Your website is your most important marketing asset. Here's how to build it right the 1st time.
How to make sure your website is your GTM source of truth & why you should just use Webflow.
Many (most?) websites, especially for early and growth-stage companies are ineffective. They don't tell visitors who the product is for, what problem they solve, and what the product does. This is shocking given the rise of no code/low code options for building sites—it's easier than ever to make sure your website reflects your product, audience, team, and vision.
Your website is your #1 most important marketing asset by a mile. In self-serve, freemium, and/or bottom-up business models, the website is especially important as it needs to do a lot of the work a sales team would normally do. In top-down business models, the website is also crucial as both a lead gen and sales enablement tool. No matter your business model, your website is your front door. If people get to your house, make sure they want to come in and stay a while.
This newsletter covers a range of website-related topics:
Why your website should be your GTM “source of truth”
Common mistakes when startups build their first (or second, or third) website
Website building checklist (with a longer Notion list)
What is a website marketing manager? When and why do I need one?
And a couple non-website related topics
Early & Growth Stage Marketing Roles (new)
Why your website should be your marketing source of truth
Your website should be the definitive guide, both internally and externally, for your latest:
Positioning & messaging
Available products & features
Packaging & pricing
Key audiences you’re targeting
Customer references & social proof
Instead, we usually see this information scattered across many documents and out of date on the website. This makes updating your website and creating necessary landing pages seem daunting, and even more daunting if your website isn’t built to scale or easy to update. Your website shouldn’t be a fossil, but rather than a living, breathing marketing asset.
When your website is your source of truth:
Any website visitor sees messaging and content that feels customized to their audience segment and use case because landing pages can be made more quickly, with more relevant info.
Prospects better understand your product, leading to more qualified leads and faster sales cycles.
Customers find materials to help them get more from your product and do their jobs better—and hopefully share posts with other companies. They can easily navigate to resources that benefit them.
GTM teams can make assets with updated messaging, illustrations, screenshots, and social proof/quotes faster.
Sales teams start asking for fewer pdfs, and start sending URLs instead (hopefully, a marketer can dream).
Candidates can easily understand what your product does and how your company operates.
Approaching your website as your source of truth is critical for keeping your growing GTM team sane, differentiating your product, and driving growth—not to mention attracting partners, candidates, etc. We created a detailed chart about the benefits of switching to this approach, find it at the bottom of this newsletter and in this Notion doc.
Common mistakes when building your first (or second, or third) website
These are the mistakes we hear founders regret and marketers lament multiple times a week. Avoid these mistakes.
Mistake: Building on a platform other than Webflow or Wordpress
Solution: Build on Webflow or Wordpress
Do not build your site on a platform optimized for your engineering team. The minor improvements in design and development are not worth the cost of slowing marketing down and using eng resources for minor updates.
If you’re early-stage, your marketer(s) will need to make frequent website changes sooner than you think (multiple times per week if they’re doing it right). If you're later stage, you’re already holding the team back.
When you use Webflow or Wordpress, the marketing team can duplicate pages and modules within pages with no engineering help. Headless CMS’ tend to complicate things.
The CMS functionality of either platform makes creating templated landing pages and adding content for each page efficient, without needing another tool.
Both platforms enable your blog and website to live in perfect harmony, have built in SEO checks, and make responsiveness simple.
Mistake: Marketing doesn’t “own” the website
Solution: Marketing owns website, but collaborates and gathers input from other teams
This isn’t me trying to land grab for marketers everywhere, it’s just that the most important marketing asset should be owned by marketing.
Marketing should ensure the site reflects the needs of the rest of the company.
Design should be very involved and own the brand identity—they should help make the templates and guidelines.
Engineering should make sure the site is secure and that the flow from site to product is smooth (especially for self-serve products).
Sales, product, and recruiting should provide input on the content of the page and make sure relevant pages are accurate.
Mistake: Hiring the wrong agency
Solution: Hire agencies with the right speciality for the project
Often startups hire agencies for the wrong specialization. Meaning, they hire an agency that mainly does logos and brand systems to design (and even develop) their website—or vice versa.
Note: I’ve never worked with an agency that is equally as good at brand design and web development. And I’ve worked with a lot of agencies.
You probably need to hire 2 agencies if you don’t have a brand identity system or a website.
For web design and development, make sure they know how to design and develop for the CMS you’ve selected and can show you sites they’ve built on this CMS. (see #1 - not building on wordpress & webflow)
For brand identity and logo design, make sure this is their main focus. Brand design and web design are different beasts.
Preferably whoever you choose to develop your site also takes into account SEO, marketing ops/tools, and scalability of landing pages and builds the site so marketing can own it from day 1.
Mistake: Copy says nothing
Solution: Do positioning and messaging work first
Make sure your hero copy explains who the product is for, what problem you solve, and what your product does as clearly as possible.
Don’t emulate hero copy from a late-stage company, if you’re early stage. Late-stage startups can get away leading with their vision first—people know what the product does—earlier stage companies need to describe the product more clearly.
If you don’t have a clear voice yet (and even if you do), just write how a human in your audience speaks. Read things out loud to someone else as a test.
Don’t just write about it, show the product, preferably with stylized screenshots and video.
The wireframe image at the top of this newsletter is a simple guide for what to include.
Mistake: Difficult to make landing pages quickly
Solution: Build landing page templates and leverage CMS functionality
You need to be able to speak to your key audiences and multiple use cases, therefore...
Marketers need to be able to create a lot of sub-pages and landing pages, and quickly.
It’s a time suck for engineers and marketers if your website isn’t built for this, and you lose prospects if your website isn’t speaking to them in the meantime.
Create template pages and leverage the CMS functionality to make this scalable.
Mistake: Not optimized for conversions or SEO
Solution: Consider marketing ops & SEO requirements from the start
Put forms in logical places, but don’t get too overzealous with the number of forms—they shouldn’t detract from the experience.
Make forms short and easy to complete if possible (we love a multi-step form)
When you get enough volume, do personalization (check out mutinyhq.com for this) and A/B testing (Google optimize works just fine).
Mistake: Designing in a vacuum
Solution: Marketing, copywriting, & design take an iterative approach
This is related to #3 - hiring the wrong agency, but worth calling out separately…
The key elements of the website are design, copy, and content. The creators need to work in lockstep. (Note: content includes the images, videos, quotes, blog posts, etc.)
Too often marketing and design teams develop in silos which causes lots of pain and revisions
Ideal process: Design > add copy & content > iterate on design to fit copy and content > iterate on copy > final pass by both teams
If this process isn’t followed, your site can end up with major content gaps and/or repetitive copy.
Also make sure the teams work together on site architecture and navigation, so your nav makes sense for your audiences. And work together to make sure your site’s optimized for growth (see #5 - Difficult to make landing pages).
Checklist for building your website
When you’re building your website, use the below checklist. If you’ve already violated these rules, the sooner you get yourself closer to the website nirvana detailed in this post the better. The costs to update your website will never be lower than they are today.
✓ Build your site on Webflow (or Wordpress)
✓ Get the site set up for tracking and analytics
✓ Build forms, connect to CRM
✓ Build landing page templates
✓ Make technical SEO updates
✓ Add live chat to your site
My favorite role that most marketing teams don’t have: The Website Marketing Manager
After you’ve hired a growth marketing generalist, a product marketing generalist, and a content marketing generalist (see our post on marketing org charts), I’d highly consider hiring a Website Marketing Manager next—especially for self-serve businesses.
Candidates for this role are π-shaped marketers, with growth and product marketing expertise. I had a person in this role on my team at Asana and Carta (I believe when the team was well under 10), and it proved to be one of the most valuable marketing roles for the business.
As per the common mistakes list, before you hire a dedicated website marketer, someone on the marketing team needs to own the site. Whether this is product marketing or growth marketing, I’m a big fan of having a clear owner and making sure they partner with others to handle all things website not in their wheelhouse.
There’s so much to consider when building your website, but if you think of it as your GTM source of truth, you’re way more likely to build your website in a scalable way and make regular updates that tell your story and drive growth. Also, just use Webflow (this is not sponsored by Webflow, I promise).
For the checklist and framework for managing your website we mentioned, check out our Notion doc.
MKT1 Job Listings - new
These are all early or growth stage jobs we’ve discussed with the hiring manager, and we believe they are jobs worth pursuing. Please apply through their application. If you want to let us know you applied for the role, you can email us at email@example.com. We’ll review every email, but might not respond if we don’t see an obvious match. This is our first time doing this, so we’ll see how it goes!
Afresh - SaaS for Grocery Retailers - Senior Content Marketing Manager, PMM role also opening soon.
42Layers - Data Platform - Marketing Lead
Brightwheel - EdTech - PMM - Multiple other marketing roles at various levels in Growth & PMM
Cleo - Family Benefits - Brand Producer - other marketing roles available, including marketing specialist and comms
WiseTack - FinTech - Marketing Manager
Want your role featured? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in an early-stage role but none of these are a fit? Come to our event.
We’re hosting a 1-hour panel discussion on marketing roles at a seed through Series B companies.
We’ll cover how to find these roles, how to assess the companies, and how to be successful in the role.
This is just for marketers (recommended for those trying to break into early-stage companies or those who just joined), sorry founders. Space is limited, as we want to keep this small and Q&A driven.
Panelists: Reigan Combs - VP of Marketing at Humu; Michelle Arguelles- Marketing Director at Afresh; Abby Barsky - 1st Marketer at Cord; Sarah Scharf - Product Marketing at Vanta
Hosted by: Emily Kramer, MKT1 Co-Founder & Kathleen Estreich, MKT1 Co-Founder
Guide to making your website your source of truth
Note: Examples aren’t clickable. Check out our higher fidelity version in our Notion doc.
If you use Webflow or Wordpress there is no need to use another tool to create landing pages (sorry Unbounce). Here’s how to use CMS functionality in Webflow to build landing pages.
Read this Guide from ahrefs to learn more about technical SEO.
SaaS Pages for filterable website examples
Thanks for reading. We’ll be sending out newsletters a bit more frequently moving forward (goal is 2x per month), subscribe for all things marketing strategy. If you’re interested in SaaS marketing advising, mentorship, or recruiting or getting more women marketing angels on your cap table, reach out at email@example.com.