Website Update — Upgrading Your B2B SaaS Website
For B2B SaaS and technology companies, your website is the primary channel to generate leads. However, in the formative years, it can often fall short in driving conversions, in part due to resource constraints in the marketing function. This is typical in most early-stage B2B SaaS companies; building and maintaining a website on a shoestring makes it hard to generate a sustainable pipeline of suitably qualified leads.
As your B2B SaaS startup matures and hits certain goals, raising capital tends to be part of the playbook for most, which then enables the marketing team to invest in growth with better hiring, and with access to some long overdue investment for the website.
In this article, we outline some key areas that those leading the marketing function should think about when you raise an investment. NB we focus on website improvements in this post — as resourcing is undoubtedly the top priority for a CMO after a raise.
B2B Scale Up — The Marketing Function
The context is a familiar one for many B2B SaaS founders. Several years of making ends meet, a stressful period trying to close a round, and then the exhilaration of receiving a term sheet. Raising a significant Seed or Series A is often the catalyst for significant growth as you transition from a world of severe resource constraints to one of relative resource abundance. As ever with startup life the challenges remain. They are just different.
After a significant raise, capital allocation becomes the most pressing challenge, as strategic decisions need to be made to drive growth. The three main buckets that cash often flows to are the (1) Sales, (2) Marketing, and (3) Product functions with a significant portion of the capital raised in B2B SaaS companies typically designated for additional headcount.
When it comes to the Marketing function, it is often the case that the marketing team will have historically been chronically under-resourced. It is also likely that several members of the team will have run their course and will no longer be a good fit to lead the function in its next phase.
Why is that?
One reason is that in early-stage SaaS companies, the desire to keep the cash burn down means that junior hires will have been tasked with “doing marketing” and senior hires with deep domain expertise will simply not be present (unless they happen to have been a co-founder). A typical profile for a marketing member at an early stage B2B SaaS startup is thus likely to be someone in their first role post-university, with a very shallow B2B marketing background and a chronic lack of experience. It is very much a case of weighing the more senior hires in the early days to those building the SaaS application — with the majority of employees sitting in the product function rather than marketing.
Your First Senior Marketing Leader
Hiring a marketing leader (or Chief Marketing Officer) that has managed a scaling B2B SaaS team often represents a prudent first step post a raise, rather than entrusting the role to a first-time CMO from the current team, who has not had significant experience elsewhere.
This new CMO hire will face a heavily stacked in-tray as they play catchup after years of underinvestment, where several strategic decisions need to be taken including decisions relating to:
- Resourcing (talent acquisition i.e. hiring for new roles into the team and assessing current team capabilities)
- Budget Allocation (agreeing on a sensible budget for investment)
- Marketing Strategy (deciding where to allocate resources)
- Reporting and setting Key Performance Indicators (Goal Setting)
- Improving the Website (demand generation/lead generation optimization).
It is this last area that we will focus on in this article — Improving the Website, a broad category that covers everything from lead generation to educating prospects.
B2B SaaS Website Upgrades
The following represent some areas that are typically in need of improvement, amongst B2B SaaS startups. They will be known issues, but the startup will likely have lacked the resources and know-how to fix them up to now. In the context of the resourcing available to most pre-Series A startups, deprioritization of these will have been sensible decisions pre-investment, but will not be any longer.
As mentioned, in most cases, the bulk of the initial investment into B2B SaaS startups (Seed or otherwise) will have gone into “Product” followed by “Sales”. The good news is that the neglect of the marketing function has come to an abrupt end. It is time to invest in marketing. So what are some areas that need to be looked at (excluding ‘resourcing’)?
5 Areas Your CMO Should Prioritize after Securing Investment
1 / Visual Identity / Branding
The visual identity relates to how your brand ‘looks’ ranging from your choice of brand colors, fonts, logos, typography, imagery, etc
For many pre-raise startups the brand identity can be pretty basic — perhaps when the company was initially formed a graphic designer was tasked with creating a logo and from there the site’s visual identity emerged. While that will have been sufficient in the early days, it won’t suffice for the next phase of the journey.
Investing in a brand refresh/brand uplift, or full rebranding is usually an important step on the scale-up journey signaling a new era for the company. Everything should be up for grabs including the domain name especially if you’ve had to settle for an obscure suffix and “dot-com” domains are now available for a reasonable sum.
Who Can Help?
You will need a brand agency to help you upgrade your visual identity. When it comes to the agency selection process, it is important to focus on branding agencies that specialize in B2B SaaS given there are some branding elements and nuances that a generalist agency can miss.
2/ Messaging / Copywriting
Again with pre-Series A, B2B SaaS companies, it is likely that very little attention will have been given to the onsite messaging. Copy normally falls under the remit of a junior marketing generalist who will have likely crafted the onsite copy on the fly. This is fine for the early days when site traffic is modest, and costs need to be managed carefully, yet again though, it is worth revisiting when you have some additional marketing budget to play with.
Ideally, this exercise would be done in tandem with a Front End Developer to ensure there is a tight alignment between the copy and the visuals. You can have the copywriter focus on 3–4 key high-traffic pages including your SaaS Homepage, the main product page, the pricing page, and a generic landing page as a starting point.
They should look to bring the Voice of the Customer (VoC) into the copy by interviewing some customers who are best placed to articulate the value proposition and benefits rather than assuming these from in-house conversations as is likely to have been the case the first time round.
Finally, it is also worthwhile using them to revisit everything from your personas (Ideal Customer Profiles), to your boilerplate, through to how you position/ differentiate your company in what is likely to be an intensely competitive market.
Who Can Help?
There are several specialist freelance B2B SaaS copywriting professionals like Kerry Campion, Pedro Cortés, Josh Garofalo, Helen Peatfield, Racheal Pilcher, and Harry Lawson who can ensure your copy is designed to convert. They will work in tandem with the design agency to ensure the final output carries the requisite impact.
Once complete you should validate the messaging with your target audience using a solution like Wynter— a B2B message testing platform.
3/ Conversion Optimization [Lead Generation]
An audit of existing user flows is also an important task for the incoming CMO. Ensuring all Call To Action (CTA’s) are flowing through forms correctly and that attribution is working (where possible) is also crucial. Goal setting in Google Analytics is slightly different in GA4 compared to Universal Analytics so you may need some assistance to set up events instead.
Any audit should include analysis of the funnel post the form submission stage to ensure that the leads are hitting the CRM promptly with all relevant data fields included.
The broader context here is that you want to ensure that all the constituent elements on the site are in situ and are optimized in advance of planned activities to increase traffic to the site. Again this is a typical journey for B2B SaaS companies and will likely coincide with a substantial increase in budget for Paid Acquisition. It is thus very much a case of optimizing funnels before looking to boost traffic by a significant uptick in activity (be that a more aggressive content creation process added to paid acquisition like Google Ads).
Who Can Help?
The Product Onboarders offers a “personalized 15–20 minute video identifying your B2B SaaS’ onboarding killers and providing practical suggestions to fix them.”
Digital Agency Exposure Ninja also offers a website review (free and paid offerings) that cover a range of website topics including funnel optimization.
4/ Site Design — Revisiting the Design of Key Pages
The design of key B2B SaaS pages needs to be undertaken by a specialist Front End Designer who will likely prepare initial mockups in Figma before sending them to a developer for implementation.
A redesign project may include primary research, reviews of comparison sites, and liaisons with the freelance copywriter. The designer will need access to Brand Guidelines and they will typically source images, iconography, and illustrations (in some instances).
Finally, in terms of signaling your next phase of growth, you’ll want to avoid the ‘template’ look and feel you get with theme-based Content Management Systems.
Who Can Help?
There are several design agencies and freelancers who specialize in B2B SaaS websites. Ideally, you can review their portfolios on the likes of Behance or Dribbble before engaging with them.
5/ Replatforming — Upgrading The Content Management System (CMS)
Again it is common for early-stage B2B SaaS startups to run their sites initially on traditional monolithic CMSs like Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, or WordPress. These represent a good choice in the formative years but are not optimal for scaling B2B SaaS companies. For example, issues with WordPress relating to security vulnerabilities, performance issues, and usability challenges are well known and start to grow as problems as the years pass. An investment round thus acts as a good trigger point to finally upgrade the website, where you have the resources and incentives to make the change.
What are the migration options?
Migrating to a Headless CMS (What is a Headless CMS?) like Contento, represents an increasingly popular choice on the upgrade path for scaling B2B SaaS businesses.
A Headless CMS differs from a traditional CMS in that there is a decoupling of the front end and the back end. What this means is that the CMS functions more as a content repository with content served to the front end via an API.
It is a more technical approach and hence you will need to have a developer involved in the process. Depending on the scale of the site, a site migration is best managed by an external agency that can ensure a smooth handover.
Benefits of Moving to Headless
The Benefits of moving to Headless include:
- Future-proofing your tech stack using a popular framework
- Exceptional performance — the site speed will typically trump that of traditional CMSs
- Enhanced security (compared to the likes of WordPress)
- Developer flexibility (generally resulting in beautifully designed sites)
- Built for scalability (designed to deal comfortably with site traffic)
Why should you undertake a migration project at this point?
There is significant value in rolling these changes into one project rather than doing them separately. While it will increase the budget, the project can galvanize the new CMO and enable them to land a significant deliverable early in their tenure. These changes will also help ensure that subsequent investment in increased traffic and lead generation, will have a better chance of succeeding if the website is well-designed. Remaining on a legacy platform will likely hamper your growth potential as you scale traffic — so it is better off upgrading the site before you increase paid activity to increase traffic.
Who Can Help?
There are several specialist Headless CMS agencies that can help you migrate off WordPress (or other monolithic systems) onto a Headless CMS like Contento, including Mawla (Ireland), Granite Digital (Ireland), and Webstacks (US). Feel free to get in touch with us here at Contento, as we will also happily discuss some options with you.
One Provider or Several?
When it comes to the above tasks, external expertise will undoubtedly be required. As I’ve argued above, rolling up the various activities into one ‘website project’ probably makes the most sense. While there is merit in merging a number of these deliverables, like the CMS migration and website development, I feel that it is more sensible to utilize an external specialist freelance copywriter who can work in parallel with the design brief. The one remaining question then becomes whether or not the web development agency is also best placed to deliver on any visual identity upgrade. I’d argue in most instances you are better off separating these too.
After raising a Series A (B or C) round, CMOs of B2B SaaS companies tend to focus on executing an effective marketing strategy, driving customer acquisition, building the brand, and establishing a solid foundation to support sustainable growth in what is likely to be a competitive market. The marketing website represents the investment in the solid foundation and will play a key role in supporting the growth ambitions of the company, representing a crucial cog in commercialization. It is thus worth getting ‘your ducks in a row’ upgrading your website before you dial up lead generation activity.