M.R. NEMETH DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER
A Website Platform’s Total Cost of Ownership
November 1, 2016
The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a website platform has a direct impact on the success of digital marketing initiatives. When building websites, from microsites to full-featured brand sites, being able to plan and scope the project accurately will define the success of a campaign.
TCO is a financial model designed to effectively simulate the many and varied costs of different systems that companies use to carry out business. An article by Marty Schmidt of Solution Matrix does a great job of explaining the TCO formula and best practices.
When it comes to website platforms, it’s imperative that we consider all the costs that come with designing, building, and launching websites. While there are several inexpensive platforms for these initiatives, they usually don’t address the real impact on your company's bottom line.
Consider the goals.
There are many website platforms available, and each of them have their benefits and features. What are the goals of your initiative? Maybe the premise is to connect with your audience, in an attempt to build a userbase of ardent followers and improve your social media following. Or perhaps you want to improve your SEO so your customers can find you to learn about and purchase your products. Each initiative is specific and has certain requirements to ensure success.
Build a plan and determine a budget.
What something costs is usually a prime motivator for consumers on whether to buy a product or not. Usually, we’re confronted with a few options to consider, and, all things being equal, we let price dictate choice. Ostensibly, this is a valid tactic. However, face value of associated costs needs to be examined as well.
Here is a quick list of common website features that come with a cost:
Developer fees and incidentals often carry the bulk of the associated costs for website platform deployments. This disproportionately inflates marketing budgets to untenable levels which makes it difficult to generate quality assets and drive initiatives.
Developers are some of the highest paid professionals in your organization, and it’s imperative that they’re tasked with forward moving and revenue generating projects, instead of spending valuable hours maintaining and adding routine updates and changes to your digital marketing materials.
Consider the management of the solution over its lifetime.
Removing the developer cycle and decreasing time to launch are features found in the next generation of website platforms. Reducing or even eliminating a marketer’s entrenched dependency on IT resources is becoming a greater necessity every day. Nearly a third of marketing budgets are being allocated to IT specific needs.
It’s not just the developers that come with a cost, though. For a professional or enterprise grade website, hosting and security costs can really add up. Some services charge for bandwidth and traffic, while others will add substantial monthly add-ons for themes and security. There are too many to go into individually; the marketplace for hosting and security providers grows every day. Suffice to say that everything has an additional cost, and this needs to be factored into your business’ decision when choosing providers.
Evaluate the vendor best suited for the solution.
The lifetime of an initiative, be it 5 days or 5 years, will have an impact on choice. Ideally a solution that evolves with and anticipates your needs will serve you best in both short and far term.
Free platforms are most often utilized for building personal websites. While often template locked and lacking in features, they’re optimized for personal blogs and portfolios. What’s more challenging is using these platforms for professional use due to the nature of an ad-supported system. These solutions sometimes offer premium upgrades to account for different needs, which can sharply increase costs.
Premium services offer extras by bundling support into the overhead and providing troubleshooting and guidance for those in need. They usually deliver some degree of managed hosting which alleviates the pressure of finding server space. Others will provide value added services to assist in a more ad hoc manner. However, services will generally come with an added developer cost when instituting different objectives. Depending on your use case, these solutions can be effective for smaller deployments like local businesses or restaurants that just want a clean, professional looking site without expecting to make many changes.
Enterprise solutions enable you to build and deploy websites quickly, while mitigating expensive labor costs during development. They come feature packed and comprehensive premium coverage, allowing you to plan for both short and long term initiatives. Leading brands launch new pages and sites constantly, and having the technology and support in place to meet demand and overtake the competition is invaluable.
Reduce barriers to design and deployment.
Designers and marketers are often gated by the dreaded developer doldrums stage of their schedules. This can lead to stagnation of creativity and preempts their ability to adapt to market changes quickly. They need to execute content upgrades, marketing automation installs, tracking deployments, page optimization, etc. Responsive design and a full featured suite enables creatives to build and deploy sites without relying on IT or developers. The ability to define and duplicate assets at scale will affect production costs. This directly impacts a company’s control of an operation, and enables speed to market across internal disciplines. A platform that complements and addresses these dependencies will provide better value on every push.
Deploying a 10,000 page website onto a new platform requires significant foresight in planning and implementation. During such a migration, the most vulnerable marketing initiative to protect is a site’s SEO. Backlinks and site equity is built up inside the way the site is architected. If you change these URLs, other sites linking back to you will become disconnected, resulting in lost signals. It’s essential to consult your website platform or hire professional help to assist in the migration, otherwise your team will be horribly surprised when they find you no longer rank for anything. The opportunity cost of a poorly planned migration is immeasurable. Getting the right tool to help you through the process will ensure success.
Brandcast: an encompassing solution.
Brandcast is specifically designed to reduce the TCO of the digital presence for the enterprise sector. A code-free website platform brings the TCO down by reducing or eliminating the need for developers. It directly reduces the overhead costs associated with traffic, storage, bandwidth, security, and hosting by bundling them into the product - there are never any surprises or blind costs. SEO tools are built in and seamless integrations take care of marketing automations and analytics. As an enterprise solution, Brandcast gives control back to the marketers and designers to build and deploy against their initiatives fast and with unparalleled scale.