Recently I have encountered a number of clients who had spent very serious money with expert web developers who also provided hosting and add-on marketing services. Unfortunately, some of these web developers are using “black hat” practices.

Specifically, my clients have encountered an outright refusal on the part of web developers to cooperate with the installation of Google conversion tracking and remarketing codes.

What is really shocking is the hypocrisy some of these well-known industry developers practice. In at least two cases, the web developers themselves use Google pay per click (PPC) advertising to attract new clients. They are well aware of the need to install codes on the websites to track conversions and for remarketing.

I recently discussed this with my agency’s Google representative in Phoenix. He was not at all surprised, and he flatly stated there is a tremendous need for the public to be made aware of these problems before they sign an agreement and start working with a web developer or hosting company.

In one client’s cases the apparent motivation for the refusal to cooperate with my client and help with digital advertising is greed. This particular web developer, who shall remain nameless, is well known nationwide in the vertical industry in which they practice. They are experts in compliance and other matters for that business category.

Even though this company uses Google AdWords themselves to attract new clients, they make more money by deliberately steering their clients away from using either PPC or any type of paid digital advertising because they sell their own in-house proprietary “engagement marketing.” This turns out to be nothing more than a fancy dashboard promoting social media for their clients, including their own in-house video production as well as email marketing follow-up.

As a digital marketing professional, I would say clients should use social media, videos, and email follow-up. However, there are business verticals that do not lend themselves to social media. Example: I work with a factory trained Lexus and BMW repair shop. My clients are I-CAR Platinum Certified and factory trained by Toyota and BMW. They tried social media marketing and it failed. One of the takeaways was: “If my car has been in a collision―no matter how seamless and painless the collision repair and insurance billing process was―I probably don’t want to have a social media relationship with the repair shop.”

I have another client who practices family law here on Chicago’s North Shore. While there is no question that word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews and ratings are important, I probably do not want my friends to see that I liked a divorce attorney’s Facebook page.

Avoiding Five Major Pitfalls of Web Developers

Here are the five major pitfalls to avoid when working with a web developer or host company:

  1. Don’t allow your web developer to register and own your domain URL and hosting.
  2. Don’t sign an agreement with your web developer without making sure you have a clause stating you have the right to have digital marketing codes from Google, Facebook, and others dropped onto your website.
  3. Along the same lines, make sure there are no clauses in the agreement that state you cannot provide your own digital marketing campaign through a third party such as a digital agency or your own in-house staff.
  4. It is also important for there to be a clear and easy termination or transfer process should you be dissatisfied.
  5. Be sure any proprietary services your web developer might provide, such as email marketing, also give the right to take those email addresses and other data from potential customers that have “opted in” to receive your newsletters or other information with you.

The list above is by no means exhaustive, but, like a good prenuptial agreement, it can prevent a nasty divorce should you be dissatisfied with your web developer.