The easiest and least expensive way to generate leads is with a website. Sadly, too many construction-related websites don’t generate leads at all. We’re going to address how much a website should cost, how much work is involved, and why having a well-designed website is more important than a beautiful website if you want to generate leads.
Your Marketing Budget
In Markup & Profit Revisited we recommend a marketing budget for remodeling contractors that’s 1.5-5% of your annual volume. Specialty contractors marketing to the general public should invest about the same, and new home builders should be investing 1-2% of their annual volume. So, if the annual volume of your remodeling business is $1,000,000, that’s a marketing budget of $15,000-$50,000.
Website Development Cost
Your website shouldn’t be your only marketing tool, but it’s an incredibly valuable tool if it’s done correctly.
A properly structured website doesn’t have to be expensive. A new website can range from $1,000 to over $10,000; that doesn’t include the cost of your time to accumulate the content and images needed. The price is largely determined by the number of pages needed, and that varies depending on the number of services and locations you’re targeting.
You might want to invest in quality images. Professional photos of recent projects can easily add a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. The image quality can vary depending on your projects; if your projects are in the $10-15K range, you can use images you’ve taken yourself. If you’re remodeling kitchens that cost $75 – 100K or more, you’ll want higher-quality professional photos.
Specialty contractors whose work is visual, like painters, roofers or those doing historic restorations also need quality images. Other trades like plumbing and electrical may be able to get by with lesser quality images. Having the best images you can obtain goes a long way.
You can also add project videos to your website. Again, you can do videos for free with your own smart phone, or spend a few hundred to a thousand dollars for a professional video.
Ongoing Website Cost
A website will incur a monthly hosting fee and that varies widely. Our website is hosted at Lexiconn for about $104/month including eCommerce. A business website without eCommerce should be considerably less.
Regular updates are another ongoing cost. You’ll want to update your website at least every few months with new projects and fresh content. You might wait on those videos until the website is completed and add them as time and money allow. An active, updated website ranks higher with search engines than a website that hasn’t changed for a few months or even longer.
Your website needs to have Google Analytics installed so you can track the results. This is a free tool from Google that provides valuable insights into your website performance, such as the number of visitors, whether they arrived from a search engine or social media, what pages they visited, how long they stayed, where they are located, and what search terms they used.
Comparable Lead Generation Services
When you depend on a lead generating company to provide your leads you can easily spend between a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 per month. When you stop paying, the leads stop coming. The leads will also get more expensive as soon as your competitors start paying for your territory, or if they are willing to pay more than you. In no time at all, you can spend far more on a lead generation service than you would have invested on your own website.
Google AdWords is essentially a lead-generating service that directs visitors to your website. Some contractors use Google AdWords when they’re just getting started or when they want to position for a seasonal branding awareness. If you go this route, pay attention to the budget and place a cap on what you’ll pay. Don’t set your account on autopilot or you’ll be surprised by a painful credit card charge after the fact.
We don’t recommend purchasing Google AdWords on an ongoing basis. Like other lead-generating services, they’re an expensive shortcut that isn’t needed if your website is properly designed.
Design Your Construction Website to Be Found
Think of a properly structured website like a well-built home. It doesn’t just look good; it’s functional. The faucets have running water and the drains are connected. The lights work. Insulation in the walls protect from the elements, and of course the roof is solid. The work that’s done to make a home functional isn’t obvious because you don’t see the pipes or wires or insulation. But without them, that home is just a pretty shell. It can’t do what it’s supposed to do.
A properly structured website generates leads. Your website won’t appear in search engine results just because it exists, just like a home won’t be functional with only walls and a roof. You need to have the structure built into the website that enables it to appear in search. If the structure doesn’t exist, your website is only a pretty brochure.
There are many website development companies who cater specifically to construction-related businesses, and they understand curb appeal. They build beautiful brochures, but those online brochures are equivalent to a home without plumbing or electricity. You want a website that’s designed to be found so it can generate leads.
Our friend Brian Javeline with MyOnlineToolbox has a basic class here that helps you understand how online marketing and search results work. It gives you the guidance to build a “do-it-yourself” website or help you find the right website company so your investment isn’t wasted. There is an advanced class available that introduces all the other factors such as Google My Business, Facebook and YouTube. He doesn’t build websites, instead he helps you design your website to make it an effective marketing tool that generates leads. If you want personalized attention customized for your business, that’s also available. (He also has a special offer available now.) *
Building a new website may sound like a painful exercise, but it’s not that painful if you tackle the project a step at a time. Done correctly, it can become the hub of so many online opportunities. Done wrong, and you’ve wasted your time and effort.
As you wrap up your year-end planning and review for 2020, take a serious look at your marketing plans and consider improvements to your website. If you aren’t getting at least a few quality leads on a consistent basis, your website is a pretty brochure, not a lead-generating tool. It’s time to make changes.
* We don’t receive any compensation from Brian Javeline or MyOnlineToolbox. We recommend his work because he’s achieved remarkable results for so many of our clients.
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