INTERNET MARKETING;FIGHTING THE RISING COST OF WEB DEVELOPMENT

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With Web development costs continuing to rise, business-to-business marketers are finding new ways to control the Internet portion of their spending. In many cases, this means keeping control of the Web site in-house rather than outsourcing, and then making do with a stripped-down site, rather than loading up on the latest multimedia frills. The price of a Web site "is like how high is up," said Brent Bissell, senior VP-general manager at Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis. "There simply is no standard Web page." Web sites come in all prices and sizes, ranging from $10,000 to $1 million and up depending on company goals. While there is no set model for a Web site, there are ways not only to rein in costs, but also to use the site to cut printing and mailing costs from other parts of the company.

Simpler is cheaper

One easy way to cut costs, marketers agree, is to design a simple Web site that delivers information easily and intuitively. "Less pages and more functionality," said Wendy Berger, director of operations at Neoglyphics, a Chicago Web designer. Most business-to-business customers don't want a whole lot of high-end graphics that are expensive to create and take a long time for customers to download. "We don't put a lot of bells and whistles on our Web site, just basic information for our customers," said James Giroux, manager of communications, resources & new technology, Dow Chemical. Dow, which went up on the Web in spring 1995, did a great deal of its Web design in-house, which helped control costs. Dow paid about $60,000 to outside developers. Cray Research stuck to the tenet of simple design. "Our first and only rule is that the Web site has to be very easy [to use] and fast to call up," said Steve Conway, senior director of corporate communications. "Just getting up on the Web should not be an expensive proposition," he added.Mr. Conway said Cray, which had the technological base to create its site in-house, spent the equivalent of around $20,000, plus another $15,000 outside, to build its site.

Use what you've got

Another way to keep costs in check is to use brand logos and designs that are already used in company marketing and translate them for use on the Web site. "We took all the design and text that we already produced and adapted it to the Web site. This saved considerable amounts of money," said Joe Crawley, senior administrator of online services for American Airlines. This also helps customers to easily identify a company on the Web. "Use existing imagery. Companies have spent years building a brand and they should take advantage of it," said Neoglyphics' Ms. Berger, whose company has done work for Motorola, Caterpillar and John Deere, among others.

Have a clear-cut strategy

It seems simple, but some companies go astray by having no clear goal when they go on the Web.

"I am adamant that before anyone gets involved in the Web. They have to have their marketing head on straight. They have to have a strategy," said Mr. Bissell, whose agency created Web sites for U S West, ConAgra and BASF Corp., among others. "Be pragmatic when putting together a site," he said. "One, it has to be in concert with the brand position. Two, it is as simple as doing a poll asking if customers want to go on the Web. Talk to your best customers about what they need." Some companies have done just that. "We look at a very specific strategy on the NetÑthings our customers need. We have mapped the buying processes of our customers and fit our site to that," said Randy Whiting, manager of electronic commerce, Hewlett-Packard Co.

Save on non-Web costs

Web sites can also save companies money."The first question is, ` How much can I save on the Internet?' " said Fergus O'Daly, chairman-CEO of ad agency Poppe Tyson, New York. "Business-to-business marketers supply customers with hundreds and sometimes thousands of pages of technical information that they use to make purchasing decisions." The savings companies can make in supplying this kind of information over the Web are considerable. "We have had 125,000 downloads from our Web site. That translates into 125,000 phone calls we did not have to deal with," said Justin Camerlengo, general manager of corporate communications, Matsushita Electric Corp. of America.

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