We get a lot of companies who come to us having built their marketing site within the same development environment as their software platform, mainly SaaS startups that have matured to early-stage or late-stage funding rounds. We get it, pre-seed and seed-stage startups need to be scrappy to save time and resources where they can. So it can make perfect sense to do this early on. However, combining the two could pose challenges down the road when trying to scale to the next level, secure venture capital, and arm the marketing team with conversion tools all the while not interrupting product sprints (your engineers) for marketing purposes.
In this post, we’ll discuss “positives” and “challenges” of having or not having your software team (or founder in most cases) couple the marketing site and software platform together and what you should be thinking about when scaling your marketing website during the early stages of your startup.
Pre Seed and Seed aka The Beginning after The Beginning
Over the last 10 years, having seen and spoken to all kinds of software startups I fully get why startups couple their marketing site with their software platform. In the beginning it can make sense (sometimes), here’s what I’ve witnessed:
- It can be more efficient. There are usually 1-3 founders and for the software engineer (probably the founder) it’s just more efficient to build them together and have control of both in one place.
- It can be more cost-effective. From dedicating resources to dedicating server environments and purchasing domains, combining everything is less expensive.
- It can keep things simple. In the beginning, the focus is on validating the product, user interviews, and finding your first beta user not building out a robust marketing stack. Simply put, you can get away with a landing page explaining your value and a way for people to reach out to you.
Now, here’s why it often doesn’t make sense and why, if you are in “the beginning” you may want to rethink coupling the marketing and product software. Some questions to consider:
- How will you scale the marketing site when the time is right? For some startups that happens early on and for some it happens later. The point is that when the time is right do you want to dedicate time in your product sprints to making marketing changes?
- What is the plan to build out content and gain some organic SEO traction? Organic SEO takes time and continuous updating. If the beginning site isn’t built on a CMS we’re back to your software team having to make content changes.
- How will lead gen be handled? When you transition from user interviews to first beta user to multiple beta users and then customers it will be time to start thinking about how you capture leads and what you do with them. How can you quickly turn your marketing site into your best sales tool?
- If you are moving from Pre Seed to Seed and asking for investments, how will you quickly expand the value prop to speak about the platform and product you are building?
When your startup is gaining traction and you are starting to move past user interviews, you have proven product fit, and now are starting to make some headway attracting clients then, 1) you’re probably graduating past the Seed Stage, and 2) you may have started to ask or are being asked by your team and investors, “how can we market our product better? How can we make money? What does marketing look like in this next phase?”
Being able to make marketing decisions on the fly without involving your software engineers will set your company up to be nimble and successful in the long-term. For a startup or even a new company, anytime you can get ahead or can plan for the future – take advantage of it. If you’ve already entangled your software and marketing – that’s okay! Now is the perfect time to work on your plan for separating the two and making a strong move for your next round of funding.