Business assets are the valuable resources or items that are owned by a company. Businesses have many assets that are worth protecting. Items like cash, accounts receivable, inventory, equipment and buildings are all examples of business assets. A brick and mortar business owner would never think of turning the keys of their store over to their suppliers without proper vetting and protections in place. But what about your digital marketing assets? How valuable are these to your business?
Unfortunately many small business owners do turn over their digital marketing assets to their services providers. But if you think about it, your web presence is very much a digital marketing asset. In many cases, if you were to try and sell your business, the potential buyer would want to acquire the digital assets of the business as part of the sale.
What are digital marketing assets?
In the online world, your digital marketing assets are anything that creates visibility online and helps people find and do business with you. They include:
- Email accounts
- Social media profiles and online advertising accounts
The following are the risks businesses take with their digital marketing assets and what can happen if you trust these valuable resources with the wrong service provider.
The most important digital marketing asset for your business is your domain name. It’s your online business address. You spend hours finding that perfect domain name that aligns with your business but then you have someone else register the domain on your behalf. When this happens, chances are the person associated with the domain is them, not you.
To have anyone else hold that name in their possession is a disaster waiting to happen. What happens if your relationship with that person changes? What if you no longer want to work with that person and wish to move on?
If they are in control of your domain, they could hold you hostage. Or worse, they could let your domain expire without notice causing you to have to deal with trying to recover the domain. The domain registrars usually send a notice to those listed on the registration in advance of the domain expiring. If you aren’t listed on the domain registration, you won’t be warned.
If your domain expires and your website is unreachable, it doesn’t take long for Google to notice and remove your website from the search results.
- Pick your favorite domain registrar, create an account and purchase the domain yourself. This ensures it is registered to you.
- Make sure the domain is set to automatically renew and keep a valid credit card on file.
- Don’t use an email on the domain as your recover for the account. If you lose your domain, you won’t be able to get the email to recover.
- When you do get those notifications that the domain is about to renew, check to make sure it actually does. Sometimes the auto-renew doesn’t happen. For one of my clients, luckily I was able to log in and renew the domain before the grace period ended.
- If your domain is registered through someone other than you, create an account on a domain registrar and initiate the transfer to your account.
Remember that your domain is the key to your online castle and you need to own and protect it.
Although not as critical as your domain, you need to be careful about who builds your website, where it is hosted and your content.
There are two parts to the website: the hosting account and the website itself.
You website hosting is a rented property that houses your website. Many web developers resell hosting services as part of their business model. But it is your choice as to whether you want to host with them or get an end user hosting account.
If you believe you will have a long-term relationship with the developer, then by all means host with them. Just be sure you have access to both the hosting account and the WordPress website as an administrator. If anything happens to your relationship with the hosting provider, you will want to move your website and you will need access as an administrator to do so.
Many times the web development firm will not give you access to the website until you have paid for the work in full. That’s perfectly fine when all is well.
But if you have a dispute with the firm because they aren’t delivering what they promised or their work is not what you had expected, you will have trouble gaining access to the website in order to move it or fix it.
When it comes to the content of your website, you also need to have a backup in case anything happens. Website content includes your design, content management system and the content you create.
Your website is the foundation of your web presence. If you lost access to it tomorrow, would you be able to rebuild the site on another hosting account?
If you have a backup of your content and you find yourself without access to your website hosting or WordPress account, you can always have a new website created on a different hosting account. When the site is ready to go live, you can point the domain to the new website (hence why the domain is the critical piece).
- Purchase your own hosting account at a reputable host such as Siteground. There are others but do your homework and select one that has the performance you need at the price you want to pay.
- When you decide to hire someone to build your website, make sure they are fine working with a hosting account that you control.
- Keep a backup of your website using the All in One WordPress Migration plugin or some other backup application. Just make sure you have the backups stored locally on your computer. In the event you need to move the site to a new hosting provider, you can restore the backup on the new host.
- If your hosting provider won’t allow you to use this plugin, keep a backup of your WordPress content and media library. Export all the content into an .XML file. Worst case, you can install WordPress and a new theme and import your content. You would have to upload your media into the media library. Your content is a critical piece of your overall marketing plan as it is what attracts people to your business. Trying to recreate the content from scratch would be a major project.
As a business, you should always use a branded email address. A branded email address is one that originates from your domain. Most hosting companies offer webmail that will give you this option, but using webmail really isn’t ideal.
There are challenges with using the free email addresses:
- Webmail clients are browser-based and not very modern.
- If you want to move your website, moving your email is a process.
- You have introduced a single point of failure. If your website goes down, most likely so will your email.
- Your email may not be accessible on all devices.
- Invest in either Google Workspace or Office 365 for email. At $6 per user per month for either solution, it’s worth separating your email from your hosting environment. Having your email hosted elsewhere means you can still get your email even if something happens to your website.
- If paying for email is not in your budget, set up your branded email on your hosting account and then use a personal Gmail account as a client. Setting up Gmail as a client allows you to pull all emails from the server so you have them available across all of your devices. Gmail can also send emails using your branded email address if it is set up to send through the hosted server. This way, if you do have to move your website, you have all of your email stored in your Gmail account.
Social Media and Online Advertising
Technology companies understand the importance of security. When you create your profiles, you should not provide your personal login information to anyone.
When it comes to your Facebook business page, LinkedIn company page or other social media platforms that provide company specific accounts, most allow you to add people as administrators without turning over your password.
The same holds true for your advertising accounts. Regardless of the platform, all these digital marketing assets have (or should have) the capability of adding account managers to your profiles.
- Keep your social media and advertising accounts secure with a strong password.
- Give access to those who you are currently working with.
- Remove access to those no longer working with you.
When you set up a Gmail account, you gain access to a wealth of tools from that one login. Access to your Google Business Profile, Google Ads, Google Search Console, Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager is easy to grant to your marketing service provider. Every one of these tools have the ability to add users at various levels in order to access the information.
Do not let others signup for these accounts on your behalf using their Google accounts. I’ve seen many agencies insist that your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts be under their agency account.
If you let them take control of your Google accounts, you might need to start over if you decide you no longer want to work with them. They normally won’t be able to change ownership on the accounts.
- Sign up for any Google service that you need using your Google account.
- Claim and optimize your Google Business Profile under your Google account.
- Provide access to these accounts to those who need them.
- Never give people access to your Google login information. Just don’t do it.
Better Safe than Sorry
When you want to hire an external resource to help you with your online marketing, just remember to think through what happens if you decide to discontinue working with them.
- Do you still have access to your accounts?
- Can you take over the management of your ad campaigns?
- Will remnants of their effort to control your online presence remain long after your relationship with these agencies end? One such example (which I’ve seen many times) are phone numbers you don’t own showing up associated with your business in the search results.
- Will your online presence remain visible on the Internet or will you need to start over?
Businesses need to take precautions when providing access to your digital marketing assets. Take inventory of all of your online assets and determine who has ownership. It only takes one disgruntled vendor to sabotage your web presence. Starting from scratch is not something you want to have to do.
So choose wisely when you want or need to work with someone on building your visibility online. Work with someone who understands marketing and business to help you through the process. And never take chances on someone else being in control of your digital marketing assets.