If you operate a business today, you know you need more than just a website. Especially as a professional service provider, like an accountant or business coach, your clients expect online resources to simplify the transaction. Your website needs a full suite of integrations and features to serve your market and build your brand.
SmartSites is a digital marketing agency that offers search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising, and custom website design. They are an award-winning company with a solid track record among clients.
But do they offer the kinds of conversion, communication, and client tools you need to succeed in today's online world? We review whether SmartSites’ web design and other services can help you communicate with leads, meet clients' expectations, and edge out your competitors — for a reasonable price.
What is SmartSites?
SmartSites is a digital marketing agency and web design company founded in 2011 by brothers Alex and Michael Melen, who still serve as CEO and COO, respectively. The company has grown to a team of more than 365 staff members across six offices who can build new websites, manage PPC campaigns, and launch long-term SEO strategies.
Since it started, SmartSites has earned several industry awards, including being named as one of Inc. 500's list of America's fastest-growing companies for six years. It’s also certified as a Google Microsoft, HubSpot, and Facebook Partner, as well as Zapier Certified Expert.
What features does SmartSites include?
Today, SmartSites is a full-package digital marketing agency, but initially, it was primarily focused on custom web design. Over the years, the company has grown to offer a full suite of digital marketing services, including design, search engine marketing, and PPC.
The SmartSites team can build a website on several different platforms. They work with Joomla, Magento, WordPress, HubSpot, BigCommerce, Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace, just to name a few.
Their website creation process involves research into your competitors, keyword analysis, developing SEO web copy, and more. The vast majority of their websites are custom-built from the code up. But, for tight budgets and simple designs, they do offer website templates. SmartSites promises that its web design delivers fast loading speeds, security, Google Analytics, and technical support.
Search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO)
The SmartSites SEO team says they focus on transparency and long-term success. They employ a number of the top SEO tools, including Ahrefs, Moz, Spyfu, and Supermetrics, to provide detailed reporting and monthly metrics.
Every campaign is curated to the unique needs of the business, but some of the possible SEO components include:
- SEO analysis
- Technical SEO audit
- SEO consulting
- Blogging services
- Digital PR
- SEO copywriting
- Link building
- Mobile SEO
- Website migration
SmartSites is well-versed in online advertising, using proprietary tools to launch PPC campaigns, monitor audience engagement, and manage ad spending. They can support your advertising efforts across the following platforms and others:
- Google ads
Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
Conversion rate optimization is about getting new and old customers alike to convert once they visit your website. CRO often includes off-site strategies as well.
While every CRO package is different, SmartSites tends to focus on email and SMS marketing. They can include any and all of the following for their customers:
- Growing an email list
- Custom email templates
- Email campaigns
- Custom email flows
- Email calendar
- SMS and messenger
How much does SmartSites cost?
SmartSites, unfortunately, doesn't offer any public pricing on its services, even for those that are reoccurring, like SEO and PPC. If you have questions about any of their offerings, you'll have to fill out a short contact form and set up a free consultation with one of their sales reps.
If you’re not ready to schedule a sales call, a few trusted review websites, including G2 and Clutch, can offer insight into typical project costs for SmartSites range of services.
As per Clutch, most websites cost between $10,000 to $49,000, with a few smaller projects coming in under $10,000. G2 provides us with a bit more intel into SmartSites’ rate for web design, which is apparently $125 per hour.
Search engine marketing and optimization (SEM and SEO)
Regarding SEO, a typical ongoing monthly charge for this (according to G2) is at least $2,000. However, most reports on Clutch tell us that SEO can range from under $10,000 to $49,000, which would make sense for a longer-term SEO strategy if you are paying $2,000 a month.
Customer reviews have suggested PPC campaigns fall into roughly the same price range as SEO services: $10,000 to $49,000. However, according to G2, the monthly investment for PPC work starts at $500. It needs to be clarified if this includes ad spend as well, but based on prices among competitors, this is likely a separate price.
Who is SmartSites best suited for?
SmartSites paints a very broad stroke in terms of website specialty. They mention B2B, B2C, ecommerce, nonprofit, and industrial as just a few industries they specialize in. So, basically, everyone.
Are they the best option for any of these industries when it comes to price, features, and design? Unfortunately, their website design is simple at best. Even their custom websites seem to stick to a very basic set of pages — Services, About, FAQ, and Contact — without much customization.
Most reports tell us that the majority of SmartSites websites cost $10,000 or more. But it's hard to understand why, considering the limited features and basic designs showcased in their portfolio.
Neither their custom nor their templated sites appear to offer the tools and features that are now necessary for businesses operating online. So if you want to provide online payment processing, scheduling, contract signing, or even live chat, you may need to look elsewhere.
At B12, we build professional websites for service providers that don't skimp on design or functionality. With an AI-powered template generator and a team of design, SEO, and copywriting experts, we make sure your clients can find you online, book your services, and pay invoices. Plus, our packages come with easy-to-use conversion tools, website analytics, and client engagement solutions.
All of this takes less time than if you built it yourself, and it costs significantly less than what SmartSites charges. Making updates is easy too. Log in and do it yourself using the simple B12 Editor, or request that an expert makes updates for you.
What are the pros and cons of using SmartSites?
How good are SmartSites's pre-built website templates?
Although it's not really something SmartSites advertises, they can create websites based on templates, specifically for WordPress. Their online portfolio showcases 21 distinct templates for a wide range of industries, from nonprofits to home services to hair salons.
Their custom website designs are often extremely responsive, but most of their templates don't meet the same standard. Plus, we found it challenging to really investigate the quality of their template designs.
Unlike their custom design portfolio, which provides linked examples, their template portfolio is strictly just images. Not only are the screenshots small, but many also don't seem to represent businesses still in operation. We could find only a few of these companies online to explore how the designs function in the real world.
The websites we did find were slow to load and the designs were extremely dated. Just a simple header menu and a few standard pages like Services, About, and Contact.
Nowhere did we see any conversion tools, like online scheduling, real-time engagement with chats, or website pop-ups. Although these simple templates may have worked in the past, online businesses need more today to meet their clients’ expectations.
For organizations that love the affordability of website template designs, do they have to forfeit the tools that attract, win, and serve customers? Absolutely not.
B12 is a web builder that uses a powerful AI to generate professional layouts based on your specific industry and goals, and then helps you generate more leads and serve clients with online tools like invoicing, online contracts, and scheduling. We prove that you don't have to sacrifice aesthetics, function, or client experience.
Does SmartSites offer copywriting, design, or technical support?
As a higher-end digital marketing agency, SmartSites does offer a la carte copywriting as well as design work and technical support. With that said, it's hard to find any specifics on these services via their website.
According to their designated SEO copywriting page, SmartSites "can handle all aspects of your SEO copywriting activities," which presumably means web copy, keyword research, integration, and more. On another page, they also mention providing content writing, including proofreading services, but the details remain fuzzy.
Clearly, SmartSites can design a website, either as a custom project or with a WordPress template. But they also seem to offer other design services, including:
- Logo design
- Graphic design
- Print designs
- Custom web development
One can assume that a company with many positive reviews like SmartSites must offer decent technical support. With that in mind, it seems likely that SmartSites quickly addresses technical and performance issues with professionalism.
However, we can’t find any specifics about the support they offer. When are they available? How fast does their team respond? How much do they charge per hour or per maintenance package? You'll have to schedule a sales call to find out.
What are some SmartSites alternatives for small businesses?
According to customer reviews, SmartSites’ core competencies revolve around all things digital marketing, like SEO, SEM, and PPC.
But what about website design? Their websites are functional and professional, but even their custom designs feel basic. At least from their available portfolio, only some of their examples showcase customer conversion and retention features. The same goes for client management tools.
These features should be included for the price tag of their custom websites.
Suppose you’re a professional service provider, whether a business consultant, mortgage broker, or financial advisor. You know that clients now expect most of your professional interactions to happen online. Often, they don't want to visit your office, speak over the phone, or even interact via email. Your website needs to facilitate instant online booking, payment processing, and intake form submission.
Of course, you can find other custom web design agencies that build out these services for you, but you'll also be paying well over $10,000, depending on the company you choose. Plus, you'll likely have to pay additional fees for integrating all the third-party applications into your website.
B12 offers an alternative solution, using AI and experts to launch your website in 30 days. It's a professional, search-optimized site with payments, scheduling, chat, and all the tools you need to sell your services and get paid.
With no credit card required, answer a few questions and see a free draft of your new website in 60 seconds.
SmartSites review summary
SmartSites offers a wide variety of marketing services, but the majority of their focus isn't on web design. As per Clutch, only 10% of their customers these days are for web development. Instead, the vast majority of their business is SEO and PPC.
This is one of many reasons why we think there are better options out there for small businesses. SmartSites’ focus lies elsewhere. And their website designs fail to impress.
From what we experienced, their websites were slow to load, dated in appearance, and didn't have any additional features to help serve clients online.
Perhaps because their business model now focuses so much on digital marketing (Google Ads, SEO, and other services), they spend less energy on evolving their traditional web design model.
Thankfully, small businesses don't need to shell out custom prices to access invaluable online tools. Instead, answer a few questions about your business, and B12's AI web builder will give you an industry-specific draft in 60 seconds.
Then, B12's supercharged software assembles a team of designers, copywriters, and SEO specialists to refine and customize your website in 30 days or less. We help you choose the integrations that will attract, win, and serve your clients, all within a straightforward pricing model.
So, why not let B12 do the heavy lifting while you focus on running your business? Get started today.