How do you measure the effectiveness of messaging and positioning? What are your KPIs?
This is probably one of the toughest problems we face as marketers. A lot of times, teams will look at a combination of leading quantitative indicators (clicks, conversions, time spent, etc.) and qualitative signals (from buyer interviews, listening to sales calls, etc.), to take a best guess at what’s working and what’s not.
There are lots of problems with this. It’s tough to isolate messaging as the primary driver of these results, and assign quantifiable measures that will clearly indicate improvement if you make changes. Qual feedback takes a lot of time to gather, especially if you want to validate your messaging across a number of buyer personas. A/B testing can help, but you and your GTM team need to be pretty careful not to change anything else (including upper-funnel stuff like ad copy and targeting) that might impact results, which can be paralyzing. Worst of all, while you’re doing all of this, you’re already in-market: the train has left the station and you’re losing opportunity if you’re not sure your message is connecting.
Instead, my recommendation is to validate your messaging before you go to market. (I won’t do too much self-promotion here, but it just so happens we make a Message Testing solution at Momentive, and it’s one of the products we leverage the most internally.) With a message testing solution, you can get a number of messages in front of your target audience — we tend to target a broad array of business buyers — and get real data on which messages resonate across a attributes like overall appeal, uniqueness, and, importantly, desire to learn more (as well as segmentation across buyers if you like). This is the kind of thing that, a few years ago, you’d probably need to engage a research agency to run, but modern survey-based tools like ours have purpose-built methodologies built-in, and you can get a clear signal on your key messages in just a day or two.
We ran one of these recently to test new headline messaging for our Momentive homepage and it paid off in spades. It validated a messaging direction with our target buyers that was different than what internal leadership was advocating for — so we had some data to bring to the table justifying our positioning (see another of my AMA responses on gaining XF alignment on positioning). If we hadn’t tested, there was a strong risk of going to market with a losing message on one of our most important properties. Instead, we were able to go live on Day 1 with a message that we already know will resonate. In fact, two of our test messages performed strongly, so we were able to run an in-market A/B test to find a winner without really risking any traffic to a poor performer.
tl;dr: I recommend using a survey-based solution to test your messaging before you go to market. You’ll get quantifiable information about what works and what doesn’t, aid internal buy-in, and gain a lot of launch day confidence. You will influence other performance KPIs driven by the GTM team, but PMM’s biggest responsibility is ensuring you have messaging that resonates with target buyers.
- Conversion rates across the funnel - Did the messaging drive the desired actions at each customer touchpoint from initial engagement to sign up/trial/purchase
- Landing pages, emails, posts, and ad performance - How did individual assets and channels perform relative to benchmarks?
- Sales asset usage and engagement - Which assets, talking points, and messaging were used, and how did prospects and customers engage? Highspot will show you which sales assets are being used the most and which are driving the most customer engagement, while Gong.io provides sophisticated insights into sales calls to determine what’s working and what’s not.
- Finally don’t forget to capture qualitative feedback on your messaging from customers, prospects, and internal stakeholders. While presumably, you’ve done this pre-launch, another round of feedback post-launch will provide further insights you can quickly apply to post-launch campaigns for a fast follow.
The ultimate KPI for great messaging and positioning is always the health of your business and your most important business metrics. Great messaging can doe everything from increasing conversion rates, accelerating the sales cycle, lowering acqusition costs to improving win rates. Those would always be the P0 OKRs to me.
There are great leading indicators too, which are more tangible and direct. Things like ad click through rates, email click through rates, site bounce rates, time on site, and more, that speak to how engaging and action-inducing your messaging is.
It's pretty difficult to get a straightforward read on the effectiveness of your messaging and positioning but there are a few things you can do to ensure your messaging is more likely to succeed. 1) During the process of creating the messaging, work with your market research team to test aspects of the messaging with prospects and customers. This can be both quantitative test of words or descriptors you use as well as qualitative tests where you actually test aspects of a pitch with customer. 2) Get input early and often from your sales, customer success, and support teams. 3) Use A/B testing to evalute how the messaging resonates on your website, search, social copy.
Once you've created the messaging, you can use your channel metrics to track how well it's resonating but give it time. Any change of messaging takes a while to take hold with the audience (be it sales or customers) so don't be in a rush to make an update just because you see metrics dip initially.