in Digital Marketing

Small business owners are often tempted to abdicate their online marketing tasks when they should delegate them. Most business owners are great at doing the work of their business but lack confidence when it comes to “all that marketing stuff.” Is this true of you? You can know you’ve abdicated your marketing role if your website and online marketing efforts are a “black box”. If all you get from those who control your website and pay-per-click campaigns is a report of metrics and performance, it’s time to ask for more. You need to own your marketing and to delegate responsibilities without losing control.

Several years ago, it was common for Web developers and business consulting companies to manage websites and search marketing campaigns without providing any access to the business owners they served. I hope that business owners are no longer agreeing to this, because if you allow anyone other than your company to have complete control of a business marketing asset you are exposing your company to risk. Business relationships do not always end well, and even reasonable people can become vindictive when you part ways.

If your relationship with a web developer or consultant ends badly, they could hold your website and marketing campaigns hostage. They could demand whatever payment they feel is justified. You may be forced to give them what they demand so that you can move to a new web host or hire a new consultant. Websites, search marketing campaigns, and domain names can be held hostage in this way.

6 Ways To Avoid a Website Hostage Situation

  1. Request access to your website’s files. Your consultant will typically provide FTP or SFTP login credentials.
  2. Request access to your production databases. You will want the IP address of the server along with user name(s), password(s) and the name(s) of the database(s) that support your website.
  3. Request that regular backups of your website be stored on a computer you control. This backup should include your website’s files and a complete database dump.
  4. Verify that your domain name is actually registered in your name, or the name of your business and not a third party. Often, companies will register a domain name for you and let you use it, but they will not transfer ownership to you. Check the WhoIs record for your domain and verify that the “Registrant Name” is in fact your name or your business name.
  5. Pay your technical consultants well. You will need an ally when difficult challenges arise … and these challenges will come.
  6. Request access to pay-per-click campaigns, and not just visibility, but the ability to edit. Search marketing platforms like Google AdWords allow businesses to own their account while sharing managing privileges with a consultant. Your consultant should never be the owner of your marketing campaigns. They should be a steward of them.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you should be able to avoid a website hostage situation. You will always be able to find out what is happening with your website and pay-per-click advertising, and you will be able to move to another hosting company or consultant if you are ever unhappy with the people who are helping you.

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Featured photo: “Hostage!” by Mike Renlund, Some Rights Reserved.