Typically I’m an upbeat, happy go lucky person. Yesterday started off great, with a couple jokes, in-office pranks, and Ryan and I brainstorming a hilarious top-secret idea that we may be sharing soon. But, the day concluded with me listening to a client who had just come out of a meeting with one arm of their marketing mix (think newspaper advertising, yellow page advertising, etc.) unhappy, confused, and fearful.
As I sat and listened my fists tightened, my jaw tensed – as she shared the load of bollocks (yes I’m going full English) our client was served. And worst of all – it had had an impact. Fortunately, we were able to work through the accuracies/inaccuracies of the previous discussion and help them understand (completely and honestly) what’s going on with their web presence.
Top 10 Web Development Lies Businesses Have Been “Sold”
You’ve been sold a bag of goods and it makes me mad. But, what makes me happiest is sitting down with business owners like you and working together to sort through the misinformation and help you to spend money on the online marketing tools and techniques that will bring you business. As a point of reference, we went through a similar process with a new client reducing their cost/lead from around $800 – to $200 and they promptly switched much of their budget online…
The following 10 items are huge misconceptions in the world of web design. I’ve found that industries that are “progressive” in their promotion of Internet marketing (real estate, consumer products, high ticket items like cars, etc.) are sometimes the worst offenders.
1. Your Website Requires Management (or a Monthly Fee)
Unless you’re constantly making updates to your site, your website should not cost anything on a monthly basis. And if you ARE making a bunch of updates you should be using technology that frees you from your web development company anyway – a content management system – that lets you make updates for FREE. Now hosting (the place where your site sits) is a different story… as are more technical updates. But for most businesses sites you’re positioned as the best person (or persons) to update.
2. Search Engines are a Mystery
Search Engines, are simple, they read content and sort that content by what they think is most valuable. They determine what’s most valuable by a TON of different factors, but for your sake just understand that the higher quality your site (the better the code), the more you update it, and the more people that talk about your site (on and off the web), the better you will do.
3. A Website is All You Need
Many owners believe a website to be like a business card – just another necessity of business to look legitimate. And it is. But, a website is so much more, and needs to be treated as such. It’s a 24/7 sales tool, 24/7 support tool, and can actually BRING customers in the door through search engines and other marketing.
4. Your Website Will Just Bring You Business
A website alone is like a building in the desert – you must build in-roads, put up signs and banners, and still get the word out about your new “online building.” Marketing, is VITAL to success online. Luckily, it’s more targeted and inexpensive than anything that’s been at a small businesses disposal throughout all of human history.
5. You Can/Can’t Do This (Web) Stuff
You can do MOST of the important stuff when it comes to the web – yes you, laymen tech person. I’d argue that writing is the most important skill any web marketer can have – so if you’re a business owner or web marketing manager, brush up on those writing skills! Now, there will be times when things get technical, and that’s why I suggest surrounding yourself with tools (or a team) that can help…
6. SEO is a Monthly Fee
I hate this one – just like the “web management fee” SEO or search engine optimization involves manipulating the factors that determine how Google or other search engines rank your website. At the end of the day, a monthly fee may be in order, but there’s no set “$300/month” rate as every industry, location, and keyword is different. Additionally, SEO is entirely holistic – every factor must be evaluated, as in many local situations you can simply update a tiny code and immediately rank #1 for many terms. In any case “SEO” is a misnomer. All of our sites are “search engine optimized” but it’s the ongoing content writing that is really important.
7. The Web is Fast/Easy (to Make Instant Riches)
Nope, it’s going to take time, work, and money. It’s possible to achieve a lot on the web, but if you’re expecting fast riches you’ll probably be disappointed and quit too soon.
8. Hosting is Not Important
Hosting is technical and boring, it involves the computer your website and email sit and are presented to the world. Nothing is more important… search engines use it as one of their tools in evaluating your ranking (so it’s important for marketing) and if you’re using it for email – ANY downtime means you’ll be losing money paying employees when they can’t do work. Get good hosting!! More below of course.
9. You Can Outsource Easily to Other Countries
Outsourcing has its pros and cons. But I’m going to totally have to disagree with Mr. Tim Ferriss who, in his book “The Four Hour Workweek” advocates outsourcing all of ones life. The idea is alluring, the ability to concentrate more on oneself romantic, but in reality outsourcing can be a huge pain as monetary, technical, and language barriers all get in the way.
10. Social Media is Extremely Important
Social media is just not that important for most businesses right now. Here’s why – you need to invest your time, money, energy, on what will work immediately and what will bring in results as FAST as possible. Social media is NOT the fastest way to more business. I think it’s important in later stages of a web marketing plan.. but first, get a great site, have great content, then market it in OTHER ways, then start thinking (and planning around) Social.
BONUS EXTRA BULLOCKS
Here’s a number of other things I’ve heard from partners, friends, and clients that’s being discussed during the “sales” process by other web “professionals” in the area:
We’re a Google Premiere Partner Agency – Here are the exact details of the premiere program at Google: http://www.google.com/ads/premiersmbpartner/partners-details.html#eligibility – Although I would one day love to be this as an ego boost, essential all it equates to is a large sales-arm for Google to promote their services. I’d argue that small agency partners, and certified professionals are perhaps more qualified as they have to go through the rigorous tests Google creates for their products.
We Work Closely With Google to Assess Clicks – This doesn’t exist period and I know of a few companies locally that say this. Google has roughly two levels of procedures in place for this already – one is technical and automatic, another is human driven. As a certified partner for many years, Google’s customer service (even at our level, which means we have to manage a LOT of AdWords accounts) support is horrible. We have no “direct” line to Google -just a handful of numbers that constantly change to people that come and go – and almost all of them are simply support reps and no nothing about Google’s underlying products (sadly). But thankfully they’ve built one of the most powerful advertising platforms around – and it works extremely well. This closely ties in to the next line of crap I’ve heard:
You Pay Us For Clicks (as we get you a better price) – This is a lie and a way to hide margins and up-sell clicks to you. All of our pay per click accounts are setup in our clients names (with rare exceptions), so in addition to the reporting we provide – they can login and see everything at any time and make sure everything is accurate and in-line with what we agreed to.
We Provide Our Own Reports – Although we do this too, what we do is compile data from Analytics, AdWords, and a few other services – things that can’t be skewed or mis-represented. Most of the major papers in the area as an example, offer completely inaccurate reporting on their online advertising in order to continue to promote and sell their digital packages. I’ve seen roughly a dozen companies over the years (us included) be fed analytics from major media companies. Upon double checking (because we know how to) it’s always inaccurate. Always. Neither Atilus nor our clients can afford to pay $50/click for anything, but when the report shows it as $0.05 and your average small business doesn’t have time (or the technical ability) to check – it sure does look great.
Conversions Are Extremely High – This is extremely frustrating as it’s using language, the web’s technical complexity, and naivety against small businesses. To us a conversion is really 1 thing – how many people are doing what you need as a small business. That means – filling out a form, signing up, purchasing, contacting you, etc. (and that varies on each project). But often times other ad companies or media companies use the word “conversion” to represent things like – clicks on an ad, click through to a website, coming to a page, all things that are important in the process, but can’t be used to judge the monetary/business return of an advertising medium/package.
We Can Get Better Pricing on (online) Advertising – For the most part this isn’t possible. Online advertising is very much democratized. Google AdWords in particular has a semi-auction based system that rewards advertisers for creating great ads, great sites, and great content – in so far as this is done your rates are smaller. But there’s no “partner” level that can guarantee small prices for you. Only hard work, knowing the system, and spending lots of time tweaking a pay per click account can lead to better pricing – all things we do on accounts, and I know others in the industry (at least locally) do not.
Everything is In-House – Nope. Almost every company in Southwest Florida that “does web design” doesn’t do web design. Instead they source it out to another division, a separate company, or overseas. Recently I was asked by a very astute business man at a prominent multi-billion dollar company who was contemplating becoming a client “when you say you do everything in house – and you say you’re going to assign this programmer to our project. What does that mean? Do YOU ACTUALLY ISSUE A W2 FOR HIS WAGES AT THE END OF THE YEAR!” To which I replied a pleasant “Yes.” It felt good to say that, and was interesting to have been asked this by someone familiar with this space. He knew exactly what to ask so I couldn’t dance around the question.
If You Don’t Do X Google is Going to Remove You – Sure, somethings could lead to this. But on the whole, they just want you to continue advertising with them, purchase something new they’re promoting, etc. Anything that will get you de-listed is intentional and complicated technically. Just ignore this.
We Can Guarantee Results – I want to do this. Almost all of our clients are insanely happy, receive a return, and work with us for years. But I just can’t. And I hesitate to understand the thinking process around this statement for any people in this industry.
We Work for Google – With few exceptions, no one in Southwest Florida “works” for Google our collective companies use their services on our clients behalf. I recently highlighted a large case of fraud that was happening down here, and even went so far as to canvas local papers to get this in the local business news to help protect small businesses from this shill scam. Unfortunately it wasn’t picked up.