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Drag And Drop Website Builders Are Bad For Marketing

Vintage plane crash.Sometimes it just needs to be said, "Lookout!!!". Most of us realize that form and function combined make up user experience (UX) and are both part of website building.  Most of us except advocates of drag and drop it seems.  That segment has missed the small business website building pain point list altogether.  Drag and drop focuses on aesthetics, half the solution, and for small business websites, thats not the top priority.  One could make the argument that sales and marketing are more critical to any small business website than any other aspect. Even a non-profit needs to justify spending money on a website in terms of sales and marketing.

Where drag-and-drop fails miserably, is convincing website owners that they need to spend time dragging and dropping images and text around a screen, also known as twiddling pixels.  It's seductive, all that, control makes people feel like they're accomplishing something.  However drag and drop is too granular for marketing and forces people to solve problems that have already been solved.  Five hundred books have been written on landing page optimization, do you really need to drag and drop one from scratch? Banners go at the top of a page and typically scale with the screen, are you going to put yours on the left, hint it won't work on mobile? Do you have some magical contact page layout no one has ever seen that will make everyone that sees it give you their email address? No, thats why drag and drop is useless, you don't need that much control.

Small business websites need to work at a higher level, a sales and marketing level. For a person living in the real world, problems are much bigger and less granular.  For example a coffee shop wants to set up an event to get more customers. Notice I said customers, not likes, theres a difference.  That's one "thing", an event that will get customers.  Yes, that "one thing" gets done in several steps...

Create event page
- Set up and log into EventBrite.
- Create description and graphics.
- Set up tickets / rsvp to collect emails for future marketing.
- Get URL for event iframe and social media links.
- Embed iframe into website and you have limited or no control over look and feel.

Promote event using newsletter
- Set up and log into MailChimp.
- Copy existing emails from EventBrite / website or integrate APIs.
- Create a template for the email to match the site and EventBrite.
- Add content and graphics to newsletter.
- Add EventBrite URL and add tracking codes.
- Segment list based on prior event attendance / preference.
- People open email and go to MailChimp / EventBrite, and not your site.
- People opt in on EventBrite and don't participate in your website conversion funnel.

Analyze The Newsletter
- Evaluate tracking codes for MailChimp and EventBrite.
- Go back to MailChimp and adjust campaign to improve conversions.

At The Event And After
- Take photos as marketing materials
- Set up and go to Instagram to post photos
- Add Instagram gallery URL to your own website to send people away from your website.
- Promote Instagram on your newsletter and social media.
- Instagram gets signups then turns around and sells you advertising space to reach your own clients.

All those 3rd party solutions is why most small businesses don't do events on a regular basis, and why all the event ends up doing is promoting not your own website, all the traffic goes to Mailchimp, EventBrite, and Instagram. And drag and drop once again solves none of this. All the coffee shop wanted to do was "one thing", set up an event, and get back to running a business.  Drag and drop made their site so reliant on 3rd party solutions they were doomed before they ever started any real marketing.

Drag and drop, after wasting your time with the illusion of design, forces you to use 3rd party tools, using those tools turns even the simplest task into a complex nightmare, and in the end forces you to market everyone else but your own site. Its not a train you want to get on as a website owner.

If you pay a consultant to market your site, they drag and drop a simple site and quote you marketing budgets that make even setting up a simple event completely unaffordable.  Skip drag and drop and do some real marketing for your small business, I can tell you from experience no amount of website  drag and drop eye candy beats having a sold out event, well maybe doing it consistently every week.

So whats the solution?  For now avoid falling for the drag and drop myth, it's a trend that will mature into a proper small business solution in the next few months.  The key is to pick a website builder based on your day to day marketing needs. A website is an ongoing investment because marketing is an ongoing investment.  Make sure your website builder pays dividends.

Written By: Paul Kenjora

Paul Kenjora is the Product Manager and founder at AwareLabs, a company that provides the next generation website builder for small businesses. He has 10+ years product development experience, has launched sites netting millions of visits a day, and has consulted for fortune 500 companies.