When two companies come together through a merger or acquisition, there are a lot of moving pieces. In our experience, we see companies come together through mergers and acquisitions all the time. And when they do, it’s important that they consider how to unify their content strategy — so that everyone involved in creating content is aligned and working together to support the new conjoined business.
Many of the brands we work with grow through acquisitions, and they often consult C2 on how to best onboard new brands into their overall digital strategy. We understand the importance of having a proactive and repeatable process that allows brands to confidently lead brand absorption while transitioning under the parent brand, retaining relevant SEO equity from new brands, and building trust in acquired web teams.
While it can be a pretty overwhelming process to bring two companies’ content together, it’s important to take a systematic approach. A three-part series across content, design, and development, we’ll dive into our tips and considerations for unifying merger and acquisition content strategies.
Step 1: Define the direction for your combined content strategy
In order to be successful, it’s important to decide what you’re trying to achieve as a combined business. To kick that off, look to understand the new and existing target audiences, including their relationship and differences.
Dive into the brand’s target audiences
Start by completing a deep dive into the new brand’s target audiences. These are the people you need to consider, engage, and influence through your revised content strategy.
New brands may have slightly (or completely) different audiences, so you’ll want to define:
- How you might need to update or combine them with your existing personas to reflect a larger or more distinct target audience
- Topics and subjects that are most important to these audiences
- Common problems and challenges the audience may look to solve with the oncoming product or service
- Possible apprehensions the audience may have about using the product or service
- All existing or aspirational ways to address the audience’s motivations and fears
- The closest alternatives or competitors the audience has for the product or service
By having a strong understanding of your target audience, you can better assess how the product can answer their needs and shape messages for the oncoming brand including how it relates to your existing business and offerings.
Evaluate how the product or service addresses customers’ needs
Naturally, your target audience will help you learn more how the functions and features of your product or service serve their needs. Documenting the above will create a customer-centric conversation with your team around the what and why of your content strategy. It acts as a blueprint for the early stages of acquisition adoption and as a “North Star” to ensure the coming efforts reflect the core concepts documented.
Take what you learned about your audience to define and document for each oncoming brand:
- What competitive advantages distinguish the brand’s product or service from alternatives
- How the product or service solves for the customer’s needs
- A single phrase or sentence that could describe the brand’s future philosophy under the parent company
Using your target audience as a filter, you can get to what sets your product or service apart from the rest on the market.
Step 2: Determine your brand voice and top-level messaging
Next, review and compare how the onboarding brand currently speaks about themself, and compare it to your existing brand tone and message.
Tone of voice
Your tone of voice is a chance to show off your brand’s personality! Remember - it’s not necessarily about what you say, rather, how you say it. Consider the language that gives your brand its own distinct and recognizable personality - one that stands out, helps you drown out the competition, and build authority. This is important, since you’ll want to have a clearly defined brand voice that every content creator can apply to help deliver consistent customer experiences.
Mission and messaging
Once you’ve determined how you’ll speak about the conjoined brands, be sure to adjust your messaging to reflect so accordingly. This could apply to your company mission, products and services, value proposition, and key differentiators. Consider the new company and what strong messages can be adopted and reflected in the current messaging. Don’t forget to reflect your messaging with the updated tone of voice.
Step 3: Evaluate the content you have and which to migrate or repurpose
Once you’ve identified your revised tone of voice and messaging, use this and the target audience documentation to evaluate what content you should keep, leave behind, or rewrite from the new brand.
Complete a content audit for the acquired brand
Perform a content inventory for all the existing content on the acquired brand’s website. This will help you understand what content exists, where it’s located, whether it’s up-to-date, and what is performing well and resonates best with your audience. At the end, you’ll have a better understanding of whether you can maintain elements of its tagline, brand messaging, positioning statements, and SEO relevance.
We recommend using a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to save you the manual undertaking of gathering all of the brand’s page links, content, meta data, and more. This will help give your team a complete picture of the brand’s existing architecture, different forms of content, and what has (and hasn’t) been indexed by search engines.
Determine the most important and relevant content
Once the inventory is complete, use your target audience, voice, and messaging documents to help organize and segment content based on whether to keep, leave behind, or rewrite. This will be your first filter through determining what’s the most important before defining where it will live or be conjoined on the parent brand website.
As you assess content from your audit, create columns for notes as it relates to the quantitative and qualitative data for each page.
We advise documenting:
- Page content descriptions: a brief reminder of what each page contains.
- Performance metrics: including page views, bounce rate, and conversion rate.
- SEO performance metrics: what keywords can be capitalized on from existing content.
- Determine which customer(s) the content serves: identify content that offer customer solutions or competitive advantages.
- Identify what content will not be migrated: mark content that will be archived.
Determine which content will need to be updated: Identify whether content will need to be updated right away versus what can be tackled over time. Then, begin to identify where each piece of content will live or be conjoined on the parent brand website.
Step 4: Review, modify, and define processes for content creation moving forward
Now that you’ve spent time organizing and re-writing content, consider what processes will need to be changed and documented for creating new, brand-aligned content moving forward. More specifically, look at each company’s existing processes and decide if you need to standardize and modify them to align with your content strategy.
Consider creating or updating documentation that includes:
- How you will make sure that new content accurately reflects your company’s brand, style, and tone of voice so that it’s concise and recognizable by your customers
- Common brand language and style guides for making sure content is always unified in speaking with the same brand voice no matter who writes it
- Tools used for the creation, review, and approval processes of content before it’s published
These are just some of the many process-oriented questions you’ll need to work through to get everyone on the same page about creating content that meets your business goals.
Step 5: Bring it all together
Now that you’ve refined your strategy and looked at your brand voice, messaging, content, and processes, you need to make sure everyone is working toward alignment. That’s why it’s important to integrate web content and marketing teams—from both companies—early. You want to be confident going in, so that the brand being acquired doesn’t feel replaced or reduced.
Conduct training, provide accessible documentation, and consider tool tips in your web platforms to help keep this concise and on-brand. By creating a centralized place for teams to reference, you can drive enthusiastic and more seamless adoption of your updated content strategy.
While bringing two content operations together isn’t easy, it’s more efficient when you apply a systematic approach. If mergers and acquisitions are a core component to your business model, and you’re responsible for combining acquired companies’ content into your strategy, get in touch with us.