For more than two decades, Infront Webworks has been a familiar name in the local tech community.
But it was five years ago, when current owner Matthew Palis purchased the web services company from founder Andy Meng, that Infront refined its purpose.
“In the last few years there’s been a ton of change in that we’re evolving from a pseudo-software company into a full-service agency,” said Michael Hodgdon, Infront’s director of marketing.
Infront now provides website, Search Engine Optimization and email services, virus and spam protection, and marketing and cloud solutions. But Infront began as primarily a web development and software company. In 2012, Palis purchased Infront, bringing with him a web development and systems integration background.
“It was a good time to make a decision,” Palis said of his purchase. “Do we keep writing our own software or do we start becoming integrators and an agency that can put together software that’s already out there?”
Marketing and web companies come out with new products and platforms all the time, Palis said.
“The biggest void in the industry was how to navigate these platforms and leverage them,” he said.
The company also began integrating digital marketing services upon Palis’ purchase.
“The idea behind that is there are still clients who get into these situations where they have a web developer and a marketer and a hosting company,” Palis said. “Then they have someone doing social media. They’re trying to [general contract] these things and most don’t have the technical know-how to piece them together.
“That’s a big reason we’re here. There’s a huge market need.”
According to Hodgdon, Infront recognizes those needs.
“Maybe they have software they like using,” Hodgdon said. “Now we’re providing solutions for just about any preexisting platform. We can build around them.”
And Palis said Infront provides a variety of price points, depending on client size and need.
“For average, everyday businesses, we can churn out a website with training in a week for some customers for $2,250,” Palis said. “That’s a low-end ‘I-need-a-website-and-I-need-it-fast.’ We’ll keep it functional and updated and keep them out of the technical weeds so a businessperson can have what they need.”
Palis said customized projects, government contracts and dot.nets can cost five figures and up.
“We’ll have clients spend five to 10 grand a month because their business is so unique — there is no platform for them and we build everything exactly the way they need it,” he said.
As Infront has reinvented itself over the past five years, it’s also seen the need to grow, particularly on the digital marketing side, which provides social media buys and pay-per-click marketing services, to name a few.
“We just filled our last cubicle,” Hodgdon said of the company’s nationwide hiring efforts.
And Palis said the company is looking for additional space as the company grows.
“We’re at capacity in the office right now,” he said. “We’re looking at temporary flex space in this building, but talking to the landlord about doubling our space in Q4.”
Palis said the company’s SEO optimization segment has seen revenue climb 700 percent since 2012 and is the primary driver behind the company’s growth.
“Our SEO optimization is at a level that is tough to compete with,” Hodgdon said. “We don’t have interns or outsource to India — things other SEO companies are doing. We’ve chosen to invest in premium talent for premium results.”
Marketing is expected to continue to be the highest growth segment for Infront, he said.
“When people come in to purchase or upgrade a website, it’s a one-time expense. They’ll be able to get three to five years out of it,” Palis said. “However, marketing is needed on an ongoing basis.”
Infront is also a Google-certified partner and, once a month, puts on classes in conjunction with Google programs.
The classes provide training in areas such as understanding analytics, Google AdWords and pay-per-click marketing.
“That way people can get a baseline of what their site is doing,” Hodgdon said.
One popular class covers digital marketing, mobile trends and how to position companies to market to the Millennial demographic.
Hodgdon said, as digital marketing goes, there are some important things for businesses to consider.
“Some clients know their average cost per purchase, some know customer acquisition costs. If they know those drivers, we can get super granular with analytics,” he said. “We can plug those numbers in and tell you what your organic return was and what your [Search Engine Marketing] return was. It all depends on the amount of information the company has. Younger companies typically don’t know their customer acquisition costs or order average.”
Palis said they often find companies need better sales reports.
“We’re getting a lot of blanket reports which don’t tell us what’s going on,” he said.
Hodgdon said, when it comes to analytics, customer acquisition costs — marketing expenses versus the revenue it generates — is a good place to start.
“And my advice is, if you don’t have Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up, get them both and marry those products so the other drivers we talked about can give you a definitive picture,” he said.