Published 4 Oct 2022

Why a Product Manager’s Role is Vital to Your Growth & Marketing

Traditionally, marketing and product management teams have differing roles in a company — one responsible for promotion, and the other for product development. While marketing teams come up with strategies that drive website traffic, product managers build clear, easy-to-use products while offering user solutions. Oftentimes, these teams operate independently even though both functions are greatly …

Why a Product Manager’s Role is Vital to Your Growth & Marketing
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Areg Vardanyan

4 Oct 2022

Traditionally, marketing and product management teams have differing roles in a company — one responsible for promotion, and the other for product development.

While marketing teams come up with strategies that drive website traffic, product managers build clear, easy-to-use products while offering user solutions. Oftentimes, these teams operate independently even though both functions are greatly connected.

That said, product managers usually have insights into customers’ needs. This knowledge not only benefits all the teams involved in the product development process but also increases customer retention. It’s crucial for both the product development team and marketing team to work together as the former executes the activation, engagement, and retention of users acquired by the latter.

In this article, we’ll look at how the synergy between marketing and product management can scale your business and improve internal processes.

What does a product manager do?

The product manager role first emerged in the IT industry 20 years ago to understand customer needs better.

Today, product managers are responsible for finding a product market fit for new startups or products during the product development process. In the case of bigger companies, they spend most of their time understanding customer needs by analyzing available data, conducting customer discovery interviews, and cooperating with web designers and developers in delivering new product features.

However, product managers’ job description extends beyond the aforementioned tasks, and this includes the following:

  • Understanding users’ needs, and developing roadmaps and strategies to address them
  • Marketing monitoring and competitive analyses
  • Defining product vision
  • Aligning with stakeholders on the product roadmap and vision
  • Prioritizing product features and capabilities
  • Creating a shared brain across larger teams to empower independent decision-making
Source: Maddevs

Growth Product Management

Subtypes of product management emerged as the role started to be recognized as an independent field. Growth Product Management is the most popular subtype, and perhaps the most important one for businesses to drive product growth and promotion.

Growth product managers also referred to as “product growth managers” or “growth PMs”, usually focus on improving business metrics like acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue to create value by removing barriers.

Like traditional product managers, growth product managers also solve customer problems. However, the main difference between both is that growth product managers prioritize solutions that drive the most significant business outcome.

Ideally, a growth product manager works with a dedicated team of engineers, analysts, and UX designers to strategically execute initiatives, optimize a/b testing, and define growth metrics.

How are product managers involved in the marketing process?

The biggest difference between marketing and product management is customer acquisition and activation. The marketing team is commonly tasked with acquisition, while activation is the latter’s domain.

Unfortunately, dividing these tasks between teams isn’t the best approach to achieve long-term success. Here are a few reasons why.

The product manager’s role is crucial to improve key marketing metrics.

Since marketing teams usually focus on user acquisition, these teams only consider metrics when users sign up. Therefore, the metrics set wouldn’t reflect the quality of the traffic. Thus, teams should consider user conversion as an equally important growth metric.

So, where does activation come to play? This process actually connects the acquired users to the product value. Retention rates gradually increase by establishing product habits and driving user conversion. Without this crucial stage of driving company growth, marketing activities and product investments are virtually useless.

Customer feedback can help with marketing messaging

As mentioned, part of a product manager’s job description is to understand users’ needs by analyzing user insights and conducting customer reviews. These efforts provide in-depth knowledge on the product and user behavior, which gives the marketing team the opportunity to act on data-driven insights.

Here’s how the marketing team can improve its efforts by developing a product-led growth strategy:

Improve marketing messaging

The type of insights that can significantly improve your marketing messaging include product features that users value the most, users’ problems (including words used to define these problems), and product benefits they are looking for.

Knowing customers’ pain points can boost your marketing campaign initiatives significantly, whether it be improving website content, placing social media ads, or email marketing.

These insights are especially important for big products with multiple features, as you can focus on marketing the most in-demand feature.

Find new users

You’ve probably heard of the live video streaming service, Twitch.tv. It is now primarily focused on video gaming, but this wasn’t always the case.

Twitch Co-Founder, Michael Seibel told Y Combinator that the company didn’t have a specific focus on gaming before it pivoted from Justin.tv. It was simply a live video streaming service, and yet the transition to video-game-focused content is what drove Twitch to become the giant it is today.

That said, the company’s founders noticed that gamers were the product’s most interested users. Thus, core product managers can make a similar discoveries to help other teams hit business goals.

Rapid experiments enhances the product market’s messaging

Marketing and product insights are merely enough to develop hypotheses on which marketing messages appeal to various audiences. Instead, rapid experiments and A/B testing would generate a better understanding of a campaign’s impact on different business metrics.

You may implement these tests during the pre-sign-up flow, or integrate these to the different features of your product. For instance, you may add a sign-up success screen to direct users to different parts of the product.

These A/B tests can give you an idea on what kind of messaging can resonate with the entire funnel.

Retention and engagement scale user acquisition

Word-of-mouth is arguably the oldest marketing channel there is. It’s simple — when people like your product, they share it with others. With the right product management process, this channel can be further enhanced.

For example, strategically placed social share icons may encourage people to share your product on their social media. A referral link is another way you can enhance your user growth. 

Techniques like acquisition loops can immensely improve your marketing activities’ results. For instance, Slack uses a natural acquisition loop by prompting people to invite their teammates to use their product. 

Another type of acquisition loop is user-generated content (UGC) where users create and share content they’re interested in. Medium, for example, receives a number of traffic from social channels every month.

While acquisition loops are extremely beneficial from a business perspective, you should only do them after focusing on giving your customers value from your product. Otherwise, it may just backfire.

How do product managers drive user engagement (activation and retention)?

User engagement is among the top KPIs for every product manager as it can determine if your product is delivering the tools customers are looking for.

To understand how product managers impact user engagement, we will be uncovering a popular product framework called “activation strategies.”

The activation strategy is broken into three moments:

  • Setup moment: The setup moment is when your user is prepared to experience your product’s core value. At this stage, you enumerate must-have’s that will enable your user to actually experience your value proposition. It’s when you find out what your users are interested in.
  • Aha moment: This is the stage when your users experience your value proposition for the first time. The aha moment must be something your metrics can reflect to see when users perform a desired action for the first time within a set timeframe.
  • Habit moment: This is the moment when users form a habit based on your value proposition. Before getting here, however, you need to define what the habit moment is since it’s the core action you should see users performing multiple times.

In defining these moments, you must analyze the habit and aha moments before determining your setup moment.

The first step in the product development process is to understand your product’s use cases, and which features can enable your users to build habits. For example, how can you make users log in at least once a day?

Keep in mind that the habit and aha moments are connected as your aha experience should eventually lead to a habit formed around your product.

Once you determine the core action you want from your users, it’s time to smoothen the user journey leading to it. Know the necessary actions users should complete to experience the aha moment, and make the journey as seamless as possible.

It’s imperative to understand your users, thus it’s advisable to coordinate with the marketing team to understand how they were acquired, who they are, and which part of the sales funnel they are. At this stage, the marketing and product teams should closely work together to improve the marketing funnel strategies and traffic acquisition processes.

For more details about product retention and engagement, visit Reforge’s Growth Series Course.

Product-Led Growth

Product-led growth (PLG) is a comparatively new concept. As the name suggests, it’s when a business puts their product on the forefront to drive growth. The product leads in every step of the journey — from user acquisition to conversion and retention — instead of relying on the marketing or sales teams to promote it.

PLG creates alignment among all the teams involved in the development, from design to marketing, and drives their united efforts to create a product that will ensure superior user experience, and drive sustainable business growth. PLG makes the process of product development more democratic, as it gives more people an opportunity to have their say in which direction the product goes. The result of this is often a more complex decision-making process, but it also brings forward more innovative solutions.

Now, let’s take a look at how you can become product-led, and why you should consider it.

How to become a product-led business?

Like any other go-to-market strategy, product-led strategy informs how your company operates, from the development team to sales and marketing. However, while it implies talented sales and marketing professionals, a product-led strategy puts the product at the helm. 

Source: hockeystack.com

Once the company decides to go product-led, there are two significant changes to make: the product and the organization.

Let’s start with the product. Needless to say, you need to have an incredible product. It should promise great value and deliver it. From the design perspective, it should be simple, intuitive, and with minimal friction. Beyond that, how the product is built should be based on a deep understanding of the pain points of the users, the user journey, and the problems they are looking to solve.

Another quality of effective products is that they make smart use of the data to iterate their existing offers and provide helpful personalization. You can learn more about building great products from Product-Led Growth: How to Build a Product That Sells Itself by Wes Bush, a fantastic book about PLG.

The second big change that should take place is organizational transformation. Product-led companies move, grow, and change fast, as they are in the constant process of understanding the ever-changing needs of their users. PLG also requires alignment among all the teams involved. To become product-led, your company needs cross-functional teams that can coordinate, align, and communicate effectively.    

The benefits of PLG

Companies don’t become product-led overnight: it’s a process that takes time, and initially even more effort than usual. So, why would any company bother? Turns out, there are a few reasons.

  • Earnings – Product-led growth leads to higher revenues for the company. Because the product is the leading force behind the business growth, the resources that would traditionally be spent on scaling sales and marketing can be saved or reallocated. 
  • Better user value – PLG allows you to show the value of your product to users instead of telling them. Through the freemium model that comes with PLG, you can streamline customers’ experience with your product, offering them value in your product even before they start paying.
  • Shorter sales cycles – Being product-led helps to get rid of traditionally long sales cycles by removing barriers to entry. By making the product accessible through an easy sign-up process, a smooth onboarding, and affordable sampling, you can speed up the conversion process.

These are only some of the many benefits of PLG. While it’s not a quick fix, but a strategy requiring work, when done right, the efforts will be worth it.

Keywords

product management
product manager
Marketing Team
Product Marketing
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