What is Product Marketing?
Product marketing is the bridge between product development and product adoption.
It covers the full spectrum from positioning and customer development to pricing, sales enablement, demand generation and product adoption, ensuring that a product being developed can find product-market fit and meet user needs.
According to Michael Schipper, a product marketing manager at Google, it is “the process of constantly refining the messaging and positioning of a particular product with the goal of increasing your user base.”
Essentially, product marketing exists at the intersection of product development strategy, sales, marketing and customer success, with a specific focus on making a product successful in the market by articulating its value both within your organization and to the target audience.
Why is Product Marketing Important?
Product marketing is the most strategic part of marketing especially in SaaS and tech companies because it ensures that a product is positioned strongly and the value is effectively communicated to a clearly defined audience.
Here are a few ways product marketing contributes to the long-term success of a product in the market.
Strengthen your product positioning
If you’re planning to launch or scale without understanding your buyers’ challenges and knowing how exactly your product solves their problem, then stop what you’re doing and go hire a product marketer.
A smart product marketer will focus on identifying product benefits, communicating its value and creating a positive perception of your product while telling a compelling story that customers resonate with. This will guide how your product is perceived and received in the market. It will also ensure that your internal team is crystal clear about your positioning and that target customers have no doubt that your product is the perfect solution for them.
Improve product experience through customer insight
Product development is an iterative process and customers should be at the center of that evolution.
A good product marketing strategy will include reaching out to target audiences or lead customers in phases before launch and regularly collecting customer feedback through social media, polls and surveys. This allows your team to discover what customers want, understand the common problems they face, identify a price point that isn’t a barrier to purchase for them and deliver superior products that customers will advocate for.
Successfully guide customers through the buying journey
A few indicators of a product’s success are sign-ups, active product usage, low churn and upgrades, each of which is strongly driven by product marketers’ efforts in understanding customers, communicating their needs to cross-functional teams and presenting your product as the perfect solution.
As your prospects go through the stages from awareness and consideration to making a purchase decision, product marketing will play a key role in articulating value through content, generating demand using campaigns and providing collateral the sales team needs to close.
What do Product Marketers do?
Product marketers are responsible for shaping a customer’s perception of a product, collecting customer feedback to further develop the product and product positioning to drive competitive advantage, revenue, and market share for products.
“It essentially comes down to bringing the product to market and making it sellable”, says Aurelia Solomon, a product marketer at Drift. “We do that by understanding our buyers’ challenges and positioning our product as a solution to their problem.”
Ideally, a product marketer will have a deep understanding of the digital marketing landscape, including the ability to develop compelling messaging for a product line and articulate the needs of customers to the product, sales and engineering teams.
The job description for a product marketing manager at Apple states that a person in this role will help shape product strategy and business decisions through research, cross-functional partnerships, and strong go-to-market programs. In addition, the person will work on marketing initiatives that drive awareness and adoption of products, while representing the voice of the customer to influence the product roadmap.
The primary responsibilities of product marketers are:
- Conducting market research
- Creating ideal customer personas
- Providing insight into customers and competitors
- Developing pricing strategy
- Defining the positioning and core narrative of products
- Crafting brand messaging
- Creating a go-to-market strategy and creating a roadmap for the launch
- Educating customers on product value
- Analyzing customer data
Other key responsibilities include organizing successful product launches, managing product-focused campaigns, supporting the marketing funnel and providing powerful sales enablement to empower the company to reach its financial goals.
Examples of Product Marketing and Use Cases
There are different ways to approach product marketing depending on your product offering and the customer segments you’ve created. Each one plays an important role in strengthening your product positioning, generating demand for your product and increasing sales.
In product marketing, one recurring task will be the planning and execution of go-to-market, product launch and seasonal advertising/marketing campaigns.
Now, while Apple’s Get a Mac campaign will be an ideal reference here, let’s look at something different. Back in 2018, the razor brand Billie launched a viral campaign for its “Project Body Hair”. It was recognized as the first razor brand to show body hair in an Ad. The brand messaging was strong, “however, whenever, if ever you want to shave, we’ll be here”. The campaign hit 22 million views, set an industry trend and positioned Billie’s product as one that empowered women, making it the number one choice for their target customers.
Also known as “feature pages”, product pages are great examples of product marketing because they educate customers on product value by showcasing specific products or solutions in detail; including features, benefits, demos and testimonials from existing customers.
Take a look at Amplitude’s Analytics product page. It includes a demo, deep dives into the product features and highlights different use cases for cross-functional teams.
Unlike content marketing where you have to avoid over-selling your product, a blog dedicated to sharing news and product updates gives you enough room to do just that. Sell benefits, sell what makes your product different, and sell what people have achieved using your product.
Google’s product blog shares insights and the latest news on products across Google. It also includes helpful articles centered on specific products.
A great marketing collateral to have is a product demo, showing exactly how your product works. This can help convert potential customers who are in the consideration stage of the buyer journey.
Typeform uses this type of product marketing for its interactive video product, videoask where prospects can sample the interactive features. Another great reference is Poo Pourri, a toilet-spray brand that uses a light-hearted tone to explain how the product fights odor when you go to do #2.
Many software and B2B tech companies have a virtual library that contains videos, tools, ebooks or courses that help their customers get things done using the company’s products. Webflow has its own university, Mailchimp 101 walks you through the basics of getting started and Zapier hosts interactive webinars to show people how to use its features.
Hosting a community event is a smart way to engage prospects, interact with customers and collect live feedback. An easy approach to this is using social media like Twitter Spaces or Instagram Live. However, there’s the option to do this on a bigger scale, think Hubspot’s annual Inbound event or Canva’s 2022 “The Future is Visual” event.
Virtual Help Center
A virtual help center for customers will help drive product adoption because it provides the information customers need to understand product features and resolve any issues they might face during the onboarding process. Squarespace has an excellent help center you should check out.
Spotify has set the standard for data storytelling with its yearly Spotify Wrapped. It’s one of the best examples and use cases of product marketing. Spotify Wrapped demonstrates a deep understanding of customers, possesses the virality effect and creates the kind of FOMO that drives new users to the platform.
Product Marketing KPIs
What are some of the metrics that can help you measure the success of your product marketing strategy?
- Trial-to-Paid Conversion Rate: This determines the number of people who became paid users after experiencing the value of a product during the trial product.
- Monthly Recurring Revenue: This shows the expected monthly revenue from customers. It’s a strong indication of your company’s stability and can be increased by upselling, cross-selling, improving products and offering multiple pricing options.
- Net Promoter Score: This market research metric measures the likelihood of customers to recommend your product based on their experience.
- Customer Retention Rate: A high customer retention rate reduces the pressure to acquire new customers. This can be achieved by prioritizing customer success and consistently improving the product experience.
- Product Adoption Rate: This is tied to the customer retention rate and shows how many users are actively using your product.
Hire Product Marketers to Grow Your Company
Product marketing supports product-led growth, which has proved to be a successful approach to driving business growth, particularly for startups. Ready to start getting the benefits of product marketing? Find a growth mentor to set you on the right path.