Corporate messaging updates are common occurrence for a marketing team. Usually driven by the need to adjust to market dynamics, corporate messaging updates have the potential to impact site conversion in a negative manner. I once badly messed up a company because I redid the website to make it “on message”. The temptation to make these changes is strong. Who doesn’t want their site to be “on message”, especially if you had just spent a hundred hours with an external agency working on messaging? Perhaps your CEO was involved, the CRO, the head of products, and worse, maybe you are new to the team. If the outcome of the messaging exercise was that the company is now positioned as the leader in the “Enterprise Cagility Market – Where Agility Meets Capability”, why doesn’t this need to be everywhere on the site? Who are you to argue?
Any marketer who knows digital demand generation knows the answer. You can talk all day long about who you think you are to build a theoretical category, but if people don’t know what you are, and can’t find you with basic searches, your SEO will tank. That is why these messaging exercises can be so damaging to a carefully constructed SEO machine of a website.
The challenge, however, is that you can’t ignore corporate messaging, nor should you. Corporate messages have a place in the story telling of the company. CxOs need to understand your story. Sales reps need to talk through the story. Analysts need to understand your story. If the story doesn’t show up on the website somewhere, then the story is insincere. The key here is to preserve the inherent tension between “our story” and SEO, the web’s story for your products.
To solve tension between SEO and corporate messaging, consider dividing the website into sections and allowing different teams to control different amounts of real estate. Corporate marketing can be given space on the home page for the corporate story. They could also update the “Our Story” portion of the website. Since most of the quality converting traffic entered from the sides, the corporate story would have little impact on SEO and conversion. Not all the home page can and should be given up to the story. Most marketers realize that product conversion on the home page can be valuable.
With the home page divided, corporate marketing teams can then build explanatory pages for the corporate story deeper into the site. These pages might get little traffic, but the traffic they do receive might be highly valuable. For example, if the only person who ever visited this corporate messaging section was a Gartner Analyst, who loved the story, then mission accomplished. Ditto, if the CIO of a prospect company visited the story and liked the vision, that single visitor would be invaluable.
Beyond the home pages, once you hit the product pages, these pages should be optimized for SEO and conversion. The demand generation teams should control these pages, and they generaly don’t care what corporate marketing wanted to call the category or the products, they will optimize these pages for conversion. There will be some inherent tension here with the product marketing teams, but conversion needs to drive these decisions within reason.
None of this should be taken to say that messaging doesn’t drive revenue. It does. Messaging is merely in the awareness/feelings/trust bucket of impact. It also doesn’t mean that demand generation teams might not use the corporate messaging in campaigns. I would expect demand generation team to actually A/B test the new messaging and do some webinars.
The problem with corporate messaging overhauls comes when you start to confuse what drives conversion with what you want to say. Most people are looking for what they want, not what you want to tell them.