In official recognition of a relationship dating back to 2013, Ascent Digital Media has been recognized as a certified SharpSpring partner, with proven, extensive expertise in the world’s top-rated marketing automation platform. SharpSpring is a leading software platform utilized for marketing automation software, with features including anonymous visitor ID to email marketing to a web-based CRM, social media management, blogging & landing page generation. SharpSpring is similar in functionality to peers such as HubSpot, Pardot & Marketo, but is often a far more cost-effective and customer-friendly solution.
The relationship between Ascent and Flat Fee Portfolios, dates back to the inception of the program, when it existed only on the mind’s eye of Macro Consulting Group founder Mark Cortazzo. We still remember being mesmerized by his impassioned description of fixed-cost investment program and the extraordinary benefits such a program would bring to an underserved market of investors. And we must say, not only was his conference room impressive, but their hot tea options were unequaled. We were privileged to be able to help bring the dream of Flat Fee Portfolios to reality.
So you’re a small or mid-size business owner or marketing director and the challenging task of choosing a web design agency lies before you. Choose right and you’re in for a smooth, budget-friendly, exciting process that will help take your business to the next level. Choose wrong, and you’re in for a whole big world of hurt!
And the sheer number of agencies out there can make an already difficult task feel overwhelming – especially if you’re in the NJ & NY Metro area like we are. How do you know you’re talking to the right people? Well as a public service, we at Ascent would like to give you some pointers that we’ve picked up through long careers of witnessing bad things happen to good people.
Most small business owners we’ve spoken to around NJ & the Lehigh Valley are pretty savvy when it comes to the web & how technology can be used to drive growth in your business. Most of you know about Google Analytics, many of you have accounts with Email Service Providers such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, and some of you even use CRM systems to help track leads. Many of you also spend some significant money on PPC campaigns or SEO services.
But unfortunately, many of you would also confess that you’re not exactly thrilled with the return on investment those initiatives generate. You’re doing all the “Right Things,” but not seeing the right results.
Check out the graph on above, which tells us what something we @ Ascent already knew: WordPress is dominating at Chuck Norris-like levels.
And it just so a happens that Ascent chooses to specialize in custom WordPress development (primarily for small businesses in the NJ/NY Metro area). We didn’t choose WordPress because of its popularity – we chose it because in our
arrogant humble opinions, it is by far the best CMS platform on the market, and can give your business the best possible ROI from your website & online marketing.
Many small businesses (and their customers) would benefit from evolving their website from a one-way informative/brochure presence to a more robust, interactive customer service engine. The idea of a customer portal feature on a site is appealing – but the thought of implementing one can also feel daunting.
Businesses on the road to building an effective customer portal on their website are prone to 2 major potential wrong turns: either (a) choosing an off-the-shelf solution that is costly, hard to use, and too generic to meet their needs, or (b) opting for an extremely expensive completely custom solution.
You might not hear this from anyone else, but your small business might not need a responsive web design.
Don’t get us wrong. We love responsive design (though in a future post, we’ll dig into why it doesn’t go nearly far enough!). But we’re not… in love with it. We don’t drink the kool-aid and we don’t push it on every client. If it makes sense for your business, we’ll always recommend it. But we put your unique business landscape – and most importantly, the needs of your customers – above all when we make recommendations. We have no responsive design agenda.
Most web designers will tell you that you’ve gotta have it, and will pad out their estimates accordingly, because the simple truth is that a responsive design will always cost more (usually a lot more!). But here are a few reasons you should consider bucking the trend, not hopping the bandwagon, & not buying into the Responsive Web Design craze. You should not use a responsive web design for your NJ business if:
We’re a pretty soulful bunch here at Ascent – being founded by a couple former pastors tends to have that effect – and I want to share an important way that our faith influences how we do business. Obviously anyone can share in our values regardless of background or beliefs… in fact a lot of what we value really ought to be just good common sense. But we gain a little extra mojo & inspiration in living our values out when they resonate strongly with our spirits. It sure makes it more rewarding to go to work!
Distraction 1: Look away, I’m hideous!
Some of your sites are bad. Really bad. They make little children cry at the sight of them. But much like the mother of a horrid monster, you see it through the skewed vision of love (or through the equally distorted lens: “it cost me big money”). You may not recognize that your site is an evil, ugly and terrible creation gone wrong, and it must be stopped. Let us help you come to grips with the truth.
Don’t cheap out. And don’t overpay.
You usually get what you pay for. If you go for the cheapest alternative, you can’t be surprised when you receive an unsatisfactory result.
And too often, you actually don’t even get what you pay for. We hear plenty of horror stories about sites that died halfway through because a developer was in over his head, couldn’t hack it, & ran away screaming, leaving the client high and dry, with no refunds.
If you cheap out, you’ll regret it – for many of the same reasons that your customers would regret it if they chose a cheaper alternative over your business. Whether quality, content, effectiveness or professionalism & customer service, something important will suffer.
But we’re not saying you should go pay a premium either. Don’t pay inflated rates because an agency has an impressive address, bloated overhead, or a jaw-dropping client list. There are reasons some agencies charge a fortune, and none of those reasons is because it’s in your best interests. Find an agency that can offer top-notch talent and expertise, but without the steep price tag. *Ahem* we happen to know an agency like that.