How Much Control Should Your Marketing Team Have Over Your Website? Just Enough.

Ralph Otto author photo
Ralph Otto Director of Product
Digital Marketing

As a marketer, your website is a full-time job. Publishing new, indexable content is crucial to maintaining your SEO position and circulating updates about your business. And when you need a landing page to promote a new initiative, there’s nothing worse than a complicated CMS that requires a developer’s assistance.

In racing terms, you can see the finish line. Why won’t someone just give you the keys?

Control over your website’s management is vital. If you can’t control your existing site, you’re likely already considering the next one for your business. Fail to incorporate enough freedom to create the features you need, and your site will deteriorate as a bottleneck builds with your IT team or web design vendor. However, if your site enables your team to function entirely on its own, then your site may be plagued by bugs, broken links, and inconsistencies that tend to be outside the scope of marketing.

Ultimately, the right amount of website control depends on your team and your organization’s goals. Strike the right balance, and your site will come to life as a powerful and flexible marketing tool. But if you get it wrong, you’ll need a redesign sooner than you think.

Why Marketing Teams Need Ownership of Company Websites

Websites were once seen as primarily technical concerns governed by mysterious tools and best practices. For years, IT was responsible for managing site updates, which is why the department often became a thorny roadblock (rather than, a powerful ally in your website plans).  

Websites are so important to the presentation of your business that marketing teams must have control over their direction. If someone is going to interact with your company, they’re no longer going to call out of the blue. Prospective customers are going to pull out their phone or open a browser and visit your website. For all intents and purposes, your website is the front door for your business.

You need to ensure your site always provides a positive first impression. While any web design partner can give you many options for controlling what appears on your website, you need to choose the path that best serves who you are as a company. One that nurtures your users in the ways you desire.

How to Determine the Right Level of Control Right for Your Site

Every high-performance website begins with a plan. And every successful redesign strategy hinges on the answers to four key questions. But even as you draw up the perfect plan, your site is still going to require updates. No website can be viewed as a “set it and forget it” operation.

As you think about how much control your marketing team should have over its site, you need to honestly answer three questions about your resources.

  1. Who will be maintaining the site? Will marketing be responsible for publishing all content? Or should other department stakeholders have access? The size of your team in relation to how much content you plan to produce is a critical consideration.
  2. How often will your site be updated? A regularly changing website doesn’t just serve your users; it also protects your SEO ranking. Your industry and your business needs will determine whether your site should be updated with new content monthly, weekly, or daily.
  3. Does your business generate enough content to serve your marketing needs? Your marketing goals must align with the reality of your organization. If you don’t have the resources to create the content you need, you may need to partner with a vendor to write your marketing content. Or you may need to rethink your marketing goals.

Your publishing strategy needs to balance your business needs with your available resources. While your digital content plans should conform to norms of your industry, they also should also stand out as an authentic reflection of who you are as an organization.

Identify What a Successful Site Is for Your Business

Whatever your business goals, you should be able to verify how well your site is contributing through established metrics. Even if the sole purpose of your site is to look beautiful (though it really shouldn’t be), then you need to ensure it delivers that result in a proven way.

For some businesses, brand awareness and pageview numbers are the goals. Your business may target conversions from a contact form, high search rankings, or a completed sale on an ecommerce site. Whatever the case may be, you should be able to measure what constitutes success on your site for your business.

Then, as metrics begin to accrue, your marketing team should be able to make changes to your website in response to what’s working and what isn’t. Beyond that foundational level of control, you can use your discretion to provide whatever additional freedom your content team needs.

Find the ‘Goldilocks’ Level of Control Over Your Website

Today’s content management systems are designed to enable marketers to take full control of their websites. But to ensure your site remains a lasting success, you need your CMS to strike a balance between control and caution.

Leaving most of your website management to developers will protect your site’s long-term performance — but it’s also expensive. If your team needs to consult an expert every time a page needs the smallest change, you’ll quickly exhaust your budget. Worse yet, this kind of production structure means that nothing gets done while you wait for outside help. Even the most responsive external resource still inherently causes a slight delay.

Conversely, allowing your content team too much control leads to the freedom to publish without governance. Your site may feature a lot of new content, but that content will likely be visually inconsistent at best and broken at worst. Without the proper guidance, your team will create whatever they need until your site is a mess of design conflicts, poor performance, and a negative user experience.The right CMS will empower your organization to create what they need while providing guardrails that protect your site. With tools like a pattern library and an intuitive, clearly labeled backend experience, content editors have the ability to create what they need while conforming to your brand’s guidelines. The right web design partner will help you with these details.

Websites Must Remain a Work in Progress

Even when you’ve found the right balance of control to suit your marketing goals, your website still shouldn’t be viewed as complete. Having a flexible, successful website is the goal for any business — but it’s only the first step.

Achieving perfection with your website relaunch isn’t just difficult; it’s impossible. No website can hit all its benchmarks and then go untouched for a few years while your marketing efforts reap the rewards. Technology, your competition, and your customers are in constant motion. Your website should be as well.

Your site won’t achieve all your goals in version one, and that’s OK. A successful web strategy will leave room for a regular cadence of content updates and technical upgrades. That way, you can ensure the site will continue hitting its target metrics as your business and the marketplace evolve. But when your website fails to hit the mark, you should have the freedom to make the changes you need.