How much can you save by developing your B2B website inhouse?

B2B Website Development
Team Alignment Helps B2B Website Development Goals

You are a savvy, budget conscious B2B marketer.  You have a whole team of software developers working on an award-winning SaaS Cloud solution that will transform the world.  So why not leverage their massive talent to build your new B2B website in house?

Notice how I mentioned the software development team.  This isn’t about whether you should hire a web team inhouse.  This is about the team developing your products to make your website.  Let me cut to the chase.  Don’t do it.  You won’t save a dime and it might end up costing you in the long run.

If you want to hire in internal Web development team, that’s one thing; though unless you are doing a heavily transactional B2C ecommerce site with daily campaigns and hundreds of landing pages, that’s probably not necessary.  If you have a small- to mid-size B2B company, the most cost effective and viable option long term is to outsource design and development then get training so you or your marketing team can maintain it.

One – Marketing First

It’s not about how pretty or fast the site, is, it’s about how the site conveys the value you offer to a prospective client and converts it to engagement.  They buyer has to come first. Make sure you have a solid list of requirements to build your case. Today’s B2B website is part of an entire ecosystem that supports sales and marketing.  While 10 years ago you might have updated a website every six months, today you have to keep it fresh and appropriate both for your buyers and for the search engines.  And it’s integrated with a lot more than just your CRM web to lead form. There are more than 3000 sales and marketing tools that in some way or shape, could touch your website through forms, chat, click to dial, social media sharing, content managers, and analytics, just to name a few. You have to build in your SEO requirements from the start, and then build all new content to an eye for what’s appealing to the buyer today.

The requirements need to be set by marketing, (with some input from sales and customer success) not the product team. And the reality is that a website is a whole lot more than throwing up some pretty pages (which always sounds fun to your inhouse developers).

Two – Not all Developers are the Same

There is a big difference between web developers and other types of developers like mobile app developers or desktop software developers or database developers – it’s all about specialization and specific skill sets. The user experience for your website is not the same as for your software or app.  For one, your web visitors are not all likely to be your actual end users (especially for the B2B world). Developers have different skills and technology focus like C##, or Javascript, and some are front end specialists and some back end.  And unless somehow your inhouse development team are also SEO experts (they are not), you are going to end up retrofitting an SEO approach after the fact, which, well will cost extra in time and money.

Three – It’s Not Really Free

Time is money.  Plain and simple; your software / mobile /app developers are expensive.  And if you are using them for a website project you are overspending. Those dollars come from a budget somewhere so they can get paid.  And if you miss out on prospects because your website isn’t done, or is missing a feature that’s waiting on dev, then that’s costing you even more.  The use of your highly paid development and engineering team costs you a lot more in real terms (their hourly salaries, meeting time with marketing, and lost time that they are not working on the product) – that’s money right out of your bottom line.

Even if your dev team does agile weekly or daily updates, you the marketer will wait in a queue if you want anything even remotely complicated done to your site. Your request won’t be in tonight’s release. You will have to submit your request to the ticketing system, where it will get reviewed and prioritized, and put in line behind the paying customers.  New registration form? Fresh image on the slider?  New Landing page?  New promotion for the tradeshow coming up?  That will be part release 45 dot 7.  The “customer” will always come first, and that’s not you, head of marketing.

Four – Marketers Need a lot of Maintenance

Will your dev team not only be able to set aside time for updating the simple mechanical stuff but also support custom plug-ins, and keep the technology new and fresh? Technology, style, and search engines all evolve constantly so if you invest a lot of time and effort internally, you are locking yourself into that for a long time.

Five – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Coders love to code.  They want to build cool things.  But with most B2B marketing, you are not going to need to build a totally custom effort.  No need to reinvent the wheel. Systems like WordPress have hundreds of API’s and plugins that are already proven, tested, secure and reliable.  Unless your website requires a totally unique, custom interface that’s completely new and revolutionary, why do it?  That’s like building your own CRM.  Sure you CAN, but why add the distraction when you should be focused on building solutions for your customers.

Most of all, you, the marketer, won’t be in control of your site and your destiny if you use your dev team to build your B2B website inhouse.  True, if you outsource, there are unscrupulous web houses that just want to lock you into a maintenance contract, but you can easily avoid those if you build complete and detailed requirements.  But if you use your inhouse developers and they build your site custom in their own special way, then you will NEVER be able to make a change when you want to, add a new plugin, post a new blog, add a new form or API without either getting in the development queue, or just as bad, you start to do hacks and workarounds with third-party apps so you can avoid having to touch the site. And once you go that route, you start compromising your brand, and your SEO, and the long-term viability of your B2B website.