Updated: November 27, 2023 - 10 min read
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Mailchimp. If you’re interested in writing a piece for us, contact [email protected]
Growth has become one of those buzzwords that float across Product teams, Marketing teams, and everything in between. Sometimes it’s a “mindset.” Sometimes it’s a team. It can be product-led or marketing-led, sometimes, a bit of both.
Growth can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, so for our purposes, we’ll just take one view of what that might be.
From a Product Management perspective, we will define growth as:
““Increasing the number of users and/or level of engagement with your product or service.” ”
This can mean that you are getting more people to download your mobile app, or that you have users logging into your SaaS product more frequently and trying new features. That growth is usually driven by one or more of the below:
Acquiring new users or subscribers
Driving feature adoption
Developing new features and/or improving your user experience
Changing your offering (price, subscription model, payment method, etc.)
As you can see from the list above, there’s a mix of product and marketing activity that can generate that growth. And that’s what we’ll focus on in the tips below— the intersection of product and marketing to drive growth. Whether you’re a B2B business, 2-sided platform, or consumer-facing product you may also be thinking about how your product can help your users grow too. Growing your own user base and helping your users to grow requires collaboration across Product and Marketing to share product analytics, review customer feedback, and analyze marketing engagement. Blending product and marketing will not only allow you to deliver an exceptional product but also to continuously deepen engagement and drive acquisition.
With that in mind, let’s peel back the layers and take a look at the intersection of Product and Marketing.
1. Define Your Target Audience(s) And Need(s)
Knowing who you’re building for is just as important as what you’re building. Start by asking, “Who is our customer, and what is their pain point?” This will allow your teams to rally around a shared understanding of both product needs and marketing messages that will resonate with them.
Defining your audience and their needs may seem like a one-time exercise at the start of your business, but it’s critical to keep checking in on these, especially as your offering shifts and expands. Market conditions may change, user needs may evolve, and competing offerings may shift, so this should be something that you and your cross-functional teams revisit at least once a year.
2. Identify the Ideal Customer Journey
Once your audience needs are defined, you want to think about how you should track them going forward. When you know who you’re building for and what they need, you can start building the ideal journey. This journey should begin even before they touch the product. Product Managers are asking, “How am I going to ensure they benefit from the product?” But Marketers are asking, “How am I going to share the benefits of the product?”
Your journey should start with how your target audience will find you. What are the channels that they will use to find you or discover your new feature? Will it be information they search for or communication that you push to them? Where should they go next?
From a marketing perspective, there is a delicate balance between giving enough information that you can create interest in the product and also set expectations but not so much information that fatigue sets in and they forget to actually use the product.
From a Product perspective, that same balance exists—giving just the right experience to put what they need front and center, but also presenting features in a way that allows them to get the most out of the product.
Setting an ideal customer journey, from awareness to usage, allows you to evaluate this delicate balance and meet your audiences’ needs so that you can not only convert them but also keep them.
There are a number of sophisticated tools available to support this kind of mapping, but we are sometimes fans of the good old sticky note. Just getting a visual of how marketing material translates into product experience can help put you in the customers’ mindset and see where you may need to provide a link to a support page or include a tool tip in the product.
And best of all, laying out the ideal journey makes it even easier to figure out the things you need to track along the way.
3. Track Traits & Behaviors
In the same way that a customer journey starts before the customer even touches the product, so too does the tracking and measurement. Tying together marketing and product metrics can be one of the most challenging things you’ll encounter in Product Management. There’s a reason that attribution models require a few data science degrees. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t track engagement throughout your funnel.
Going back to the target audience: first think about the who. We think about the traits of a user, those immovable things that define who the user is. A Marketer will be thinking about the different types of messages that will go to different types of users. Someone who signs up for your product in Germany may respond to a different kind of message than a customer in Brazil. Or a customer who only uses your mobile app may need to be reached through different channels than one who visits you on a desktop. From a Product perspective, traits are important for things like knowing whether to translate your product or what type of content to prioritize for different audiences.
Working together to determine the traits that you want to track and setting up a system to tag those users automatically will make it easier to segment and understand how those different types of users are engaging with your product or service.
When looking at the customer journey, you want to think about the how—how are they engaging? Tracking your user behavior is key to understanding not only which parts of your product are engaged with but also when and how regularly.
Finding tools that allow you to track time and date-specific behavior allows you to see patterns in how users engage with your product and gives you the information needed to message to those users in a timely manner. Segmenting users based on the actions they have taken, or those they haven’t taken, is key to gaining insight into how well your product is meeting their need and when and where it’s best to communicate with them to increase engagement and growth.
4. Create a Communication Plan and Measure It
Once you have a system in place to track user traits and behaviors, you can leverage those to build automated and scheduled communications with them. his is another area where Marketers and Product Managers are stronger together —finding ways to communicate with their users both inside and outside of the product.
Creating an automations communication plan is key to efficiently reach your users with targeted and timely messages. For example, if you track when a subscriber reads one of your articles, you can trigger an email to reach them the next day with a related article. Or maybe a user has downloaded the app, but they haven’t upgraded to the newest version, so you can trigger a push notification to reach them within a day of the new release, encouraging them to make the update.
You might also be interested in: What Is Product-Led Growth?
Your traits and behavior tracking can enable scheduled communication, too. Let’s say you have a live event coming up in Berlin. You can segment out those users who live in and around Berlin, so they get details about the event. Similarly, you may have an update coming out for just the Android version of your app, so you can segment out your Android users and only communicate with them to share those updates.
In any of these scenarios, you want to have a full view of how you’re communicating with your users and when. We know there’s a fine line between being top of mind for our customers and overwhelming them, so it’s good to know which messages are reaching them in-app vs in email. Which automated messages might they receive after a certain activity vs. the scheduled email you have teed up to reach them that same day?
And finally, just like the measurement of their engagement with the product, you’ll want to measure engagement with your marketing and product communications. Thinking back to that ideal customer journey, you are now going through and measuring where you are effectively reaching your users and prospects along that journey, and where they may be dropping off. Collecting information about how they’re engaging and where will give you the insights to drive growth, whether through acquisition or engagement.
5. Set Up a Feedback Loop and Iterate
Maybe no one is opening up your emails, so that’s an indicator to take a look at maybe the subject line or message send time. Maybe your audience is opening the email and clicking through to your product but dropping off before doing anything. With this insight, you can investigate what’s happening in that hand-off.
But in order to do any of that, you need a system for that feedback loop.
One thing to consider is how you plan to action the data that you collect—not necessarily how you plan to solve it but how you plan to learn. From a product perspective, your focus may be on how to improve the product or what new feature to build next. From a marketing perspective you may be thinking about how to reach more prospects or how to increase conversion. And the two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Bringing it all together
Creating this foundation of who you’re building for, how they’ll experience your product, examining what their engagement looks like, and planning when and how you’ll communicate with them can create a shared understanding of what success looks like and how to identify areas for improvement.
Creating this shared vision across Product and Marketing, supported by the tools to measure how well that vision is achieved, gives you actionable information on how to continue growing.
Whether that means shifting your messaging to reach a new target audience or fixing a bug in your product to improve user experience, or adjusting your price for a certain subsegment, you can create a system to plan, implement, measure and iterate across these five practices. And if you can build a collaborative approach to each of these components that includes both product and marketing perspectives, growth won’t be far behind.
To learn more about driving growth and the tools that can help you achieve it across product and marketing, check out some of our resources on Mailchimp.
Meet the Author
Sasha Friedman (she/her) is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Mailchimp, based in Atlanta, GA. She and the marketing team love learning about their customers and are passionate about making marketing technology more accessible for growing businesses.
Updated: November 27, 2023