What Is The Best Online Presence Software For Your Needs?
In this article I would like to focus on which tool is best using according to the type of business you are running. I have seen too many guides comparing pros and cons of many different platforms but I found it rare to find an article that truly tells which tool fulfills your exact needs as an entrepreneur.
So instead of listing 5 different platforms and describing every single one of them, I’ve decided to list 5 different types of online presence you might feel the need to refer to. Maybe you will need to use only one of them, but you could also feel the need to use 3 or 4 of the following which is why I think you are going to love the rest of this post.
But before that, I decided to break down the history of web design from 1995 to 2020 in a simple way so we know where we are coming from and how long ago the most important inventions were created.
So let’s get started
Table Of Contents:
1. What Was And Is Web Design About?
Around 1995, CSS introduced a new way to separate content which ultimately became the base of today’s web design and development. Work with tables to format the content was popular, and basic 3D images started to grow. At this time, Java Script was mainly used to create page effects.
Around 2003, Wordpress took a leap of faith and gave the world the possibility to use templates for blogs instead of static HTML. Quickly, the platform came with plugin architecture that enabled users and developers to extend its functionality by writing their own plugins and sharing them with the rest of the community.
In 2006, the first CSS preprocessor, SASS, was created extending CSS features which allowed web designers to create more complex effects. Little after (2007-2009), grid layout and flexbox were introduced to the world and marked the end of tables and floating era.
2010 was the creation of responsive design. Developers don't need to create different mobile websites anymore. They can now take that same content and layouts, and use it for different screen size which save them tremendous amount of time
2015 was the birth of CSS3 where animation and transition came to the world allowing smooth and responsive buttons and menus.
2016 was the rise of the minimal trend (not the same as the Swiss Minimalism, therefore really similar). Lots of website designers tend to simplify everything down to only basic elements and calligraphic fonts had become popular because they feel personal and tangible.
2017 with the tremendous increase of mobile devices, this year was all about designing for mobile-first using flexbox, responsive menus etc..
Today we are seeing a lot of really advanced designs using multi-dimensional layouts, symmetrical design, animated background using videos, 3d “as you scroll” animation imported from Adobe Affect Effect and much much more.
So if your website has been built 15, 10, or even 5 years ago and never been updated, sorry to tell you this but... It is completely outdated!!
Now, I understand that between 2000 and 2010, not all businesses could afford a website or putting their business online was a complex thing to do. I also understand that for those who were able to have a website, it was “OK” to have basic designs and layouts. All websites were coded and implementing good design to sites was a difficult task to realize.
But from 2010 to 2019 (I would say), when developers started to code great, modern (at the time) and elegant themes, it became a must for businesses to have a website published.
Today, in 2020, due to the enormous online competition, things have evolved even further. Companies must differentiate their online website from other agencies or businesses.
Unfortunately, it is (I believe) no longer good enough to use themes because they have been used thousands of times. And that has become a problem as people don’t see your company as unique as you say it is. Agency websites using templates aren’t as unique anymore.
Which brings me to today's topic. What are the 5 best platforms/online presence you can use in 2020 for the types of business you are running.
Disclaimer: Please note that no commission is provided to me for the platforms listed below. The vetted tools are purely based on my personal experiences, network, and researches.
2. What Each Of These 5 Online Presence Is Best For
When weighing up which online presence to include, even though I will be talking about ease-of-use, cost, and time, my decisions have not been made using these criterias but rather by comparing their end results, scalability opportunities, and return on investments.
- Landing Page: Unbounce
- Funnel: Click-Funnel
- E-commerce: Shopify
- Custom Design: Webflow
- Blogging: Wordpress
1. Landing page
As we know, a landing page is a web page designed for a single purpose: capture leads (contact information) in exchange for a freebie such as an ebook, template, video training, checklist etc… Collecting these datas allow any business who needs to retarget people who have not bought yet, show them ads or send them automated emails about a product/service.
Pretty important right?
Which is why you need the best tool for that.
Further, you and I know that optimizing for the highest conversion rate is crucial. Yet, when times comes to actually improving campaigns, everyone disappears. The best conversion rates are not an accident but the outcome of fine-tuning each element of your campaign on a weekly basis.
Which is why Unbounce has created this machine learning model (a.k.a. Unbounce Conversion Intelligence) to give you insights and automations you need to prioritize optimization and increasing conversions at every step.
Unbounce thinks that what we learned, know, and experienced as a human being in marketing is not enough. All the information (writing conversion-focused copy, CTA placement, A/B tests) we (entrepreneurs/marketers) collected over the years about what influences visitors to convert is on its own, incomplete.
This new model is allowing us to pair our marketing expertise with AI insights to increase conversion. And the reason why this fusion is so powerful is because it is using recognition of patterns and opportunities we simply couldn’t spot without the processing power of a machine.
It is boosting the intuition and skills you already own to guarantee the best performing campaign every time.
This marketing strategy is one of the most famous one so I don’t want to waste your time defining what a marketing funnel is. Therefore, I would like to talk about 2 website software that solved the biggest challenge of online sales.
ClickFunnels and SamCart
If you have a little bit of interest and knowledge in digital marketing, you’ve most likely heard about ClickFunnels, or I could say the pioneering online sales funnel.
Beside its huge popularity among the entrepreneur community and the fact that this SaaS (Software as a Service) is about helping businesses turn their site visitors into customers... What makes it the best when it comes to marketing funnels?
If you look at the big picture, many different software as a service share the same general goal — “Help you share your product or service online”, therefore have very different specific features.
And those specific features are critical to break down to understand which one you need for what you are trying to accomplish.
So let’s talk about what ClickFunnels and SamCart are really designed for before taking a decision here:
If you are seeking to enhance the final stage of the buying process of your funnel, then SamCart is probably a tool you want to consider. The reason why is because it really allows you to create a modern, clean, attractive checkout page, meaning that when a customer has already decided to purchase your product, this page will increase your conversion significantly.
Now, if you are looking for a sales software that specializes in the interest stage of the buying process, then ClickFunnels is considered the best for it. With it, you can easily design a page and increase persuasion among visitors thanks to the one-click purchase widget. Having this feature under your belt allows you to not only keep visitors interested by your offer but also nurture them with a one-click upsale. That offer will converts better just because it provides that smooth and exciting experience on the customer side.
What a competitive and growing business right? The US eCommerce increased by 354% from 2010 to 2019 according to census.gov. If we compare the US eCommerce vs US total retail sales in 2019, it has been calculated that online sales takes up to 16% of the US total sales which, keep in mind, is a number that keeps increasing over years. If you are curious and want to learn more about the US eCommerce Vs. Total retail sales, I strongly encourage you to check out these stats.
Having said that, with 3.8 million eCommerce sites in the US on platforms such as Shopify, Squarespace Commerce, and WooCommerce Checkout, let’s discover which one I decided to rank first.
With over 1 million users, Shopify is a trustable platform that almost never disappoints. In terms of sales channels, the interface lets you set up really important features that can have a big impact on both the short and long term development of your store. Here what you can do:
- You can add a tab on your Facebook page so users can browse and buy your products.
- You now have the possibility on Messenger to sell directly to customers on the app, to send order and shipping notifications, as well as respond to client’s concerns. This significantly helps you build your messenger list and make it more convenient for customers.
- If you have a general website on another platform but your store is hosted on Shopify, you can embed a Buy Button on your site (or blog).
- An Integration with Amazon allows you to manage your Amazon listings and Shopify products in one place for more brand visibility, sales and customers.
- Sell directly from your Instagram posts and stories thanks to the ‘shoppable’ integration.
- Show cross-sell or an upsell offer to your customers when they shop thanks to an app that allows you to display and customize up to three upsells in a single funnel.
Shopify keeps improving over the years, try to stay on top of the trend and Shopify Point-Of-Sale confirms it. Shopify's POS hardware lets you use Shopify to not only sell online but also in physical locations too, using your iOS or Android device.
Last but not least, the platform has Abandoned Cart Recovery integrated. This feature allows you to view a list of people who've left articles in their shopping carts and automatically send them an email with discount or similar products.
For these reasons, I do believe Shopify is best to use if you are planning on doing eCommerce. If I had to compare it with other platforms like WooCommerce, Squarespace and Wix, I would say that the ease-of-use and SEO are pretty similar, the price should not influence your decision, therefore the features mentioned above are crucial to take into consideration in the long term.
4. Custom Websites
Custom-design websites usually start with an imaginative process from the designer to recognize who the target audience is, how the industry reacts to certain website’s style. As opposed to templated sites, custom design can be really powerful and increase brand awareness, trust, conversion and uniqueness for agencies, entrepreneurs, and businesses.
Custom-design websites might take a little bit longer than themes to be developed. This is because everything is created and delivered for a specific business. When you're building from scratch, it's much easier to respond to your client's exact needs and make sure it works the way you and your client want it. As it is a longer process at the beginning, it can really save you time and money in the long run.
Mark down that custom websites in 2020, does not mean that you have to hire a developer who will code your entire site. Within the past few years, there have been alternatives, such as Webflow, that allow designers to fully custom websites without having to write any lines of codes.
Say bye to developers and welcome Webflow with open arms because this web design software is going to be huge in a few years (note it). Despite the fact that this design software is still not even close to Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace in terms of market share, and number of users, Webflow has been growing at a really fast pace for the past 2 years.
Now, the reason I suggest using Webflow and not another design software for custom website is because you can really differentiate your company. I believe this tool is the future of software as a service for website building and hosting because of its constant updates and design freedom.
Differentiation is one of the first strategies being taught in business. People do a great job, most of the time, differentiating their product or service but tend to forget about it when time comes to design their website. That is unfortunate taking into account there are 1.7 billion websites out there.
Accordingly, when people search for a product or service online, and they see similar websites over and over, it makes them think all offers are identical...
Now, if you think about it for a second and build a fully custom website and you can rank high on Google (because that is always the goal), and people check out 5 different websites but yours stand out:
- Users will tend to spend more time on your site.
- Your site visitors will remember you better and longer.
- If they have to come back another day, you might be the first website they go on.
- Your website will inspire more trust than your competitors’.
- Users might think your product/service is newer, more performant, more efficient and unique.
So if you agree with me about differentiation, then you should really consider building a custom website for your agency instead of using templated websites.
Now in terms of cost, you might be thinking: “yah sure but no thanks, I don’t want to spend $15-25K on a website”.
Well let me tell you this:
“You don’t need to!”
First of all, if you decide to go with a designer using the design software Webflow, you can negotiate a deal between $5-15K for sure which is already cheaper than hiring a developer that will come up with the same end result, maybe worse (no offense to developers). Developers and designers are 2 really different jobs as you might know so if you are looking for an appealing, modern, unique website, I would say hiring a web designer is a way to go... As long as they know how to use a development tool.
The second option you might want to consider is taking an online course that teaches you everything about Webflow. This option shouldn’t be put aside because it is a much cheaper alternative. You can always pay the course to someone you know who is really motivated and interested about web design.
And now, instead of paying near $10K for a designer who will design you a feature-rich, custom-built website, you can invest in an online course, and pay between $99 and $799 for it.
Therefore it might take a little bit more time than hiring a professional designer, but I do believe it is a fantastic investment because at the end of the day you get what you were looking for. Anyone who has an eye for design, and is comfortable with technology can, after just a few weeks build amazing custom websites using Webflow.
With 600 millions of blogs online, believe it or not, blogging is not dead as long as you do it the right way. There are many bloggers who start a blog just “for fun”, but also others who see it more as a business and want it to be successful.
Today, a tremendous amount of blogging platforms are available online that guarantee you the best features and reliable service. Because of all this noise, it makes it hard and stressful to choose from different platforms claiming to be the best.
For this review, I will be sharing with you what I believe the best platform is if you want to build a successful blog in 2020.
As not surprising as it sounds, Wordpress is still in 2020, the leading platform for blogging. But why?
When times comes to decide which blogging platform is best for you, it is essential to consider a few essential criteria.
The first one will be Ease of Setup because many bloggers or writer lovers don't necessarily come with a tech background. The reason I chose to do my blog on Webflow and not on Wordpress is because I’m a web designer so design came first in my list. But for someone who isn't tech savvy and wants to start a blog quickly and efficiently, Wordpress has an easy setup process.
The second criteria is Growth Potential, and as we know, the internet can reserve us with surprises sometimes and our content can go viral at any time. With 60 million posts created every month by Wordpress users, it is clear that it is scalable, and capable of handling massive traffic on your blog. Remember to check the different plans but the WP Business plan allows you to have unlimited amounts of traffic.
Ownership of your content is important to take into consideration. Even though some platforms like Medium can give you more visibility, it will also control your content, and can censure your post(s). With a platform like Wordpress, since it is self-hosted, you will have full ownership of your content.
Last but not least, Plugins! With WordPress’ plugin directory you have the possibility to choose among thousands of plugin extensions. It becomes easy to increase your SEO, add social media widgets, forums, social interactions, calendars, reduce spam, and forms. No other platform offers more essential plugins than Wordpress for blogging.
For all the above reasons, I do believe that if you are planning on having a successful blog, and want to make money blogging and treating it as a business, then Wordpress is your platform.
- Choosing an online presence platform depends on the type of business you are running and your goals. Each platform is known for specific features and you should not rely on one platform only.
- Using a platform for your landing pages, another one for your funnels, one for your eCommerce, another one for your custom website, and finally one for your blog is ok. You don’t need to use all 5 obviously but you definitely want to consider using 2 or 3 that meet your agency’s best interests for both short and long term standpoint of view.
- A small difference in price should not influence your decisions. Investing $15/month or $20/month is really not a big deal. And if you believe it is, then it means you don’t think about getting that difference back with your business, which in this case is not a platform problem but a business problem.
- With the tremendous amount of online users, it is becoming more important to differentiate yourself in 2020 than it was 5 or 10 years ago.
Disclaimer: Please note that no commission is provided to me for the platforms listed above. The vetted tools are purely based on my personal experiences, network, and researches.