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Archive for February, 2014

Why Scotland’s Small Business Websites Are Failing

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Small Business Websites Are Stilling Failing in 2014 – Why?

Small Business Owners in Scotland whose expectations for their website is to swiftly achieve getting traffic and achieving sales should take a moment to read this interesting newspaper article

How Far Will Your Business Go on a Cheap Website Solution?

Many of Scotland’s small business owners tend to look for cheap website design as their primary objective. When doing so, they simply put their faith in a web developer, where there are any amount of freelancers, one man web design companies  and even a few small web agencies made up of around 3-4 people that just build websites.

We came across a small website owner recently that requested a website audit from ICTADVISOR because they felt their website was just not attracting any attention.  No visitors and no visibility in search engines, they weren’t even ranking well for their brand. The analysis raised many points and produced a 50 page document of recommendations. The small business was asked during this analysis period how did you choose this website designer? What was your approach towards purchasing the website Content Management Software that you are now working with?  How did you measure the performance of website agency or designer – were they associated with websites that actually made money? We asked the business owner what approach they had taken first of all to put together a specification brief so they could supply that to the website designer?

Choosing the Web Developer is Tougher than Choosing Your Next Vehicle

The answer to all of these questions from this SME and others we engaged with is not unexpected – they simply provide the web developer or agency with a verbal brief given over a 1 or 2 hour meeting.

And, we also know of regular conversations that go something like this:

Hello, web developer – can you build me a website?

Web Developer – Yes we can.

Business Owner – What do you need from me?

Website Developer – Just send over some pictures and content and a logo if you have one.

And of course the SME is looking at the money available to spend on the website and sees the Ad – Get a Free Website, Get a Website for £100, Ecommerce Websites from £299!

OK, we are not saying every web agency acts in this way as outlined above, but many do offer websites with deals that sound to good to be true. Now, there are website solutions that should be viewed as a STARTER PACK that will move you a little way forward to maybe make some money. But, if you have set a goal that you want be doing at least a few thousand pounds of sales per month are you going to achieve that on a cheap low budget website?

Now look around, there are many small medium web agencies that are just made up of tech guys, software geeks that are still trying to be quirky rather than seeing the website as something that has to make money and be competitive.

There is also a lack of knowledge on the part of the business owner, who, expects the website agency, to know everything about website design and website marketing and just expect that agency or freelancer to do it all.

And finally, many a business owner just chooses a website based on the design looking good.  You can hear it now – Yes – I like the colour of that – I will just have one of those! This is usually the point where the website project is likely to fail, as what has been chosen in the end doesn’t actually work. So, ask yourself, do you want a website, built by the web designer you have hired to make money for your business?

Website Project Specification Brief

The small business, prior to meeting the web design agency is also found not to have done any research to determine the specification brief that provides a list of deliverable you seek from the website agency or freelance developer. Unfortunately, for the business owner, this is not like choosing your next company vehicle. Here you already have to hand specification sheets on trucks, vans and cars as to whether they are reliable and more importantly bring some ROI to the business.

Build a Website to Make Money and Achieve OnlineXcellence

There are lots of FREE downloadable website in a box packages, and many a small business owner will be drawn to these because they are cheap, but in the business owners mind, they want to look like some of the big brand sites out there such as ASOS, Cosmopolitan or stores like Lipsy which have good architecture, search engine friendly URL addresses and much more, all of which contribute to a successful website that will end up building great relationships with both visitors and search engines.

But still, there are small businesses that have put in place their website without much thought towards how it will look and perform in search engines plus achieve that all important aim of converting the visitor to actually do business with them. They also forget their is a requirement to spend money on marketing their website. There is no point in having put in place this website racing car, if you are not prepared to have it use some serious fuel to get it round the track . The track you are on could be to win in local web marketing, or regional website marketing or having an eye on your brand becoming well known nationally across the UK or you want to be involved in doing internationalisation marketing at a global level. This will all come down to how competitive your willing to be and more importantly how much budget you have to compete in the race. Just think how much it would cost if you became a new rookie driver about to enter Formula 1 racing?

So, going back to this newspaper article it is not to faraway from the truth as to why so many of Scotland’s business owner websites are failing.

It was interesting to note that a large Scottish Web Agency approached for comment in the interview who we know are good at building websites was asked to comment – there answer was found to be one of surprise!

Big Website Agencies and Small Freelance Developers – Who will Work With The Small Business?

Big well known brand website agencies in Scotland sometimes forgot to consider their position in the market place, when giving out advice to smaller business owners that might just be listening to them or reading about what they have to say – like in a newspaper article.   These bigger website agencies are serious about building websites and many of their clients are big well known brands.

So their job has already become easy. Why?

Big Brands are well known. So, that well known brand website is going to want to be supported by a seriously established web agency. And so when they want to further enhance their website visitor experience to make their brand online even more visible and have an even slicker website to convert even more visitors and make even more money – they spend their investment with a Ferrari Website Agency.  So, the big brand, spends big bucks, but a lot of that will go on Adwords, because they can afford to invest here, and they can afford to invest in more time from the Web Agency to help them rank better organically. Hence these larger website agencies have something to crow about – easily, because it is much easier for really big brand sites to do well in an organic ranking campaign.

With there only being a handful of really good web design agencies in Scotland, then those who we know that fall into this category and good at what they do, are really first and foremost going to concentrate their efforts on wanting to build sites for business owners who are:
truly serious about having a competitive website
have already spent some serious money in the past
will even be willing to spend serious money on improving their branding guidelines before planning and designing the website
and still have serious amounts of money left over to spend with the agency for the marketing of that website.

These bigger brand website owners also have sufficient money in their company to put in place a full time resource to work hard at driving the website – everyday – so they can be an aggressive competitor in this website race. It is still tough for the bigger brands as just like SMEs their web pages have to be found amongst the billions of other pages that are out there, and are chasing the same dream as the SME – to make money. But there is no doubt there journey will be a little easier.

Those few top web agencies who can help a better established brand name business achieve this will therefore command fees that might make a small business owners eyes water. This can range from £15k-£55K and beyond. This is because that is the true cost of going into the race of competitive website marketing. Ask yourself – Would you buy a LADA to race against a Ferrari?

Today, if you are a small business who is considering getting a website for the first time, or you feel the website you have is not working but you don’t know why? You should seek advice before entering into your next website project.

If you are thinking about spending a total budget of less than £3k, say for the whole financial year and you want both a website and to do some online marketing, then you really have to sit down and map out your marketing strategy, that will also include, more importantly, what you set yourself as achievable goals and make sure your expectations are realistic. Just like what you see on the Dragon’s Den, make sure you crunch your numbers before entering into doing Internet Marketing with either a brochure or Ecommerce Website.


Brian Mathers

Real World Internet Marketing Practitioner
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Search Marketing | Website Strategy | Web Design | Analytics

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