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Director of Web Services, 10+ Years of Sales & Marketing Experience, 12+ Years of Development Experience, 14+ Years of Project Management Expertise
December 23rd, 2016
The time has come.
You’re ready to start redesigning your website, and need to find someone to do the heavy lifting. You know the reason you want to redesign your site, and have probably done some lightweight strategy or brainstorming. The next thought that comes to many people’s minds is finding a Website Designer.
But what if I told you that might not be the best choice for your organization?
Website designers are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but typically their expertise ends with the design and development. They normally don’t focus on conversion paths and lead generation and many other aspects that come into play on your website.
For the purposes of this comparison, we’re going to assume they don’t.
If you’re still with me, let’s dig into the benefits of hiring an inbound marketing agency vs a website designer in a few key areas.
Goals & Strategy
The majority of companies have three basic goals for their website; traffic, leads, and sales.
Although this is usually the norm, many companies use their website as more of a brochure, or landing page rather than a lead generator, which can work if done properly.
This is why knowing what you want to achieve at the end of the redesign process is an important expectation to set. Your goals, both short term and long term, need to be communicated to the team, or the individual, that will be working on your new site.
Many website designers understand the logic behind user-focused design, how to guide the user through each page, and ultimately get them to convert.
They focus very much on the visuals and code to help generate value in the finished piece.
A website designer should start by asking what you’re really trying to get out of your redesign.
Are you looking to simply refresh what you have, and utilize the site as an interactive brochure? Or are you trying to use your website for lead generation?
Answering these questions will help drive the design direction, and ensure you’re getting the best result for your budget.
The process for strategy should start with interviewing your employees, specifically sales and client-facing people, as well as a few clients. This will help show the designer where the “holes” in your current website are, and how to best “fill” them so you’re moving closer to your goals.
Again, however, these solutions will most likely be focused on visual/design changes. If there are shortcomings in terms of other content or positioning, that’s for a different expert.
Goal & Strategy Benefits with an Inbound Agency
Much of the same can be said for inbound marketing agencies.
You’ll still need to understand the goals for your website, but unlike many website designers, most agencies don’t stop there.
Inbound marketing agencies look towards the overall goals of your marketing, and understand that the website is simply a marketing tool.
A great agency will recommend that your marketing strategy and website strategy work seamlessly together. This includes, but isn’t limited to, looking at how your content should be positioned, the SEO value of your pages, and how to keep/combine/kill your previous pages to improve the user experience, and increase conversions.
Many agencies have internal resources, or external relationships, to help support all of these critical pieces to the website and marketing puzzle. Your average website designer may not have these resources available, which is why it’s extremely important to know what your end goal is and find the best fit for your needs.
Level of Support
A website redesign is no small task regardless of your goals, which makes having the right team in place extremely important.
You’ll typically be partnering with the website designer or inbound marketing agency for 2-6 months (depending on the scope of the website), and will want to make sure that you’re selecting a partner that has the proper level of support for every phase of the website redesign.
But what does that look like?
Website designers offer various degrees of support, depending on their level of expertise and what services they offer.
Typically designers operate by themselves, and may have 1-2 designers or developers supporting them. This allows them to be extremely lean and efficient in their processes and projects, which can affect the overall budget (we’ll get into that later).
While website designers can absolutely crush your design and development needs, they usually stop their offerings there. The areas that you may feel the support is lacking are marketing strategy for the designs, content generation for the new website, and even Search Engine Optimization best practices for the actual pages once developed.
All of these are critical for long-term lead generation success, so if that is one of your goals it may be better to look for an inbound marketing agency.
Support Benefits with an Inbound Marketing Agency
An inbound marketing agency normally has a client services team staffed with everyone you may need to completely revamp your website design and more. This includes project managers, designers, and developers, who you can reach out to at a moment's notice.
Another way an inbound marketing agency can support you is with specialists.
Specialists such as a SEO experts, Google AdWords experts, and copywriters, either in-house or with established external relationships, can take your redesign to a level you didn’t think of before.
By including a deeper level of SEO, marketing, and content strategy, your website can dramatically boost your leads and sales numbers, if that’s your goal.
Plus, having all of these resources at one company helps you get more “bang for your buck.” Usually because these roles overlap you’ll have a variety of different ideas and strategies from their past experiences to help deliver a remarkable end product.
It’s important to make sure the level of support you’re getting is in line with what your goals and strategy are, otherwise you may not be able to achieve them. And that’s not good for anyone.
The relationship you foster with a website designer or inbound marketing agency can determine how successful the redesign will be.
Typically, and this definitely isn’t in every case, inbound marketing agencies are long-term relationship driven while website designers usually only work with a client for the length of the redesign project.
But what type of relationship is best for you and your project? Let’s dig in.
Website designers, by nature, typically work project to project.
They help you outline the strategy for your design, make sure the design is beautiful and on-brand, then develop everything out. Once that’s all said and done you have a remarkable new website and your relationship with the designer dissolves.
Sure, you may have some follow-up support to fix bugs and other issues, but you’re not going to create a new design for the website again every 2-3 months.
Even if you go back to said designer for a new template or standalone design, that normally doesn’t warrant a long-term relationship.
Depending on your goals for the website that may be the best route to take. You can reach out to the website designer on an as-needed basis to get longer-term assistance. That assumes that the website designer has frequent openings in their workload and capacity to easily take on new projects at a moment’s notice. Due to their shorter-term engagements (3-6 months) their capacity may fill up faster as they try to keep a consistent flow of business.
You can absolutely have a successful, short-term relationship with a website designer, but again that’s all relative to your goals and what you’re hoping to achieve.
Relationships Benefits with an Inbound Marketing Agency
Most inbound marketing agencies, like IMPACT, focus on fostering a long-term relationship with clients, regardless of what the initial goal/scope was.
But there are definitely cases where it makes sense for both parties to go a shorter route for the relationship. Maybe you have a team of amazing marketers, but don’t have the design/development skills to redo your website. Perfect!
The right agency will work closely with your marketers as an extension to help make sure that your strategy, after launch, is sound and will build upon the amazing design that was created. That allows you to bring the marketing efforts back in-house after the redesign project is over.
On the flip side (which is the usual situation I’ve encountered), many companies don’t have a robust marketing team that can take the newly-designed website and the metrics that are needed to hit their goals.
That’s not saying that the marketing team isn’t good at their job, but driving aggressive results takes dedication and a lot of manpower. Which is why partnering long-term with an inbound marketing agency helps you get the most out of your redesigned website.
While a website project may take 3-6 months, because you have a higher level of support with an agency, you’ll get more ideas on how to take the brand new website, and utilize the website it in the long run to help hit your goals in the long run.
The big, scary question… “What’s it going to cost me?”
That usually depends on what what you’ve determined what your goals are. If you’ve set an aggressive goal and timeline, your designer or agency will charge accordingly.
A website redesign can range anywhere from a couple thousand all the way up to hundreds of thousands.
What drives that cost?
As mentioned previously, aggressive goals and timelines definitely impact your cost, as well as the actual size and features of your website.
Do you have a 5-page website? Then you’re probably on the lower side of budgets, but if your website has over 500 pages, all with unique designs that require special functionality to be valuable to your user, your cost will dramatically increase due to the effort and expertise required to navigate such a large project.
When partnering with a website designer, it’s a safe bet that the bulk of your budget will be going to design and development.
There may be some strategy involved, but with the level of support you’re receiving and the roles available, most of the cost will be associated directly with the visuals and coding of your redesign.
That direct association can help keep your budget low, pending the scope of your current website and your goals. You may see additional costs from third parties for content writing, if it’s outsourced, and other areas such as SEO expertise and audits, if the website designer doesn’t have someone on staff to handle these specialties.
If you have a small website, small budget, or aren’t focused on generating leads through your website a website designer will give you the best result for your budget.
Cost Benefits with an Inbound Marketing Agency
An inbound marketing agency typically delivers more value for your website redesign budget, with additional strategy and expertise in specialized areas -- nd the cost will definitely reflect that.
If you have aggressive lead generation goals, though, partnering with an agency that is staffed with specialists will definitely help give you the most for your budget.
By utilizing the plethora of knowledge on the team, including SEO experts, content strategists, and others, you’ll be able to have a solid website redesign AND marketing strategy created in one place.
The budget may be a bit higher because you’re gaining access to all of these amazing resources, but the end-result will usually be a higher-quality due to the level of strategy and forward thinking provided.
Those marketing services and strategies also help you generate a return-on-investment from your website that your standard website designer will likely not be able to provide.
The cost is going to be driven by your website size and goals. It’s important to select the best option for your specific company.
What makes sense for you?
At the end of the day, your decision will likely come down to timeframe and budget (as it usually does), but it’s extremely important to weigh the pros and cons of both options to ensure your company and marketing are set up for long term success, no matter what your goals are. Focus on what your long-term objectives are, and allow that to help shape which direction you take.
If you’re looking for just a pretty online face and don’t need to have leads engaging with your website, perhaps you just need a designer, but if you want a robust website that will do more for your brand and marketing strategy long-term, I’d recommend an inbound agency, hands down.
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