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Posted by Paul Regensburg on Feb 16, 2010 10:32:00 AM

5 Points for Determining the Price for a New B2B Website

In — what we're all hoping are — these post-recession days, we're happy to be seeing a lot of activity from companies wanting to remake their long dormant websites. When I get to the point in the conversation in which I ask about the investment they wish to make, the answer is often gray. The subtext is that they will let the market dictate price. Following are 5 points I recommend companies gain some certainty around, prior to speaking with potential web design and development partners. Being clear on these points will help avoid ambiguity and aid in identifying the best firm for the job, which may or may not be the low price option.

1. Tactical Need vs. Strategic Value
2. Impact of Having a Substandard Website
3. The Use of Technology to Enhance User Experience
4. The Level of Service Desired/Required
5. How the Website Integrates with Your Marketing Efforts

1. Tactical Need vs. Strategic Value
For some B2B companies, the website is an online brochure. Its chief value is to look professional, provide basic information, be current and not embarrass the company. Though such a company might have some aspirations for something more, the culture may not be marketing-driven thus the website is not strategic. In these cases, a low price for a redesign is highest on the list of partner evaluation criteria.

In situations where a B2B company has strong need to differentiate and their website is a place where customers and prospects will scrutinize them, the website becomes more of a strategic tool. These are some of the strategic drivers of a B2B website that may suggest you consider a greater investment than "lowest price."

  • Strong competition - The competition is strong, well-entrenched and has an impressive website. You know prospects are comparing you in an evaluation process.
  • Rebranding - When a B2B company repositions itself in the marketplace, there is no more ubiquitous place to present the new brand to the widest audience.
  • Introducing new products and services - New products and services have a material effect on the success of a business. The website is the greatest opportunity for a controlled presentation of that information and for inviting interaction with your clients.
  • Becoming more of a solutions vs. a product sell - The B2B website is a unique forum for demonstrating an understanding of the needs of your clients by presenting benefit-driven solutions to their problems and not just selling products. In the new marketing world, in which customers have greater control over the dialogue, pulling customers in with relevant content rather than pushing technology or products at them is the way to positively impact the bottom line.

2. The Impact of Having a Substandard Website
While a substandard website can be measured in decreasing traffic or a high bounce rate, the real impact may not be visible. At any time prospects may be considering your company. Before contacting you, the first thing they do is to visit the websites of all of the competitive businesses often with the intention of "narrowing down the list." If your content is stale, use of technology dated, user experience mediocre, there is a reasonable expectation that you will not get the call — and in this economy, ignorance is not bliss.

3. The Use of Technology to Enhance User Experience
B2B websites can be as simple as straight html or full of sophisticated content management, integration with CRM packages, SEO-friendly content, database-driven Flash navigation, e-commerce and so forth. The technologies and how they're used have a great impact on the price of a website. To ascertain the best use of technology, you must first define the user experience you're seeking. If determining technology requirements is beyond your capability, we sometimes recommend engaging in a brief, constrained "Scoping Process." This is often a great way to gain clarity and understand what the real costs will be.

4. The Level of Service Desired/Required
As the owner of an agency with account, design and technical people, clients have often shared how much they value our service. In situations in which budget is at or close to the top of evaluation criteria and a prospect may be comparing us to a freelance practitioner or 2 person-team, it's important to consider that great service has a value and that value should be built into a company's budget expectation.

5. How the Website Integrates with Your Marketing Efforts
More and more frequently, the true value of a website is how well it functions as a centerpiece of a complete marketing program. How does it fulfill emarketing or direct marketing efforts? Does it provide the best experience when your SEO or PPC program drive traffic? Is the content relevant and compelling? Does the site invite visitors to interact in a meaningful way? Determine what business goals you wish to accomplish with the website and rank them in importance. Quantify the impact on your business of not having these features in place. Being clear about your goals and the impact of not achieving them will go a long way to identifying the right vendor and will lead to the right price.

Considering these 5 points will help you determine what level investment is appropriate for your next website and which web partner is right for you.

Tags: marketing / technology / web design / B2B / SEO / rebranding / PPC / Flash / differentiation / CRM