Can Microsoft’s Digital Marketing Center Really Build You a Free Website?

Microsoft just unveiled a free website builder in its Digital Marketing Center. But can it do everything your business needs?
Conor Cawley

Microsoft has announced a new service that will allow small businesses to create a website completely free of charge.

In 2021, every company needs a website. Whether it be a simple “what we do” page or a fully functional hub for your entire business, having an online presence is vital in the modern era. After all, 80% of consumers head to the web before making a purchase – so, you need to be sure you've got something to show them.

Fortunately, Microsoft is making it easy with a new feature to its Digital Marketing Center that won't cost your business a dime to get online.

Microsoft Sample Website
Have you ever built a website before?

Microsoft Announces Website Creation in Digital Marketing Center

In a company blog post earlier this week, Microsoft revealed that its Digital Marketing Center would now allow small businesses to build a website directly on the platform.

The resource will work as a true competitor to business Facebook pages and simple Google listings, and could even compete with cheap website builder offerings from the likes of Wix and Squarespace.

To make it even more attractive, Microsoft's website building feature is available at no additional cost to users, so you can get your online presence established without consulting your budget first.

“We hope to remove the barriers of cost and lack of time by providing a free and simple solution small businesses can leverage to get started with a website,” read the post.

This move is obviously part of Microsoft's plan to make business management more accessible to everyday people, and it's not the only one.

The company made Microsoft Teams free at the start of the pandemic to aid in the remote work shift. It has also set up a COVID resource center to help businesses prepare for work in the pandemic.

How to Set Up Your Website with Microsoft

If you're interested in getting your business' website up and running through Microsoft, we can help explain how. The Microsoft website builder feature is surprisingly easy to navigate. Here are the steps you need to take to get started:

  • Sign up for a Digital Marketing Center account with Microsoft (don't worry, it's entirely free)
  • Select the option: I don't have a website. Help me build one for free
  • Input your business name and choose your website URL (if you don't have one already, you can set one up here, too)
  • Click My website in the upper right corner of the Digital Marketing Center
  • Choose whether to build your own website or import it from your Facebook page
  • Use the website builder to fully customize your website

Once you're in the website builder view, you'll be able to add and subtract anything you need from your site, including headlines, descriptions, customer action buttons, cover images, business summaries, social posts, reviews, galleries, business contact information, and social links.

What You Can and Can't Do with Microsoft's Website Builder

Obviously, the Microsoft website builder offers a lot compared to more basic options such as a social media page. You'll able to establish an informative online hub for your business, where new customers can find you and loyal customers can stay up to date on what you're doing.

Perhaps the primary purpose of the website, at least from Microsoft's point of view, will be advertising. Because it is connected to the Digital Marketing Center, ad campaigns are built right into the platform, so you can add advertising to your business.

Additionally, the platform allows you to keep track of a wide range of metrics, including exposure, click-through rates, conversion data, consumer spending, and fan growth. With most free website builders, you really do get what you pay for, so it's encouraging to see a depth of features from Microsoft.

However, it's not all a rosy story. Microsoft's offering is missing a few key elements that many businesses will need in a website. For one, it doesn't appear that it allows for ecommerce functionality. Unlike paid plans for Shopify or Wix, you won't be able to set up an online store to sell products or, honestly, make money at all. Even Square Online, which offers a great free plan, allows you to do that.

Selling online? See our guide to the Best Ecommerce Website Builders

More importantly, the Microsoft website builder doesn't have an app marketplace that allows you to turn your website into a business powerhouse. You can't add integrations, meaning you're stuck with whatever Microsoft offers you out of the gate. Yes, this functionality could yet be added later on via a future app store, but for now, you'll pretty much just have a glorified social media page with a dedicated URL.

Simply put, the Microsoft website builder is a great option if you don't have a website at all and need to get started. It's easy to use and gets you the most essential information you need online. Still, if you're looking to really turn your business into a digital powerhouse, there are a few very cheap website builders — and even a few free options — that might better suit your needs.

If you're looking for an ecommerce website builder specifically, take a look at the table below to get a better idea of the alternatives on the market today.

0 out of 0
Test Score
Our score is based on independent assessments of ease of use, features, ecommerce functionality and value for money
Verdict
Pros
Cons
Starting Price
Physical Product Sales
Digital Product Sales
Service Sales
Try
Click to check for deals, discounts and tiers of plans
4.8
4.8
4.7
4.6
4.5
3.6
3.3

Wix is our top choice ecommerce website builder. It makes creating an online store brilliantly easy, and there are regular deals and discounts offered

Best for larger ecommerce businesses

Best for marketing features

Best for businesses on a budget

Best for inventory management

Best for non-beginners

Best for individuals launching a side gig

  • Virtually every ecommerce feature you could need
  • More creative freedom with customization
  • Consistently adds and updates sales channels
  • Helpful and predictive website building experience
  • Massive app selection for unlimited customizability
  • Diverse multi-channel integration options
  • Easiest platform to build an online store
  • Incredible value for the money
  • Extensive marketing features to reach new customers
  • Allows users to sell for free
  • Great integrations with POS system
  • Ideal for small stores and restaurants
  • No transaction fees
  • Only platform with transactional emails
  • Very user-centric experience
  • Strong site speed performance
  • Pre-designed promotional options
  • Great user experience with helpful prompts
  • Extremely simplified interface
  • Ideal for selling art
  • Steep learning curve for beginners
  • Slow server response times
  • Weak knowledge center
  • Less than intuitive interface
  • Few built-in features and apps cost extra
  • High transaction fee without Shopify Payments
  • Limited stock monitoring capabilities
  • Poor site speed performance
  • Few ecommerce templates
  • High transaction fees
  • Restrictive designs options
  • Confusing layout with unfamiliar technology
  • Restrictive pricing plans based on annual turnover
  • Limited template customization
  • Steep learning curve with little assistance
  • Overly complicated when it doesn't need to be
  • Worst knowledge center option
  • Restrictive design customization
  • Limited to 500 physical products max
  • No advanced ecommerce features
  • No branding capabilities

$29 per month

Free

$29.95 per month

$26 per month

$9.99 per month

App required

App required

App required

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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