How to grow a web design business
The modern web design agency now finds itself at the very epicentre of a client’s business strategy. Website briefs are often as complicated as ERP or CRM specifications, and the expectations of website users are higher than ever. So how can you grow a web design business by offering clients business system integration?
Many drivers have contributed to this shift towards a more pivotal role for the web design agency. The main factors have been advancements in technology, consumer expectations and technically savvy marketers.
The shift in web design agencies having a crucial role in a client’s business strategy can be pointed towards:
- The maturity in web development languages e.g. PHP
- The development and adoption of cloud-based business applications with web services e.g. Salesforce, Magento, Shopify, EKM etc.
- Increased use of mobile devices e.g. smartphone, tablet devices
- Development of and low cost access to CMSs and other digital platforms
- Consumers expect their data to be available 24/7, 365 days per year on any device, regardless of location
- Rich, data-driven communications can form consumer opinion of a given company
- Marketers are more technically savvy and require data that can be used to achieve commercial objectives
- Marketers have become the bridge between the IT Department's ERP, CRM, WMS, bespoke systems or eCommerce web store and the web design agency
“We identified that integrating with other systems and web services would mean that we could appeal to a much wider range of clients.” Andy Perchard, Project Manager at Bespoke 4 Business
The commercial opportunities for the modern web design agency
With businesses now looking to publish data from ERP, CRM, bespoke systems or external web services to the corporate website, web design agencies are increasingly being asked to provide a fully integrated solution.
This represents a significant financial opportunity for web design agencies and repositions the industry as a key player within the IT sector. The increase in the number of web design agencies achieving Accredited Microsoft Development Partner status is testament to this new environment. Opportunities for agencies can include:
- Revenue growth opportunities
- Stronger client retention levels
- Less requirement to compete on price
- Critical role in the client’s corporate strategy
The sophistication of the modern company website, because of its integration with business systems, enables web design agencies to develop longer and more profitable relationships with customers. In short, business system integration with the company website deepens the relationship between the agency and the client.
With business systems now playing an increasingly integral part of website design, and IT budgets being made available to the marketing team, many web design agencies are seeing their average sales price rise notably, moving away from competing on price with their competitors. Simply put, they can now offer more advanced solutions that can play an important role to the whole business.
The challenges facing web design agencies
When looking at how to grow a web design business, system integration represents a lucrative opportunity for web design agencies, but it comes with a number of internal and external challenges. These include:
- Knowledge of back-office systems is limited
- Integration skills and knowledge are expensive to acquire, retain and keep up-to-date
- Absence of proven integration platforms
- Inability to cater for every unique requirement
- Web design agencies are pitching to clients with a creditable technological offering
Overcoming these challenges can be seen as a major stumbling block. However, it’s not as challenging as it first seems. It’s purely a matter of reviewing the most straightforward and cost effective options and solutions available. Once reviewed, web design agencies can make strategic movements that provide clients with more in the long term.
“After reviewing the options, the most straightforward and cost effective solution was to work with an integration specialist.” Anthony Tilley, Sales Director at Bespoke 4 Business
The strategic options open to web design agencies
Web design agencies that wish to thrive in the coming months and years cannot afford to ignore the growing movement towards website and business system integration. It is a trend that is only going to grow in significance.
Acknowledging this trend means that a web design agency now needs to define its company strategy in order to address this challenge. The options available to web design agencies include:
- Do nothing
- Specialise in one business system and build a custom integration
- Develop a strategic relationship with a proven integration provider
If a web design agency opts to ‘do nothing’, the next step is pretty simple. As a bare minimum, this agency should consider establishing a referral programme with an integration partner.
The reason for this is that, in the future, a prospect requirement may arise or an important customer may turn to the agency as a trusted business partner for advice or guidance, or the client may have a requirement to integrate its internal business systems and the agency could profit significantly.
For a web design agency that wishes to build a custom integration for a specific application, the first step is to identify its target audience. The agency must then commit to the recruitment and on-going support of a team of software developers and product specialists.
The next step is to join and pass their chosen product vendor’s development programme (e.g. Microsoft) and maintain that relationship moving forwards. This is because most clients will use this accreditation as selection criteria. The last step is to identify the right organisations that run that specific business application and focus their new business development strategy around that audience.
Web design agencies that do not wish to restrict their future customer base should identify, vet and collaborate with a proven system integration provider. This approach provides significant commercial advantages including:
- Speed to market
- Zero entry costs
- Ability to pitch a proven technology
- The ability to target the entire market
Identifying and evaluating a system integration partner
When identifying and evaluating a system integration partner, a web design agency should look for the following characteristics:
- Market proven reputation for application integration
- Documented case studies around the subject of website integration
- Written or verbal testimonials from other web design agencies about the vendor and its product
- An established and well-structured partner programme
- A scalable pricing structure that enables web design agencies to pitch for both small and large projects
- Market proven experience in multiple business solutions e.g. Microsoft, SAP, Sage etc.
- Accredited development status with the mainstream business application vendors
How to grow a web design business next steps
For more information on how to grow a web design business by overcoming the business system integration challenges faced by web design agencies download the eBook below or call us on +44(0) 330 99 88 700.