Guest blog by Martin Woods
Over the years we’ve worked with dozens of start-up companies, advising them on organic search marketing campaigns as technical SEO consultants. These companies have ranged from multi-million pound start-ups, to small businesses. Interestingly, no matter what the size of the company, they all seem to suffer from the same issues.
We decided that we wanted to do things differently when starting our own SEO company called SALT.agency, but we didn’t realise just how hard it is. There are so many things to research, plan, and action that it can be quiet simply overwhelming.
The problem we, and many businesses face is that while we’re comfortable in our area of expertise, we can come a cropper when we start to do things new to us. So, as we’re already fans of KashFlow cloud accounting software, we wanted to share a few tips when it comes our area of expertise: online marketing.
Setting up an ‘SEO friendly’ website
This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to online marketing. All too often people come to us with ready built websites, which aren’t fit for purpose in our opinion. If the success of your business is in any way linked to your online visibility, then I can’t overstate how important it is to have a search engine friendly website.
When creating a website here is some advice:
• Do make sure that you can upload your own content – it has a content management system.
• Do choose the right platform – I typically don’t recommend custom platforms. Often recommended by agencies these hook you in to them, so if you’re not happy it’s hard to leave. I recommend a self-hosted WordPress platform to most clients, even big brands!
• Do order your domain, hosting etc. under your own account, then give them access, this means you’re in control.
• Don’t opt for free website builder platforms, especially the ones which promote themselves as being SEO friendly – they aren’t, trust me!
• Don’t waste all your money on building a site, only to discover you have no money left for marketing it. Content / Social / Paid Search / SEO / PR / Affiliate / Email
• Don’t make a website before you have established which marketing channels are going to be important for generating traffic toward it.
Keep an eye on the marketing pennies (and the pounds look after themselves)
It’s easy to get carried away paying for things when starting up, and it’s important to keep an eye on your cash flow. We all know this right, but it’s important to constantly remind yourself when making various decisions.
If you sign up for software, make sure you know the length of the contract. We really like the pay monthly software model used by these companies; KashFlow, Office 365, Harvest, Basecamp, Zoho.
Keep to a strict routine when it comes to recording purchases. We have calendar alerts set tri-weekly to help us to remember.
We set up all our repeat purchases up to automatically generate in KashFlow, however for purchases not in sterling you’ll have to adjust the amount when you know how much you’ve been charged. The new KashFlow bank feeds feature is brilliant for this: We temporarily mark non-sterling repeat purchases as a nominal amount like £1, then assigning the bank transaction when it appears and updating to the exact amount taken out in sterling.
One last tip about watching the pennies:
Often people drastically underestimate just how expensive marketing can be. In the UK we seem to have a culture of, “if I build it they will come”. Even if you have the best product or service in the world, you will still need to market it. Make sure you have an idea how new customers will find you, and how much it will cost to generate them.
Don’t try and reinvent the wheel
There is a temptation amongst people to build their own software (and websites) from scratch when starting a new business. Speaking from experience this is most often a huge mistake, which many only learn the hard way.
There are many reasons why building your own custom software is a bad idea for most people, these include:
• Expensive to build and maintain
• Unknown entities – your requirements may change as a business, this often can make software obsolete, even before it’s finished.
• Security, data backups are all your problem, rather than being supported by a 3rd party provider.
These days you’ll probably find there is already some software out there, which will do what you’re looking for. If there isn’t, one tip which I can also recommend is using a 3rd party piece of software such as Zapier, or IFTTT to connect several pieces of software / apps together to complete tasks with data.
I hope this helps some fellow KashFlow customers