An article by Darrell Wilkins on 09 Jun 2022
Summary: Most FinTech websites are run out of the marketing department. But your website is much more than a sales/marketing tool. You need someone who will work across departments to ensure support for all areas of the business.
Most B2B FinTech websites (and most websites in general) are commissioned, funded, and run out of the marketing department.
But your website is so much more than a marketing and sales channel. Or a one-off project that will be neglected once it’s live. That’s why you need someone who will work across your FinTech’s departments to ensure your site is a strategic asset for all areas of your business, year-round.
You need a chief website officer — or CWO.
Why and How Marketing Run Websites
Marketing has been in charge of websites since we’ve had websites. Perhaps it’s this way because someone set the precedent and everyone has since followed suit. Or perhaps marketing owns websites because sites are primarily seen as marketing and sales tools.
It might be okay for marketing to be in charge of websites if a web native, c-level marketer is at the helm —someone who grasps the value of websites as more than lead generation machines. But a c-level marketer is almost never running the website, let alone a c-level marketer with the kind of experience and insight we’ve just described.
Instead, a marketer who is a few rungs removed from the c-suite is typically tasked with building the website as a small part of their slew of responsibilities. But that means the website doesn't get the level of attention it deserves. And because this person is first and foremost a marketer — someone who cares about brand look and feel — aesthetics are often valued over more important website and business objectives.
Problems with the Marketing-in-Charge Approach
Your website is a crucial strategic asset with many different functions, including:
- Showcasing your products and services
- Driving new business
- Sharing your thought leadership
- Supporting existing customers and partners
- Recruiting new hires
- Highlighting investor relations
- Demonstrating corporate social responsibility (CSR)
- Proving compliance
Notice that most of these jobs have nothing to do with marketing. So, running your site from the marketing department means these other areas of the business are relegated to the back of the queue — despite the material impact they stand to have on your business.
Quantifying Lost Opportunities from Marketing-Led Sites
Let’s look at two website sections that might be slighted when marketing is in charge:
A great investor relations section on your website is a place where current and potential investors can grasp the qualitative aspects of your company. Including this section demonstrates you understand and care about your investors, which could in turn be the difference between someone investing — or not.
Don’t miss out on millions of pounds your FinTech can use to grow or enter new markets because marketing only focuses on the UX your prospects and customers want.
Similar to attracting investors, you need to attract (and retain) employees. This is no easy feat in today’s competitive, employee-driven hiring environment.
A recruiting section on your website can be a powerful tool to draw talent in. But marketers aren’t equipped to deliver what prospective hires want and need from a website. These needs are just too different from what prospects and customers (again, marketing’s bread and butter) need. Worse, marketing might want to do away with a recruiting section altogether in favour of using recruiters or job boards.
You’re wasting money without an effective recruiting section on your site. Think of it this way: FinTechs hire a lot of developers. Developers are expensive — £80k salaries and 20% recruitment fees. If your website attracts just 10 developers that would have otherwise come from recruiters, you’d save £160,000.
The Promise of a Chief Website Officer
Many forward-thinking companies, like Stripe, have a CWO and a dedicated website department.
But the absence of this role still represents a missed opportunity for most organisations. A CWO would set the strategy for your FinTech’s website. And as a member of the c-suite, they would maintain oversight into each department to better inform how the site can benefit the entire business — including but not limited to marketing.
Sidenote: You might also call this person the chief digital officer (CDO) if they’re in charge of all digital products, not just the website.
The overarching benefit of having a CWO is you avoid all of the problems we already laid out. Your CWO is devoted to the website 24/7/365. They don’t have competing priorities like marketers, nor are they beholden to any other one department. Hence, they’re able to keep business objectives top of mind and be a voice of reason and a decision-maker. For example, if there’s an HR vs. marketing disagreement involving the site.
Specific Benefits of Having a CWO Run Your Website
Adding a CWO with their own department and budget comes with tangible benefits in addition to avoiding the issues that come with marketing running the site. By definition, your CWO will:
- Still work closely with marketing — marketing remains a key component of the business
- Show other departments what can be done through digital channels
- Cross pollinate good ideas and provide balance when there are competing interests and objectives between departments
- Manage and communicate with stakeholders from all departments
- Prevent ignorance or misguidance from causing harm (like the example of marketing removing the recruiting section of a site)
- Have the authority and wherewithal to veto bad ideas
- Avoid a myopic approach (sales at all costs — which puts off other departments)
- Find efficiencies. It’s often that a feature for one department can work well for others, too.
- Identify new opportunities for the business in digital channels
- Run the web dev effort with knowledge and experience
- Not allow major, costly UX or development mistakes
These benefits are real. And the fact that Stripe — the darling of FinTech — employs a CWO and an entire web team should tell you something. Be ahead of the pack and have a more effective website by hiring a CWO.
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