Bootstrapping your own SaaS marketing site

By Marc McDougall

Recently, I’ve been getting quite a few inquiries from SaaS companies that are in their earlier stages of development.

Since I have a strong policy that I will not work for you if I can’t see a promising ROI for you, I have to turn them down.

I don’t like doing this, so I’m writing this guide to help soften the blow and provide some value to anyone that wants to do this on their own.

When should you design/build your own marketing site?

My rule of thumb for this is: when a 1% lift in conversion rate through your site results in at least a 5-figure lift in profit annually, you should consider hiring a professional to help you with design & build your marketing site.

Before then, you generally run into two issues:

  1. The economic value of the solution to your brand is quite low, so you can’t justify paying the fee for a seasoned professional to do the work; and
  2. Those that you can afford will likely do more harm than good.

In a nutshell, you need to be able to make a compelling economic case for your SaaS company to work with someone, and until you’re seeing some serious traction already you can really only make that case for inexperienced practitioners.

So, let’s say you fall into the “DIY” category…what’s the best way to build your SaaS marketing site in 2020?

Building your site…

If you’re not tech-savvy at all (or wisely just want to get something up ASAP to validate an idea), then consider using Squarespace or Webflow.

These tools are essentially “Drag and Drop”-enabled, and should get you up and running in a matter of days.

If you want to get your hands dirty, you can consider using WordPress.

Here’s some popular themes that I use regularly:

  • GeneratePress: This is my “go to” theme for anything WordPress-related.  It’s incredibly-performant and lightweight, albeit you need a bit more time to customize it up-front.
  • The SaaSland Multi-purpose Theme: This one is a bit more “plug and play”, although you’ll take a hit on page load times.

Heads Up!

You want to avoid using site builders like Wix (or any of the site builders that your hosting environment provides…GoDaddy is a known offender here). They’ll be extremely slow, and Google actively penalizes you for having a Wix site.

Hosting your site…

It’s really easy to get lost in the sea of options available to you when it comes to hosting your site.  So, I’ll cut to the chase and just share the hosting companies that I personally use on all my client projects.

First, if you’re using WordPress…

  • WPEngine: This is my “go-to” for hosting personal and client projects.  WPEngine fits the perfect balance of price & performance (and their support team is killer).
  • Kinsta: Another stellar option.  A bit more performant than WPEngine, though a bit more pricey than WPEngine.

If you opt for the WordPress route, it’s really important that you pick a solid host.  It can mean the different between a sub-2-second page load time, and a 10+ second load time.

Cheap-ing out on hosting really does cheapen your brand, and customers can feel that the moment they hit your site.

If you’re using a tool like Squarespace or Webflow, they’ll host you on their own servers.

Heads Up!

Again, there are some hosting options that you really want to avoid here.  Namely, anyone from the EIG hosting group, GoDaddy, SiteGround, or BlueHost.  The concern here is mostly around performance — you don’t want a sluggish site, because your customers will think you have a sluggish service!

Some additional resources…

I know it can feel overwhelming if you embark on this endeavor all on your own, so here’s some resources that should help guide you through the process:

Anyway, good luck on your journey to create something customers want!

You’ve got this.

(P.S. Don’t forget to come on back in 5 years when you’re ready to take things to the next level! 😉)