Attention! Small business owners: Are you even the lawful owner of your own web presence?
Always read the fine print FIRST.
Maintaining a professional online presence is not an easy task. Employing an agency saves you a lot of time, money and probably nerves as well. There is a huge demand and plenty of agencies and web designers offer their services. They promise to provide the full spectrum: Set up as well as successful content and social media management, creating Google Ads campaigns and much more. Due to the speed of changes in that industry they keep adding helpful and exciting services to their offerings that will help their clients to sell their products even faster.
The devil is in the detail. At first glance all those offerings seem to be very attractive. But experience has shown that it is essential to study the terms and conditions first before you sign papers. Besides costs and contract duration don’t forget to pay attention to the “small details”.
Which agency is right for you? Some agencies host thousands of websites. For sure their technical skills and services are decent. But are they also experts in providing real content for your business? Are they able to text for the internet? Do they really possess all relevant marketing skills? Our experience shows that there is a strong possibility you will end up with a technically fantastic set up page but with very poor content. Those sites often don´t meet their customers´ specific needs and all of them have the same look.
Your right to change. Your agency usually decides on which internet portals and search engines they are going to advertise your company on. Make sure you don’t lose your right to give a say in that matter. The same applies for change requests concerning search terms and keywords.
Protection of data privacy. By signing the proposal papers, you give the company the right to use your data. Be vigilant about how they use it and make sure they stick to the data protection regulations.
Termination of the contract. Beware. Many of those contracts are set up like subscriptions. As a rule, you can only terminate your contract on very specific terms and dates. Often the first possibility to do so is years into the contract. If you are looking to terminate your contract before that you will have to pay a penalty.
Who is the lawful owner of you web presence? The termination of the contract doesn’t have to end in a war of roses. Realistically speaking most relationships end sooner or later – even the flourishing ones. Often the lawful owner of the website is the agency. If you want to go and keep your web presence as it is, chances are high they will ask you again for a penalty payment. Only then they are willing to sign over the ownership of the website. They calculate the price of leaving based on what you earned over the last years. If you have been building up your business with them for years that fee can quickly add up to a substantial amount.
Once you cleared up those basic questions, it will be rather easy to find the right partner for you.
It always boils down to the same: Always read the fine print FIRST.