If you've been following Yoni Solomon's appearances on our CMO Diaries podcast, you'll have heard (or read) all about how he approached rebranding Uptime.com as CMO. From establishing the messaging and positioning, identifying the key elements of a great brand, all the way up to the rebrand launch itself.
With such a major project out the door, it's time for Yoni and his team to celebrate and relax, right?
Not quite, the rebrand launch is just the start!
Yoni returned for another episode, where he laid out everything his team had to track in the weeks following the launch, what issues he had to tackle, and how he and his team are finding time to celebrate. Check out a write-up of what we discussed below.
- Recap of the rebrand launch
- Measuring the success of your rebrand
- Balancing your "yays" and "nays"
- Setting yourself up for future success
- Taking stock and celebrating big wins
- Yoni's five lessons on post-rebrand actions
Recap of the rebrand launch
We're not going to call this the epilogue chapter of the rebrand story, because we're sure to cover lots of important, relevant stuff. First, let's just assume you haven't been just relaxing on the beach with a cocktail?
No cocktails! There's still quite a bit of work to be done, but there’s a lot of celebration to be had as well. We're seeing some really exciting results right off the bat.
The last time we spoke, it was literally days before the actual launch of the rebrand, so do you want to take us through it? What happened with the rebrand launch? What was the initial response? What have the results been so far?
We've been talking so much at a high level about a rebrand launch. Let's get into the fine details of that week. It was really a two days span when the rebrand went live. The first myth that I want to bust right up front is that a rebrand is solely a marketing effort. It's certainly an initiative that marketing is responsible for, but this rebrand had to be collaborative in order to be successful.
Across the board, we had this cross-functional effort between myself and the marketing team. Our dev and engineering team were also there to assist and support everything related to the website relaunch. There's a lot of complexity there. We were working with our third party providers and agencies for PR and PPC to ensure that everything related to our comms and our funnel was up and running and ready to go as well.
The biggest tactical piece of the rebrand was the new website launch, which is obviously a big and complex project. That was done very collaboratively as we were working to essentially sunset the old websites and launch the new one with folks. We had everyone working across the board.
We even had engineers reading through copy, checking and clicking buttons, trying to break everything on the sites, all to ensure a smooth and successful launch for that week. We had to make sure the websites were launched correctly, make sure that all of our comms were delivered to the market. We wanted to share the exciting news and let everybody know that we rebranded. And of course, we had to ensure that everything related to our funnel was up and running and operational.That's what launching that rebrand felt like from ground zero.
When it came to the actual relaunch, what was your approach with it? Some brand relaunches go right into the hard sell straight away. "We got a new logo, now buy from us!" Was that your approach? Or was it more of an educational way?
If you're looking to modernize your B2B tech brand today, a hard sell is the wrong way to do it. The hard sell almost feels a little bit antiquated and outdated. So, certainly no hard sell. The primary focus for us was on generating buzz and excitement, in educating the markets as to why we made these changes.
We wanted to be really open in terms of the changes that we've made within our business. With the hires that we've made, the decisions that we've made from a product perspective, all of this has led us to moving into a more mature and new brand that reflects where we are today. So, I'd say the two primary focuses, rather than the hard sell, were about generating the buzz and attention and excitement and then educating our customers as to why they made this choice.
Measuring the success of your rebrand
How do you measure the success of both those paths? How do you know what KPIs you're going for? Most people associate buzz with social media engagement. But how do you measure the effectiveness of the education route?
I think it's actually twofold. KPIs pertaining to social engagement follow direct traffic to our sites, right? That's from completely organic sources, media pickups, and stuff like that. But I think there are also anecdotes that we were looking for. I heard from customers, from analysts and from one of our competitors that the brand itself just looks awesome.
For me, I'm always looking to see if we're driving more engagement and visibility to our sites, to our social media properties and to our review destinations. I also just want to hear back from human beings in a one-to-one capacity. I was thrilled and a little bit relieved to see both of those things happen.
And then, on the other side, we’re also looking into those harder ROI metrics. First and foremost, starting at the top of the funnel, we want to look at traffic, right? How are the sites that we've now relaunched? Did we nail it in terms of SEO? Are we setting ourselves up for success? Have we seen consistent growth?
If you're about to relaunch a new site, you have to give it a few weeks to marinate on the search engines, just so you can start to benefit from some of that goodness. If you do see a bit of a drop, stay in the pocket. As long as you've done your homework in terms of keywords and tagging, you should see that lifts start to occur.
Another level down the funnel, we started to see an increase in trials. As I've said in previous episodes, we are a product led growth business. Our funnel is fueled by inbound 21 day free trials. From there, a certain percentage of those convert into paid subscribers. And so right off the bat, we wanted to see if we could generate a larger number of free trials coming through the funnel.
I was thrilled and a little bit relieved to see those numbers jump immediately! In the first week alone, we saw a 40% lift in the number of trials coming through. That number has since grown. If we finish today with the same sort of metrics that we've seen all week, we'll see 100% growth of our funnel in three to four weeks since we've relaunched.
So, there’s significant growth there. The last piece will of course be revenue. If you're driving more qualified traffic to your site, you should be seeing more free trials that are being created by customers, or users who are genuinely interested in the solution at present. We should see a solid percentage of those converted to paid subscribers. This piece is the one that takes a little bit more patience to measure, depending on the length of your trial, especially if you're a product led growth business.
If it's a seven day free trial, maybe you see those conversions come through quicker. Ours is nearly a month. We're just now hitting the point where some of those trials that we drove with the beginning of our relaunch should be converting over. I'd say that by the end of this month, we'll have a much better idea of whether the traffic and the trials that we've driven as a result of this rebrand are converting paid subscribers to money in higher volume.
Awesome. Hopefully that gives you something to celebrate.
It's another thing to be excited and majorly relieved about. Absolutely.
When you said one of your competitors actually reached out to compliment it, was that completely organic? Or did you send out press releases to competitors as well?
It was actually organic in a sense. Part of the rebrand, beyond just getting your website up and running, is of course making sure that all of your third party destinations are rebranded as well. Social media profiles, etc. Then, of course, there are all the different directories and partner listings that your brand lives on. We do integrate with some direct competitors. One of those direct competitors reached out to get our listing updated. They were like, “Hey, just to let you know, we absolutely love the new printing and the new look.”
I thought that that was pretty awesome. That's awesome. They even wanted to do a joint content piece with us. So, those are some of the things that you look for with a rebrand. It’s not just the visuals, but the messaging, the presentation and the product imagery. All of this needs to stay correctly aligned to market expectations and needs.
Balancing your "yays" and "nays"
You’re making things sound very smooth to get to this point. It can't have been that easy. There must have been some fires you had to put out along the way?
Yeah, I like to call them "yays" and "nays". With every big project, I think it's great to celebrate those wins when you have them. I think it's so important for your own mental health and energy.
As for the team, it’s important that they're actually taking a moment to celebrate the successes. But it certainly did not come without its bumps. I mentioned that in week one of the rebrand launch, we booked one long office hours Zoom meeting where any of us could essentially hop on and screen share if we saw something. We were all collaboratively working to micromanage every element of this launch to make sure that nothing went wrong.
After that first week, the numbers were up. We were seeing results and nothing had blown up or burned down. I remember thinking on Sunday after the launch, “wow, maybe everything is gonna be okay.” Now, let me tell you, that is the last time I will ever say that. The very next day, we started to see some significant outages coming through our Google Ads accounts.
It just turned out that these Google bots that index pages were having some issues. It was just due to some firewall issues with the new site. As a result, they were having some problems crawling the pages. We started to see quite a few of our Google Ads crash because Google wasn't sure where to point people because of this firewall issue.
We spent week two of our rebrand launch working to get that all figured out, which thankfully, we did. It could have been a lot worse. I think the big takeaway that I had out of that was, this outage result being very stressful, our website was performing so well that it really didn't impact our daily trials or funnel.
We really got lucky there. That was a silver lining for me. Despite this primary lever going out over the course of a week, our messaging and organic traffic to the sites were good enough that they were able to carry us in the meantime. It really didn’t affect our performance or averages in a meaningful way. Since I have gotten that fixed, it has just led to the best week in terms of funnel performance that the company's ever had. It's been a crazy week.
What was the issue with Google ads? Was that something you could have anticipated, or was that just a random problem with integration?
It was not something we could have anticipated. Remember, it didn't happen until the eighth or tenth day out. If it was going to happen, I thought it would have happened earlier. There're just always going to be these slight tweaks and issues that happen in between these really complex systems that we all rely on. This was just one of them. But we addressed it, we found a way to fix it. Thanks to the strong organic presence and conversions already coming through the sites, we were able to navigate it without seeing performance get hurt that badly.
It sounds like one of your lessons for the end of this episode is gonna be, “wait a little bit before you say that something’s broken?”
Yeah. There's never a time where you can sort of put your hands in the air and say, “Wow, maybe nothing is actually gonna break,” because that is exactly when something will break. Certainly, there were bumps along the way.
But all in all, it's been awesome seeing the new rebrand come to life and the new website go live. We've engaged the markets, and we're seeing early results on performance as well. Now it almost feels like this big first chapter has come to a close. Now it's time to write the rest of the book, and that's where the real challenge begins. That’s where the real work begins.
Setting yourself up for future success
Whether you're a potential customer or not, check out uptime.com to see the work that Yoni did. It doesn't look like most SaaS companies you've seen before. There’s a very unique angle to it.
So, what’s next? How do you measure the success going forward? What are the next steps now that you've rebranded and launched it?
Yeah, now that you've launched a brand, it's time to build recognition and credibility around it. This is exciting and also a bit daunting. I come from a product marketing background. And if I were to lay out the five stages of a product marketing launch, it’s gonna be like this: step one, ideation. You have the idea for whatever this thing is. Step two is where you're designing and writing, messaging and getting everything ready.
Step three is gonna be your soft launch, your test phase. Step four is your ‘go-to-market’ launch. Now, most products that I think don't succeed in the long term end up failing because they never make it to step five. This is ‘go-to-market continued.’ You've expended a lot of energy on stages one through four, just coming up with the idea, building it, testing it, launching it, and it takes a lot of work. But really step five is what makes or breaks the launch. The reason why it's called ‘go-to-market continued’ is because it really doesn't end. This is where we have to start thinking about different levers to build credibility around our brand.
Maybe it's going to be thought leadership, maybe awards, events, etc. We have to reimagine the rest of the product experience, every single email and interaction we have with customers. This is where the heavy lifting gets done. And it's gonna happen over the course of several years. But I would say that for us, as far as what comes next, it is going to be putting together these several different levers across different functions of marketing, to help us build a recognizable brand now that we finally have one that we feel can really make it out there.
Should we go through those levers in a bit more detail? What are these levers that you're focusing on? And how are you actioning that with your team?
The first one I would say is thought leadership. The way that I think we're going to differentiate ourselves in the market is by taking a look at our own data. Now, if you're a B2B or a SaaS company, there's no doubt that you're sitting on a wealth of customer data: from studies, to consumer reports, or even just basic content. These are the things that help you demonstrate credibility within your industry.
I'd say that, for us, our thought leadership, without giving away too much of our strategy right off the bat, is going to be two sides of a single coin. One side is Uptime – calm, focused material related to the usage of our products. A day in the life of the site, reliability engineers that we support, and all sorts of stuff like that. The other side is going to be a third party site that is associated with Uptime, but it's not completely tied to it. The goal is to turn that into an industry-centric place for people to learn everything about outages and website monitoring.
So, there's a lot more to come there. I think, again, this is the key to building a strong brand. It’s moving away from that hard sell. In offering great information, data and context and invoices, we offer that in good faith without a hard ask for a free trial or a demo. I'd say that's the thought leadership focus for us from step one to five.
We've mentioned before how important community building can be for SaaS companies to build up customer loyalty. It's going to be incredibly important for B2B companies, going into 2022, particularly with ad placements becoming a lot more difficult, cookies being a lot more difficult to manage, and new privacy laws. Building this kind of dedicated community is gonna be incredibly effective. It's gonna be a valuable resource as well in relation to how you develop the product and how you develop the brand moving forward.
Absolutely. I think community is probably the hardest thing to build. But it's the most valuable if you have it. The big pillar is developing a strong thought leadership and community presence. Number two is adding a bunch of velocity and capacity to our funnel. Up until now, we've been this product led, growth focused business. We’ve been very focused on inbound results, and it's worked. But now with this new brand, we want to look outbound.
There's all sorts of work underway around developing a strong ABM strategy for us that encompasses both prospects and customers. I think the keys or levers for delivering on strong ABM have to start with data. That's looking at your foundational data set to see if you can correctly map customers and accounts to usage and into activities and behaviors. That can help you better understand how well ingrained they are with your products.
From there, what are the touch points and engagement opportunities that you can start to think through for customers? What’s the ideal piece of content or the right tip? Or the right sales motion? And then, of course, doing the same thing not just for customers but on the prospect side of the house, that's a little bit more reliant on things like buyer intent data, so you’re looking at different sites.
It's so much more than running display ads. I think the segmentation and the list building for prospect focused ABM is incredibly important. I would say that's big pillar number two for us, right after content and thought leadership and community building. It’s executing strong outbound ABM for prospects and customers alike.
It's a good idea, calling it Account Based Management.
I can take no credit for that. That was my CRO. But I've always loved that approach as well.
Because calling it Account Based Marketing puts too much onus on marketers. Marketing is an important thing in the business, but calling it Account Based Marketing ignores how important other departments are. You must be coordinating a lot with other departments to build this kind of ABM process?
Yeah, of course, it has to be collaborative, right? Your sales and success folks are on the front lines with these customers and prospects. I think using ABM within the context of Account Based Marketing not only puts too much of the onus on marketing, but I also think it devalues the practice of ABM a little bit. Because the first thing that everyone goes to is building out very focused segments of prospects.
We're going to run ads on the sites that they visit a lot, or we're going to retarget them on LinkedIn based on their buyer intent activity. I think it's so much more than that. If all you're doing is running ads, then I'd say you're just doing demand gen. But if you're collaborating with sales and support to really understand the needs of these accounts, then you can solve for them in a very one to one capacity.
I think that's where you really start to cook with gas in terms of ABM, and that's also the best way to land and expand and take these accounts that come in as maybe SMB or mid market size accounts. Eventually, you can move into a six figure recurring sort of ARR deal with them as well.
When you were thinking about the rebrand, were you thinking about this ABM approach? Did you have that in mind? Were you thinking about types of prospects and types of accounts you'd be able to attract with this new kind of branding?
Yeah, it has to work in sequential order. For us, building a strong ABM Foundation was going to be incredibly important. We had to make sure, first and foremost, that the brand that we were going to build was going to be relevant and applicable to the type of segments that we were targeting,
I think we have seven target segments right now. I would say that all of it, sequentially, did fit in. So, now we have a brand, and a site and marketing materials that we feel are confidently a good fit for these markets. It becomes much easier then to start building out your segments, launching your ads and feeling good in your gut that this stuff is going to convert.
What's the timeframe that you've got in mind for building out these ABM processes? When do you think you're going to be up and running with it now that you've got the brand relaunch under way?
Yeah, we have some stuff launching as early as next week. We've been hitting the ground running. At the moment of the rebrand, we were asking, “who are going to be our target accounts, what are gonna be our target segments? What are the industries that we have really compelling stories for?”
We started to map all of those things out so that we could hit the ground running once the website was launched. So, I'd say that it's happening today. We're trying to get some ABM assets and datasets approved and handed over to the right parties so that we can start to run campaigns as early as next week.
It works really well doing it that way, striking while the iron is hot. You've just spent all this time getting the whole company aligned behind the brand realignment. So, now the company is aligned, they're gonna be more suited to sort of work within this ABM structure.
Of course, and you want to try to ride that momentum as long as you can, especially with holidays coming. Obviously, the end of November is going to be Thanksgiving, and then as you head into December with Christmas and New Year's, it’s that winding down stretch. I think much of the world, especially your addressable sellers, are going to be winding down as well.
I think that focusing on riding this wave is another reason why you partner with sales and support and success. Their numbers and results are reliant on your timing, and how quickly you can move on some of this stuff. I'd say that we're gonna do our best to ride out the rest of this year in terms of momentum. As we head into January, a lot of the hard work that we're doing now is going to set us up for serious success in 2022.
Taking stock and celebrating big wins
It sounds like you're not taking your foot off the gas in any way. When is the time to sit back and celebrate? Do you have that scheduled in, having time to take stock with the entire company and say we've done some really great work?
I think a lot of that will probably happen at the IT companies summits that we're gonna have in 2022. Certainly with my marketing team, we've had our celebrations as well. It's hard, because, as I mentioned before, if you celebrate the GTM launch phase, you might not really take it as deep into step five, GTM continued.
Then, before you know it, you're a year into the launch, and you haven't seen the results that you want. And now no one's really celebrating. I would say, make sure to set real and significant goals, and make sure to find those moments to achieve them. Have those celebrations with a healthy view towards the future. Know that there is more to build in there, and there is more to do. A job never really ends in marketing. That's the fun part of it.
At the same time, it's important, particularly in remote team settings, to take time to celebrate the wins, to show what everyone is achieving together. When you're in an office you can get more consistent feedback, but it's difficult when you're in remote settings. In remote work, it's hard to really take time to celebrate the wins.
Uptime has done a great job of that. I literally have something on my desk, a gift that our sales team had sent every single one of the marketers, just a little bit of celebratory booze. There's been these fun little opportunities for us to find ways to celebrate the success. Like you said, it is a big deal. And when you're in the day to day grind, it's sometimes hard to take a step back and see just how much got done.
Yeah, that allows you to take a perspective of what you've achieved. As you said, celebrations can be used as a way to get perspective and show there's still more work to be done. If your nose is to the grindstone the entire time, you don't see the product that you're building.
You have to go up on the roof and you have to look out and see what exactly you built, and I completely agree, it also makes these bigger projects fun when you can find those opportunities to celebrate.
Yoni's five lessons on post-rebrand actions
So, it’s time for five lessons from Yoni on post-rebrand launch.
One, Marketing's accountable to your rebrand, but it is a collaborative effort that your entire company needs to believe in. Don't be afraid to get folks involved, especially as you're relaunching items. Get sales’ eyes on things, get successes’ eyes on things. Ensure that when this launch happens, it's done collaboratively and tactfully.
Number two, don't celebrate too soon. Make sure to give yourself a solid two week window, especially after a big digital relaunch like a website, just to ensure that nothing's broken. Ensure that everything's working exactly the way that it should be.
Number three, set solid, aggressive yet realistic goals upfront in terms of traffic and in terms of sales, so you can start to benchmark immediately. Whether this rebrand has been a success in the short term, we want to ensure it’ll work in the long term. But also, at the same time, keep an ear open for anecdotal feedback. Typically, it's going to come from partners or from customers. if you're lucky, maybe it comes from a competitor.You can feel the excitement from folks, especially text messages and calls that you receive.
I think it's really good positive reinforcement for the teams as well. Number four, plan ahead. A rebrand effort isn’t done after just stage four of GTM launch. You need to think about these serious levers in terms of community or ABM. Social and integration is another really popular lever that people take once a big launch like this happens.
But think those things through and start planning ahead so that when the rebrand happens, when a new site is up, and you're riding this wave of momentum, you can continue to execute on really important projects. Number five, even though there's a lot to do, find time to celebrate, take that time with your team, with your company and create fun. Really make a point of marking these moments for really, really big projects, because they don't happen often. When they do, and when they're successful, they're worth celebrating. It's not just good for you, It's good for your team, and it's good for the whole company.
How do you manage major projects once they're out the door? Need advice? Head to the CMO Alliance community and join the conversation!