Potential clients often ask me what kind of return-on-investment they should expect from their new website. I used to think it was an unfair question, so I would shrug it off or redirect the conversation. The truth is, it’s not unfair at all. It’s a very good question, albeit a challenging one. The fact that so many potential clients ask about website ROI is proof that it needs to be met head on and handled pragmatically.
But as an agency, how can we promise or prove a positive ROI by simply creating a new website?
We can’t. Not without a continued investment.
Think of it like an expensive high-powered car engine. Without the gasoline, the tires, the body and transmission, it’s not going anywhere fast.
First, let’s admit that a website alone will not have a positive ROI.
There’s no way that a static website that’s left to fend for itself can have a positive ROI. Without the proper strategy and marketing efforts behind it, a website is not a good investment.
But still, I want to answer the question, so keep reading.
Next, we should change the way we think about a website.
A website is a platform for marketing. It’s an active tool, not a pretty brochure. It should be a continually evolving platform that ties into your overall strategy. It is one touch point with your customer and helps to move them through the sales funnel.
So you want a real answer to the website ROI question?
Recently I came up with a partial solution for presenting website ROI. I start by showing examples of clients who have chosen to invest in a website redesign and the impact that it had on their organic traffic, lead generation and sales over the months and years that followed (when it’s coupled with productive marketing). Showing positive data from our clients that have launched sites with us in the past would give confidence to future prospects, even if the website only deserved part of the credit.
With these examples, I’m not providing a specific dollar value for ROI, but I’m providing metrics that prove a website can lend itself to positive results.
Client Site #1
Lead Growth With New Website
Lead count reported
Lead Growth Over Original Quarter
Client Site #2
Old Site vs. New Site
Load time – 6.60 seconds vs. 2.24 seconds (66.06% improvement)
Bounce rate – 58.27% vs. 52.60% (9.73% improvement)
Visitor Time on site – 2:38 vs. 3:11 (20.58% improvement)
Pages per session – 2.37 vs. 2.74 (15.48% improvement)
I provide examples like this next to the live websites in our portfolio and suddenly the concern about website ROI is assuaged.
Now, when someone asks me what the ROI on their new website will be, I don’t deflect. I immediately reframe the question to: What can the ROI be on your new website if it’s part of a smart strategy and is nurtured and optimized effectively?
I remind prospects that it’s not just about a visually stunning website. It’s about content strategy and development, foundational SEO, usability improvements and following coding best practices. It’s about planning the site migration correctly and spending time with site analytics and audience research before making major changes on a whim.
And finally, a website launch is not the end, it’s the beginning of a journey.
I make sure to remind prospects that a website launch is just the beginning. You must nurture it, build on it, improve it over time, and feed it with good marketing. It’s why in 2013 we transitioned to bundling our website services with ongoing marketing and development retainers to grow with our clients’ businesses over time and ensure the success of the websites we were building.
Are you an agency owner or web designer dealing with the same ROI question I am? I’d love to hear how you approach it.
Still not satisfied? You could always try this nifty website ROI calculator, but then you might just be missing the point.
Jason Brewer is founder and CEO of digital agency, Brolik. He is passionate about helping other business owners navigate the digital world, whether it be marketing strategies or new technologies to reach new customers and drive growth.