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It’s finally time. You’ve invested many hours and resources into your new website and the developer has finally handed over the keys. Awesomesauce! You’ve now got a great new marketing tool at your disposal. So where do you go from here? Are you just supposed to sit back and watch the leads roll in?

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not quite that easy. I can’t stress enough that a website by itself is not a marketing strategy. It is designed to be the hub of a living and breathing marketing entity. If you’ve sort of jumped into this project head first without much of a plan behind it or knowing what to expect after launch – don’t worry, it’s not too late to start developing a real marketing strategy.

So now that your real work has begun, the first thing you’ll want to know is the ongoing costs associated with running your website. Well for starters, a website is a lot like a car in some ways. They need regular maintenance in order to achieve optimum performance – so the more you let it sit, the harder it will be to get it running again. As technology evolves, older systems can start to break down and before you know it it’s cheaper to send your once promising investment to the scrap heap than it is to fix it up.

I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by leaving the scene.

But the last thing you want is to have a boat load of extra fees and charges on top of what you’ve already budgeted, so here are some important potential costs to consider when planning for the day-to-day operation of your website.

1. The hard costs: Domain name, hosting, CMS or CRM software

Chances are you’ve already purchased a domain name for your website, so you likely already know the costs associated with it. However, it should be noted that domain names need to be renewed on an annual basis. A domain name can be purchased or renewed for about $10-15/year.

Just like your domain, your website hosting needs to be renewed on either a monthly or annual basis, depending on your provider. If your current hosting is not quite quick or reliable enough, have your web developer take a good look the various features on your website and your website traffic to help you figure out which package may be best. Most decent hosting packages are usually in the $150-$200/year range.

Lastly, if you’ve incorporated any proprietary software into your website like contact management or other custom plugins, be aware that they may be subject to renewable billing.

2. The ongoing costs: content refreshment

As noted earlier, a website is very much a living, breathing entity. It needs to be fed new content in order to be productive and stay alive. Think about your website as a new physical location. Would you open a new store with nobody staffing it? How long would that location survive? Fresh data needs to be added to your website on a regular basis to encourage return visitors and eventually capture more leads. Having a content management system that allows you to edit your own website is great, but if it never gets updated or fed new content, it’s going to starve. Visitors will begin deserting you, and your site is going to start looking like Christian Bale in The Machinist.

 

That's so hot.

For many people, the costs associated with keeping a website updated with regular content is either their time or their employee’s time. Remember that your time spent on website maintenance is taking away from time spent elsewhere, so if you are unable to devote the necessary time to keeping your website well-oiled and fueled with great content, then you may want to also consider the cost of bringing in some outside help.

3. The supporting costs: Marketing

By nature, your website is sort of like the shy kid at a sock hop. It’s not going to go out and introduce itself to potential visitors, no matter what you’ve been told. It’s going to need some coaxing via marketing. Your marketing efforts should include both online and traditional offline strategies including identifying the best social networks to participate in, search engine submissions, general marketing ideas, as well as including your website on all printed and electronic materials. This includes business cards, presentations, brochures, etc.

Remember that your website is the one place where you can measure the effectiveness of all of your marketing. You don’t necessarily know exactly how many eyeballs saw your newspaper ad for example, but if the ad directs them to your website with a call to action and landing page that captures lead information, then you can start measuring how successful a newspaper campaign truly was. Your website is the hub where all of your marketing should point to.

Even if you haven’t yet considered a budget for maintaining your website, or your marketing strategy in general, it’s never too late to start. Here’s a great intro from Jeremy Moss that can help you on your way to creating a real content marketing budget. If you haven’t yet started your web project, these costs should also be discussed with your website developer and marketing team during the initial planning meetings. Here’s another handy resource to keep your marketing strategy in focus:

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