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7 Signs You Need a Messaging Refresh

Messaging is a core part of your company’s DNA. It’s not simply a list of the 3-5 features that make your product great—it’s the story that communicates the value you provide to customers day in and day out. It’s the WHY behind your company and its products and services. However, its foundational nature does not mean that messaging is static. While your core message itself likely won’t change very often (barring a major pivot), messaging is something that needs to be optimized and refined to ensure you’re attracting the right audience. 

But WHEN do you need to refresh your messaging? There’s no simple answer or prescribed cadence. While you should always be evaluating your messaging to make sure it is resonating—through win/loss analyses, customer interviews, and feedback—there are several quantitative indicators that can signal your messaging needs to be refreshed or even overhauled.

Look Out for These 7 Key Indicators

#1: Lack of New Customers

One of the most obvious signals that your messaging may be getting stale is your ability to attract new customers. Lack of new customer engagement is a red flag for everyone, and it often means that there are a myriad of problems contributing to that failure, not one single cause. It does, however, indicate that the story you are telling prospective customers isn't resonating and they aren’t able to understand or see the value of your product.

Here are a few metrics to keep track of when measuring new customer engagement:

  • Overall revenue (split out by new and existing/upsell business)
  • # of new customers
  • Average deal size

Ready to get started? Download the Product Marketing Measurement Template

#2: Decreased Website Conversion Rates

Your website is quite literally the face of your company. It’s how prospects learn about who you are and what you offer. It’s also the most directly quantifiable way to measure whether or not your message is resonating. 

Decreased conversion rates across your website often mean that the message you are leading with is not compelling enough for prospects to give you their information. Barring any major operational issues or changes such as introducing longer forms or major redesigns, seeing a decrease in conversion is a red flag that needs to be investigated, and it’s important to drill down to find out the root of the issue.

Not all website pages are created equal, so be sure to drill down into key pages to figure out whether or not it’s really a messaging problem. For example—if your demo page is steady on conversion, but you see a big drop in a popular content offer, it may be that offer is outdated or a competitor is outranking you for that keyword—not necessarily that your messaging is a problem.

Here are pages you should look at to see whether or not your messaging might have a problem:

  • Demo page
  • Product pages
  • Talk to Sales/Contact Us page
  • Free trial page

#3: Decreased Engagement on Nurturing Emails

The purpose of nurturing prospects is to provide valuable content until they are ready to speak to sales. Your core message should be consistent throughout your entire nurturing cycle. Decreased engagement with your nurture campaigns could be a strong indicator that your messaging is losing its luster.

Here are some metrics to look at on your nurturing emails:

  • Click-through rates
  • Goal conversions (e.g., if the goal is to get prospects to request a demo, has that increased/decreased over time?)

#4: Inconsistent Messaging on the Sales Floor

It’s not unusual for sales reps to put a personal touch on how they tell the company story, as long as it does not stray from the core message. But if sales reps are all saying different things about your value proposition, then it indicates that they are either not comfortable with the current message or they feel that the current message is not working for them—both major issues that need to be addressed immediately.

To gauge the severity of the inconsistency, you’ll want to investigate a few key areas.

  • Sales Calls: Sit in on some sales calls and record/take notes on how reps are messaging the product. Note inconsistencies between sales reps.
  • Sales Automation Emails: Take a look at the prospecting emails being used in sales automation platforms like HubSpot or Outreach, to see what message is being used to engage prospects and how much they differ from the core message.
  • Pitch Decks: Check to see if sales reps are making changes to the company pitch deck.

#5: Decrease in Top of Sales Funnel

The top of the sales funnel, setting up new opportunities and meetings, is where messaging plays a vital role, since sales is attempting to engage a prospect based on your value proposition. Whereas bottom funnel has more to do with pricing and contract terms. Decreased top funnel activity is dangerous for lots of reasons (decreased revenue being #1), but it’s often a strong indicator that your messaging isn’t as effective as before.

Here are a couple of metrics to look at when assessing your top sales funnel performance:

  • Net new pipeline generated: new meetings booked by the sales team
  • Pipeline conversion: how deals are progressing beyond the first stage

#6: Decrease in Competitive Win Rate

Now this one really hurts. Declining win rate is troublesome overall, but even worse is when your competitive win rate begins to decline. Not only does it indicate that your messaging is not working, it means that your competitor has a message that is stronger and more effective at resonating with prospects.

If you see your competitive win rate declining, perform a win/loss analysis to dig deeper into the reasons why. It will be helpful to apply these insights when you go to optimize your messaging.

#7: Decreased PR/Analyst Coverage

Stale messages aren’t interesting and don’t get coverage. If you find that your PR is decreasing, or Analysts aren’t covering your product as they were previously, it’s likely you need to refresh your messaging and come up with a new, more compelling story.

Tracking your PR mentions as well as your competitors’ will allow you to see the coverage you’re getting in comparison with the rest of the players in your market. If you see an uptick in competitor coverage, you’ll want to dig in to see what the fuss is about—new features? Entirely new messaging? Are they launching a big marketing campaign? 

You’ll learn a lot about where your competitor is going in terms of strategy and what outlets are finding interesting in your market.

Optimize or Overhaul?

Whether you need a complete overhaul of your messaging or a simple refresh is entirely dependent on your situation. If your product or service has changed significantly or your performance is extremely poor (particularly revenue), then you’ll most certainly be looking at a complete messaging overhaul. If it’s more of a small or steady decline, then you may simply need to optimize rather than change everything entirely.

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Lauren Kersanske
Lauren Kersanske was previously the Director of Demand Generation at Crayon. Prior to Crayon, she was the Senior Demand Generation Manager at Cybereason, where she built and led digital strategy across the team including campaigns, lead nurturing, conversion optimization, ABM, and more. Previously, she was the Marketing Director at Hexadite, a cybersecurity startup acquired by Microsoft for $100 million, and HubSpot, as Lead Nurturing Manager for North America. Lauren loves the (good) chaos of startup life, and plans on doing it again and again.