Nick Jones

You still need a website

A website sketch

I’ll give you the bottom line up front: one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned as a designer working with companies of all shapes and sizes is that there is still no good replacement for owning your own marketing website. There are a handful of disclaimers to this rule of thumb, sure—but time and time again it’s proven to be true. And there are some good reasons why.

Social media is a fickle space

In 2023 the media landscape is littered with the dead and dying corpses of once-dominant behemoths. Some are so toxic that no sane person would ever allow her brand to appear on them, while others yield so little reach as to make then unworthy of effort. And this pendulum swing will keep happening, and likely accelerate, as more and more platforms proliferate. While there are still good reasons to maintain presences on these platforms, they’re not the primary stages they once were.

Even if you still want to build out complex presences on sites like Facebook, you owe it to your product and your team to diversify beyond those walled gardens. Any platform that you don’t own is subject to sudden and jarring change. Owning your own marketing tools can’t completely innoculate you from every ill wind blowing through the media space, but it sure can help-or at least soften the blow when your platform du jour suddenly decides to devote itself to, I don’t know, something crazy like fascism.

Improved synchrony between teams

Product launches are hard. In a typical SaaS product launch, a Product Manager will be coordinating efforts between product designers, developers, marketing, merchandising, compliance and more. Adding fifteen logins to fifteen go-to-market tools into the mix practically guarantees something will go wrong. Rather than touching each and every one of those external platforms, a strong marketing site and some automations act as a practical solution that can eliminate a lot of credibility busting errors on gameday.

This central repository of content also means editorial calendars are slimmer, which means those tasks are more likely to be completed on time. Some of the highest performing marketing teams I’ve worked with have such high performance metrics because they’re focused on just a few repositories of content.

AI can’t do everything

This could be my age showing, but one of the more pernicious things I see inside teams is the desire to cede marketing to AI. While some of this is credible, and probably worth keeping an eye on, there are still millions of consumers who are put off by AI generated content and who can, in fact, pick it out of a lineup. My early observation is that teams who are still willing to generate their own content, and by extension own that experience via a homegrown marketing site, do better—at least for now.

This is the golden age of design technology

This next one is not for everyone, but one of the things I constantly preach to any organization that will listen is that not only should your marketing team own your product’s website, but they should own the design and the code. This is hard if not impossible for many teams, I know; coders who design and designers who code are more plentiful than they once were, but still a boon to find in the wild.

But what I’ve found is that exposing design and code to the right people can actually create full stack designers and developers in some cases. My own journey begins with design and turns into design tech, code, dev-ops, and other things I never thought I’d see myself doing. I’ve seen the same transformation happen elsewhere, and I’ve used it to move so many SaaS marketing sites into the marketing org where they belong. I’ve then watched those marketing teams build millions in pipeline and do other amazing things, simply because they were that much closer to that critical tool.

Final word

A lot goes into building a marketing site, but it’s completely manageable. And if you’re marketing your own product, hopefully no one knows it better. You may need help to flesh out your story and set all the pieces of your brand in order, but there’s help for those tasks. In the end, I’ve never regretted advising anyone to own their marketing tools.