The value of software tools to make your business life easier

In the face of the day to day challenges of getting your ‘business-brain’ back into gear after the Christmas and New Year hiatus.  I thought it might be interesting to look at some ideas that can help make your business life easier.

Regular readers will know of my admiration of Peter Drucker and his pithy quotes encapsulating so many truisms of business. Possibly my favourite is this:

 "The two most valuable functions of a business: Innovation & Marketing. 
These are the only two functions that contribute to profit.
All others are costs."

Given that a key objective is (normally!) to sustain and develop your business, I think Drucker’s quote gives some insight into ways it may be a little easier to do this. If it is the marketing and innovation functions that are the primary drivers to sustaining and growing your business, then maybe this is where you should focus? If you can reduce the demands of the rest of your business, maybe this can make things easier?

Cost: more than just money

When we think of cost, it is only natural that we think of cash, yet money is not the only consideration.

Businesses are based on 2 fundamental resources. money and TIME. I come across many businesses where the owner concentrates on saving money with no thought to the potential time cost.

The danger of this approach is that any financial savings are swallowed up by the time cost of having to work less efficiently. Savings are only real if you reduce the combined demands for money and time.

Technology – we just want it to work!

Over the past 20 years or so, technology has hugely changed the way we run our businesses. The internet and new software applications have brought opportunities that were inconceivable in the 1980s and ’90s. But these opportunities can come with an Achilles heel – particularly if you focus too much on saving money.

A common marketing approach with many web-based apps is the ‘Free Version’.  You get to use the software at no cost. This may be fine to start with but the more you use it – and the more you come to rely on it, the greater the problem.

Most ‘Free’ software has limited functionality at some level. If you find you use an application regularly but run up against the ‘Free’ limitations, you can end up spending more and more time trying to work around the restriction. Any benefit you gained in the first place gets wasted by your distraction in trying to keep it free. The problem is exacerbated when it comes to technical support. Understandably, Free software has little or no technical support – maybe a few online blog posts but rarely more. If you have technical problems with your free software you can find yourself completely stuck with no place to turn.

When it comes down to it, the best software tools are the ones we don’t really notice. We just want them to work!

Business needs investment

Whatever you may think, you cannot run your business for nothing. Every business, however small, needs some level of investment.  Rather than fixating on keeping software free, sometimes, moving to the paid-for version is a sensible move. This said, I would always advise using apps that have a wide user base and extensive, positive reviews. If you are committing to some software, you want it to stick around and be developed.

Often the cost is only modest – less than a sandwich a week. You will remove restrictions meaning you can use the software as much as you need to for the benefit of your business rather than spending time struggling to stay within arbitrary limits. You will normally also open the door to professional technical support. Fixing issues becomes s0omebody else’s problem while you concentrate on your business.

A word on Open Source software

There is some fantastically successful open source software out there, developed by a community of coders for altruistic rather than commercial motives. Surely this is ideal if you are looking for a free solution? In theory, yes, but in practice, most really successful open source software has been commercialised, at least to an extent. Also, by its very nature, open-source tends to be the realm of techies. If you want to use it you need to know what you are talking about. Not ideal for the average small business.

Focus on what is important

By embracing good, professional software tools, you can get on with the regular tasks in your business more quickly and easily. You are safe in the knowledge that when things break (they inevitably do!) it is in the interests of the developers to make sure they are fixed quickly while you carry on with your own business.

By streamlining routine tasks, investing in effective systems to free up your time, you gain the freedom to get on with the innovation and marketing that are the things to really drive your business forward.

You know what is important in your business. You also know which are the time-consuming tasks that distract you from focusing on the important tasks. Maybe a modest investment can help you redress the balance? Perhaps it is worth taking a look?

The Power of Dashboards

Marketing data is everywhere these days and allows deep insight into the workings of your marketing campaigns. With this plethora of data comes the issue of information overload. It is often difficult to see the wood for the trees.

In my view there are two key issues:

  1. Data Overload – there are so many metrics available, how do you focus on the important ones?
  2. Data fragmentation – each platform will have its own set of analytics making it difficult to see a joined-up view of all metrics.

It is these two issues that I explore in this post; looking at how a marketing dashboard can go a long way to addressing them.

Seeing the Wood, Clearing the Trees

The first thing that a dashboard will do is to allow you to pick out the key analytics, and display them in an easy to read format.

Most people will be aware of Google Analytics. Whilst being a fantastic platform for getting an insight into how people are interacting with your website Google’s data is not that easy to read. The sheer variety of statistics available makes getting a clear picture of you marketing’s effectiveness challenging.

For example, Google Analytics will tell you how many visitors you are getting, and where they are coming from. However, having your website visitor numbers broken down by source and charted month by month, makes it much easier to see what’s going on.

Furthermore, by pulling data into a dashboard, you isolate it from all the other metrics making it much easier to read.

And you are not just limited to charts. You can display data in many different formats, for example, tables, maps, and my favourite; the gauge.

Say for instance you are running a pay per click campaign. You could set up a gauge showing how much each conversion (enquiry for example) is costing you in advertising. Making it very easy to see if you are on target and that your advertising is being cost effective.

 

Bringing it all together

The other issue is the wide variety of platforms and the fact they all have their own analytics systems. Whilst you can see some external data in Google Analytics, this is limited to the number of visits to your site. Whilst key data, I believe you need to be “joined-up”. To achieve this you are going to need stats from the other platforms and having to switch from Google, to LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter…. to get the information can become tiresome.

Here again, dashboards are great as they allow you to use the APIs supplied by the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook to bring their data into a central dashboard. What’s more, the dashboard systems usually have connections set up with the main platforms. So usually all you need to access the data is your login to the relevant platform.

Another great use of guauges is to monitor activity on social media platforms. Say for example you have a target of posting 5 tweets a week or 2 LinkedIn posts per month. You can set up a guauge to monitor the number of posts on a platform in a given period. That way it is possible to check, at a glance, whether you are on target.

Data at your fingertips

Metrics and analysis are incredibly valuable. But remembering what you looked at last time, and how you access the data, means that reviewing marketing metrics often gets forgotten. Usually reviewed only when you have time, or when there is an issue.

There is a bit of work to do in setting up a dashboard. But once done, the data is easily available whenever you need it.  It will also be in exactly the same format as last time you looked.

The system we use – Klipfolio also allows you to permanently display your dashboards on big wall screens, so the data is there for you without even having to go and look for it.

If you would like to explore the power of dashboards, we would love to hear from you. So please feel free to get in touch

 

 

B2B E-mail in the GDPR world

As with all posts on the subject, I must start it by saying that I am not a legal expert. This blog should be read in light of that knowledge.

We are now just over 12 months since GDPR came into force. From the outset, it was suggested that the new regulations would have a significant impact on E-mail Marketing.

The ironic thing is that GDPR did not actively change the rules on e-mail marketing. Regulations in this area were set out years earlier in the e-privacy directive in 2002. Since then you have needed Opt-in in for consumer emails, and a clear opt-out for B2B campaigns. GDPR did not change that. What it did do however was re-enforce the burden of proof re consumer opt-ins. In broad terms, B2B email regulations were not altered. B2B email without a specific opt-in is still permitted where there is a “Legitimate interest” in doing so.

GDPR 12 months on

So, 12 months on, where do we stand?

For B2C campaigns, the burden of proof regarding opt-in now means that double opt-in, where subscribers confirm their intention, is the only real option. This post focuses however to B2B campaigns, the arena where most of our readers sit.

In B2B email, GDPR actually changed very little. When operating in markets where customer relationships go beyond simple email communications, and where broader relationships mean that strict double opt-in would become intrusive and unworkable, sending well-targeted emails to a contact group who are likely to be interested in your content, and where there is a clear and functional system for opting out (unsubscribing) is still perfectly legitimate.

Beyond the rules – attitudes have changed

However, post-GDPR, attitudes to email have changed. Not so much amongst recipients but rather in the minds of the companies supplying e-mail marketing solutions. In the eyes of these organisations, double opt-in is now the default. Whilst this may be appropriate given their focus on consumer markets, it can deliver challenges for legitimate B2B email marketers.

For these people it has shifted the attitude to e-mail, focusing squarely on quality, not quantity, and identifying email as a tool predominantly for communicating with people who already know who you are. The quality of your list is now, more than ever, critical to maintaining deliverability.

The best way to ensure this quality is to use double opt-in where you can be 100% sure that emails are accurate. However, where this is not possible, e-mail verification systems (we use one called kickbox.io), and the careful monitoring of bounces are key to maintaining list and data quality.

In conclusion

So, where are we 12 months on from GDPR? I think it has changed B2B e-mail marketing placing the focus squarely on quality rather than quantity, and forcing people to think about exactly how it is used, and who they target.

I think it has also increased the importance of Social Media (Especially LinkedIn in B2B markets) as a tool for reaching out more widely to your target market. But that is another post!

Free Protx Integration for UK Business Forum Members

BSA Marketing have recently been accepted as a Protx Partner. Protx is one of the UK’s leading e-commerce payment gateway providers. The system is inexpensive, and very easy to integrate with the CRE loaded e-commerce Platform. To launch this, and to support ukbusinessforums.co.uk (a great place to get help on a wide range of business matters), if you are a member of the forum, and you apply for your protx account through us, we will integrate the gateway into your CRE or OsCommerce e-commerce system for free (Normally £75+VAT). Find out more about Protx (now SagePay) or Apply for an account here. If you are not a forum member, you can find out how to join here

Number 1 on Google within 24 hours – NO, NOT one of THOSE ads!

Number 1 on GoogleMarketing is not a 1-trick pony

There are many business owners who live in the misapprehension:

If I can get to Number 1 on Google my business will succeed

This is a nice idea that quietly sidelines a number of important questions, such as:

  1. Do people really search for the term(s) where I rank #1?
  2. Are the people who search part of my target audience?
  3. Are searchers actually looking for the products/services I can supply?
  4. Does my website tell the right messages when people visit?

Many of you will know my mantra: Marketing is a process NOT an event. The ideas above demonstrate this. There are many elements you need to consider as part of a marketing process, and most of these or not ‘fit & forget’. They need regular work. If you do achieve high ranking on search engines, your position can slip. You need to keep your website updated. This means regular, new, relevant, engaging content. Furthermore, a business should market across a range of channels, using a range of tools. You should not rely on just one approach. Over-reliance on Google Search catches out many businesses every time Google updates their algorithms.  This post from searchenginejournal.com makes interesting reading 

Number 1 on Google within 24 hours

Right, I have had my say about not relying on any single marketing tool. Yet, at the same time, you should aim to get the best results from each marketing tool you choose. Let’s look at an example that happened recently for a client using Google Ads as part of their marketing mix. As with many BSA clients, their business is niche, targeting specific services to specific target markets. This sometimes presents a problem when picking target keywords for a campaign. If you select a fairly general keyword which gets lots of searches, it can need a high bid to get your Ad to appear on page 1 of rankings. Worse, most of the people searching won’t be looking for your niche product/service. As a result, you end up with the double-whammy of paying high click-fees for poor quality traffic. Obvious, I hear you say, don’t use general keywords. Instead, just target very specific terms that relate exactly to your offering. Arguably, SME businesses should (almost) never use general keywords. Better to target for highly relevant keywords/phrases. They will typically drive better quality traffic at lower click cost. Often this can be a successful strategy, one that we recommend and is used by several clients but sometimes even this falls short.  A client of BSA currently uses Google Ads as one of their marketing tools. However, some of their services are very niche. This can present a problem.

SEO and YOAST to the rescue

If a keyword or phrase is so specific that not many people actually search for it, Google may decide that even though it is an eligible word/phrase, the search frequency is low to the point that they don’t feel it is worth displaying ads! This may be even though those few people who are searching are EXACTLY the potential customers you are looking for. This is exactly the problem faced by our client – and on the Google Ads platform, there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it. This problem meant we needed to think laterally. If the search term is so specific that very few people searched for it then maybe not many people optimised natural search for the term on their website either? Readers will know that we are great fans of WordPress and the Search Optimisation tools available with the Yoast plugin which proved its worth here too. On the client’s (WordPress) website we went to the relevant service page, checked Yoast was installed and fired it up. Setting our preferred (and v specific) search phrase, Yoast made several recommendations as to how we could optimise the page content. We followed the recommendations and adapted a couple of others until we were happy we had the balance of content that read well and a ‘Green Light’ from Yoast (Yoast users will know what I mean!) The final step was to publish our updated page and then wait for the Google Algorithm to do its thing.

The outcome

Past experience is that it can be at least a few days if not a week or more before changes get picked up by Google but this time it was quicker (perhaps because it was such a niche term?). The day after we posted the new content, our client’s website is ranking #1 for the search phrase we used. It is possible to get a #1 ranking on Google within 24 hours and it doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Now we just need to try to keep it there – but that is another story. Like I said, a process NOT an event.

How effective is your Marketing?

Targeting your marketing & measuring effectiveness through Google Analytics is key to modern marketing. So I thought it would be worth a post looking in more detail at Events in Google Analytics. Wilst I am not planning to write a detailed tutorial on how to set up event tracking (you can find that here), I want to look at the power of tracking events as part of your marketing strategy.

What are events

In google analytics, an event is any action that a visitor may take on your website. For example:

  • Filling in and submitting a web form
  • Viewing a video
  • clicking a link
  • downloading a pdf
  • Placing something in their cart

The list is endless and as such, tracking events can be a very powerful tool in your marketing kit-bag.

Where do you find them

Event Statistics can be found in Google Analytics under Behaviour -> Events in the Google Analytics menu. This section will be blank until you set up some event tracking tags. This is done using the Google Tag Manager. You will find details on how to set it up here on setting this up here.

How can you use Events

Being able to track when people perform specific actions on your site, you can easily monitor the effectiveness of your marketing activities. Lets look at a couple of Examples: You are running an ad campaign on Google, with the objective of directly generating enquiries through a form on your website. By setting up a google analytics event to capture when someone completes & submit the form, you will be able to track these trough Google Analytics, and see exactly how much each enquiry is costing you. You Have a video on your site, you are thinking of investing in more, but want to know if people are watching it. With video it is possible to capture detailed stats through event tracking, like are people playing the video, and if so, how much of the video are they watching. Monitoring this over time, you will be able to see if the video on your site is of interest to people, and thus is it worth creating more content. You are getting people to your eCommerce site, but not getting orders You can set up an event to trigger at various stages of the buying process for example to see if people are putting things in their cart. That way, you can start to diagnose where the stumbling blocks are.

The World is your Oyster

Hopefully you can start to see that when trying to measure the effectiveness of your marketing, Events are very powerful. If you wanting to dig deeper into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, then I suggest you check them out in more detail. If you can see how events might be useful, but would like some help incorporating them into your marketing, we would be happy to help.    

We almost lost our Google Partner status and we are delighted

We got an email from Google recently informing us that we were about to lose our Google Partner status – The reason,  not that we had, under performed or let certifications laps, it was simply because we were delivering for the clients and making their Google Advertising more efficient. Let’s take a look at this in a bit more detail: The client in question was spending 4 figures per month on Google advertising, and whilst cost effective, they felt it could be more efficient. They therefore asked us to review the account and make recommendations. As a result of this, once we had implemented the recommendations, mainly focusing keywords, and increasing quality scores by focusing of adverts & improving landing pages, we were able to reduce cost per enquiry by over 50% whilst increasing number of enquiries coming through via Goggle Advertising. As a result, the clients spend with Adwords was more than halved. It was this reduction, that put our partner status at risk. The fact is, we delivered for the client. Something that is infinitely more important to us that our partner status with Google, so we are delighted with the result.

WordPress Hosting from BSA

WordPress is a great business and marketing tool, and as anyone who reads our blog regularly will know, we are big fans. However nothing is perfect, and WordPress does have a couple of shortcomings.

WordPress can be quite resource hungry

WordPress is an open source platform. Whilst this gives many advantages, it does mean that, whilst being incredibly flexible, it is not the most efficient piece of software on the market. As a result one criticism that can be levelled is that sites based on WordPress can be a little slow, especially when running more complex eCommerce systems. As with anything though, there is a solution, and that is to choose the right host. WordPress will run on pretty much any hosting package that offers PHP and a MySQL Database, but many hosting packages will have high contention rates (Lots of sites on a single server), and with no control over the other sites on the server, this can mean that your WordPress website becomes a little sluggish.

The BSA Solution

Because 90% of the sites managed by us are built in WordPress, we make sure that our hosting is designed with the platform in mind. Furthermore, because we are 100% business focused we appreciate that one solution will not fit every situation. For this reason, we offer 3 levels of hosting from a simple low cost offering, through shared hosting optimised for WordPress, to VPS hosting on our own private server. With these 3 options it is always going to be a solution that fits your needs.

What about Security

With WordPress powering nearly 30% of the sites on the internet (and a 50% share of the CMS market), its no surprise that it is a target for hackers. Whilst this can cause issues, with some forethought & careful management, it need not be a reason to miss out on the many benefits that WordPress offers.

The BSA Solution

We have been running WordPress websites for many years (our own website has been on the platform since 2008), so we have some experience of WordPress, and how to manage it. As a result we have 4 golden rules for keeping a site secure:

  1. Be Careful what plugins & themes you use – Most vulnerabilities in WordPress are introduced through plugins & themes some of which are poorly written & maintained. By being careful to only use well respected, and well maintained plugins, you can keep these risks to a minimum.Some of the better plugins are charged for, and we actually think this is a good thing, as it encourages developers to update & maintain their software. Because we run many sites using the same plugins, in many cases we have multi site licences for these plugins. We are therefore able to use them on clients sites, and include the cost in the monthly hosting fees. Our experience also means that we are happy to advise clients when they are considering using a plugin on their site.
  2. Make sure it is up to date – Because WordPress has a huge user base, when vulnerabilities do get identified,  fixes are usually created and published very quickly. WordPress also has a great system for notifying you of updates, and applying them is as simple as clicking a button.Keeping your site up to date is the best way to protect against vulnerabilities in the WordPress code.
  3. Run a good security plugin to keep the hackers out – We run a plugin called Wordfence on all our sites. Wordfence uses the fact that it is deployed on a huge network of sites (Over 2 million at last count) to spot threats as soon as they appear and as once it identifies a threat (or after 30 days for the free version), it will roll out a defence against it to all the sites on its network. Furthermore, the plugin allows scanning of sites against standard file sets & known malware, so if your site does get compromised you know as quickly as possible.The final thing that Wordfence will do is protect your site against brute force attacks by monitoring it for suspicious activity (people trying to access non existent pages or trying to log in with incorrect credentials), and will automatically ban offenders.Whilst there are other security plugins available, in our experience Wordfence offers a good balance between functionality & cost.Running a good security plugin like WordPress is a great second line of defence.
  4. Back up your site regularly – No defences are perfect, and no matter what precautions you take, there is always the risk that the worst happens, and your site gets hacked. At this point, if you have a good backup routine, getting your site up and running should be as simple as restoring a clean backup.

BSA Website Hosting Plus

As experts in managing WordPress websites, we have come up with 3 levels of hosting,  based on the 4 principals above. £15 per month* – This is our basic hosting package on a standard shared server. This low cost option is perfect for those that need a website, but don’t need anything fancy. At this level, we will host your website, back it up regularly. The rest is up to you. £35 per month* – This is our most popular option. In addition to the above, this will give you access to a range of premium plugins used commonly on website (eg Gravity forms, Advanced custom fields Pro Wordfence Premium, many Woo Commerce add ons, to name a few) We can also offer discounts on other premium WordPress plugin licences. In addition, the site will be hosted on a server optimised for WordPress. Whilst still a public shared server, this can offer a significant speed benefit over standard shared hosting. We will also include an ssl as standard, so your site is reported as “secure” by browsers £60 per month* – Our top level of hosting is on our private managed server. At this level, we have 100% control over the hosting environment & the sites running on it. Furthermore, sites on this server are monitored every 15 minutes, so as soon as there is an issue with the site, our technical teams are notified and able to address the situation quickly. If non of these fit – Whilst one of these options is likely to meet the requirements of most people, we recognise that sometimes, requirement may be different, and we are always happy to work with clients to create a hosting environment that works for you.

Run your business, let us run your WordPress website

If you run a WordPress site, and would like to talk to us about hosting, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you. (* all prices quoted ex VAT)

Looking to the future of the WordPress editor

In a recent post, I talked about the concept of page builders and mentioned Gutenberg – The new editor coming to WordPress later in the year. As a follow up, I found a video from a recent wordpress conference that talks about Gutenberg, and how it will integrate with WordPress to make site customisation & editing easier, couple this with the Yoast Plugin, and you have a great system for creating engaging content optimised for search engines like Google. I thought you might find it interesting:

 

Technology delivers usability – At a price

Let’s get one thing straight: websites, and the technologies that drive them, are getting increasingly complex. As are the demands that businesses put on them. Back in 1999 when we produced our first website (thank you wayback Machine), anyone with a text editor and a how to book on HTML could create a website. But a site that would – by today’s standards, be considered rudimentary at best.. Fast forward 19 years, and the websites have moved on. As has the technology and complexity of the systems driving them. Whilst this means that websites are now capable of much more, the skills & knowledge needed to create than have also expanded beyond “html for dummies“. Fortunaly, as is often the case much of this complexity can now be handled by a friendly user interface. In this way fully functioning websites can be created with the need even to resort to HTML code.

Enter WordPress Pagebuilders

A Page-builder is basically a WordPress plugin that allows you to manage the layout and content of your site using a friendly drag & drop/fill in the boxes interface. It will then convert this into the code needed to display your site correctly. As with most plugins, there are many options out there if you want to use a page builder. After some research, we have come up with 2 that we are focusing on:

WP Bakery, was one of the first page builders, and is bundled with a number of themes. It is therefore worth consideration. For our money though, Elementor seems to be the better option. There is even a page builder that is being considered for addition to the WordPress core – Gutenberg –  Whilst this is rudimentary at present, the fact that it has WordPress behind it means it is definitely one to watch. It is currently expected to make an appearance in the WordPress core later this year. Whichever page builder you choose, there are a number of things to consider. Hence we have decided to look at the pros & cons of using a page builder over getting a WordPress template custom coded from Scratch.

Pagebuilders – Pros

  1. They simplify the process of creating & managing page layouts – This is pretty much the nuumber one reason for using a page builder, they alow you to create professional page layouts using a verity of technologies including jquery and css animations & effects without the need for any coding knowledge.
  2. They give more content control to non-technical users – Using a page builder allows non technical users to manage their content without needing to resort to “coding”. Once you understand how the page-builder works, you should be able to manage the content on your website without trouble.
  3. They Allow focus on Marketing rather than tech – As we have stated in another of this weeks posts Technology should be the servant not the master. Pagebuilders do tame the technology, and so allow you to focus on creating & delivering the marketing message, putting you rather than the techies back in control.
  4. They handle the  visual complexity in your site within a plugin – Typically a pagebuilder is a wordpress plugin, thus using them to drive your layout & content allows you to use a basic theme (What is a WordPress Theme?) as a starting point. This means that all the complexity in the site is kept in one place (Plugins). In our experience, because they are more general & less influenced by fashion, plugins tend to be better supported, updated more regualrly, and become obsolete less quickly. Thus keeping the complexity in your site with the plugin arena is a good move.

OK, so those are the reasons to use a page builder, but what about the reasons not to.

Pagebuilder – Cons

  1. They restrict flexibility of detailed layout tweaks – Because the page-builder adds a layer of flexibility & complexity into the site layout, it is much more difficult to edit the site layout directly. This means that changes to the core content & layout have to be done via the page-builder removing the ability to simply add bespoke functionality. In reality not a major issue, but you have to accept the limitations of  the page-builder. Whilst additional custom coding can sit along side page-builder content. There is no doubt that it’s inclusion does place restrictions on the way a site can be developed.
  2. Adds reliance on third party support (of Pagebuilder creators) – by using a page-builder, you are relying on this being supported by the plugin’s developers, and requiring those developers to maintain & update the plugin into the future. Whilst not an issue in its self, you do need to choose carefully when deciding which page-builder to use. You must also have confidence that the support will be there when you need it.
  3. They are an additional layer of complexity – As with anything, ease of use for the end user means complexity hidden elsewhere. In this case, the page-builder is acting as an interface translating the drag & drop actions of the user into code that makes up the web page. This added complexity creates additions potential for issues & conflicts with other elements of the site. This is the key reasons to select a page-builder with a good track record for support.
  4. There is no (realistic) going back – or is there? – Once you start using a page-builder, you are pretty much committed to using your chosen builder into the future. Another reason why support is key!. Being WordPress, there is always the option to switch to a new theme & rebuild the layout of the site, and whilst the content would be unaffected, it would require a fair bit of work, so this definitely needs consideration when selecting to use a page builder.

In Conclusion

If you want to maximise control over your site layout without the need for support from a more technical partner, then a page-builder may be the answer. However, having support from someone who understands WordPress is valuable. As is someone who can offer direct technical back up when you need it. Even if you do decide to use a page-builder. It’s the 80:20 rule. 80% of the time, you will probably be able to deliver great professional results using WordPress & a page-builder like Elementor, but for the 20% of the time when you want to do something a bit extra, outside the capabilities of the drag and drop, then having someone on the end of a phone to assist is invaluable. If that person also understands you business& marketing objectives, all the better.