2012 Review of Build Your Firm

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Build Your Firm - Website Development & Internet Marketing
Websites.BuildYourFirm.com

From the Aug. 2012 Review of Website Building tools for accounting firms.

Best Fit:
Build Your Firm is a good fit for firms that want to outsource both the design and written content in the process of building a completely customized website, especially those highlighting a particular specialization or industry niche.

Strengths

  • Recently increased number of e-mail newsletter articles and they are released twice a month (1st and 15th of each month), as opposed to most vendors that release them once a month.
  • E-mail marketing system can be tailored to segmented lists of an accounting firm’s client base.
  • Client Center provides one easy login box for many different services.
  • Experience helping firms design a website around an industry niche.
  • Branded WordPress blog integration (additional fees apply)

Potential Limitations

  • Firms that want complete control for making changes themselves are given access, but functionality is limited to minor changes such as text edits. Build Your Firm prefers that change requests go through the firm’s account manager.
  • Integrated portal has limited functionality. However, firms can go with Build Your Firm’s partner Sharefile if the integrated portal does not meet their needs.

In 2003, Build Your Firm got into the website development business because workshop attendees asked its management to develop websites with search engine optimization built into the initial design along with pay-per-click advertising, which accounting web builders were not providing at that time. Each website that Build Your Firm develops is unique and designed around an accountant’s practice.

Factors such as a firm’s geographic marketing area, type of accounting firm (bookkeeping, EA, varying sizes of CPA firms), and accounting software are taken into consideration. Build Your Firm assigns a website designer to an accounting firm’s website project who writes 95% of the website content. With this approach, the accounting firm is only responsible for writing bios and reviewing the content before the site goes live.

Build Your Firm offers a Client Center so that accounting firm clients can go to one area of the website to log in to various SaaS applications such as a web portal, bill.com, or QuickBooks Online. The Client Center was designed with a vendor neutral approach to meet the needs of accounting firms using a variety of applications.

One of the new services offered this year is the integration of WordPress blogs into a website. Build Your Firm will design and set up the popular blogging software, mirroring the website branding with the firm’s existing website.

Search Engines

Search engine optimization is included in the Premier and Niche plans. All Build Your Firm websites provide statistics using Awstats to track information such as sources of traffic and keywords. Build Your Firm integrates Google Analytics and other statistical packages for firms that request them.

Domains

Domains are owned by the firm. If an accounting firm severs its relationship with Build Your Firm, any domains hosted by Build Your Firm are transferred back to the accounting firm and not held hostage for payment. Every firm has a unique domain for search engine optimization purposes. Build Your Firm will register any additional domain names for $19.99 per year and bill the accounting firm directly.

Hosting

Build Your Firm’s data is hosted by a fully managed facility that is both SAS 70 and SSAE 16 compliant and guaranteed for 100% uptime. Redundancy is multi-tiered and designed to allow the network to rapidly self-heal failures. Data is backed up every night to a separate hard drive holding six revisions of data and off-site backup is done on a weekly basis.

An integrated portal system is provided for clients with 256-bit SSL encryption with unlimited storage. For clients desiring a more robust file exchange system, Build Your Firm has partnered with Sharefile, which offers tools such as a Microsoft Outlook plugin and drive mapping. Build Your Firm customers receive a 25% discount with Sharefile.

Email

Build Your Firm’s website package comes with e-mail hosting for up to 10 e-mail accounts with 500 MB of storage and 1 GB of bandwidth. For larger firms, a nominal fee is charge for additional e-mail accounts and extra storage needs. E-mail can be accessed through a web mail interface, a mail client such as Outlook, and mobile devices. Build Your Firm can set up Google Apps accounts for a firm for no additional fee. However, e-mail is not a required feature, and many of Build Your Firm’s customers use an exchange server or third party provider.

Newsletter Marketing & Content

Included in Build Your Firm’s package is an e-mail marketing communication tool that can be used to send out e-mail newsletters, reminders, announcements and general client communication. This e-mail tool is COPPA/CAN spam compliant and can be tailored to segmented lists of an accounting firm’s client base. Build Your Firm provides support for third-party e-mail marketing tools by integrating opt-in registrations on an accounting firm’s website. Build Your Firm only provides content to Premier and Niche customers.

Other Features

Build Your Firm does not have a template system for social media, but instead integrates whatever social media channels a firm wishes into a website. While Build Your Firm may provide some social media marketing coaching, firms are responsible for setting up and managing their social media.

Summary & Pricing

Because Build Your Firm takes responsibility for the website development process and does not push it to the firm like some other template-based providers, it is best suited for firms that want the vendor to complete both the customized website design and content.

The recurring monthly fee for the starter package is $49.99 per month. The premier plan at $83.33 per month adds features including search engine optimization, file transfer and the client center. Niche websites are also $83.33 per month and have a setup fee that typically averages from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on the extent of the customization requested and complexity of the content to be written. QuickBooks hosting and WordPress blogs incur additional fees. There is no annual commitment and Build Your Firm offers a free trial period of 60 days.

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