Are free website design services effective?

Are free website design services effective?

Are free website design services effective?The commercials are everywhere.  Get a free website design.  It’s easy.  It’s free.  It’s all you need!

Or this one: $300 “custom” website with SEO and hosting and this and that… got it – the entire web universe for $300.

It sounds phenomenal.  But alas, it’s not.  We wish it were.  Iconic is a strategic marketing firm in Indianapolis that provides, among other things, websites for our clients.  Our clients would be thrilled with us if we could find a supplier for $300 that worked.  Better yet, if we locked one down for FREE – they might build statues in our honor!

The offers play on several myths of marketing that is only prolonging business owners’ pain (the ones these services purportedly seek to help – the ones that aren’t effectively marketing on the Internet).  Sooner or later, usually later since the owner will not figure out that simply having a webpage or website is not the answer for months or years, the owner will have to come to the realization that web marketing is not a simplistic marketing discipline.  Here’s how the thinking goes:
  • “If I’m on the web, more people will find me” – not necessarily
  • “If I use a bunch of stock photos, it will fool people into believing I’m more professional or bigger than I am” – nope
  • “All I need is a basic web page to compete” – very rarely
  • “If I have a website, I get to check that off my list of things to do – AND it’s free!”
  • “SEO?  That sounds great!  SEO drives business, so I need that!” – you do… but what is free SEO?
If something is too good to be true, it is.  We all know this.  Yet, a myriad of business owners are lining up for these free website design services.
First, let’s forget the design aspects of the sites.  Not important (they were free).  However, we did do some digging on the SEO and content of the sites.  This is really what will separate winners and losers in web marketing.  In an effort to analyze, we went to the testimonials page and looked at the happiest clients.  Here’s what we found:
  • pages (even home pages) missing meta descriptions almost universally – basic conversion necessities
  • no meta keywords (not important for Bing or Google, but still important for smaller search engines)
  • no alt tags for images – basic SEO item
  • 301 redirects not set – okay, lot’s of people forget those
  • on the three that we checked in simple searches using their city and industry, none came up in the first 10 (!) pages of Google organically.  None!  In the first 10 pages!  That’s a problem considering the vast majority of searchers will ever get past page 4.
  • not one of the pages we saw had forms on each page to convert traffic, nor were there any discernible calls to action
Here’s the thing, the ads are enticing.  Free is almost always good.  But please, we implore you, realize what you are getting here.  Having a free website that can’t be found is equivalent to having a business card that you must hand out in person.  So long as you place it in a person’s hand and force them to look at it, they will at least know you exist, but don’t expect business simply because you have a box of business cards.  having a website is not equivalent to marketing on the web.  There is too much noise from competitors employing real internet marketing tactics for you to ever cut through.  It’s unreasonable.
If you want free info on how to effectively market on the web, our free e-book on web marketing essentials is below.  We exist as a company that helps small business owners and especially insurance agents marketing efforts.  The most important mission we have is to help business owners receive a good return on investment in marketing.  Even though the gamble is small or free with these services, the opportunity cost is huge.  Finding out 12 months from now that your web marketing is non-existent, your brand awareness is not influenced, and you’ve pinned false hopes on the $300 website, is a lost of year of revenue generation – that cost is likely enormous.  Further, since the minimum contract is 3 years with some of these services and if you leave, they keep your files, domain names, and contacts, you will likely be starting over after that year.
Once you do, you’ll make a reasonable investment based on your growth goals, you’ll have a site that builds awareness and converts traffic, and you’ll receive an ROI that is…well…real.  Sound familiar?Here’s some free info to help you market better on the web.  Sadly, we can’t give out a free website.  However, we can build you a site that shows up in searches, converts visitors to leads, nurtures those leads into paying customers, and generates significant dollars that will pay for the site pretty rapidly and continue to generate sales for years.
Be Well, Icons!
-Jason Hutcheson
VP Marketing, Iconic Digital Agency
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Jason Hutcheson

A hard working, scrappy entrepreneur with a passion for helping others succeed by mixing sales technique, creative design, and digital marketing into a potent cocktail of awesome sauce.

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