What was the scope of their involvement?
I've always simplified that how you want to do the marketing – and this is only an oversimplification – is just to keep it simple. It's like hunting for that specific client type. In our segment of the market, it is sharpshooting. First of all, we're B2B, which is very different from B2C. Much of the methodology is the same but, for us, it's very important to find that specific target and then focus on that. One of the means to get to those clients is to make sure that the content on your website is very representative to that.
Pay-per-click is for us not necessarily a means to market. For us, it's very important to be able to have content and worthy news in that specific segment of the market where these people work for prospects that are looking like "I'm a security company. I'm going into this next layer of security products. I'm looking for PR support. I want to get visibility. I have a product, but I don't have the visibility in the market. How do I do that?" That's how they work through search or SEO. SEO is important for us because it's having the right words out of that specific segment in the market where people use that terminology. Get that on your website and get it on the appropriate pages.
That's clearly what Moonstone Interactive helps us with. That, and coming up with a website architecture that is representative of the audiences that we're trying to sell to. That means 95% of these people work on mobile devices. That has led to the point that we needed to have a responsive design, meaning it works very seamlessly whether you're on your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone browsing the site. Response is very important because 95% of the audience will do much of their initial search through the cellphone, and that means that the website on the cellphone needs to be as intuitive and as informative as it is on your desktop. It sounds easy, but it's not that easy.
There are specific products and web platforms in the market that help you with that. In our case – in this whole transition cycle and where we strategized with Moonstone – the question is what is the best platform for us in the market to start building on this. You can go very specific. There are some specific managed platforms that are very structural, or you can go into a more open design like WordPress. WordPress comes into the market with many plug-ins, flexibility, and openness. It follows the trends, but it also comes with a component where, as a webmaster in the company, you need to have a certain baseline of knowledge. That turned out to be the best fit for us, and that was the choice of solution that we worked with on Moonstone Interactive. It's like "Give us a short list of the 3 platforms. Which are the ones you have worked with? Which ones do you have the best experiences with? What would you recommend for us?" This is how we started the project.
How did you come to work with Moonstone Interactive?
We went into an RFP. We did some searching in the market. Another component for us is that we wanted to work with a local company. Very often, you see that there are many companies in the world that offer web design services. Many of them are based in India, China, or other locations. That creates a certain layer of a cultural difference first and foremost, not that that's necessarily a bad thing. But, it creates a barrier. Also, it doesn't allow for face-to-face contact. Building a website and rebranding a website is a very personal and direct type of process. Having Moonstone Interactive in our area of California helps us with getting that personal touch and being able to convey, "This is what we are looking for, and this is what we're into." That helped us a lot with making the project happen very quickly. There were not numerous iterations back and forth because we knew exactly what we needed from each other and got that project complete in 3 or 4 months, which is relatively fast for a new website. That's what has helped us when working with them.
We send out an RFP to 3 or 4 agencies that would fit our criteria. We wanted to have somebody in the United States – preferably on the West Coast. We wanted to have somebody who has multiple platforms – from very structural platforms into something more public domain and open like WordPress – and had experience with them. We also wanted them to be able to consult with us on the more advanced areas of SEO. I just didn't want to have a website built only. Doing SEO comes with a lot of knowledge and know-how but also what can you do and advise us about from a plug-in perspective. That way, I don't have to bring in an SEO expert every month to do it. I wanted them to be able to offer the tools out there that I can plug them into my website and do that for me.
Then, throughout this process, we did interviews. People came up with their proposals. Price was a consideration as part of the fit within that criteria. We found we had the best vibe with Moonstone.
How much have you invested with Moonstone Interactive?
The original set up of the project was roughly between $35,000 and $40,000. That sounds like a lot, particularly if you compare that to some cheaper offers that you can get from an Indian website development company, which can build a website for $9,000 or less. However, you likely do not get the functionality you need at that price. Rarely will it be as responsive, dynamic, or have the proper support capabilities. We are a 24x7x365-type of company. Uptime is important for us. If we do not have a website that is up and running, potential prospects and clients will look at us and say, "Are you a serious company? We require PR services from you that need to be available at all times." That also means that our website needs to be there, too. That's where you make a difference. We're sort in the mid-range. We're not a multinational company. Those have all sorts of different requirements. But, we do have this mid-range requirement, and that determines that you need to work with a solid platform, work with a set of plug-ins, and need to make sure that your maintenance is in order.
The ongoing monthly cost is roughly around $600 to $700, which is not much money. Imagine that an ongoing rate for any expert in any application is around $200 per hour. That gives me enough of a support level that I can have them available for 2 or 3 hours. It saves me a lot of time that way, and I don't have to hire anybody. This would almost be a full-time position, and I don't have to do that now. I can manage it with the help of Moonstone Interactive.
I think what you do is set up the site initially with it, and then there is an ongoing maintenance part. That depends whether you're going to host this through Moonstone Interactive or not. They have a certain set of packages that allow you a certain amount of support. I'm fairly technical. I have a technical background. I know what plug-ins do. My time is determined by other projects that occur within the company as head of marketing, operations, and systems. There's always something going on, or things need to be done, such as the website needs to be refreshed, the plug-in needs to be updated, or the new content page and landing page need to be there, and I just don't have the time to do it. But, there is this marketing requirement that makes sure that, next Monday, this thing needs to be up and running. Therefore, in this manner, what I can do is pick up the phone, talk to Moonstone, and say "Can you do this for me?"
With my agreement with them, I get a certain amount of hours of support per month, which is mostly for maintenance. They do the backups, schedule, antivirus, and make sure that the passwords are all set up. There's a lot of safety that is taken out of my hands. That helps me massively with my operational tasks.
What is the status of this engagement?
It's been an ongoing thing for the past two years. Besides the initial approach and setting up our website for us based on the criteria, we have a sister company that actually works on video production content called Promotion Studios. We also built their website through Moonstone with them. It was a follow-up project. We have an annual maintenance in agreement with them, too.