When you’re launching a new website— whether for a new brand or a rebrand— content will likely be one of the first things you think of.
What content should you create? When should it be published? And if you’re rebranding, what about old and maybe out-of-date content— should that be refreshed, or done away with altogether?
Knowing what content to prioritize when launching a new website can directly impact its success, so we talked to Dave Shanley, founder and CEO of content management system Content Camel, to hear his insights on the content brands need for marketing and sales (and maybe what they don’t) during a site launch.
Dave Shanley is the founder and CEO of Content Camel, a sales enablement and marketing content management tool that helps companies of all sizes sell better by leveraging their marketing content more.
Dave was the technical founder of CrowdCompass, a live-event mobile app, and rocketed the company from his apartment to $25M ARR with an exit to Cvent, and an IPO along the way. After Cvent, Dave founded a product analytics company (acquired by Jama Software) and led go-to-market growth at the private equity backed parent company. Dave advises VC-backed companies on their go to market strategies to help speed their time to market.
“Content” can mean a lot of things, including the following:
Sales resources like battle cards or pitch decks
eBooks and lead magnets
There’s a lot that fits under a single umbrella, and it’s hard to know exactly what to prioritize first.
Here’s what Dave had to say:
“This is a great question with a one-size-doesn’t-fit-all answer. What content you prioritize actually depends a lot on your got to market model (eg top down or bottoms up?). Do you have a large sales (or small!) sales team selling directly, or is it mostly marketers driving community engagement or do you hope for product-led-growth? This should shape your content strategy.”
Understanding your core objectives and your GTM plan is essential… but so is avoiding common prioritization mistakes.
“Regardless of your got to market motion, avoid the mistake most organizations make – they build out their content starting with top of funnel first. That’s the slowest way to see results. Instead work backwards up your funnel – enabling buyers today and eventually working towards awareness content designed to reach large, but low converting audiences.”
So, don’t be afraid to start with product-heavy content, as long as you’re creating the value and strategically choosing objectives for each post.
Blogs are undeniably the most significant method of content marketing that most businesses rely on for attracting and even retaining customers.
Some businesses wait until their website has been up and running and their copywriter has time to start on blogging before they launch a site; others start writing posts before the site is even published.
Dave recommends the latter.
“I’d recommend they start writing even before launching a site and formally launching a business. It’s never too early to connect with your potential audience.
You can’t launch a product, sell a service, or pitch your latest idea without a receptive audience. The hardest part of everything that comes after – is figuring out what segment is going to engage the most and the deepest first.``
Style guides— also sometimes referred to as “brand voice guides”— are commonly used by brands to keep everyone on the same page and detail exactly how they want content to be created.
In many cases, style guides include instructions for grammar, word choice, formatting, and tone. And while some teams don’t use them— embracing the uniqueness of different voices for the blog— they can be incredibly helpful when it comes to establishing brand awareness.
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that your brand and style guides must be created with your ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind.
“Style and brand voice guides matter, but determining the needs of your personas – your ICP messaging – actually comes first. From there, you can determine how best your brand fits in when speaking to your audience. What’s absolutely critical is that you don’t drift away from the fact that someone at your buyer is going to engage with your content – whether they are an influencer or a decision maker. Meeting them where their needs are is more important than perfectly refined brand guides and brand positioning.”
Marketing and sales should be in alignment, but sometimes they aren’t. When that happens, the marketing team may end up focusing on one type of audience— and certain types of content— while sales is left wishing for something else.
In many cases, sales may benefit (or hope to receive) content that can help them sell more to their leads. The content may include pitch decks, product tutorials, and late-funnel content.
“At the end of the day, it’s really up to the sales team to help guide what content is going to help them out the most. That’s definitely going to be content that helps the buyers evaluate and buy the products or services that you’re selling. So, that’s down funnel content that lands right before a prospect reaches out to sales and creates urgency or some post engagement content that enables the team to both drive urgency and fill in gaps during the prospects decision making process.
As a marketer, you can keep open the lines of communication with the sales team and incrementally fill in the content gaps as they become more important and obvious.”
Creating urgency is a common marketing practice that’s used to motivate leads and customers to act right now. Using positioning and messaging within your content marketing can actually create urgency that drives real actions like clicks, email sign-ups, free trial demos, and even sales.
And that may look different than what some companies might think:
“Companies – it’s really marketers that I’m talking about here – spend way too much time on “brand marketing” and that really ends up diluting the message you’re taking to market. It’s more of a copycat method than first principles thinking. It works for the big brands, because 1) they appeal to absolutely massive audiences and have achieved success such that they are going after nearly everyone 2) they also drifted away from transactional messaging, but won’t be punished for it.
So, what that actually means, is that to drive urgency you have to resonate with – not educate – the audience you want to connect with. And to drive urgency, that means resonating with pains and frustrations – not just providing “gain” messaging. As a startup founder you hear people rattle on about selling painkillers instead of vitamins, but that’s super confusing, because the vitamin industry is so big, right! Well it comes down to messaging. I can sell you vitamins all day long if you’re frustrated because you feel unhealthy, sluggish, or are deeply worried your diet is inadequate.”
Content marketing success is often much more difficult to track than some other platforms, like PPC campaigns, where you can easily see a “click to conversion” path.
While it may be difficult, however, it’s still crucial, and having the right KPIs in place can help.
“Content attribution is always a thorny and challenging undertaking, but basically you want to know, as a business, what content is the go to market team leveraging and are prospects (and customers) engaging with it? As simple as that sounds – and it as simple as drilling down to those two core metrics – it’s not easy to track across teams (marketing and sales) and channels (social, newsletter, 1:1, and more). Having content organized in a single place with the ability to track both marketing and sales activity is key to answering those questions.”
In many cases, asking both sales and marketing what they think is working and why can also offer plenty of insights. They’ll each have their own opinions, and may be tracking different metrics or advice from customers.
“Another method that’s often overlooked is simply interviewing the internal team on what’s working – what does the sales team, what does the marketing team think of what’s working? Teams have great insight and just having the question be top of mind for them helps sharpen the focus on results.”
Want to keep an eye on how your audience is engaging with your on-site content? Learn more about MyTracker’s website analytics.
When your company is rebranding— or even dealing with a new product use case, or new buyer personas—, it sometimes means that older content isn’t quite as relevant as it was before.
There may be product information that’s no longer relevant, for example, or blog posts written with a certain audience in mind that you’re no longer targeting.
So the question becomes what do you do with the content during that time?
Refresh it, or get rid of it? And if you’re going to refresh it, should it stay up for the duration of the time that it does take to refresh it?
“Again, I’m a transactionalist and it matters a lot more that the content is accurate and helpful to a buyer than it does the brand. They don’t care about your “brand”. They don’t care about your rebrand. They don’t care about the style matching the rest of your content. They just care about their problems and are trying to quickly figure out if you’re helpful or they should move along.
So leave the content up.”
That being said, you want to be strategic about what you start reworking first so you can hit the high-value, high-visibility, and high-intent content first with updates.
“As you do go down the path of a rebrand, dive into the content that’s the most used, the most valued by the sales and marketing teams. And fill in any high priority gaps that help your buyers buy, because that’s really what it’s all about.”
Content marketing and copywriting can be done in-house, but many brands also often rely on third-party agencies or freelancers to help.
So the question becomes when they should start working with third-party content experts. This will depend on your goals, your budget, and the team you have in-house… but if you need to work with third-party content creators, “today” is the best time to get started.
“I think it’s a great time always – never too early and never too late – to engage 3rd party content creators. Just make sure you’ve defined the persona and audience you’re aiming to attract and clearly communicate what you’re looking to achieve. That could be thematically going deeper on topics you’re already covering or experimenting in new areas – it’s all good.”
Content marketing is a vital marketing strategy for many brands, both B2B and B2C alike— which is why this post is here in the first place! Knowing what to prioritize when you’re launching a new site can help you start building momentum from day one, which is why Dave’s advice is so valuable.
Which brings us to our last snippet of wisdom he shared:
“Stay focused, put your strategy in place, and execute. There aren’t usually easy or clear cut answers when making decisions around content, so it’s more important to execute well and finish to stay on track.”
That’s great advice if we’ve ever heard it!
Make sure that you’re tracking your website and content data from day one. See how MyTracker’s website analytics can help.