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Steve B
11-26-2009, 05:18 AM
I know this is preaching to the choir since this forum is a bit lopsided with web developers. But, after being in business for several years and trying just about every type of marketing available - I have to say the money I've spent on my website is the one that has the biggest return - by far.

The reason for this is because it's the only thing that doesn't have to be renewed each week, month, or year. I know the "hosting" is an ongoing fee, but that amount is the same if you have one lousy page or 10 awesome pages. So, I'm dismissing that fee for sake of this point.

Anything else I've done requires renewal fees and/or efforts (print, tv, passing out flyers, yellow pages, adwords, etc.). Even the vinyl job I put on my van will have to be redone once it fades too much.

But, when I add a page or other improvement to the website, it's there indefinitely. I'm thinking of this because I recently got a couple calls commenting about things I put on my website years ago. I've long since lost track of what adding those things to the site cost me, and they are still paying off. There is no other form of advertising that sticks around like this.

I realize there isn't a question here. I just thought I'd make this point in case the developers here are overlooking this obvious benefit when they are selling their services. I remember when the guy that sold me my van wrap pointed out the length of time I'd have it - it tipped the scale and got me to shell out the bucks (a lot more than a great website would cost).

huggytree
11-26-2009, 01:48 PM
i paid $1,500 for mine to be redone 10 months ago...i also pay $25 a month for hosting.

i think ive gotten 6 e-mail responses of which ive gotten 0 solds
and gotten 3 phone calls from it which i sold 2....which were very small

Funny how its your best marketing tool is my worst....i did just as good with my junk website made by my sister in law....i see no improvement now thats its professionally done.

I barely get my hosting $ out of it....i use it as a sales tool when i bid 'visit my website'

i have asked competitors if it works for them...response it always NO.

If I thought it would help id spend thousands and have a marketing firm design it for me...


how many competitors do you have in your area Steve? (i have 200+)

vangogh
11-26-2009, 04:35 PM
Steve I think it's all due to your web developer. He must be very good :)

Dave having a website isn't enough. You still have to do some marketing to get people to the site. For example Steve does some pay-per-click which brings traffic and I know SEO well enough that I was able to develop his site to help pick up organic search traffic.

One thing you could do is add a forum signature with a link back to your site. That way you'll at least be able to get traffic from anyone viewing your posts and the links will help some with search engines. There's more to having a site that works than just having a site.

It's also possible that the person who built your site wasn't savvy on the marketing side and so added a few roadblocks for picking up search traffic. Maybe the copy on your site could be improved.

One thing I would definitely work on in your case is the local listings in the search engines. I think your business is listed with Google local (Google Maps), but I also think it doesn't show up in the top 10. That's something you should work on. You should also do the same for the local listings at Yahoo, Bing, YellowPages, and any other local listings. In fact anyone who's business is primarily local should be working this.

If someone like me needs a plumber I'm going to search my favorite search engine. Then I'm going to look to the local listings and check the reviews and visit the sites listed. If you're not there you don't get my business. Granted everyone else isn't like me, but there are many people who are like me and more and more of them go to search engines to find local businesses every day.

billbenson
11-26-2009, 09:51 PM
Marketing on a website is intertwined with the site design and the actual marketing. It's hard to get good placement if marketing / seo wasn't considered from day one. There are web designers on this forum who are good at marketing. I personally believe most web designers are lousy at it. They may give you a pretty site, but if it doesn't sell it's not worth anything in most cases.

With only three leads in ?? years, it screams of a web site that doesn't work. 200 competitors. In the web world, thats nothing. Most web sites that are successful are competing against thousands or millions of other sites. I wish I only had 200 competitors.

Hire a marketing firm and spend thousands for a website? A local website is frequently a fairly simple thing to build. It might cost you a thousand, but thousands is unlikely.

You don't need a marketing firm to write it for you. You need a web designer that is good at design, marketing, seo, and advertising for regional sites.

Your competitors have bad luck as well. That says to me they have sites that suck. It also screams that you are missing a great opportunity by having a site that doesn't sell as well. You can easily have as much success with your site as steve b.

Patrysha
11-27-2009, 12:20 AM
huggytree, I haven't ever seen your site because as VanGogh mentioned, you don't list it in your signature - but I can make a few guesses as to some differences you'll find between your site and Steve B's

I bet you don't have a special report or other value driven incentive to join your email list...I'd hazard to guess that you don't have an email list at all.

I bet you don't update your website often with valuable content for your prospective or existing clients.

I bet you don't have testimonials from satisfied clients.

I bet you don't have video and you're likely light on the pictures too.

I bet you don't have a media page linking to the you contributed to the paper.

If you've done all those things and it's still not working - it might be because you still haven't figured out just who your primary target market is yet. Building a site that serves two distinct markets isn't exceedingly difficult but it does need a bit more attention than a site that has only one primary theme/purpose.

I sometimes wonder how it is that you expect your customers to pay a premium price for fixtures that are likely to far outlast their ownership of the house, but you don't see the value in investing in marketing. (Could it be that some women balk at the long lasting stuff because it means they won't have an excuse to renovate again in ten or fifteen years like they will with the lower quality stuff?) You say you'd drop thousands if you thought it would work...but you haven't. That says you don't really believe it will. If you think thousands is what it would take (it really shouldn't), why did you settle for a $1500 designer 10 months ago?

The thing is you could do everything that needs to be done for nothing and test all these theories for yourself without having to pay for a pro. It would just take a lot of time...first to learn how to do it and then the time spent doing it. That is what you are paying for when you hire out your marketing...same as the reason people hire you...because a pro can get the job done in a fraction of the time it would take to explain how it's done.

billbenson
11-27-2009, 03:18 AM
Huggy, I'm not trying to pick on you here...

I looked a post of yours where you say:

"i used the website designer that all the builder & construction guys use"

These are the same people who say they they don't get any leads from their site. Why would you copy something that doesn't work?

$25 per month is a lot of money to pay for hosting. You should be paying about $5.

I took a look at what I believe is your site. You might want to put it up for review. If I was looking at your site, it's obvious why it doesn't work. $1500 is way to much money for the site I saw.

You didn't ask for a review, so I'll leave it at that.

Steve B
11-27-2009, 05:23 AM
I only have 5 competitors and I sell a relatively high tech product. I wouldn't expect that a plumber would do as well on the internet. I also spend quite a bit on adwords. Without the adwords my results would be the same as HT's - nearly zero.

VG is right - I have an excellent developer (him). I update something on my site every few months. VG got an e-mail this morning with several proposed changes that should help the search results - both with and without the help of adwords.

I've seen HT's site and I think it looks great. I did a search for Waukesha plumbing and his site was the very first organic hit - so there's nothing to improve there. He could spend a little bit on adwords and have his site show up twice - instead of once. The adwords listing would be much higher on the screen. I don't do anything with local listings - so I'm probably missing out on that.

My original point holds true even for HT. The $1,500 he spent created something that will still be contributing to his marketing for years and years. All the colors, carefully chosen words, and original layout that he got for the money will be unchanged and still floating around the internet for years to come. The monthly fee to keep it on the internet is the same he would be paying for his old sister-in-law site - so that doesn't count. He could have easily spent $1,500 for a full-color newspaper ad, or bought a few tv commercial spots for that money. In either of those cases the results would have been extremely short lived - unlike any investment in his website.

I think HT has an opportunity to get his message to more local internet shoppers, but it will never be the same for him as it is for me.

Spider
11-27-2009, 10:51 AM
This is a very interesting thread. I will only add that I think the website owner (Dave, in this case, but whoever else reads it, too) needs to be very clear and precise about who the site is targetting. IOW, the business needs to be specific about the customers/clients it wants to attract, and who it does not want to attract.

This must be firmly establshed first before any design or copywriting is attempted, in my opinion. Only after this is done can the design and copy be developed accordingly.

huggytree
11-27-2009, 11:49 AM
i think a very important reason my website doesnt work and steve's does is he has 5 competitors and i have 200-300.....

can people shop on craigs list for what he does????

they sure do for what i do...

i have a testimonial page

i did ask for reviews when my website came out here...i think i got good feedback.

10 months ago i thought $1,500 was enough to get me what i needed....if i knew then what i knew now (that my website doesnt work well for me)...i WOULD have spent $3,000+

$1,500 for no result is worthless....

I dont think websites work well for plumbers....thats why i wont redo it right now...

If i had to redesign it today it would be very different....the home page would be completely different....i still agree with my testimonail, and scope of work page

I would redo somewhat my About us page....i like it and actually paid a independent writer to do it for me....but today i would gear it towards the customer and less about ME...

Waukesha Plumbing - Residential Plumbing in Southeastern Wisconsin. Serving Waukesha, Milwaukee Counties (http://www.WaukeshaPlumbing.com)

when i do google, yellow pages,yahoo searches i come up close to the top..

ive paid for AD words with no results....i still pay for it right now...my keywords are my competitors...i get a couple hits a month...no sales or even calls...

I DO think my website makes me look expensive...i used HIGH END photo's...stuff the average guy would never have in his home..I did this on purpose to keep the price shoppers from calling me....maybe this could be my problem...

Steve B....I just took over your post.....sorry...

billbenson
11-27-2009, 04:29 PM
Dave, you do come up well in a lot of search results. There is one contractor that comes of ahead of you in a number of the searches I did, but they do kitchen remodels etc.

That being said, every page on your site is optimized for Waukesha Plumbing. IMO the pages don't sell very well either. They kind of say "I do this, this, and this". Nothing to close me.

Google really likes large sites. If you use something like WordPress for your site you can keep adding and editing pages at your leasure with out relying on a designer. The site as it is today shouldn't have cost more than several hundred dollars. Throwing 3k at it and you will probably have a $500 site that you paid 3k for.

Your are constantly saying the cheap stuff from home depot is junk. Write a page on the comparison between quality products and cheap ones after 1 year with images. Show people why they should go for quality.

Review different fixtures. Do an analysis of why waterless water heaters have a poor payback and why the ones at home depot will fail after that period of time.

Write a page on things to consider during a remodel. Contractors putting the access for plumbing in the wrong place, anything else that can create problems now or down the road.

If you site gets good traffic, put a recommended contractor page on your site. If the contractor gets a job or two, you can hit him up for work as he wouldn't have that job without your recommendation.

Remember, with Word Press, you are basically filling out a form to post a page. You don't need to know html. The site will be better if you do know html, but its not necessary. You could easily have a 100 page site in a year. Put your company name and contact info on every page.

Sure, you will get visitors from out of the area, but you will also get local people bookmarking you as well. It will lead well to credibility and credibility sells.

You will also get a much better picture of what people search for from your stats.

By the way, for an Adwords campaign, you need a lot of ads attacking different key words and well done. Just like large sites work better. Adwords have to be done properly as well. That includes keywords in the ads, the ad itself, and the landing page the ad goes to. Sending people to one of your site pages as they exist today won't work. If you have an ad and the searcher types in faucet installation, they need to land on a faucet installation page to sell them. The fact that you only get a couple of clicks says that the ad doesn't work. The fact that they aren't landing on a good sell page will drive them away even if they do click. You will also pay more for the ad if it isn't relevant to the landing page.

Dan Furman
11-27-2009, 04:56 PM
i think a very important reason my website doesnt work and steve's does is he has 5 competitors and i have 200-300.

Just chiming in about your site, Dave... I'm not crazy about it at all (sorry - I'm going to be blunt :) )

It kind of screams "basic CMS site". I mean, look at the bullet points on the about us page... just terrible. And look at how close the text comes to the pic on the homepage. That kind of stuff, taken as a whole, makes things very, very hard to read.

And yes, the pictures aren't helping you unless that's the type of jobs people are calling you for. But I wouldn't call you for, say, a water heater, because you do all those high end faucets.

I would be interested in knowing how many people actually come to your site, and what they searched for.

huggytree
11-27-2009, 10:08 PM
the ABOUT US page cost me $200 extra...i had a marketing firm write that page for me...so in reality the website cost me $1700


i used to check on how many unique visits to my website...

i would only have 2 or 3 a month who stayed more than a minute....i assumed it was always a current bid i had out there or competition and friends..

like i said before...i would redo my home page...its cluttered and hard to read.

i should have a page just on water heaters.

there is no traffic...no ones looking in my opinion.

i think my website is a good tool to help a current job sell...

low bidder
11-28-2009, 04:06 PM
"Build it and they will come" may work with ball fields, but not websites. I read somewhere you should never let a day go by that you don't add something online: posts, articles, webpages. As for websites, even though I knew almost nothing about how to put a webisite up, I struggled though and put up my own using a page editor (Expression Web). I like it because I can change things and add things whenever I want to or see a need. I have several sites up now (I'm diversifing!) and I'm learning more each time. I think, for SEO, I should seek out a professional, though. Getting traffic is the secret to online success. There's probably tons wrong with them, but you can see what I've done:
http://www.monroeartist.com (http://www.monroeartist.com/)(my cartoons);
http://www.monroeworks.com (http://www.monroeworks.com/) Organic fertilizer (told you I was diversified);
http://www.earthwormworks.com (http://earthwormworks.com/) Earthworms (for heaven's sakes);
http://www.organicgardenworks.com (http://organicgardenworks.com/) a blog by a dog (this one's my dog's, can't take credit for it)

I don't care if you're a dog catcher, everyone in business should have some kind of website, even if it's just one page. If you're a local business, then find everyway possible to get your website to come up whenever anyone searches for your particular field.

vangogh
11-28-2009, 05:40 PM
Getting traffic is the secret to online success

I think that's only one part of the equation and I'd amend it to getting the right kind of traffic. It's an important part of the equation certainly, but you still have to convince the visitor to do something on your site and ideally come back again and do the same.

I do agree though that you really need a website today regardless of what kind of business you have. The simple fact is more and more people are going online to find things and if you want those people to find you then a website is going to help a lot.


I read somewhere you should never let a day go by that you don't add something online: posts, articles, webpages

Interesting. I don't think I ever heard it expressed quite like that, but I do agree you need to keeping adding to what you have online. Ideally I'd say a mix of the things you mention as well as forum posts or tweets or other social media activity. You don't have to do all, but you should be building a presence in as many places as you can.



Funny how its (website) your best marketing tool is my worst....i did just as good with my junk website made by my sister in law....i see no improvement now thats its professionally done.

i think my website is a good tool to help a current job sell...


So is it a good tool or a bad tool?

Dave I think the current site is better than the old site (as much as I can remember the old site) I do think the copy on the current site could be improved. There are some good things on this site, like having the phone number big, bold, and obvious on every page. The design doesn't bother me. It's not necessarily the best design I've ever seen, but the site works and has a nice simple layout. It does what it's supposed to do, which is let people quickly access more information about you.

The copy could be improved. It doesn't answer the questions I might have when deciding who to call (at least not in an obvious way to me) and it doesn't do enough to convince me to call.

Ultimately if it's not working as well as you'd like you have to put more into it. Try a change here and another there and measure the results against your current baseline. Websites do work even for businesses like yours. It's not simply a matter of your competition. 200 competing businesses is not a lot. It's more than 5, but it's a lot less than 10,000. If you want your site to compete look at the sites of those 200 competitors and see what it is they include that makes an impression on the marketing and just as importantly what are they all forgetting to include that your market wants to see.