How to Sell Web Design (+ Make it Profitable!)

by JC Hite in March 18th, 2021

While many digital marketing agencies offer web design services along with their standard services of SEO, pay-per-click, or social media advertising, it’s just as common for agencies to avoid offering web design altogether and choose to focus on digital marketing alone. For many, web design seems difficult, unnecessary, or just not profitable.

Some reasons for this exclusion include:

  1. Web design is a different skill set than other digital marketing services, involving technical skills that digital marketers often don’t have. This makes it seem like you have to hire web designers and developers for your team.
  2. Web development doesn’t seem necessary for digital marketing campaigns, since many clients already have websites.
  3. Web design is, more often than not, a one-time sell, meaning it doesn’t guarantee recurring revenue every month from a client. 
  4. Clients don’t necessarily ask for it—they’re just looking for advertising and aren’t interested in a professional website or a redesign.

However, web design is a valuable service that many agencies do want to, and should, offer. So how can agencies sell web design services to their current and future clients—and actually make a profit? That’s what we’re covering in this guide.

Why sell web design?

Your agency should sell web design in order to expand your offerings, appeal to more clients, and generate more revenue. Here are three key ways selling web design can help with these.

1. You need a website to run campaigns

Your client’s digital marketing campaigns require a website or landing page to run—and more importantly, they require a professional, user-friendly website that will actually convert. Many clients buy websites for their appearance, but agencies can sell for their utility instead. 

Google search ad example
You need a website in order to advertise on Google SERPs.

2. Offering web design services is more efficient

Offering web design to your clients will make your job easier and more efficient. Instead of dealing with outdated sites that aren’t user-friendly, or having to wait for clients to create websites with a freelance web designer or a web agency, you can speed up your internal process by doing it yourself.

This efficiency not only makes your job easier, but it also offers better service to your clients. The sooner they can run their ads and SEO campaigns, and the better the quality of the site they’re using for those campaigns, the quicker they’ll see results.

Consider these examples.

web design examples
Web design before and afters for a pediatric clinic and a hardware store.

The original websites not only looked outdated but their structure was not optimized for user experience or conversions.

For the pediatric clinic, we consolidated the existing pages into the most valuable information and made them easy to navigate. We also made CTAs clearer and more immediately visible, so patients could find exactly what they needed as soon as they landed on the home page.

web design ctas
For the hardware store, we had to create a pseudo-ecommerce site, where we displayed their products but also achieved the client’s goal of driving more foot traffic to their four locations.

hardware store web design example
We included “Visit Our Store” and similar language, maps, store locations, and more across all pages. We also created a page with monthly sales and offers.

hardware store web design products
Managing their website as well as their advertising allowed us to create and update their site based on their marketing goals, which improved their results.

3. Web design is another source of revenue

Web design may not count towards your recurring revenue the way PPC or SEO does, but it’s still revenue. Selling a few websites a month can boost your sales, especially in slow months.

In the summer of 2020, when many businesses pulled their advertising, others invested in ecommerce as online buying grew. Trends like this make web design a valuable source of revenue.

Web design as a digital marketing service

As an agency, the key to selling web design is to make it an essential part of your digital marketing services. Although web design is not strictly a digital marketing service, it is key to a client’s online presence and to their success with their digital marketing campaigns.

The three key digital marketing services (SEO, pay per click, and social media advertising) require a website to run and convert successfully.

Pay-per-click ads

Pay-per-click ads require a landing page or website for users to click to in order to run, but it goes much further than that. PPC ads need a good website to achieve, not just a high clickthrough rate and conversion rate, but to show up in search results at all.

Websites & Quality Score

Pay-per-click ads receive a Quality Score from Google. If your ads receive a high Quality Score, Google charges you less per click and cost per conversion. Part of that Quality Score is the quality and relevance of your landing page (or in any case website, if you link the ad to the client’s site).

Google Quality Score graphic
Image Source

One way to improve your ads’ Quality Score and get better results and a higher return on investment is to optimize the landing page. If you offer web design services in the context of improving Quality Score and getting lower CPC, you can more easily sell it to a client.

Conversions

Besides getting a user to click on your ad, you have to make sure that they convert as well. Conversions don’t happen in an ad: they happen on the site. By designing sites or landing pages yourself, you can have more control over the quality, look, and user experience, and thereby increase conversions for your client’s pay-per-click ads.

SEO

Search engine optimization is the easiest service to connect with web design since it is absolutely necessary to have a site for the SEO specialist to work on. While many clients will come to you for SEO and already have their own sites up and running, others won’t. Sell them web design as part of the SEO package.

It’s also possible to sell a website if the client wants SEO and already has a site. Often businesses have sites that aren’t very SEO-friendly: Whether they were created on a site builder that doesn’t support most optimizations or it has too many issues, starting fresh is often best for the SEO strategy.

Social media advertising

And finally, there’s social media advertising, such as Facebook Ads. Like Google Ads, Facebook Ads require a site to link to. While some clients will say they want their ads to simply link to their business’ Facebook page, it’s always better to link to the site, where conversions can happen right away.

AdEspresso describes Facebook business pages as a place where customers “can find out key information about your business, including a link to your site.” That’s because business pages are all about discovery, engagement, and brand awareness, but they should eventually “link to your site,” where clients actually sell their services and products.

Linking to their Facebook page instead of their website may help with brand awareness, but gain very little if any return on investment. Creating a landing page or website to link to the client’s Facebook ads will drive users to purchase, not just view content.

How to sell web design—and make a profit

Now, we’ve covered why selling web design is a smart way to expand your agency offering, and how web design fits as an essential part of digital marketing. That’s all well and good, but what about making money, right? Here’s how to sell web design services and make sure you’re turning a profit.

1. Offer landing pages and websites

First of all, you should offer more than just new websites to clients who don’t already have one. Your goal as an agency is to service your clients and give them what they need to succeed. Your clients may also need a single landing page for a specific campaign or may benefit from a website redesign.

For the pediatric clinic we mentioned previously, we created a landing page to drive ads to while we created the site. Once the site was done, that landing page became the telemedicine page. Offering landing pages, as well as websites, allows you to sell more to your clients—and provide even better service.

2. Upsell your services

Sell your web design services by upselling other services. If you’re selling a pay-per-click campaign and they don’t have a website, offer to build one. If you sell them an SEO package, offer to add web design and explain why having an SEO-friendly website will improve the process and their results. If you offer content like blogs or landing page copy, include web design here as well by explaining how the two work together for better results.

3. Bundle your websites

Also, offer bundles for your websites. Instead of charging per page, set a flat fee for landing pages and then create bundles, such as 8-pagers, 15-pagers, and 50-pagers. This method makes the bundle more appealing to clients and makes it easier for them to choose.

web design bundle prices
Example of rates for website bundles.

Remember, your prices should be based on your team’s level of expertise and the hours it takes them to build a site.

5. Hire web designers, not developers

Hiring a web developer or team of developers to create all your sites from scratch is a huge investment. Plus, it’s one that you don’t need to successfully sell web design as long as you’re choosing the right CMS. Instead, opt for web designers with an eye for good visuals and user experience. 

6. Use templates

Use existing templates to create your clients’ sites. Using templates will not only make the job faster and easier for your designers, but it’s also more affordable, allowing you to make a higher profit off your sites.

Ready to get started? Check out Unstack's free website and landing page templates!

7. Outsource your web design

Outsourcing is the best way to make web design a profitable service. Outsourcing is more reliable than hiring freelancers and more affordable than hiring an in-person team. For a much lower (and less variable) price, you can give your clients high-quality sites with little effort or investment on your part.

If you already outsource your other services, ask your white label agency if they also offer web design services. This will streamline their results and your process. Whatever they’re charging for a site, you can easily increase as you see fit and easily make a profit. To use our previous example, a white label agency might charge you:

outsource web design prices
This difference represents a significant margin for your business, plus what you’ll save on hiring, training, and benefits.

8. Focus on client retention

Creating good websites for your clients is likely a one-time revenue stream, but it still works toward building long-term client value. With a great website, you can improve the quality of your ad campaigns and SEO strategies.

  • Controlling the quality of your client’s landing page and website can increase their Google Ads Quality Score and get them lower costs and more clicks.
  • Creating SEO-friendly websites can help your SEO strategy succeed more quickly; this also helps retain SEO clients, since SEO normally takes a few months to see results in a best-case scenario.
  • A website’s user experience has a huge impact on conversions, which can impact your advertising strategies across the board; if you create a user-friendly website from the beginning, you’ll get more conversions, regardless of where traffic comes from.

The better your campaigns, the better your results; the better your results, the easier it will be to retain your clients. Ultimately, retention is the key to your profitability and ability to scale, and selling web design can help you do that.

Add web design to your agency’s offering

If you’re running a digital marketing agency, adding web design to your services is a great way to more efficiently manage other key digital marketing channels, like PPC, SEO and social media advertising. Plus, with more control over the website experience, you’re setting your clients up for even better performance—which sets you up for a stronger, long-term client relationship. 

About the author

JC Hite is the CEO and founder of Hite Digital, a white label digital marketing agency. After several successful business ventures, he started and scaled his agency from 1 to 60+ employees in just 3 years. His greatest passion is people: from his wife and children to his team, to the people around him, to his partners and his community.

Website Design