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The Best Payroll Services (In-Depth Review)

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What would you do with ten extra hours a month?

You’d probably work on growing your business, right? Maybe you’d spend it creating new marketing campaigns to generate more revenue. Perhaps you’d take half a day off to spend time with your family. 

Regardless, the average small business owner spends five hours every pay period running payroll. That adds up to 21 full work-days a year. 

But thankfully, that’s not what your payroll process has to look like. 

The best payroll services help you automate paying your employees and simplify the entire process, so you can gain more control over how you spend your time. 

Without sacrificing employee satisfaction. 

But with so many options to choose from, it’s easy to waste time trying to pick the right one. 

To help speed up the process, I reviewed six of the best systems on the market and put together a comprehensive list of what to look for as you make your final decision. 

The 6 best payroll service options for 2020 

  1. Gusto – Best payroll service for small businesses
  2. OnPay – Most flexible payroll service
  3. Paychex – Best for larger organizations
  4. ADP – Best payroll service with built-in HR
  5. QuickBooks Payroll – Best for QuickBooks integration
  6. Wave Payroll – Most affordable payroll service

How to choose the best payroll service for you

If you’ve spent some time searching for solutions from Google or asking for peers’ recommendations, you know there are hundreds of payroll companies to choose from. 

With so many options, it can feel like a difficult decision. 

To help you narrow things down, let’s walk through what to consider as you go through the process. 

Number of employees

Most services charge a set monthly fee plus a small fee per employee. So, it’s essential to consider the number of employees you need to pay. 

Some payroll services may limit the number of employees on certain plans while others may forego the per-employee fee altogether. Furthermore, some may also offer features that make it easier to pay many people at once. 

You also need to consider whether you’re paying employees or contractors. 

The process and fee structure may differ for different types of payments depending on which service you choose. 

Basic payroll features

The best payroll services exist to simplify the process of paying your employees. So, every payroll service you consider should have a set of critical features, including:

  • Automatic payroll options
  • Self-service portal for full-time and part-time employees
  • Mobile capability to manage payroll on the go
  • Direct deposit so your employees get paid quickly
  • Automatic tax calculations and withholdings
  • W-2 and 1099 employee management

There are other advanced features you may want to consider as well, depending on what you need. This includes things like HR tools, benefits management, wage garnishments, and more. 

So, carefully consider the essential features as well as the advanced features you need to simplify your payroll processes. 

Tax features

Filing tax is a complicated and time-consuming process. It can also result in unfortunate and expensive penalties if you don’t do it right. 

However, many payroll services offer tax features that simplify the process. From calculating payroll taxes to automatically withholding employee income taxes, there are countless things to consider. 

So, it’s important to choose a payroll service that offers essential tax features to make your accountant’s life easier. 

Or yours if you do your taxes yourself. 

Built-in HR tools

If you offer benefits to your employees, you need a payroll service that helps you effectively manage things like time off, vacation requests, workers’ compensation, insurance, and more. 

Furthermore, services with an employee self-service dashboard make this much more manageable. Employees can log in, update their accounts, request time off, and see an overview of their benefits package. 

The cheaper options on this list tend to ditch HR features. So, carefully consider what you need against your budget before making any decisions. 

Monthly payroll limits

If you have salaried employees or a set payroll schedule, most payroll services are adequate. However, if you pay freelancers or contractors on an irregular basis or run payroll more than twice a month, you need to be careful. 

Some services offer unlimited payroll processing, while others limit the number of times you can issue payments every month. 

So, carefully consider how often you need to send payments when making your final decision. 

Integrations

To further simplify your business processes, it’s crucial to consider the business tools you’re already using to run your business. 

It’s important to choose a payroll service provider that integrates seamlessly with those tools. Think about your accounting software, your employee scheduling software, and other essential tools related to payroll. 

The different types of payroll services

There are several different services to consider, depending on your business’s size and your specific payroll needs. 

So, before we dive into my top recommendations, I want to talk about the different types and how to decide between them. 

1. Hiring someone to do it for you

If you can afford it, hiring someone (either in-house or as a contractor) to run payroll for you is an excellent option. This ensures you find someone who knows how to do it and that they have the time to do it well. 

However, you still need payroll software. They may have their own preferences and expertise, which may help you decide which service is right for your business. 

With that said, many small businesses don’t necessarily need to hire someone. 

The best payroll services make running payroll easy, so anyone on your team can take care of it in a few clicks. 

2. Software as a service (SaaS)

The software as a service (SaaS) model means you pay to use the software. Most service providers charge monthly or annually for this, and as long as you keep paying, you get to keep using it. 

Most SaaS tools are cloud-based, meaning you can access it from a web browser anywhere. 

However, some also offer desktop applications and mobile apps you install on a specific device. 

This is the most common type of payroll service and the most convenient to use because you and your employees can access their accounts from any device, anywhere in the world with an internet connection. 

All of the recommendations on this list are SaaS payroll services. 

3. Enterprise-grade solutions

Most payroll services offer enterprise-grade and industry-specific solutions for large businesses. They come with specialized, custom pricing to match the unique needs of enterprise-grade companies. 

A software like this could be a SaaS tool or an on-premise deployment, depending on what you need and the company you choose. 

Most businesses don’t need this. But if you manage payroll for a large company or find your current solution limited, it may be a good idea to consider an enterprise solution. 

#1 – Gusto Review — The best for small businesses

If you’re a small business looking for a simple payroll service, Gusto is a smart choice. And you’ll be in good company with more than 100,000+ other small businesses around the world. 

Gusto makes onboarding, paying, insuring, and supporting employees as easy as possible. And they don’t call themselves a “people platform” for no reason. 

They offer the right set of tools and services to make your life (and your employees’ lives) easier. 

Running payroll takes just a few clicks, and you can enjoy unlimited payroll runs every month. Need to pay seven different contractors at different times? No problem. 

Need to pay the same employees the same wages every pay period? You can set it up to run automatically without you having to lift a finger. 

Plus, you get access to a wide variety of features, including:

  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Built-in time tracking capabilities
  • Health insurance, 401(k), PTO, workers’ comp, and more
  • Compliance with I-9’s, W-2s, and 1099s
  • Employee self-service onboarding and dashboards
  • Next-day direct deposits (on specific plans)

And the best part? It’s affordable. 

If you don’t have W-2 employees, Gusto starts at $6 per contractor per month. But if you do have full-time or part-time employees, expect to pay a bit more. Their other paid plans include:

  1. Basic — $19 per month + $6 per person per month
  2. Core — $39 per month + $6 per person per month
  3. Complete — $39 per month + $12 per person per month
  4. Concierge — $149 per month + $12 per person per month

Gusto is perfect for most startups and small businesses. But, large companies with complex benefits packages, and hundreds of employees may find it limiting. 

Get started with Gusto today!

#2 – OnPay Review — The most flexible payroll service

If you’re looking for an all-in-one payroll system with transparent pricing and virtually unlimited flexibility, OnPay is an excellent choice. 

Whether you’re a small company or a fast-growth startup, OnPay is versatile enough to suit your needs. Plus, you never have to guess how much you’re going to pay every month with their transparent pricing. 

And you can rest easy knowing you have access to every feature OnPay offers regardless of the number of employees you have because they only provide one pricing plan. 

Their software includes access to powerful features, including:

  • Unlimited monthly payroll runs
  • W-2 and 1099 capabilities
  • Automatic tax calculations and filings
  • Employee self-service onboarding and dashboards
  • Intuitive mobile app for management on the go
  • PTO, e-signing, org charts, and custom workflows
  • Integrated workers’ comp, health insurance, and retirement
  • Multi-state payroll

Plus, getting started is super easy. All you have to do is set up your account, add your employees, and start running payroll. Furthermore, OnPay automatically calculates and withholds taxes so you don’t have to worry about manual calculations or human error again. 

They also offer specialized solutions for different industries, including nonprofits, restaurants, and farming/agriculture. 

OnPay is $36 per month plus $4 per person per month. So, you can add new employees to the software for just a few dollars, making it excellent for fast-growing companies and small businesses alike. 

And while OnPay can handle large companies with hundreds of employees, there are better enterprise options available. It’s most suitable for small businesses and fast-growth companies that need simple pricing and flexibility. 

Try OnPay free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you!

#3 – Paychex Review — The best for larger organizations

Paychex is an excellent choice for businesses with more than 50 employees. They also offer low-tier plans for small businesses, but they’re quite limited compared to the other small business options on this list. 

However, their midsize to enterprise plans are perfect for large companies. 

The larger your business is, the worse small discrepancies and human errors affect your tax calculations. And wrong tax filings equal harsh penalties from the IRS, even if it was an accident. 

So as a large company, it’s imperative to have a payroll service that adapts to meet your needs. Paychex is more than a payroll service. It’s a human capital management (HCM) system designed to help you save time and reduce errors. 

Their enterprise plans include features like:

  • Recruiting and onboarding
  • Performance and learning management
  • Powerful real-time analytics
  • 100% employee self-service
  • Payroll automation features
  • Direct deposit, paper checks, and paycards
  • Salary, hourly, and contract workers
  • Paycheck garnishments
  • PTO and benefits management
  • Job costing and labor distribution

All of which are scalable for enterprises with thousands of employees (or as little as 50). Plus, Paychex services more than 650,000+ companies and has more than 50 years of experience in the industry. 

So, you can rest easy knowing you’re in good hands.

With that said, getting started isn’t as easy as it is with some of the other options on this list. Because each deployment is tailored to your business, you can’t get going on your own. However, they do offer a team of specialists to help you get the ball rolling. 

Contact their sales team for a custom quote to get started!

#4 – ADP Review — The best for built-in HR features

ADP is the way to go if you’re looking for a payroll service with the most built-in HR features. It’s perfect for smaller companies without an HR department and growing/large companies looking to streamline the process. 

ADP works with more than 700,000 businesses in 140+ countries, making it one of the most popular payroll services for businesses of all shapes and sizes. 

They offer tailored solutions for small, midsize, and enterprise businesses, so you’re sure to find the perfect solution whether you have five employees or 1000+. 

Their lower-tiered plans include basic payroll features like automatic tax calculations, employee self-service tools, a mobile app, PTO management, and complete compliance support. 

However, ADP offers more than just basic payroll and HR. They also include time tracking, talent recruitment, HR consulting services, advanced employee benefits, and the option to outsource your entire payroll/HR department. 

You can also get unique benefits, like personalized training, legal assistance, background checks, and interview scheduling too. 

Furthermore, ADP offers industry-specific solutions for nine different industries, including:

  • Restaurants
  • Construction
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Nonprofits

Note: ADP pricing isn’t available online, so it may not be suitable for micro or small businesses interested in getting started quickly. If you need something fast and straightforward, my #1 recommendation is Gusto.

Request a free quote to see if ADP is right for you today. 

#5 – Quickbooks Payroll — The best for QuickBooks integration

Quickbooks Online is one of the most well-known accounting tools on the market. And if you’re already a user, QuickBooks Payroll is an excellent addition to your tech stack. 

The two tools integrate seamlessly, making account reconciliation and tax season a breeze. 

Furthermore, QuickBooks’ payroll system works in all 50 states. So, whether you have a remote team or work with contractors across the country, you don’t have to worry about making errors or mishandling taxes. 

You can also rest easy knowing your federal, state, and local taxes are automatically calculated plus paid for you every time you run payroll. Plus, the entire process is easily automated after your first round of payments. 

With QuickBooks, you get a full-service payroll system regardless of the plan you choose. 

And the user interface is aesthetically pleasing with direct deposit payments landing in your employees’ bank accounts within 24 – 48 hours. 

The Core Plan starts at $45 per month, plus $4 per employee per month. It includes:

  • Full-service payroll with unlimited runs
  • Automatic payments after the first run
  • Health benefits
  • Wage garnishments
  • Next-day direct deposit
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • All 50 states

So, even their most basic plan includes everything you need to simplify your HR and payroll processes. 

But if that isn’t enough, their advanced plans include:

  1. Premium — $75 per month + $8/employee per month
  2. Elite — $125 per month + $10/employee per month

Get 70% off your first three months to take QuickBooks Payroll for a test drive today!

Note: 1099 contractors and freelancers aren’t included. It comes as an add-on with additional monthly fees. So, this isn’t the most affordable choice if you frequently handle contractors or freelancers. 

#6 – Wave Payroll Review — The most affordable payroll service

If you’re on a tight budget, Wave Payroll is an affordable payroll option. Wave also offers numerous other small business tools for free, including invoicing, accounting, and receipt management. 

The different apps integrate seamlessly to create an affordable small business accounting and payroll solution. 

With Wave, getting started takes just a few minutes, and running payroll goes even faster. Plus, they offer a 100% accuracy guarantee. You can also pay hourly, salary, and contractors and automatically generate the right tax forms. 

In some states, Wave automatically files and pays your state/federal payroll taxes for you. However, in those states, Wave’s services are more expensive. 

You also get access to features, like:

  • Automatic journal entries (if you use Wave Accounting)
  • Self-service pay stubs and tax forms for your employees
  • Workers’ compensation management
  • Basic payroll reporting
  • Automatic year-end tax forms
  • Timesheets for PTO and accruals

While Wave is one of the most affordable payroll services, it doesn’t sacrifice functionality and essential features. Despite being cheaper than the other options on this list, you still get all the essentials you need to run payroll for your small business. 

In tax service states, Wave is $35 per month + $6 per contractor/employee per month. This service isn’t necessarily cheaper than the other options on this list. 

But, it’s still a great option if you’re a small business owner looking for a simple payroll solution. 

However, it’s $20 per month + $6 per contractor/employee per month in self-service states. At this price, it’s easily the cheapest option with the most features available. 

And don’t forget that Wave Payroll seamlessly integrates with Wave’s free accounting and invoicing software as well. 

So, if you don’t yet have accounting software, this is a smart choice. 

Try Wave Payroll free for 30 days to see if it’s right for you and your business!

Summary

For most users, Gusto, OnPay, and Wave are my top recommendations. 

They’re all excellent for small and fast-growth businesses with the ability to scale to match your needs. Plus, they’re affordable and easy to use. 

However, different businesses require different solutions. 

So, don’t forget to use the considerations we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best payroll services for your business. 

What payroll services do you prefer?

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/best-payroll-services/

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SaaS Ventures takes the investment road less traveled

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Most venture capital firms are based in hubs like Silicon Valley, New York City and Boston. These firms nurture those ecosystems and they’ve done well, but SaaS Ventures decided to go a different route: it went to cities like Chicago, Green Bay, Wisconsin and Lincoln, Nebraska.

The firm looks for enterprise-focused entrepreneurs who are trying to solve a different set of problems than you might find in these other centers of capital, issues that require digital solutions but might fall outside a typical computer science graduate’s experience.

Saas Ventures looks at four main investment areas: trucking and logistics, manufacturing, e-commerce enablement for industries that have not typically gone online and cybersecurity, the latter being the most mainstream of the areas SaaS Ventures covers.

The company’s first fund, which launched in 2017, was worth $20 million, but SaaS Ventures launched a second fund of equal amount earlier this month. It tends to stick to small-dollar-amount investments, while partnering with larger firms when it contributes funds to a deal.

We talked to Collin Gutman, founder and managing partner at SaaS Ventures, to learn about his investment philosophy, and why he decided to take the road less traveled for his investment thesis.

A different investment approach

Gutman’s journey to find enterprise startups in out of the way places began in 2012 when he worked at an early enterprise startup accelerator called Acceleprise. “We were really the first ones who said enterprise tech companies are wired differently, and need a different set of early-stage resources,” Gutman told TechCrunch.

Through that experience, he decided to launch SaaS Ventures in 2017, with several key ideas underpinning the firm’s investment thesis: after his experience at Acceleprise, he decided to concentrate on the enterprise from a slightly different angle than most early-stage VC establishments.

Collin Gutman from SaaS Ventures

Collin Gutman, founder and managing partner at SaaS Ventures (Image Credits: SaaS Ventures)

The second part of his thesis was to concentrate on secondary markets, which meant looking beyond the popular startup ecosystem centers and investing in areas that didn’t typically get much attention. To date, SaaS Ventures has made investments in 23 states and Toronto, seeking startups that others might have overlooked.

“We have really phenomenal coverage in terms of not just geography, but in terms of what’s happening with the underlying businesses, as well as their customers,” Gutman said. He believes that broad second-tier market data gives his firm an upper hand when selecting startups to invest in. More on that later.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/09/18/saas-ventures-takes-the-investment-road-less-traveled/

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The 6 Best Digital Strategy Companies of 2020

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According to Smart Insights, 49 percent of organizations don’t have a clearly defined digital strategy. 

Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. Experience helps you sift through what to do differently, what not to do, and where to focus your energy. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can make all the difference. What’s more important is choosing a company that can execute that strategy. 

When you need to choose the best digital strategy company, you may be wondering where to start. Here’s a list of our picks for the best digital strategy companies in the world.

1. Neil Patel Digital — Best For Content Marketing & Digital Strategy

I’ve written more than 4,294 blog posts in 10 years. I’ve created millions of words and I’ve used content marketing to build three companies of my own. I used content marketing to generate 195,013 visitors a month and I’ve done the same things for my fortune 500 clients. When it comes to digital strategy and content marketing I’ve shown it can work. 

I do the same thing for clients with my agency, NP Digital. We help our clients develop a digital strategy that maximizes the results they achieve with their content marketing, advertising, and SEO campaigns. 

The focus with our digital strategy is revenue. Everything we do is focused on producing real results for businesses whether that’s more traffic, leads, or revenue. 

NP Digital’s client list includes:

  • Facebook
  • Viacom
  • Google
  • GM
  • eBay
  • NBC
  • Thomson Reuters foundation
  • TechCrunch
  • Cheezburger
  • American Greetings

2. REQ – Best for Enterprise Business Strategy

REQ is a Washington DC based, award-winning agency with enterprise-level experience. They’re industry veterans with some of the best talent in the business. 

Projects start at $50,000. They offer a comprehensive suite of solutions for your marketing and digital strategy needs. Including: 

  • Advertising & Media
  • Digital Advocacy
  • Brand Strategy
  • Reputation Management
  • Public Relations
  • Data & Analytics

They’ve been named to both the Inc.500 and Deloitte Fast 500 lists – they’re one of the fastest growing companies in America. They have offices in Washington, DC, New York, Boston, San Diego, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.

REQ’s client list includes:

  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • StubHub
  • Sweet Green
  • Mastercard
  • Empire State Building
  • Constellation Energy

3. Usman Group – Best for Mid-market Business Strategy

With 80% of its clients in mid-market range, earning between 10M – 1B, the Usman Group specializes in digital strategy and market research. They provide analysis, strategy, execution, and measurement to help clients deploy successful campaigns.   

They apply the four key principles of design thinking, learn from people, identify patterns, make solutions tangible, iterate continuously, in all of their client engagements.

Projects start at $10,000. You get a hand-picked team that will provide evidence-based, practical strategy and recommendations.

Usman Group’s client list includes:

  • Red Prairie
  • University of Chicago
  • National Safety Council
  • Chicago Sun Times
  • Priceline
  • Baird

4. DeSantis Breindel – Best for Branding Strategy

DeSantis Breindel is a New York City based digital strategy company that specializes in end-to-end branding strategy. They help businesses with brand differentiation, customer experience, merger & acquisition branding, brand valuation, brand launch, and employee engagement.

Projects start at $75,000. They offer thorough research and measurement for your digital branding, brand identity and strategy, content marketing, customer experience design, and film production services.

DeSantis Breindel’s client list includes:

  • Verifone
  • Lathrop Gage
  • OneSpan
  • SailPoint
  • Lincoln International
  • Lewis Roca

5. Mabbly – Best for Data Analysis, Channel Strategy

Mabbly is a Chicago based strategic design agency that relies on digital strategy, market research, and data analytics. They focus on turning complex problems into growth opportunities. Supporting human connection with digital experiences, via sophisticated design and data-backed digital strategy.

Mabbly’s team of digital and brand strategists work together to curate a channel strategy that combines the message along with the medium that’s right for your business opportunity. Projects start at $25,000. 

Mabbly’s client list includes:

  • Edelman
  • Microsoft
  • Berkshire Group
  • Griffith Foods
  • 21st Century Fox
  • Limitless Coffee & Tea
  • ShopRunner

6. Ironpaper – Best for Small Business 

Ironpaper bills itself as a B2B growth agency. Their conversion growth strategy is focused on gaining traction with growth up to 1 percent. The growth phase is set at 1 to 3 percent, with anything above 3 percent listed as scaling. 

What’s interesting about Ironpaper is the fact that they discuss the elephant in the room. 

“Oftentimes, enterprises try to answer the question, ‘What is a good conversion rate?’’ without any context. What is a good conversion rate? When establishing conversion rates, context is everything.

A lack of context can actually do harm to a marketing team, because it causes teams to make the wrong assumptions.”

This tells you that Ironpaper isn’t focused on vanity metrics or conversion manipulation. They know the difference between high and low value conversions. Their projects start at $10,000 and are focused on small businesses.

Iron Paper’s client list includes:

  • Nokia
  • Echo226
  • Telmar
  • Mformation
  • Arago

3 Characteristics That Make a Great Digital Strategy Company

Your digital strategy company should be able to provide you with specifics ahead of time. While many companies are able to provide you with amazing strategies, many are unwilling to demonstrate this ahead of time. 

1. Your agency asks the right questions

Creating an exceptional digital strategy begins with your agency asking the right questions. These questions determine what will be answered and where your answers will go. Here’s a small sample of the questions your agency should be asking. 

  • How is our business currently performing? 
  • Which parts of your business are underperforming?
  • What’s our goal for each area of our business? 
  • What do customers expect from our product and our business?
  • Which marketing channels are our customers active on?
  • Which marketing channels should we use to accomplish our goals?
  • Which metrics and KPIs will we use to evaluate performance?
  • How should we promote our products and services in the market to achieve our goals? 

These questions inform your digital strategy. 

  1. Why are we in business?
  2. Where are we right now?
  3. Where do we want to go? 
  4. How will we get there?

Your digital strategy framework should answer four high-level questions. Good digital marketing agencies should be asking these questions at the beginning of the engagement process. 

2. Your agency is willing to share strategy

The agency you choose should be willing to share sample strategies with you. This doesn’t mean that you should expect your agency to provide the entire strategy upfront, for free. Spec work isn’t ideal and that’s not what you’re looking for.

You’re looking for one example. 

They can share this with you over the phone, in your proposal or quote, or in a sample report. You’re looking for them to share a small snippet, a piece of their proposed digital strategy. This is important for several reasons. With sample data you can: 

  • Evaluate your agency’s competence 
  • Use sample data to evaluate potential performance
  • Assess their digital strategy or marketing priorities
  • Outline knowledge gaps and weak points in their process

You’re not asking for a comprehensive strategy document, you’re simply asking your agency to pick one part of your business and create a strategy around that; ask your agency a question (e.g., how would you increase sales for one of my products?). 

3. Your agency can implement Strategy

Venture Capitalist Arthur Rock, believes strategy is important, but not as important as people who can execute that strategy

“Over the past 30 years, I estimate that I’ve looked at an average of one business plan per day, or about 300 a year, in addition to the large numbers of phone calls and business plans that simply are not appropriate. Of the 300 likely plans, I may invest in only one or two a year; and even among those carefully chosen few, I’d say that a good half fail to perform up to expectations. 

The problem with those companies (and with the ventures I choose not to take part in) is rarely one of strategy. Good ideas and good products are a dime a dozen. Good execution and good management in a word, good people are rare.”

A great strategy isn’t enough. You need amazing people who can implement your digital strategy and produce the results you need to grow. 

Your agency should have two things: 

  1. A team that can implement your digital strategy
  2. A proven track record showing that they’ve achieved this consistently in the past

If they can provide you with both or they’re willing to provide you with a trial period where you’re able to test their ability to execute your digital strategy, then it may be a good fit. 

What To Expect From a Great Digital Strategy Company

Your agency should provide you with detailed specifics for each of these points. If you have more questions or concerns, you’ll want to bring those up with your agency. 

  • A clear track record: Your agency should be able to show you samples, references, case studies, and reviews showing that they’ve achieved results for other clients.
  • Clear milestones: You’re looking for clear milestones, timelines, and deliverables that show you’re able to create and implement a plan successfully. Your agency should be able to provide you with a timeline, explaining how long everything will take to implement, and when they anticipate you’ll begin seeing results.
  • Agency procedures: You’ll want to see how your agency plans on approaching your campaign or project. They should be able to break down the approach that goes into their strategy document; this document should clarify how they’ll approach your campaign, what you should expect, what their goals are and more.

The digital strategy company you choose should provide you with the options you need to implement the plan successfully.  

Conclusion

Choosing the right digital strategy for your business is essential. You need a plan to guide you, outlining where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there. Having a fresh perspective from an outside eye can mean the difference between success and failure. 

Remember, executing your digital strategy plan is even more important than simply having a plan.  Use this pool to choose a digital strategy company that will partner with you to achieve your business goals.

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/digital-strategy-companies/

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Best Content Management Systems

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Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Imagine moving thousands of articles, pages, images, and videos from one place to another. 

It sounds like an extensive, time-consuming mess because it is. But that’s exactly what you have to do if you choose the wrong content management system. 

A few years ago, I decided to switch one of my websites from WordPress to Squarespace. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. But… I ended up spending months painstakingly transferring everything from one platform to the other. 

The worst part? Every single page had random code snippets, weird formatting, and shortcodes I had to manually handle because there are countless things you can do in WordPress that aren’t possible in Squarespace.

It was so terrible I ended up giving up halfway through. Switching from one CMS to another is an awful experience and I definitely don’t recommend it. 

So, there’s a lot of pressure to make the right choice the first time. 

However, there are countless options to choose from, making the right decision feel impossible. So to help you get it right, I reviewed the top CMS platforms that you should consider.

Wix Logo

Wix

Best for Beginners

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $13 per month with a limited free forever plan to try it out.

The 6 Best Content Management Systems to Consider: 

  1. Wix – Best drag and drop content management system
  2. WordPress.org – Best content management system for bloggers
  3. Squarespace – Best CMS for creative businesses
  4. Drupal – Best CMS for high-security industries
  5. Cypher Learning – Best content management system for online education
  6. CrownPeak DXM – Best enterprise CMS solution

When it Makes Sense to Invest In a Content Management System

If you’ve never created a website before, a content management system is crucial to the process. High-level developers and coders may be okay without one, but beginners and everyday business owners have a lot to gain by investing in the right platform. 

Without a CMS, you have to know (or learn) HTML and CSS. Or hire a developer to build something for you. 

And when you hire a developer, it’s hard to make changes to your website on your own. 

So, you have to go back and hire the developer again ($$$) to make simple changes like updating your brand colors or rewording a headline on your home page. 

If you’re anything like us, the lack of control and relying on someone else simply isn’t an option. Things change every day, and you want to try out new things without spending money or waiting for someone else to do it for you. 

Which… is where a content management system comes in handy. 

Essentially, the best CMS provides templates with HTML and CSS code built in. So, you don’t have to touch a single line of code to design your entire website and manage the content that lives on it. 

The bottom line: If you’re not a website developer, not interested in hiring one, you want a complex website, or you don’t want to spend several years learning two programming languages, you need a CMS platform to build your website. 

#1 – Wix — The Best Content Management System for Beginners

Wix Logo

Wix

Best for Beginners

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $13 per month with a limited free forever plan to try it out.

Wix is an all-in-one website builder that includes web hosting services and a drag and drop interface, making it super easy to use and excellent for beginners. 

Source: Wix.com

You can choose between hundreds of free design templates to help you get started. And they offer a free Wix ADI (advanced design intelligence) tool that automatically creates your website for you. 

From there, you can edit and customize everything as much as you’d like, rather than starting from a blank page. You also get access to essential features, including:

  • Advanced design (i.e., animation, video backgrounds, and parallax)
  • Unlimited fonts with 100+ built into the platform
  • Integrated live chat to speak with customers in real-time
  • Free SSL security certificate
  • Powerful analytics and reporting
  • Intuitive ecommerce features (on specific plans)
  • Simple blogging tools

Furthermore, you can try it out and build your entire website for free. However, the free plan comes with a Wix subdomain as your URL, meaning it’ll look like this — username.wixsite.com. And Wix also displays ads on your website. 

You have to upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready to publish your website using a custom domain name without Wix branding. 

If you don’t already have a domain name, you can get one free for the first year if you choose one of Wix’s annual paid plans. Alternatively, see our top domain registrar recommendations to purchase one elsewhere. 

Wix’s paid plans start at $13 per month and increase from there, depending on what you need. 

Get started on the free plan to take Wix for a test drive today!

#2 – WordPress.org — The Best CMS for Bloggers

WordPress.org Logo

WordPress.org

Best for Bloggers

Powers 38% of the entire internet, making it the most popular CMS on the market. Open-source with 55,000+ plugins for extended functionality. Free to download and install.

38% of the entire internet runs on the WordPress.org CMS platform. 

Plus, it’s the most popular content management system available. You can build virtually any type of website with WordPress.org. However, it’s most suitable for bloggers and websites that regularly publish new content. 

WordPress.org is a free, open-source platform that makes it easy to create, edit, and manage the pages of your website as well as your blog posts. 

Furthermore, you also get access to features, like:

  • 55,000+ free and paid plugins for added functionality
  • Complete design flexibility and freedom
  • Intuitive media management (i.e., images and videos)
  • Mobile app to manage your site on the go
  • A community of 60+ million users

We use it here at Crazy Egg, and it’s perfect for our needs. 

But despite being free to download, you need to buy web hosting before installing and using WordPress.org’s open-source software. 

With that said, most essential web hosting services cost between $3 and $10 per month for the first year (we recommend Bluehost). So, it’s one of the most affordable options on this list. 

However, there is a learning curve, so be prepared to spend some time learning how WordPress.org works. Once you get the hang of it, it’s straightforward to use, lightweight, and much easier than coding a website from scratch. 

Download WordPress.org for free today and get hosting with Bluehost!

#3 – Squarespace – The Best CMS for Creative Businesses 

Squarespace Logo

Squarespace

Best for Creative Businesses

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder for displaying creative, visual portfolios. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $12 per month with a free 14-day trial.

Squarespace is also an all-in-one page builder. Its intuitive drag-and-drop builder makes it perfect for beginners and creative businesses alike. 

However, it’s most suitable for businesses that rely on visual content, like photographers, illustrators, design studios, and artists. 

While Wix and WordPress.org are known for flexibility, Squarespace is known for its beautiful and professional design templates. They’re perfect and ready to go right out of the box, making Squarespace an excellent choice even if you’re not tech-savvy. 

And every plan includes powerful CMS features, like:

  • Pre-built design sections
  • Third-party extensions
  • Built-in email and social tools
  • Basic blogging features
  • Ecommerce functionality (on some plans)

Furthermore, Squarespace includes web hosting services, so you don’t have to worry about buying it elsewhere. And you can also get a free domain name if you opt for one of their annual premium plans. 

Paid plans start at $12 per month billed annually. But, you can pay a bit more for month-to-month billing if you’re not sold on the platform. 

Just keep in mind you don’t get a free domain name with Squarespace’s monthly plans. 

Start your 14-day free trial today!

#4 – Drupal — The Best Content Management System for High-Security Industries

Drupal Logo

Drupal

Best for Security

Free, open-source CMS software known for airtight security features. Best for banks, healthcare facilities, and government agencies. Requires web hosting and your own domain name.

Government agencies, universities, banks, and healthcare facilities are just a few examples of high-security industries with heightened security needs. And organizations like NASA, Cornell University, and the White House trust Drupal to keep their websites secure. 

Why? Because the open-source platform is built with security and stability in mind. 

There are more than one million developers supporting Drupal around the world. Furthermore, they have an in-house team of security experts continuously monitoring and addressing security issues and vulnerabilities. 

And many attacks and security problems get resolved before they become a threat thanks to Drupal’s extensive community code review process. 

With Drupal, you also get access to advanced security features, including:

  • Extensive user access control
  • Database encryption
  • Transparency with frequent security reports
  • Automatic updates
  • Malicious data entry protection
  • Mitigation of DDoS attacks
  • Regular security patches

Aside from security, Drupal is highly customizable and suitable for organizations of varying sizes. Plus, the software offers accessibility, automation, and personalization features straight out of the box. 

Note: You need to buy web hosting services before you can start using Drupal. Check out our top web hosting recommendations to find the right hosting services for your new website. 

Download Drupal for free today!

#5 – Cypher Learning — The Best Content Management System for Online Education

Cypher Learning Logo

Cypher Learning

Best for Online Education

Industry-leading learning management software for universities shifting to online learning and businesses interested in internal training programs or selling online courses. Complete online education environment builder.

An learning management system (LMS) is a specific type of content management system, specifically for online education. And if you’re interested in creating a website to facilitate online learning, Cypher Learning offers the top systems on the market. 

They offer specialized products for schools, businesses, and entrepreneurs. So you’re covered whether you want to build an internal training platform for your employees, an online classroom for your students, or you want to add an extra revenue stream to your online business.

NEO is Cypher Learning’s solution for schools and universities. It’s suitable for educational facilities of all shapes and sizes, anywhere in the world. 

And the best part? It’s free for basic CMS features and schools with up to 400 students. 

MATRIX is for enterprise business training programs. It’s an excellent solution whether you need to train your employees, want to sell online courses, or track your employee’s performance over time. 

Plans start at $249 per month for up to 50 learners. 

Lastly, INDIE is perfect for entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in creating and selling online courses. It includes everything you need to create, market, and sell your courses to share your expertise and make more money online. 

INDIE plans start at $103 per month for up to 1,000 students. 

Each product offers a free 14-day trial so you can try it free to see if it’s the best content management system for your organization.

#6 – CrownPeak — The Best Enterprise-Grade CMS Solution

CrownPeak Logo

CrownPeak

Best Enterprise CMS

The only cloud-native enterprise-grade CMS platform. Get everything you need to build, personalize, and launch complex websites at scale. Custom pricing plans only.

If you need to launch and scale complex websites or manage content on multiple websites from one centralized location, CrownPeak is the world’s only cloud-native enterprise-grade CMS platform. 

This powerful platform empowers enterprise users to create excellent and contextual experiences across hundreds of channels around the world. Plus, this CMS exists to help you build, personalize, and launch intricate websites at scale. 

With CrownPeak, you can use their in-line content editor or a form editor. Plus, you can create content once and deliver it across hundreds of sites with one click. Furthermore, you get access to enterprise-grade features, like:

  • Advanced A/B testing and targeting rules
  • Content localization and translation features
  • Multi-site management from one dashboard
  • Omni-channel accessibility compliance
  • Completely headless experiences
  • Consent compliance and management
  • No upsells and no downtime

CrownPeak Digital Experience Management also includes a secondary product to optimize your websites and user experiences seamlessly without breaking the bank. It helps users flag broken links, spot accessibility issues, find critical SEO errors, and more. 

It’s the only CMS on the market today that offers this level of service. 

Pricing isn’t available online. So, request a quote or schedule a free demo to see if CrownPeak DXM is the right enterprise-grade CMS solution for you. 

Methodology For Choosing The Best Content Management System

Now that you know my top CMS recommendations, let’s talk about how to choose the best content management system for you and your new website. 

Every platform is unique and serves users of differing skill levels with different requirements. So, it’s important to consider the following factors as you go through the process of making your final decision. 

Your Skill Level

If you’ve never created a website before, Wix and Squarespace are the easiest content management systems to use. 

However, if you’re up for a slight challenge, WordPress.org is an excellent alternative. It offers more flexibility and creative freedom. However, it does take a few extra steps to get going. The process starts with purchasing a shared web hosting plan.

With that said, systems like Drupal, Cypher Learning, and CrownPeak have a steeper learning curve. So, I don’t recommend them unless you know what you’re doing or have a specific need for those types of content management systems. 

Purpose of Your Website

Aside from skill level, the purpose of your website is just as important to consider. 

Drupal, Cypher Learning, and CrownPeak all have specific use cases. So, I only recommend those if you need the specific features they come with. 

On the other hand, WordPress.org is great because you can create virtually any type of website you want to. From ecommerce and blogging to restaurants and physical stores, there’s a plugin to make it happen. 

Wix and Squarespace are a bit more limited in what you can do with them. However, they’re both still a smart choice for beginners. Wix is better for ecommerce stores, bloggers, and general businesses. 

And Squarespace is best for creative businesses interested in showing off their portfolios. 

Flexibility Requirements

Some content management systems are more flexible than others. 

But if you need a simple website and want a simple setup process, Wix and Squarespace are your best options. Their drag and drop interfaces make getting started and maintaining your website easy. 

However, if you need more flexibility, WordPress.org is your best bet. With 55,000+ plugins, you can make your website do anything you want it to. But, it’s not as easy to learn, so expect to take some time to learn how to use it. 

Drupal and Cypher Learning offer a lot of flexibility for their specific use cases. But, I don’t recommend them unless you’re after airtight security or creating an online learning platform. 

Lastly, CrownPeak is highly customizable and flexible. But, it’s overkill for most websites. So, stick to one of the other options unless you need an enterprise-grade CMS. 

Wix Logo

Wix

Best for Beginners

All-in-one drag-and-drop website builder. Includes web hosting services and a free domain name for the first year. Paid plans start at $13 per month with a limited free forever plan to try it out.

Summary

For most users, WordPress.org is an excellent choice. It’s flexible, open-source, and easy to use once you figure out how it works. It’s suitable for virtually every type of website. However, you do need to buy web hosting (we highly recommend Bluehost). 

Plus, Bluehost makes it incredibly easy to get started. They offer a free domain name for the first year and one-click WordPress.org installation. So, it only takes a few clicks to get things set up. 

However, if you’re an absolute beginner and want something easy to use and simple to set up, Wix is your best option. It doesn’t offer quite as much flexibility, but it’s the easiest content management system on the market. 

Aside from WordPress.org and Wix, the right choice depends on what you need. 

So, be sure to use the criteria we talked about as you go through the process of choosing the best content management system for your new website. 

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Source: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/best-content-management-systems/

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