How to Turn a Web Project Into a Growth-Driven Design Retainer [+Free Webinar]

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Luke Summerfield
Luke Summerfield




In the past, website redesign projects almost always followed the same trajectory.

First, a business would identify the need for a redesign and begin to research their options. Once the team decided on an agency or design firm, they'd convey their needs and expectations. Three months later, they'd launch the new site.

The end.

This process seemed to make sense, that is, until growth-driven design happened.

Rather than carry out a traditional website design process guided by the hypothesis that it should work to meet the needs of the client, growth-driven design retainers aim to extend the relationship between the client and the agency beyond the launch date to ensure that it does work.

In doing so, the agency then has an opportunity to provide continued value and make critical improvements to the website over time.

A Case for Retainer-Based Website Redesigns

From an agency standpoint, retainer-based work translates to a predictable monthly income. Rather than chasing down variable project work to fill your pipeline, retainers create a more consistent cash flow.

A steady monthly cash flow provides you with the means to plan and distribute your budget more efficiently. Rather than outsourcing your development work at a high cost, you may find that you now have the funds to hire in-house development talent.

Not to mention, with retainer work comes long-term engagement. The longer you work with a particular client, the more opportunity you have to establish trust and generate a strong understanding of his industry, product or service, and unique needs.

This insight can then be used to inform your design strategy and help you make more thoughtful decisions regarding continuous growth initiatives such as A/B tests.

How to Overcome Client Objections

Like any new concept, the implementation process comes with its fair share of hurdles. The most common objection that agencies run into when trying to sell clients on a website redesign retainer is how to justify the investment.

Let's say, for example, that a prospect comes to you with a need for a website redesign, and after a careful analysis of his existing website, you give him a $15,000 quote for the project.

This is a pretty sizable chunk of change for a small business to allocate, so instead, you suggest a retainer-based model that asks for 12 monthly payments of $3,000.

While $3,000 is certainly a much easier to manage, there's no hiding the fact that the sum of the recurring fees for the year is much higher than the one-time cost. And when a client realizes this, hesitation is sure to follow after.

To combat client concerns, it's important that you're prepared to make a strong case for the value of what you're offering.

For starters, explain that the added cost is because of added value. A flat rate of $15,000 will get the client a new website, but a retainer will result in a new site and continual improvements over time.

While many newly redesigned websites are left unchanged for years following their launch, retainer-based website redesigns aim to ensure that the client's new website actually stays fresh.

When you're pitching this to your client or prospect, be sure to illustrate the potential iterations you plan on making, alongside the influence they will have on both competitive differentiation and ROI.

Not sure where to get started? Here are a few examples of different service options you can offer to ensure improvement over time:

  • User research and ongoing design improvements

  • Conversion rate optimization

  • Dynamic personalization

  • Marketing assets

Don't Want to Complicate Your Sales Process?

While client objections will certainly throw a wrench in your plans to implement retainer-based website work, you may also run into some of your own challenges.

(Like we mentioned before, change inevitably comes with some growing pains.)

When transitioning away from a traditional website design approach, the main challenge agencies face is how to avoid overcomplicating the sales process.

In fact, I can almost guarantee that this is what you're thinking right now:

"Our sales process is already long enough. Now I have to educate people on what growth-driven design is? That's crazy."

First of all, you can rest assure that a conversation about growth-driven design is an easy conversation to have.

It'd be tough for any marketer to object to the notion that a website should be continuously iterated and updated to best reflect the business and align with the needs and behaviors of the intended users, right?

Other than the fact that this approach just makes plain sense, it's also important to note that any added work or education that your sales reps have to put into pitching this approach won't go unrewarded.

This is because growth-driven design retainers serve as a differentiator for agencies during the prospect's evaluation process.

Let's say the prospect is shopping around for website redesign services and has narrowed it down to three -- your agency and two others that only offer a project-based pricing model.

At the end of the day, those two other agencies are only promising to deliver a website, while you're offering a website and a commitment to tweaking that website into a user-friendly, high-converting site that visitors love.

Getting Started With Growth-Driven Design

If you're tired of leaving potential opportunities on the table, there's no denying the potential of growth-driven design.

Wondering what the next steps are? Not sure how much you should be charging? Need more help understanding how to market, sell, and service this approach?

For answers to all of these questions (and then some), join me on June 9 for a value-packed webinar on Growth-Driven Design For Agencies. Click below to reserve your virtual seat.


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