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The Best Website Builders (In-Depth Review)

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There is one decision in life that you simply cannot get wrong.

And no, it’s not choosing the right partner or career. 

That life-changing decision comes down to what website builder you decide to use. 

Whether you are setting up a small non-profit or are itching to take over the world with your handmade jewelry, the quality of your site will be a key factor in your success. 

And to build a great site, you need a great web builder. Assuming of course you are like the vast majority of people with no technical skills. If you do have skills, what are you doing here? Get building!

But fret not. We’ve done the hard work and this article will guide you through the otherwise arduous process of finding the best website builder.

The Top 4 Best Website Builders

  1. Wix
  2. Weebly 
  3. Shopify
  4. WordPress

The Different Types of Website Builders

When choosing a website builder, your first consideration should be what your actual needs are. There are a multitude of reasons to want to start a website and they will affect the services and features you will need. 

For instance, is your goal to set up shop as an eCommerce entrepreneur, dropshipping items from abroad? 

Do you want to start a simple blog documenting your travel adventures?

Or perhaps you work in marketing and are looking for ways to test and optimize your sales funnels. 

Regardless of your goals, the idea of “knowing thyself” applies here. Think deeply about what you want now, but also your roadmap for the future. Once you commit to a particular website builder, it can be difficult to change later on. 

After getting a clear idea of your needs, you will then need to consider the different types of web builders available. 

Keep in mind that many website builders fit multiple categories, serving each need to a different extent. 

General-purpose website builders

There are thousands of reasons to create a website, and nowadays, it seems like every person and organization has one. 

To service such great demand, some website builders have taken a holistic approach in terms of appeal and their tools.

For example, these sites typically have a lot of features that other types of website builders have, such as the ability to blog.

However, as they are multi-purpose in nature, you cannot expect these features to not be as in-depth and robust as more specialist platforms. 

Some use cases for general website builders include:

  • Information websites – If your goal is to simply host information online, these general website builders can be quite useful. For instance, you may have a kitchen renovation company and want to start reaching potential customers online. 
  • Personal branding – Managing your personal brand is becoming more important every day. It is particularly important for independent workers and entrepreneurs as well as for employees applying for jobs.

An example of an information website. 

Content management platforms 

Content is what drives the web, and one of the oldest yet still most relevant forms of content is the blog post. 

Considering blogging is such a crucial part of the web, some website builders have been designed with a content management system in mind.

In the case that you want to get your thoughts out there; ideally, in a serious and sustained way, a blog website builder may be the right option for you. Use cases include:

  • Professional writing – This goes without saying, but if you want to be a writer, you actually have to write. Typically, you need a place where you can showcase your talent. Whether you are a business writer or journalist, maintaining a personal blog is important.
  • Thought leadership – In many industries, it is useful for people of prominence to share their unique insights on a public platform. Setting up a blog with a strong content management system helps to get ideas out in a sustained way. 

An example of a content-centric website.

Essentially, blog website builders are a good choice if you plan on writing long term and it is one of the things you focus on. 

eCommerce platforms 

Another type of website builder are eCommerce platforms. These platforms allow you to build and manage online stores through the ability to list goods, fulfill orders, and take payments. 

These website builders are useful for:

  • Side hustles – Perhaps you are interested in selling some goods in addition to your day job and don’t have the time to dedicate to the operational side of things. These website builders are great to solve this problem, as they handle the backend of your business. 
  • Digitizing your store – Maybe you already have a brick and mortar store and are looking to make your stock available online. In this situation, this type of website builder will take all the technical complications out of setting up online.

An example of an eCommerce website.

How to Choose The Best Website Builder For You 

Now it is time to take a closer look at some of the specific features to consider when evaluating a website builder.

Remember that although some website builders may fall into the same category, each may suit your needs differently.

For instance, you may be setting up an online shop and your primary consideration may be a low learning curve, whereas somebody else may be thinking about a platform that can allow them to scale easily. 

Here are some features you should consider.

Ease of use 

Things to consider:

  • Intuitiveness – Some website builders are easy to use and have simple interfaces with drag and drop functionality. This is useful as you won’t have to Google changes you want to make with the tool.
  • Learning curve – If you are not great with technology, it is unlikely you will want to spend hours learning how to set up a website. Some website builders are much easier than others.
  • Setup time – Similarly, you may want to get your site up and running immediately, particularly if it is an event you want to promote. 
  • Ongoing management – Needing external help to manage your site defeats the purpose of a website builder. It must be easy to manage in terms of updates. 

If you are new to setting up online or are time-constrained, how easy it is to get started will likely be your primary concern. 

Scalability 

Things to consider:

  • Custom code – Website builders use standardized code, which are the building blocks of a website. These allow you to easily create a site with various features. In some cases, however, you may need your own custom features and the ability to write your own code.
  • Migration – At some point, you may want to host your website yourself. However, not all website builders allow you to easily make this move. In some cases, you may have to redevelop your site from scratch.
  • Integrations – You will probably create new goals as your website grows, such as running ads or embedding social feeds. Some website builders are more compatible with other platforms and are easier to integrate.

You should think strongly about scalability if you are already an established business looking to create an online presence. This is particularly true if you are already selling products at scale in the real world. 

Startups in the fundraising process and are looking to scale fast or even change core features of their product should also take caution here. 

Support 

Things to consider: 

  • Support channels – You will need to consider the different ways you can get in touch with support teams such as live chat, email, and phone. In-depth FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) are also important.
  • Responsiveness – If your site breaks at 5 PM eastern time, but their support only works European hours, then you are in trouble. Some teams may also respond much quicker than others. 
  • Engagement – Unfortunately, some support teams are useless. Maybe they are being paid very little so they do not care, or they are overworked. Either way, you need support that can actually solve your problems.

If you plan on running a site with a lot of visitors and it happens to go down, the last thing you want is an unresponsive support team. This is especially true if you plan on driving a lot of traffic at a given time.

A website builder with a strong support team is also useful if you are just getting started online, considering you may still get stuck, even with simple interfaces. 

Price 

Things to consider: 

  • Cost – Some website builders can be more costly, with some reaching upwards of $299 a month (for landing pages, for instance). Others are permanently free with the option to upgrade for a small monthly fee. 
  • Trial – Before you commit, it can be useful to take advantage of a trial offer to play around with the tools. You will likely find that some are a better fit than others.
  • Hosting & domain – Most website builders will host your website on the web, which is typically included in the price. Some may also offer a domain as part of the package. Otherwise, you would have to purchase these yourself. 

If you plan on making money from your website, either by selling products directly or to capture leads, then price should not be a key consideration for you. Make an investment in the best service for your needs. 

However, if you just want to set up a small information site, then you could do with the cheapest options. 

Generally, website builders that have feature depth are typically more expensive as they solve more specific problems. 

Features 

Things to consider: 

  • eCommerce shop – If you plan to sell things online, you need a website builder that allows you to do so. Consider sub-features such as payment processing and product catalogs.
  • SEO – Some website builders have tools that allow you to rank better in Google searches.
  • Marketing tools – You may also need other marketing tools, such as forms, pop-ups, and chat boxes.  
  • Community – In some cases, you may want to expand your website into a community where people can communicate and network (otherwise known as a forum).
  • Analytic tools – Website builders may also offer analytic tools that help track traffic on your website or at least integrate with other tools that do.
  • Niche features – Perhaps there are some special features you are looking for such as the ability to set up a crowdfunding campaign in addition to having a standard website.

The features of a website builder are the main thing to consider when deciding which route to follow. This is because they will have the most impact on your specific goals.

For instance, if you want to set up a landing page for a specific product, trying to optimize with a generic site builder will be a pain. It will probably lack the in-depth analytic tools that a dedicated landing page builder would have. 

Also keep in mind that there are some features that you may not need now, but you could need in the future, such as if you plan on running paid ads to your blog posts. 

Design 

Things to consider: 

  • Themes and templates – Website builders allow you to start with a predesigned website that is customizable to various extents. Some themes serve different purposes in terms of branding and utility. 
  • Mobile-friendliness – You will need to ensure that your website builder automatically makes your website easy for mobile users, typically with responsive design.
  • Customization – It is likely you will want to make some changes to your template. You will need to consider the various customization tools available. 

Regardless of your goal, you should always be concerned with providing a great user experience to the people who are visiting your site. It simply makes logical sense – if your site is hard to navigate, people won’t get the most out of it.

The actual design and branding are important too. For instance, some designs are more corporate while others are more welcoming. There may be a design template that really suits your particular brand.

And if you are selling something, you need to ensure that the design is optimized to increase conversions.

Now that you have a good understanding of the types of website builders and the features to look out for, it is time to take a look at some of the best website builders on the market. 

#1 – Wix / Website Builder — The Best For General Use 

If there is one website builder that you have likely heard of, it is probably Wix. The effort that Wix puts into their marketing is phenomenal. Wix is so successful, in fact, that they have featured high profile celebrities like Jason Stratham in some of their campaigns. 

Not only that, but Wix has results to show for it too, with over 160 million websites hosted by the company. 

Wix is the best website builder if you don’t have a specific need in mind. Even in the opposite case, this is true, such as if you have broad needs and are aiming for different functionality. 

Wix is truly the “jack of all trades” in the sense that it does everything well, but nothing is truly exceptional. However, it serves its purpose for the average person looking to set up a website.

Pros of Wix 

Here are the best things about Wix:

  • Powerful app market – Wix has an enormous amount of add on features that you can access through their app market. Want to book meetings directly on your site? They have got you covered. Want a live chat pop up box? Simply click and install it on your site.
  • Covers every need – Wix covers most of the needs of people looking to set up a website. This includes setting up an eCommerce store, blog, or even just a simple information website.
  • Lots of templates – Wix has a wide variety of templates that you can choose from to get your website up and running quickly. Their templates are well designed and take the user experience into consideration. 

Cons of Wix 

Here are the weaker parts about Wix:

  • The user interface can be difficult – Although Wix is aimed at the mass market, the user interface can be quite tricky especially if you want to customize your site. You will often find yourself having to Google how to complete certain tasks. .
  • No migration – A huge downside with Wix is that you’re locked in, so you cannot take the code of your website somewhere else later on. This can cause problems if you quickly need to scale your business. 
  • Jack of all trades, master of none – Wix’s main strength is also its weakness. Although it has many features, it cannot compete with the quality of niche website builders.

Who should use Wix?

  • Small businesses – If you are offering a service such as legal advice or marketing, Wix is a solid website builder that will handle all of your needs. If your focus is selling products online, avoid Wix. 
  • Freelancers and professionals – In a similar manner, Wix is great for professionals who want to showcase their personal brand. It will allow you to cover all the potential bases of highlighting your portfolio, such as taking meetings and even blogging.

#2 – Weebly / Website Builder — The Easiest To Use 

Next, we have Weebly, which is a drag and drop website builder that prides itself on its ease of use. Weebly currently powers over 50 million websites and has been around since 2006, which is a huge achievement and testament to how effective the platform is. 

So, what has caused Weebly to be consistently favored among users? It comes down to the simple user experience and short learning curve. Weebly does not bombard you with features or a complicated interface.

Instead, it does not scare you away and allows you to get straight to the point of setting up your website.

Pros of Weebly

Here are the best things about Weebly:

  • Simple and easy to use – Weebly has a simple interface with drag and drop mechanics that just work. Everything feels natural and intuitive. It also helps that they have an onboarding mechanic with email and popup explanations when you get started.
  • Migration – If you decide you want to host your own website, Weebly makes it easy for you to take your site off their platform. 
  • Affordable – Compared to other generalist website builders, Weebly has one of the most affordable pricing structures. 
  • Great customer support – Weebly has a powerful customer support team who are active every day of the week. They typically reply within 1 day by email or even quicker via their live chat or phone lines.

Cons 

Here are the weaker parts about Weebly

  • Lacks diversity of function – The tradeoff of using Weebly is that it is not as powerful as Wix. For example, there are fewer features. In addition, some features such as their content management system and analytic tools are much weaker than competitors. 
  • Limited customization – As Weebly uses a drop and drop interface and themes, the customization can be quite limited. Wix also has this problem, but they have more tools at their disposal to solve this issue.
  • Scaling problems – Weebly is simply not a great platform if you have plans to grow your website in a significant way: it is just a simple website builder for day to day users. 

Who should use Weebly?

  • People who need simple websites – As a rule, you should use Weebly if you are not very tech-savvy and want to set up a simple website quickly. One category of users would be associations or clubs who want to set up an information site about their group.

#3 – Shopify / Website builder — The Best For Online Stores

If you plan on selling any type of product online – from jewelry to electric scooters – then your best bet will be to use a dedicated eCommerce platform and website builder. 

Without a doubt, the number one in this category is Shopify. The platform powers over 1 million merchants in 175 different countries, and is the third-largest online retailer in the US, trailing behind only Amazon and eBay. 

The Shopify software represents a complete end to end platform that allows you to set up, manage, and promote a store online. You can easily list your goods for sale, take payments, and fulfill orders – all under one roof. 

Pros 

Here are the best things about Shopify:

  • eCommerce specialty – The main draw of Shopify is that it is a niche website builder focused on setting up an eCommerce store. This means that all their features and processes are geared toward that end, resulting in a powerful platform that can help maximize sales. 
  • Security – If you are going to be handling transactions, you need ways to keep your site safe and customer data secure. Shopify stores have strong cybersecurity measures in place which a self-hosted website would typically lack. 
  • Integrated sales channels – Shopify has strong integrations with other platforms, such as Facebook and Amazon. This allows you to streamline your sales by managing your catalog on each platform under one roof. 

Cons 

Here are the weaker aspects of Shopify:

  • Niche focus on eCommerce – Because the focus is on eCommerce, Shopify lacks some of the features and finesse of other website builders. For instance, their content management system is very limited compared to WordPress.
  • Transaction fees + monthly fees – With each sale you make on Shopify, there is a transaction fee that ranges from 2.4% – 2.6%. Combined with payment provider fees, this can eat into your margin. 

Who should use Shopify?

  • Brick and mortar stores – If you have an in-person store and are looking to sell your products online, Shopify will offer you a solid footing into the digital world.
  • eCommerce startups – Entrepreneurs that are starting new brands or drop shipping will also benefit from the quick end to end set up that Shopify offers.

#4 – WordPress / Website builder — The Best For Content Management

One of the oldest and most reliable website builders is WordPress. The platform has come a long way since it launched in 2003 and is the most popular content management system on the web today.

In fact, WordPress powers a whopping 37.6% of all websites. 

As WordPress was around during the earlier days of the web, its focus revolved around content, which was the most prominent form of website at the time. 

It maintains that focus to this day, with WordPress having arguably the best content management system out of all the different website builders.

An important caveat is that WordPress is divided into platforms:

  • WordPress.org – This is the open-source (free version) of WordPress that comes with greater flexibility, but is harder for non-technical users.
  • WordPress.com – This is the paid version. You can get help with the installation of themes and management but is generally less customizable.

Pros 

Here are the best things about WordPress:

  • You have full control – Unlike other website builders, WordPress is fully customizable as the site is developed directly with code, as opposed to drag and drop interfaces. This means that you have much more flexibility in terms of design and function.
  • Robust blogging and CMS – WordPress is built front the ground up with content in mind. It has some of the best tools for publishing and managing content including team management, advanced scheduling, and categorizations. 
  • Lots of plugins – There are over 52,000 plugins available for WordPress. You can measure and boost your SEO with plugins such as YoastSEO, or you could even add a new function such as a shopping cart. 

Cons 

Here are the weaker aspects of WordPress:

  • You may need help – As your WordPress site is developed with code, you will likely need help to install and update your WordPress theme. This can come with a hefty cost, particularly if you want ongoing changes.
  • Learning curve – If you want to manage and update your site yourself, it can take some time to learn how to do so. Managing and scheduling posts are relatively easy, but updating how your site looks or installing a plugin is much more difficult.
  • Security issues – As your WordPress site is self-hosted, you are more vulnerable to cybersecurity issues. Some of the plugins for WordPress also can act as a risk as well. 

Who should use it

  • Bloggers – If writing is your main focus, then WordPress is a great choice. The platform is designed for bloggers, optimizing content management, and SEO. WordPress will allow you to scale and get the most out of your content.
  • Content centric businesses – Likewise, if you are building a business that is content-heavy, such as a new website, WordPress will help you to manage the operational side of content production much easier. 

Think about your goals

An important thing to keep in mind is that the website builders listed above can serve multiple functions, so this article has provided an overview for you, you will need to look into the details of each platform. 

The best choice for you will come down to both your needs at the moment and where you plan on taking your website in the future. 

After reading reviews like this one, make sure you take a step back and put your particular needs at the forefront of the decision before you commit. 

Source: https://neilpatel.com/blog/best-website-builders/

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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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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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