There’s a wide variety of online marketing platforms available to businesses of all sizes, from large corporations to small businesses just getting started. But if you’re looking for a robust platform specifically designed for small businesses, what should you consider? We evaluated seven of the most popular options and determined which one is best suited to your needs.
Wix vs Shopify
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide whether you want a free or paid account. A paid account gives you the flexibility to run ads and place products on store shelves, while a free account only allows you to test out the platform without any charges. You should opt for the paid version if you plan on using the full suite of features.
The next step is to choose your store’s name and domain. You can select a custom domain for your store, or opt for one of the popular pre-made domains such as Shopify (shoptify.com) or WIX (wix.com). Your website’s address, or domain, is crucial to its branding and marketing impact. Having a custom domain also gives you the ability to fully customize the styling of your website. For example, you can change the font, add a logo, and even rewrite the content of your site.
GoDaddy vs Squarespace
Once you have your store set up, the next step is to pick a web host. To create a free account, you’ll need to choose either GoDaddy (godaddy.com) or Squarespace (squarespace.com). Each company offers free plans that will get your store online quickly and cheaply. When it comes to hosting, GoDaddy is the industry standard and one of the most popular choices among small businesses, with a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Google reviews. (There are various other reputable web hosts, but GoDaddy is the cheapest option, and therefore the least expensive to maintain.)
Google vs Hotjar
Next up is the matter of search engine optimization (SEO). If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ll likely have seen SEO pop ups in the form of ads or text links that appear between the products you’re browsing and the top of the page. These are usually accompanied by a colorful graphic depicting a healthy orange fruit—Google’s symbol for “trust” in its “do no evil” messaging. (If you’re curious, the fruit actually represents a graphic of a camel testing a thermometer out by sucking down cool drinks. When the thermometer is at the right level, the fruit turns into a pair of scales with a dollar sign on them.)
The purpose of SEO is to help your business site appear higher in search engine results when a user types in a search query. Google is the most popular search engine with 78.7% of global monthly search traffic, followed by Baidu with 8.2% and Bing with 4.5%. (
As a general rule of thumb, the more relevant and popular your product or service is, the more SEO you’ll need. Luckily for you, we’re marketers, and that’s what we do for a living!
Bluehost vs Hostinger
Once you’ve got your website up and running, the last step is to pick a domain name for your store. For the sake of this tutorial, we’ll use shopifystore.com (you can find this and other examples online).
You’ll need to decide whether you want to use subdomains or dedicated folders within your server to organize your content. A subdomain is a folder within your main domain. For example, if your main domain is example.com, you could create a subdomain called product-reviews.example.com, which would be a URL (uniform resource locator) that points to your review page. Subdomains are easy to manage and don’t require any technical expertise—just pick a domain name that you prefer and install WordPress.
If you’ve never hosted a website before, it’s a good idea to go with a reputable web host that offers a free trial. This way, you can test out the platform and features without risking any damage to your business. (We’ll discuss more about this later in the article.)
Shopify vs BigCommerce
To wrap things up, let’s discuss the difference between Shopify and BigCommerce. Each company’s pricing is completely different—Shopify is a freemium model (meaning there’s a free version and a paid version), while BigCommerce is a paid option. (You can use their free trial to compare the two platforms and see which one is best suited to your needs.)
Shopify is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) available, with a 4.7 out of 5 rating on Google review—and given its popularity, this rating is likely inflated.) Developed by Shopify, Inc., the company behind the popular e-commerce platforms Shopify and Volusion, Shopify is a complete online store management solution, from the creation of your store to the analytics of your business. (For more information on Shopify, check out our comprehensive guide).
BigCommerce is one of the more established e-commerce solutions on the market and was founded by Jeffery Zeldman. The platform allows entrepreneurs and business owners to easily launch an online store with all the bells and whistles—including a shopping basket, shipping options, and a customer FAQ section, among others—right within the dashboard. (For a quick demo, check out this impressive BigCommerce store built by the digital marketing firm Canva.)
Based on your experience with WordPress and the ease of use of Shopify and BigCommerce, which one of these platforms is right for you? If you’re new to online commerce and don’t have much experience, go with BigCommerce. (The more experienced you are, the more you may prefer Shopify.)