Web Marketing: Decisions the Business Owner Must Make

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

As a business owner, the success or failure of your online marketing strategy determines whether food appears on your table next month and whether your bills get paid. You must be in control of any process that affects your lifestyle. Basic components you should be in control of include

  • Original website design files, including images, photos, and logos: In the event that your designer suddenly becomes unavailable through other employment, discontinued interest in your project, or even death, having access to the originals will allow you to transition easily to another service provider.

  • Website hosting logins: Every website needs a website hosting location where all the files are stored and accessed on the Internet. You should always choose your own hosting company and pay for that service directly to the hosting company. Any login usernames and passwords supplied by that hosting company should be in your name and in your control.

    You might very well provide access to your website to designers, programmers, and Internet marketers, but the only way you’ll have the ability to change passwords in the event you want to change personnel is if you are in charge of your hosting account.

  • Backups of all content, pages, and HTML code: In the event that you need to change website hosting companies or if you decide to fire your copywriter or administrative staff who might supply or maintain your website content, always have a current backup of your website’s pages.

    If your hosting company pulls the plugs on its servers and goes out of business, you could still be up and running with another hosting provider within a matter of hours — if you have good backups of your content. Otherwise, if you don’t have access to those pages, you would need to create all those documents from scratch. Not good.

  • Domain name logins and registrations in your name: If the website is the heart of your online efforts, your domain name is the brain. It is the most critical piece of your identity that displays who you are and what your business is about.

    As the business owner, you must own your domain name, have it registered in your name, and have exclusive rights to maintain it. Never let your designer, administrative assistant, or even your mother register your domain name for you.

    A domain name such as YourBusinessName.com is tied to the web server where your website resides. If you decide to change hosting companies, the only way to change where the domain name points to is by logging into your domain name registrar (the company where you registered your domain name) and changing the appropriate settings. This is something only you should have control over.

  • Additional logins or passwords: Beyond the basic website level, a variety of usernames and passwords will be issued to you. These could include a Google AdWords account, article directory submission logins, visitation statistics reporting access, YouTube video accounts, social networking logins, and third-party e-mail management systems, to name a few.

    When you’re implementing your own Internet marketing campaigns, be sure to have all account registrations in your name, using your e-mail address. That way, you always retain administrative rights to those promotional outlets.

    Try KeePass, a free tool for storing all your usernames and passwords on your desktop computer. All you have to remember is one main password, and then you’ll have access to them all.

    However, if you choose to outsource the more time-intensive Internet marketing functions (such as Google AdWords, as an example), be open to the idea of a professional organization having the exclusive right to that account. After all, there is a great deal of magic that skilled Google AdWords managers will be reluctant to hand over to you should you choose to cut your ties with their services.

    In cases like these, you really are still in control: That is to say (cough), you are in control of whether you will pay that service provider for additional services next month. Make sure that your service provider supplies you with routine progress reports so that you can make that assessment accurately.