For many small businesses, knowing who their web vendors are usually sits on the bottom of their priority list except for the day they need help. When that day arrives, there is nothing more important than getting a hold of who hosts your website or who registered it for you in order to turn it back on or to make sure it doesn’t go down.
Because it’s not a priority most of the time, forgetting who does what is typical. Many times, someone else often sets up these relationships so you might not even know who they are.
That’s why we created this short guide, to remind you what the different roles how to keep them straight. NOTE: these roles may be fulfilled all by one vendor or one for each. For instance, Atomic Blue can fulfill many of these roles or manage them for you.
Website Design and Development
This is who did the creative end of making your website. On larger scale projects, there may be two vendors, one for design and one for development. Designers are responsible for what it looks like and how guests interact with your site. Developers create what’s “under the hood”.
The website designers and developers create hundreds of files that make up your website and put them on servers at your website host. This is what Atomic Blue does.
Your host is the company who owns the servers and their connections to the Internet where your website physically resides. It could be anywhere in the world and is often in multiple places for redundancy. This is the first vendor to check with when your site is down.
The website host has nameservers which you need to tell your domain registrar about. This is how the internet knows your website is on this particular server.
This is the company who you are renting your domain address, yourbusiness.com from. The domain registrar updates internet records so that requests for yourbusiness.com gets routed to your website host.
Usually you will pay for multiple years at a time, so it’s easy to forget about these guys. The typical problem arises when your rental period is over and you don’t know it, nor do you know who to turn to in order to pay for more time. Keep your records up to date so this problem never happens to you.
These three above compromise the minimum vendors to get your site up and working. Sometimes your designers handle the whole package for you, but you should know there are other vendors involved and have their info in case your relationship with your designer ends.
Larger businesses may have a several more internet vendors involved with their business as well. Here are some of them below.
Often businesses without their own in-house IT folks will contract out the management of their email service. Typically this means getting someone to set up and trouble shoot a MS Exchange server for you. This consultant will need access to the web host to modify some records related to email. Or they may just manage your email accounts with your web host.
Email (Eblast) Campaign Vendor
This vendor is an online service that sends email campaigns, records data analytics on the campaign and manages your subscription database. Some are on monthly subscription and some charge by the email sent. It is suggested to have your website use a web form from the vendor to automatically bring in new subscribers making list management even easier.
Additionally, you can employ a designer to create a template for use with the vendor that is right for your brand. You then just modify the template for each campaign so you don’t have to recreate the graphics and code each time.
Content Management System (CMS)
This is a technology which creates parts of your website dynamically. You may contract with a vendor for this or just have your design/development team use their software. Some CMSs are free and some require a subscription fee.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO folks tweak aspects of a website to gain better placement on independent web searches like Google. Some may also work with other websites to develop links to your website to increase your search ranking. There are SEO guys who do this with legitimate techniques and there are others that do it breaking guidelines that can get your site banned from search engines. SEO consultants may also write content for your website.
Be wary of who you work with if you are getting involved with SEO consultants. Many people view them as the snake oil salesmen of the internet because it’s hard to determine if what they are doing is effective or not. It’s like pushing on a moving vehicle. Also be wary of getting on a subscription for their service when most of what they do comes in the initial effort.
Good designers and developers use best SEO practices when they create your website. Ask for recommendations and demonstrable proof of effectiveness when hiring a SEO consultant.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM consultants help you fine tune your online advertising to be as effective as possible, usually with Google Adwords placement. Be sure to not get locked in for the long term and set terms for proof of effectiveness. This is easier to measure.
Social Media Marketing
These marketing folks concentrate on managing your social media presence to elevate your brand and engage your customers online. This typically involves running your business’ Twitter and Facebook accounts but may also extend to moderating communities and getting involved in other online communities on your behalf. Be sure to determine the importance of Social Media to your business plan and allocate resources accordingly.
Sometimes your Social Media Marketer will also handle your email campaigns as they are often intertwined.
This probably appears to be quite an effort to having your business online, and that may be appropriate given how transformative the internet can be for a business. To help with keeping track of it all, feel free to download this form to keep your records all in one place. Having this information on paper can be the most secure way of storing the data, and helps with planning and succession in your business. Good luck!
Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding how to best manage your internet marketing. We are happy to help make the process as easy as possible for you.