2011 Review of Build Your Firm — Website Development and Internet Marketing

Build Your Firm - Website Development & Internet Marketing
http://websites.buildyourfirm.com

From the Oct. 2011 Review of Website Tools & Services for tax & Accounting Firms.

Best Fit

 Build Your Firm intentionally focuses on the small firm as its primary customer.

Strengths

  • Over 95 modifiable templates available.
  • Customization services offered.
  • Variety of free add-ons such as file transfer, logo integration, credit card processing, e-commerce, spam filtering, portals, etc.)
  • Provides statistics for site tracking; also integrates with Google Analytics and other third parties.
  • Social media integration.
  • Unique domains names.
  • Up to 10 email accounts included.
  • Enhanced email newsletter marketing.
  • Integrates with client-facing SaaS applications, including QuickBooks Online, Thomson SaaS, Bill.com, Right Networks, The Accountant’s Office, ShareFile, My Pay, Manage Payroll, Payment Portals, Virtual Desktop applications, etc.

Potential Limitations

  • Datacenter is fully secure and environmentally controlled, but not SAS-70/ISO 27001 evaluated.
  • Extra fee for additional email accounts and storage.
  • Does not offer blogging engine, but works with third-party blog providers.

 

Build Your Firm (BYF) rolled out website development in 2003 and continues to add features and content based on feedback from clients and from research. Although BYF will work with any size firm, the company intentionally focuses on the small firm as its primary customer.

BYF has 406 firms with websites, with 115 added in the past 12 months and 50 dropped in that same period. Average longevity of firms with a site is four years. Custom sites have been offered for about 20 months.

A “core” website has 22 to 25 pages, plus 130 to 140 tax tip articles a year, a tax center (200+ pages) and calculator pages (250 to 300 pages). A larger website has more than 620 pages. BYF can work with clients to modify one of its 95 templates, as well as write most of the content. Free integration of the login secure page for third-party online accounting, bookkeeping or payroll services is included.

BYF supports Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. No specific mobile-browser version of client sites is available, but all sites are navigable on most mobile browsers that support basic HTML/XHTML.

Pricing. BYF offers a 60-day, no-risk trial, and standard accounting sites have no setup fee. Custom niche sites have a setup fee of $1,000 to $2,000. Monthly charges are $69.99 for a starter site, and $83.33 for premier and niche sites.

Free add-ons include file transfer, integration of a logo, credit card processing, gateway links to third-party software, incorporation of soft good downloads, e-commerce, incorporation of affiliates, a seminars/events/book promotion page, spam filtering and newsletters. A Client Center (portal) can be added to the website for no additional charge. A monthly fee is assessed for pay-per-click campaign management, and Google and Yahoo! networks vary by market size.

Search engines. To avoid spamming, BYF does not use automatic submission tools. The provider has also developed XML site maps. BYF sites provide statistics to track unique visitors and page views, traffic source by country, visits by spiders and robots, average length of site views, popular pages, browser types and operating systems, source of traffic by search engine, common referrals by link, and important keywords used to find the site.

Integration of Google Analytics is supported, and the vendor has worked with clients and third-party tools to track other elements of site visits, such as phone calls or lead generation. Templates also integrate social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Hosting. Operating with a fully secure, environmentally controlled datacenter (not a SAS-70 /ISO 27001 evaluated facility), BYF offers guaranteed, 100% uptime. Data is backed up nightly onto separate drives that hold six data revisions. An offsite backup is performed weekly.

Domains. For SEO purposes, every client has a unique domain. BYF works with accountants with an existing domain to maintain third-party hosting or transfer the domain to BYF. For clients with multiple domains, BYF will help determine the primary domain and park others on to it. Clients own the URL; if the accountant wants additional domain names, BYF will register the domain and bill $19.99 per year. Clients who leave BYF aren’t charged to transfer the domain to a new provider.

BYF can host DNS records in a master client account and manage ongoing renewals, yet the client still owns the domain. The client can also maintain the DNS records and is responsible for renewals, and BYF can assist with updates or instruct the client how to make updates. BYF will work with clients to modify DNS records; many clients have custom DNS records for VPN connections and other scenarios.

Email. BYF’s basic package hosts up to 10 email accounts. A nominal fee is charged for extra accounts and storage. Email can be accessed remotely through BYF’s web mail interface, an email client such as Outlook and mobile devices. Email is not a required feature.

Newsletter marketing & content. Recent improvements to email newsletter marketing include an enhanced setup wizard, choice of templates and color options, article archive, enhanced management of the mailing list, and better in-application support and Help screens. The system has opt-in registration and one-click unsubscribe, and is compliant with the COPPA and CAN SPAM Act.

Some clients use a third-party email marketing platform. Though BYF doesn’t offer a blogging engine, its system works for clients who have set up a blog at a third-party provider. Syndicated content includes a variety of tax tip articles each month, a tax center with tax due date reminder, tax forms, etc.

Other Features

  • Integrates with client-facing SaaS applications, including QuickBooks Online, Thomson SaaS, Bill.com, Right Networks, The Accountant’s Office, ShareFile, My Pay, Manage Payroll, Payment Portals, Virtual Desktop applications, etc.
  • Users may access an FTP for large files for BYF websites and non-BYF websites; software is free.

BYF gains quite a bit of its knowledge about website building through one-on-one relationships with its customers, and is constantly adjusting its feature set, not only to keep up with the latest technologies, but to give its customers what they need. BYF may not be the most well-known among website builder providers, but they offer an impressive tool that can be customized as needed.

Summary & Pricing

BYF gains quite a bit of its knowledge about website building through one-on-one relationships with its customers, and is constantly adjusting its feature set, not only to keep up with the latest technologies, but to give its customers what they need. BYF may not be the most well-known among website builder providers, but they offer an impressive tool that can be customized as needed. BYF offers a 60-day, no-risk trial, and standard accounting sites have no setup fee. Custom niche sites have a setup fee of $1,000 to $2,000. Monthly charges are $69.99 for a starter site, and $83.33 for premier and niche sites.

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