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Ask HN: Is your marketing site outsourced?
8 points by mymmaster 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 10 comments
I'm curious to know if your engineering org handles the "marketing site". Does your team have a conceptual distinction of "app" vs "marketing site" or are they the same thing?

Does your team own your marketing site or did you outsource it to an agency? Why? Pros and cons in your opinion?

If you are any type of web based application than the app and marketing are intertwined and should not be separated, at least in terms of appearances from the outside. That said, when I was doing this type of work for companies as a consultant, we many times built out a Wordpress based marketing site and tied it to a custom developed application. It was seamless to the user but allowed the business team to add and update content without getting the dev team involved (or hire it out easily). In fact many times I would hire a wordpress agency to build out the template and initial marketing content while my team worked the custom application. This also allowed us to deliver and have marketing, email collection etc all setup well in advance of the app launch.

Only time it is acceptable to outsource your marketing site is when your site is not part of your product. At that point, it doesn't matter if it is outsourced for development and maintenance, as long as things are getting updated timely.

There is a strong argument to be made that even in an organization when app and marketing are somewhat to fully integrated that not the same teams are working on them, since the two end goals are generally quite different and have their own timelines. e.g. you don't want your developers who are fixing issues and developing features for clients worrying about the fact you need to replace content or update the look of the blog.

Thanks! So I assume for the companies you consulted at they were not a web based application? (per your "app and marketing are intertwined and should not be separated" comment)

I'm curious how did you "tie" the Wordpress site to the custom app? Did you simply use subdomains like app.example.com or was there a deeper integration?

Also, if the Wordpress site went down, who was getting paged in the middle of the night? The agency, the eng team, or both?

Are you asking only about SaaS apps? For ecommerce, the whole site should be the marketing site. For a mobile app, website is the smallest piece of the marketing puzzle.

Frankly, I think marketing is much more important than technology for success. And I say that as a software developer. It doesn't matter how good your product is if nobody knows about it. It doesn't matter if it's better than the competitor's if the competitor is better at telling people why they should use their product.

I currently work at a SaaS business. Our app and marketing sites are one and the same. Some of that is for historical reasons, but I believe that for us it's an advantage. We grow steadily in part because the product team works more closely with the marketing team than with anyone else in the company. Exposure, conversion, and retention are baked into every feature and every decision we make. We could never do that nearly as effectively with an outsourced marketing department.

One caveat: we are a mass market B2C company. I wouldn't be surprised to find that there's a sliding scale for how closely marketing and product need to be integrated depending on how high-touch the sales process is. An enterprise B2C where there's no way to try the product at all without a custom-negotiated contract has no reason to integrate the marketing site with the product.

That said, I'm always skeptical about outsourcing marketing entirely. See the first point above.

Thanks! I'm interested in both ecommerce and SaaS though I suppose you're right in that ecommerce they will always be one in the same.

Does everyone on your eng team share that same belief in the importance of working with marketing? I ask because I've been in situations where engineers would've rather worked on juicy technical challenges of the main application. Marketing "asks" for a new analytics tool or CMS were viewed as a nuisance and sometimes outsourced to a Wordpress agency.

To be honest, aside from some moderate scaling issues, the technical challenges of our main application aren't all that juicy. Like a lot of SaaS, we're mostly glorified CRUD. Our biggest technical problem is generally around keeping complex business logic from breaking when we extend it.

But anyway, we try to avoid hiring prima donnas. We hire people who are focused on making the product and the business succeed, not on scratching their personal technical itches. There are plenty of engineers out there who get their satisfaction from knowing that their work is being used or helping users or the business or their co-workers, rather than from playing with algorithms. I've never heard a complaint or even a foot-drag from anyone on this team, nor the previous one I worked with (medium-high-touch B2B with a separate marketing site managed in-house).

If you have a deeply technical product, you still need someone who's going to build out dashboards and other UI. Just make sure you have at least a few people on your team who are willing to work on the stuff that maybe you don't find glamorous.

I've done both at various jobs 30-70 outsourced to engineering owned, 40-60 marketing site/app vs just one app. The most traditional "marketing site" is a wordpress website that's really designed to pitch the company or a product. If you're working for a company that does sales, you most likely have this. These are typically outsourced to an agency that specializes in wordpress. The advantage of this is that you can get a highly polished website that's designed to impress your clientele that's built with all the SEO you need or want. The main consideration here is whether you're expecting to update the website often (beside blog posts). If you really think you're going to be doing a lot of updates, then you most likely want to bring this in-house. If you're going to own the marketing site then you probably need a person full-time who's only job is going to update the website. Generally, most places don't have a ton of people that want to maintain and update wordpress sites. The other reason why people have "marketing sites" is because you're using something to run marketing campaigns. This typically will be something that will allow you to spin up custom landing pages and have built in tracking or multiple sign-up flows (think regulated industries or multiple marketing/sales channels). This will often be owned by engineering, as they will need to create new landing pages or add new logic.

Generally, the reason to not have a separate marketing site is because you have an integrated app with only one product line. You're a SAAS or ecommerce play where the sign-up is really built in. This works well, but does make it difficult to add multiple products or build out multiple marketing channels (outside of digital). Essentially you've tightly coupled your sign-up flow/marketing/etc to your application. At some point at scale you may need to decouple this (or not. See Facebook, Google or Twitter as examples where the main product hasn't been decoupled although other products do have marketing sites)

Very related, can someone recommend an SEO consultant, with a proven portfolio of at least one great result, and doesn't use grey area techniques that'll get me de-ranked?

I think I've got my ducks in a row, but don't want to risk most of my sales on it.

What's your email?


Nope, those two are managed & planned separately.

The reason is:

- Marketing is running usually specific landing pages that are tailored to the campaigns we have going at the time. Having them hosted via a 3rd party, allows the non-technical people to change, update & publish changes to the copy, tracking codes & design on the fly.

- The "app" landing page in most cases is the registration/sign-in page.

Both of these sites are tracked via the same analytics tool to understand the breakdown of the marketing/onboarding funnel.

It's worth hiring a marketing agency if you have the revenue/funding to spend on it, since most likely they can handle a larger number of marketing experiments running at the same time, compared to an internal team.

However, if you're early stage, I definitely recommend doing it all yourself, the more you learn the better down the line when hiring someone to do the work for You.

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