More and more businesses are discovering the advantages of outsourcing their website maintenance. So what’s it all about and what are the pros and cons of outsourced website maintenance?
Cost of employing a webmaster
The costs of keeping a webmaster on the payroll can be prohibitive. Salaries for web professionals are currently around £27,000 per year, and can reach £32,000. But you need to factor in the additional costs of employing someone:
- Recruitment fees
- Continual training
- Software licences
- National insurance
- Office space
- Pension contributions
- Sick pay and holidays
When you include the true cost of employing a web professional, it adds at least 40% to their basic salary (try this calculator). So that’s an additional £10800 per year, making a whopping £37800. That’s £3150 per month to keep your website up to date.
With outsourced website maintenance you can get a higher level of expertise at a fraction of the cost. For example, typical fees start around £400 per month, but that includes all software, training, sick pay, equipment – the list goes on and on! At the end of the day it is probably cheaper to engage an outsourced maintenance company.
When you employ an in-house webmaster you are constrained by the expertise that person brings to the table. If a new technology emerges, they may not be willing, able or have time to be trained and become proficient. Outsourced website maintenance, on the other hand, involves engaging with a whole team within which new skills are always being acquired and formal training is routine.
A good outsourced website maintenance contract should ensure that you can increase or decrease as your requirements ebb and flow. Employing a webmaster on the other hand is a big commitment to that person, and reducing or ending their contribution can be costly and stressful.
Many professional webmasters have deep skills in specific areas, such as design, coding, or SEO. But small businesses also need serious knowledge in vital areas such as website security, anti-hacking measures, disaster recovery, legal compliance and business continuity. These are all areas that small businesses often don’t know they need, until they need them, and then they really, really need them. The right maintenance company can provide all these skills.
Outsourcing outside the UK
It’s no secret that there are loads of ways to offshore your webmastering. Countries such India, Phillipines, Romania and Ukraine have mature website development and outsourcing industries. But there are some serious drawbacks.
- Timezone. You need support during UK office hours. Can an offshored service provide this?
- Trust. It’s difficult to build and maintain a relationship with a trusted offshore supplier.
- English as a first language. When you outsource offshore it’s very hard to find a supplier whose first language is English. Whilst this in no way detracts from their technical abilities, it may well cause problems with communication and restrict them to technical tasks only. You cannot ask offshored webmastering companies to write advertising or marketing copy for web pages or ads, for example.
- Face time. Businesses want to meet their suppliers face to face. It’s vital to build and develop personal relationships. Offshoring your website maintenance makes this nearly impossible.
- Long term. Experience shows that offshored relationships can be more temporary and harder to maintain over the long term.
- Integration. It’s harder to contract offshored maintenance teams to fully understand your business goals and to keep them aligned with KPIs over the longer term. It’s harder to integrate offshore teams with your people.
One way of getting your website updated is to employ freelancers on an ad-hoc basis. On the other hand, a website maintenance contract gives you a set number of hours per month with which to get the essentials done whilst knowing exactly what your monthly costs will be. That’s great for cashflow, planning or budgeting. Make your FD happy!
When you employ a webmaster, it’s not always as simple as it should be to hold them accountable for performance or direct contribution to your business goals. With outsourced maintenance, you can task the team with specific goals and outcomes. Here are some example outcomes that we are working to:
- Increase leads and enquiries by 15% in the first year
- Raise the visibility of the website in Google searches by 10% within 6 months
- Drive 20% more traffic on average to the website every month for two years
- Get to number one in Google for a specific keyword within six months
- Increase conversion rate for a specific page by 20% in one month
There are as many different ways to hold an outsourced team accountable as there are different business goals. All it takes is a little imagination, and a flexible and hardworking team!