Digital Strategy Q&A

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

Working in an agency in a client facing role I get asked a variety of different questions from CEO’s, marketing managers, execs and people looking to get in the industry. Below is a list of questions from people on social media as well as a few I get asked quite regularly.

Hopefully this proves useful and if you have any follow up questions please email me on

Should start-ups establish a presence through WordPress first then bolt on Shopify? Or just get straight into Shopify using the platforms blog function? #DSFAQ John Whalley – LinkedIn

Having a content platform that is shoppable can be very powerful and in my opinion the best entry level content platform is Wordpress, similarly with Shopify from an e-commerce perspective. Deciding on the two options really depends on what you are looking to achieve in the bigger picture; build a content and make some money on the side or concentrate on sales.

Content Hub (..and make a bit of money on the side J)

If you are building content with the main goal to grow engagement, followers and a community online you really want to stick with WordPress or maybe even Wix. The CMS from a content perspective is much stronger and you can use tools like SEO Yoast to really help optimize your content for search engines. The bolt on of a Shopify buy now button, WooCommerce or Wix E-commerce is quite simple to set up so you can start to monetize your content through partnerships, products or premium content. From experience WooCommerce isn’t the best option from a CMS / features perspective and it’s quite fiddley to manage.

Serious about sales

If your main objective is to make money you will find Wordpress as a base platform will only take you so far before you need to invest in a proper e-commerce store, WordPress would usually take up to £5k - £10k annual sales with the plug-in options but after that you will be limited by platform at some point. For some people that figure would be a nice side hustle, for others you will want more and that’s where Shopify comes in.

From my experience Shopify is the best entry level e-commerce product if you are serious about growing a brand / selling product online and the scale is amazing from £0 - £1m+ annual sales. The other main benefit is you get complete freedom to manage the theme (look and feel) or your store and edit lots of elements without the need for a developer. The checkout is pre-built, and hosting is part of the subscription cost plus you have access to a wide range of apps. If I had to be critical about anything on Shopify CMS (it’s difficult because it is great) it would be how you can mass product content and that is really where WordPress has a slight advantage.

Your thought’s on outbrain vs Taboola and ROI? #DSFAQ Myles O’Brien - LinkedIn

We have used Outbrain in the past, for those who don’t know this is a content distribution network that pushes your content and articles into other websites and content hubs. I don’t have any hands-on experience of Taboola but from looking into it looks quite a similar model to Outbrain.

You can push your content out at scale and not a massive cost - we used it for hair and beauty industry, and we got lots of impressions but not a lot of engagement when people visited the website / clicked through to the articles.

My main problem with platforms like this in an ROI conversation is you are just blasting content randomly out through the internet so there isn’t really any sophisticated targeting as to who the audience is. I would be more inclined to take the spend and put it into targeted Facebook / IG ads or display ads in Google AdWords as you can target the audience or Google’s affinity categories and position it on specific sites. So using the hair and beauty example we can target people who have certain interested in Instagram or place creative on Red Magazine, etc to really target the right audience and that will generate more of an ROI.

What’s better for a start-up e-commerce business, Shopify or Magento? #DSFAQ Sian English – Twitter

The best option for a start-up e-commerce business is Shopify in my opinion. The key benefits are all on the website and they go into a lot of detail but all the sales and marketing bull**** aside I genuinely think it’s a great product. You have to pay a subscription fee that covers the platform, hosting and a few other things but it is well worth it and in terms of running costs $29.00 per month is a good deal.

You can import and customize themes which basically means that you can build up from a base for the look and feel which reduces the design / creative requirement and you tweak aspects in the admin area. The apps are great and allows you to connect to GA, Facebook pixel and lots of other marketing applications that don’t require a developer. The product and category management are simple and with an import / export function you can manage the catalogue quite easily.

The list of features goes on and the Magento advocates out there will be screaming at their mobile phone when reading the above because Magento does all of the above and a whole lot more, the problem is you need someone technical or a developer to really make a Magento store work. (particularly M1)

The reason main reason why I recommend Shopify to start up clients is actually nothing to do with features, tech specs, extensions or anything like that – the main reason is it is easy to use and it will give entrepreneurs enough agility to keep them happy whilst they worry about scaling their business.

Most start-ups that I have worked with have a small budget, but high demands and they want to maintain control to an extent, which you can’t blame them for as it is their baby. Magento 2 offers brand a whole host of scalability however getting your first store live and transacting does come at a relatively high cost and from my experience the projects are more complex than a start-up team have the skills to understand and frustration creeps in. I can speak to 5 agencies in Manchester and I would get varying price scales for a M2 store from £15k - £100k+ with some of the gold partners. Even if you are an established business this is a decent sized capital investment in the core business and small fledgling often don’t have close to this budget when trying to get online.

What I would say is that if you have been trading for a period of time and you are looking to go on to the next level Magento 2 is an amazing platform for you to grow and we have many happy clients however they generally have the following criteria:

  • Have been trading online for over 12 months and sales are coming in

  • Minimum £10k project budget to upgrade their site

  • An in-house team of at least 2 who understand e-commerce websites

  • Looking to go onto the “next level”

  • Frustrated with the limitations or time it takes to do things on the website

There are alternatives in the market like Wix e-commerce if you have a really low budget and you are just dipping your toe in the water, they offer a lot of tools where you can build it yourself in the CMS and get online, this is the cheapest solution for those one man bands out there.


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