Why Building a Web Presence is A Pain For SMEs [Solution Included]

Ting Ting Chong

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Think Creating a Web Presence is Easy?

Most articles propagate that “building a website is easy as 1, 2, 3”. But is it, really?

After my first real job, I decided to jump-start my own business in beauty. More than the classic “it’s stressful yet thrilling” process of running a business, the frustration and impatience I suffered from getting it to run online were in a league of its own. Most of us will see the potential the internet can bring for our businesses, whilst simultaneously fall into the trap of assuming that generating profits from developing a web presence is easy.

Well, I have both good news and bad news.

The bad news: building a website to promote my business was much harder than I thought. Before you go all sceptical on me, I’ve documented the entire process for you to decide.

Developing a website from scratch

Have you ever considered that it was possible for you to juggle everything at once – conducting business as usual whilst developing a professional website and marketing strategy for your social media platforms without outsourcing any of these activities, and still come out on top?

I did, and it was horrific. It isn’t impossible, but if you’re a small business with limited funds and manpower it isn’t a small feat.

Here was what I had to consider in building my website:

– Purchasing a domain (because who wants an ugly one like www.freewebsite.com/mycompanyname)
– Server for hosting my website
– Web design (everyone’s going to leave once they see how little taste I have)
– A system to conveniently update my own content

The internet is like a treasure trove, so I effortlessly found something of value.

Free website builders!!!

WIX (1)

Wix and Weebly are the popular options for business owners like me (one with zero knowledge on building a website). They are easy to use, hosts your website for free, provides ready to use web templates and a drag and drop interface. All you have to do is literally drag pictures and insert texts!

But here’s a caveat. When a program is designed with simplicity and usability in mind, it becomes less malleable and imposes some debilitating restrictions. Despite the broad range of professional templates offered by both platforms (Wix has over 500 by the way), the last thing I wanted was for my website to resemble “that other website”. I wanted to be unique. Limitations on customisability meant that I didn’t have full control over my website’s design.

When it came to maintaining a website for dynamic content, Wix and Weebly posted difficulties as well. Some examples include not being able to edit content with CSS or change web themes without erasing content. That’s like having to repaint your room walls every time you purchase a new piece of furniture!

Where did I turn to solve this?

WordPress. There’s a reason to its mad popularity (array of plugins and lack of restrictions), but the learning curve is steep. For a lack of an IT Team, I tried my hands at building a WordPress site and within the first 30 minutes it blasted my mind into oblivion.

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Whilst WordPress grants freedom and variety to its users, without advance HTML or CSS skills modifying your website can be extremely time-consuming.

Apart from building a website, I needed to transcribe my brand’s image professionally. How else to contrive a professional image than to hire freelance professionals, right? This introduced another inconvenience for me – coordination (I will expound on this later).

At this point, I was suffering from a splitting headache and I’ve yet to consider marketing my website. If you google “How to build a web presence”, building a website is merely touching its surface. There’s really no fuss free way of building a web presence unless I outsourced these responsibilities, so I chose to

Hire a digital marketing agency

Entering keywords like “marketing agency Singapore” in the Google search bar gives you a platitude of alternatives. Alternatives = great, right?

I went cross-eyed from information overload. Whilst getting to cherry pick a marketing agency is nice, most of them offered fragmented services of little differentiation. Searching for a holistic and fuss free solution was like searching for a needle in the haystack.

Scrolling through a marketing agency’s website typically looks like this:

Our Services (1)

(A list of foreign terminologies always flooded the search results, sort of like blood suckers looking for a host to attach themselves on, except now I am the host and these jargons were time suckers. Apparently, jargons are not very conducive when I am tight on time.)

Marketing Agency

This fragmentation led to a pattern throughout many marketing agencies. Despite the scope of services offered, engaging them discretely meant that most agencies focused on delivering results for each independent service i.e. If I opted for displaying my advertisements through Google via Search Engine Marketing, the agency would deliver me an agreed number of clicks on my advertisements. What I really wanted was for these clicks to lead up to revenue. Ergo there was a misalignment between the objectives of the hired agency and my company.

This was further exemplified when I launched a campaign for increasing the number of first-time customers who would sign up for free trials on my company’s website. Solely focusing on the number of sign ups obscured the happenings that occurred after a prospective customer signed up for the trial. Naturally, there were customers who signed up for my free trials and never turned up. The discrepancy between the high number of sign ups and the mediocre amount of actual turn ups became a problem that could not be reconciled.

I had one more conundrum: I couldn’t hire just one agency to build a web presence for my company since most of them were lacking in something. if one offered consultancy services, they didn’t offer copywriting services. I didn’t have to hire them to understand the losses my business would sustain from coordinating between multiple agencies.

To their credit, this lack seemed to permeate the industry.

So why not hire a freelancer?

Despite my laments, a freelancer wasn’t going to cut it. I needed someone or something to deal with the multiple facets of establishing a web presence for my beauty company. Believe it or not, building a web presence wasn’t as effortless as “just hire a freelancer for web development or web design”.

Like professional freelancers, marketing agencies were experts in their fields, except agencies are entitled to sufficient resources for handling the multiple facets (web design, copywriting, web analytics etc.). Whilst hiring a freelancer was economical for my company, I wasn’t prepared to hire an overworked freelancer. And If I had hired multiple freelancers, the burden of coordination was once again on us.

At this point, I was like:

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Did the process sound more complicated than initially thought?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone – I made the same mistake of oversimplifying things. Reading this article would hopefully prepare you for what’s coming ahead.

But this doesn’t end here.

Now that you’ve gotten through Part 1 of the series “Why Building a Web Presence is A Pain For SMEs” where we focus on building websites, you might be asking the question, “how about social media?”. Don’t miss out on the next article if you want to learn about the issues concerning Facebook and building a web presence.

Plus, here’s the good news I promised earlier: we will reveal a solution that would capture all of the issues I have identified. So stay tuned for Part 2!

 

photo credit: drama via photopin (license)
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