“Our new website converts ˜2x better than the previous one” — Startup A at $10m ARR
“Leads seem to have fallen by about 40% since we changed the website” — Startup B at $10m ARR
Does your marketing site really matter, past a point?
Two start-ups I work with that just passed $10m ARR sent me the quotes above … this week. Both finally updated their marketing sites after a long time (24 months in both cases), with somewhat similar changes … and saw widely different outcomes.
The first startup saw conversions double after they changed their site:
- Explained the product served more customer categories than the original narrower site said. The previous marketing site was very focused, but probably too much so. Prospects and customers would exclude themselves out because they didn’t think the app was a fit.
- Added more personal customer quotes. Did they move the needle? Don’t know. But they are much better.
- Directly explained the competitive differentiation and ROI. Probably more important as you scale, and start to compete in more segments.
- Made it more obvious how the product actually worked. It was a bit vague before.
The second startup made similar changes … but conversions fell!
- Made it clearer who the target persona and buyer is. Vs a more horizontal play before.
- Made it easier to get into a free trial. You’d think that would help.
- Made security and more enterprise functions clearer. That should have helped with bigger deals, who perhaps wouldn’t have known before if the app was “enterprise-enough” for them.
- Made it more obvious how the product actually worked. It was all over the place before.
The interesting thing is that both marketing sites had become really dated, and weren’t really changed much from $2m ARR to $10m ARR. Both were updated with a lot of best practices. And while one update had a massive positive impact, the other had a significant negative impact.
The obvious lessons:
- Marketing sites do matter. Take them more seriously. I know you want to work on the product, but a good rule is the marketing site should always be better than the product.
- You have to A/B test your marketing site. I see so many SaaS companies do some A/B tests in ad campaigns and even in feature flags, but not on their marketing website. They do one big push and then leave it alone. See what happens above in the second case study.
- As you get bigger, your “gut” isn’t always the best, most omniscient marketer it used to be. You know what works at $1m-$2m ARR, but that gut approach to marketing starts to not work so well as you approach $10m+ ARR. The customer set gets more diverse, and further away from that core set of original customers and use cases you know so well. So don’t shoot from the hip on your 2nd, 3d, 4th, etc. marketing site. I see way, way too many SaaS companies just shoot from the hip and do what they did at their last company.
- Speak with data — on the marketing site, too. If you don’t, you may see conversions go way up. Or plummet, for no clear reason. You have to instrument it, and iterate it.