costly for a client down the line when they realise their website is simply not working for the business, not generating leads, not securing purchases.
I can’t stand on a pedestal, in the past I was guilty of this as well. However, as I’ve grown and learned the industry and honed in on what works and what doesn’t in terms of conversion, digital marketing strategy and traffic-getting techniques, I’ve come to realise the equal importance of each of the pillars mentioned above.
If you’re going to a web designer for a new website for your business, please make sure both you (and they) are aware of and will attend to, each and every one of these pillars. It will make the difference between failure & success with your investment in a website.
4) You Can’t Get All The Free Traffic You Want – Online Marketing Requires Multiple Streams of Traffic Generation
Another myth peddled by disingenuous online marketing companies is that you can get a ton of free website traffic by using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. That may be true in the long-term but you need to put the ground work in first. It’s like earning your dues on the web, or as I say “building your credit rating”.
Some online marketing companies will provide a website and tell you that you’ll get a load of traffic by simply adding a Facebook page to your online arsenal.
The cold hard truth is that you’ll get minimal traffic from social media if you don’t have a very specific strategy to implement in the long term. Either way, to do this and get significant traffic from Facebook or Twitter et al, you will need to put in a lot of time an effort.
The Cold Hard Truth About Online Marketing Companies & Traffic Generation
The equally cold hard truth is that the only way to get real, targeted traffic as you launch your website, truthfully, is to pay for it. You can discover this strategy and more at our free traffic generation training here
You’ll need to set aside a budget for some of the modern forms of advertising online – Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, Youtube, in addition to trying to build an organic (free) audience for your website using protocols for Search Engine Optimization, Social Media and so on.
Again, this free traffic will generally take a while to generate so don’t lose focus on those important elements (*get them in place right at the start and allow them time to grow).
First, you’ll need to research what keywords are going to be ideal to target for this advertising your product. The way to do this is to use Google’s Keyword Planner. Or, get your online marketing company to do this for you if they aren’t already.
The key here is to research a plethora of very specific key terms & words that your very specific demographic is using to find your very specific product. When you identify these key terms you can, with the help of the Keyword planner, view the number of searches and competition for those terms.
The Next Steps in Traffic Generation
From that point you can start to add them to your website and online advertising campaigns to laser-in on the very people who are out there and searching for your product/service.
These secrets should be of help in pointing you in the right direction for dealing with a web agency (or doing it all yourself, which is a very viable option these days) to ensure you get maximum return on investment and a better product in the form of your website & online marketing.
Let me know if you have any questions or queries in the comments box below and make sure to like and share the content to your friends & colleagues so they can find value in it too.
If you’d like to know some major industry-insider secrets and a strategy to build an agency-standard website yourself, with no technical experience, head over to our owner, Alex Fleck’s Youtube Channel