The Marketing Website Belongs to the Marketing Team
As a reminder—we know you know this—a website is the absolute best representation of a brand. It’s the place where people go to understand who you are and what purpose you serve, be it a product, a solution, or a service. Your website should contain the general feel of the brand—the voice, the messaging, the personality, and all the things your brand offers. Most importantly, the website should be the central hub of everything that you have going digitally. This is the place to funnel all traffic, through all channels. Social, ads, and more should be bringing users back to the website to begin their journey. Your gut is right: You, as the marketing team, should have control over your brand’s website, as it’s meant to be the ultimate digital marketing tool.
So you can see why it might be a problem when any group beyond the marketing team is in control of the website. Your website strategy shouldn’t have to account for all the priorities that are shifted and every inefficient, added step that comes into play.
Who’s In Control Now?
Many of our clients at Solid Digital who come to us for a website redesign are stuck in a back-and-forth with their IT team. It’s common for us to see clients having to contact IT to get updates completed for the website—this isn’t good for any party involved. An outsourced web development partner or contractor may also hold the reins, making progress difficult and laborious. (These vendors may hold websites hostage due to the fine print on a contract.)
Sometimes this power shift occurs over time. If a company starts off with a smaller team, IT is tasked with making and managing the website. As the company grows, the marketing team may gain control—to a point. If the company becomes more of an enterprise size, the control may flip back to IT for security purposes, and marketing is again cut off from controlling the website.
When Marketing Doesn’t Have Website Control
When the website strategy takes a few extra steps from the marketing department over to a
different department, it’s going to take longer and something may be lost in translation. Interdepartmental requests, bureaucratic processes, red tape—whatever you want to call it, there will be plenty if the marketing website isn’t in the marketing team’s control. Make it easier, and get it housed in the proper place.
Custom-made websites are cool. But there is no easy way for the marketing team to update them unless they’re well-versed in coding. Having a drag-and-drop easily edited style of CMS will give the marketing team the flexibility they needed.
Marketing is a big “try, try again” crowd. With everything an experiment, it’s highly valuable to leverage multiple marketing tools and try different things. For example, the Hubspot CMS plugs into just about everything, allowing the marketing team to plug and play in a variety of ways. With the right combo (read: balance of power) IT can help with the integrations when things are more complex, but they shouldn’t put the kibosh on specific tools that marketing wants to try to boost their marketing strategy.
Taking Back Your Website and Brand
Regaining control of your website (and accordingly, your brand) may require some extra handling.
For now: Get the attention of your leadership. Bring to them the rationale and purpose of putting marketing in charge of the website. Clarify why you need a particular CMS (specific plug ins, ease of updating, data tracking). Have this information on hand, in case it comes up again.
In the long-term: Marketing has to prove its value. Show the leadership that the marketing department’s autonomy is actually good for business. Then, it’s likely that you’ll be rewarded with even more. If you are not achieving growth (which is generally the be-all and end-all marketing goal) with your website, you simply won’t have enough leverage to tell the IT team what to do. Also for the long haul: build a strong relationship with IT. Find a common language (or get someone who can speak as a liaison.) The CFO should be on your side, encouraging marketing to own the website.
IT’s Role in Websites
IT’s role with the website is as simple as this:
- provide oversight
- create seamless web experience from backend
- adhere to security standards, and
- complete necessary scanning and regular security patches
IT’s role is not dictating choices.
It’s vital to allow marketing or give the marketing team the ability to control the website (as it’s a big measure of their successes and failures). For the website, the IT team may indicate that WordPress isn’t secure enough. They’ll make mandates on which CMS must be used, seriously limiting the capabilities of the marketing team. A wrong choice on a CMS and the marketing team is suddenly working with their hands tied behind their backs—particularly if that CMS that doesn’t have the integrations and the tools they most want to use.
If IT’s goal is security at a very high level (say, government contractor level) that can make it difficult for marketing to use their preferred CMS. But not every website requires that. The marketing team should request findings as to why their preferred CMS is not allowable instead of being met with a hard-line “no” at every turn.
Even the most mature marketing teams struggle with control versus oversight in these scenarios. Outside team members may still try to take ownership of what should be marketing properties, due to an outdated idea that things are not secure within an open-source CMS.
It’s vital to be digitally progressive (so take that 2005 system and overhaul it). Your competition will certainly be leveraging new tools in their website strategy, marketing their brand like a well-oiled machine. Get your marketing team to own their stack including your CMS, and you’ll be back in the race.