The rise of the customer-centric approach has significantly altered how companies see a product. Today, it is primarily considered the critical organizational asset that generates sales and facilitates the development of a firm’s competitive advantage. However, even flawless products that have great features can fail miserably.
For example, around three-fourths of all consumer packaged and retail products fail during their first year. Therefore, why do most product launches fail even though they are entirely adjusted to the needs and wants of their target consumer audiences?
Product marketing is an emerging area of marketing that can provide a convincing answer to the question above. While this strategic function is thought to bridge the gap between marketing and product management, many people need to understand the role that product marketing plays in promoting and selling goods and services. By reading this article, you will know what constitutes product marketing and how to create a well-rounded product marketing strategy suited to your business goals.
To define the product marketing strategy term, we should step back and focus on product marketing first. The simplest definition tells us that product marketing brings a product or service to the market. However, this definition needs to be more inclusive because it does not tell how exactly product marketing differs from, for example, a product strategy, digital marketing, or sales marketing.
A more comprehensive definition is product marketing as a strategic process of developing, positioning, and promoting a product and increasing the demand among its target consumer audience. It closely relates to understanding customer needs and positioning the product accordingly. Product marketing intersects product positioning, messaging, and promoting to ensure the product is visible to and demanded by the target audience.
Now, getting back to what constitutes a product marketing strategy. Traditionally, it is viewed as a high-level plan or roadmap focused on bringing a product to the market by considering its positioning, pricing, and promotion.
Among other things, a product marketing strategy tells a company where its biggest fans are and how to get access to them. It integrates with the product lifecycle and informs how the product should be marketed from development to growth.
While creating and implementing a comprehensive product marketing strategy is not easy, it can bring considerable benefits, some of which are mentioned below.
One of the key benefits of a good product marketing strategy is that it enables a business entity to understand its target audience properly. Based on this knowledge, it can design and market its product to the particular needs of its customers.
Matching personalized messaging and content to the target persona evokes consumer interest, making your product more attractive and desirable. This is often achieved by identifying the target buyer’s psychographics and demographics.
Another significant benefit of a good product marketing strategy is that it equips a business entity with the knowledge required to surpass competitors. Creating a winning product is not entirely about equipping it with unique features and properties.
To ensure your product is more demanded than the competitors’ offerings, you must identify a missing link between what is currently offered and what consumers want. You might need to use strategic management frameworks such as SWOT and Porter’s five forces to determine whether your newly developed product is worth releasing.
As we all know, the ultimate goal of any business is to maximize profits. While companies often achieve this goal by increasing sales, they overlook the role of a product marketing strategy in this process.
By understanding where your business currently stands and what problems your target audience faces, you can construct a message that would make your content reliable to its interests, fears, goals, and ambitions. Once you get there, you can state the benefits and features of your product to your leads and, hence, achieve a higher conversion rate.
Developing a good product marketing strategy takes work, as it requires the skills and competencies of both product management and product marketing. To reiterate, product marketing is about the voice of the customer, messaging, positioning, and product adoption.
Product management is another strategic function responsible for setting the vision, identifying pain points, and developing a product that addresses them. These two functions eventually come together in product pricing, conducting market research, and affecting product development. Therefore, creating a product marketing strategy requires insights from both areas of corporate governance. For the reader’s convenience, we have divided the process into eight consecutive steps.
Market research is the first thing to do if you want your newly developed product to succeed. Early-stage market research will help you validate the demand for the product. It will also provide valuable insight into your target audience's wants and needs. For example, you could analyze your financial data to identify what type of product brings more significant profits and what customer types are most profitable.
You could also get access to external data from governmental and non-governmental organizations (e.g., Eurostat, The World Bank, and Data.gov) to understand better your target consumers’ needs, spending behavior, and demographics. Supplement this data with studies and reports from trade associations, reputable media sources, and industry journals. You will get a comprehensive picture of your market segment, size, and growth potential.
Most market research instruments imply obtaining quantitative data, which can be quickly processed, analyzed, and presented graphically so that you can familiarise yourself with the recent market trends and changes. At the same time, consider the contribution of qualitative research to your product market strategy. Quantitative research will not get you into the consumer’s mind. But qualitative research will.
An excellent way to identify your customers’ wants, concerns, and expectations is to conduct customer surveys and interviews. It is always a good idea to speak to the target audience you want to attract if you launch a new product. You could reach out to these consumers on social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You could also survey or interview your target consumers offline, but this option is less effective unless you get data from a few people.
For example, to identify paint points, you can ask your customers questions like:
These questions can easily be pitched to an email list or added to social media stories where your audience can directly interact with you.
When conducting qualitative research, you should base your questions on three significant areas: pain points, goals, and price estimations. When identifying pain points, your questions must identify a specific problem or a set of problems your prospective customers are experiencing in the marketplace. In turn, goals are the main reasons consumers seek a product and what they hope to gain. Finally, by asking prospective customers to share their pricing expectations, you can identify a reasonable price range and base your pricing strategy on this knowledge.
Running minimum viable product testing is another way to obtain valuable feedback from your target users to determine whether your newly developed product is adjusted to their needs and wants. For example, you could release an app with only a few priority features for new customers and improve its future versions based on the obtained feedback. However, this approach to data collection is suitable only for certain types of products.
The next step in developing a winning product marketing strategy is to define your target audience. This step is crucial because it gives you an initial understanding of your target customers’ needs, preferences, and expectations. It is quite natural for consumers to buy a product or service that fully addresses their needs and wants. That is why they tend to switch to an alternative brand or company if their needs are unmet. By creating personalized user personas, you can get valuable insight into how to market your new product to convince your target consumers it is the best option.
Similar to market research, creating personalized user personas involves collecting both data types. When obtaining qualitative data, you should focus on what goals and ambitions drive your target users to search for a particular product.
You should also identify their concerns and hesitations about your product, its features, and its characteristics. User mindset is another crucial aspect to focus on when creating user personas. By doing so, you will better understand how your target user behaves when purchasing goods and services and what they expect from the buying journey.
Based on market research, you will know exactly what makes your product unique and how it better addresses user needs and expectations than rivals’ offerings. The hard part is ensuring customers are also aware of this information. They do not purchase a product because some company is selling it. They buy because this product fulfills a need in a way that other products cannot.
A unique selling point (USP) differentiates your product from its competitors. It communicates to the customer that your product is better and stands outs from rivals. Some critical questions to ask yourself when developing a USP are:
You can find your USP and attract your ideal user by answering these questions. Test your new USP in the market before committing to it. If you get a positive response, you can enter a new space more confidently or better serve the existing market. If not, it is better to tweak your USP and try something different. Feedback is imperative at this stage because it helps you understand where you missed the mark and what in your message did or did not resonate with the user.
Positioning is another crucial element of a good product marketing strategy that enables you to tell a story and drive customers away from the carbon-copied rivalry. You need to think about your positioning carefully to effectively communicate the benefits of your product to your target audience. Start by considering the following questions and issues about the 4Ps of marketing.
Think about what your target customers want from your product. Can it fully address these wants and expectations? Your product must be better than others and have unique features and characteristics to add value and stand out. If you can’t find anything unique about your product, you should probably return to the product development phase and do what your competitors are unwilling to do. Depending on the type of product you sell, your positioning and messaging strategy might need to follow the 7Ps of marketing, which involves some additional dimensions, such as people, physical appearance, and process.
Pricing is one of the most critical dimensions of the marketing mix. The success of your product launch will considerably depend on your price point, which should be picked based on overall marketplace conditions, your rivals’ prices, and the consumer’s ability and willingness to pay.
When considering this P of marketing, you must consider how your price relates to the selected consumer audience and value. Pricing is a compassionate aspect of your product marketing strategy because it largely determines the extent to which your newly developed product would be attractive to consumers. Are they price-sensitive? Are there established price points for similar products? How much are you charging? How does your price compare to others?
Similar to the price dimension, your place strategy should depend on what type of organization you are in and what product you offer. Some companies prefer brick-and-mortar stores to sell their goods, whereas online distribution is the key to success for others.
How are you going to deliver your product to the customer? Do your distribution channels match where your customers look for them? Do you have any other distribution channels? You should also consider what your competitors do in terms of this P of the marketing mix. How can you learn from their actions and differentiate yourself?
This dimension is concerned with how your user discovers your product. You can use various promotion instruments, channels, and practices to deliver your marketing messages to your target audience. The most effective way to reach your audience is to use multiple promotion channels simultaneously. Today, many business entities focus on social media marketing as the primary promotion tool. However, the truth is that you can maximize your reach by using social media in conjunction with more traditional promotion channels such as billboards, press, and TV. In addition, PPC advertising, social media ads, and email marketing are excellent alternatives to social media to connect to your customers in the digital space. Email marketing can have the same personal touch as social posts and create a beneficial connection with your customers.
Every potential customer goes through a customer lifecycle before making a purchase. To convert cold prospects into paying users, you must deliver timely content to potential customers depending on their current position in their customer lifecycle journey.
During the first phase of the customer lifecycle, consumers become aware of your brand through social media content, collaborative marketing, and blog posts. The more your product is visible to the customer, the more it will add value to their eyes. Apple’s Shot on iPhone is a good example of a social media awareness campaign that spans across various social networking platforms to build strong brand awareness. You could also build brand awareness and encourage long-term relationships with your customers through an email marketing awareness campaign, which is a scheduled series of emails sent to customers to nurture leads, encourage engagement, and increase sales. For instance, newsletters from Netflix use the customer’s watch history and preferences to provide a curated list of new films and shows that they may be interested in.
Another increasingly popular option to make your target consumers aware of your product is live streaming. Like social media, webinars are a cost-effective marketing instrument that makes consumers aware of your brand and product. It also facilitates real-time engagement and makes your product visible to broader audiences.
However, in the Web 2.0 era, you must fully control your online marketing messages. Instead, the social media user transmits your marketing efforts to potential users through reviews, webinars, blog posts, etc.
That is why it is crucial for your product marketing strategy's success to ensure the marketing channels you employ to build strong brand awareness, including email marketing and social media marketing, are effective and work collaboratively to achieve this goal.
Once a target user becomes aware of your new product, they might want to get more information about it before making an actual purchase, which marks the beginning of the interest phase. At this stage, your objective is to generate users’ interest in your product and turn them into leads. Depending on the product type, evoking user interest can take different routes and instruments.
You could encourage them to visit your website to get more information about the product, so they could better understand why they should opt for it rather than a rival’s offering. Or you could provide a free trial period so the customer could try your product out and decide whether they need the full version. Regardless of the option, the interest phase starts with the intent to try or purchase a product and ends when the consumer makes a purchase or uses the product for the first time.
At this stage, your lead becomes a user in the truest sense – they exchange money for your great product. However, there are numerous reasons why reaching the point of making a purchase does not mean things can’t go wrong. You need to know what could prevent your customer from buying your product.
If your product is a mobile app, you will likely ask your new customers to sign up. Make sure this process is quick and easy if you don’t want your leads to losing interest in your product before they even try it. Filling out a registration form, completing a profile, and validating an email can be tedious and time-consuming, to say the least.
That is why your potential customers can leave the conversion cycle in any of those steps. Remember that to convert a lead into an active user; they have to get through the whole process without feeling the urge to switch to an alternative. For instance, companies often use cart abandonment emails to win back those customers who have added items to their cart but failed to check out. By automating this process, you can make sure all your customers who did not check out get their second chance to buy your products.
You could use multiple techniques and instruments to ensure customers successfully purchase your product. For example, you can provide contextual support through the on-page chatbot to increase your conversion rate. With the help of this software, you can help your customers deal with technical problems or clarify purchase-related issues.
Once a user has purchased your product, they need to be retained. The reason for this step is simple - the consumer must be engaged with your product because purchasing it does not necessarily mean they become a valuable user. They can use your product once or twice and never use it again.
User do not feel engaged or emotionally attached to your brand or product. Consumers lack engagement because the product does not address their needs and expectations, or they simply can’t overcome the learning curve.
To retain your valuable customers, you must focus on building ongoing relationships with them. To achieve this goal, you need to know exactly what they want, how they want it, and what should be done to make it happen. Provide content specifically tailored to the interests and pain points of your customers. Introduce loyalty programs and promotions relevant to their needs and provide personalized support to maximize retention. For example, in their loyalty discount email, Avocode offers a discount to those customers who were not initially too happy with its service with the aim to retain them and contribute to their intention to stay with the company.
Email marketing is a powerful tool that will help you guide your potential customers through the customer lifecycle process and make your product marketing strategy more effective. However, your email marketing must be closely aligned with all other elements of your content marketing and product marketing strategy to reach the point and achieve its goals. The good news is that email marketing can be automated based on various triggers.
Time-based triggers allow you to send emails based on the passing of time. For example, if you offer a 7-day trial, you could send a time-based email to those customers who have been using your product for five days and ask them to provide feedback. You could also remind these customers that they can purchase the full version of your product if they like their experience.
Action-based triggers enable you to send emails after a customer exhibits a particular behavior or action. For example, if a customer decides to purchase the full version of your product before the trial period ends, they will not get the aforementioned time-based email.
Like any other marketing content, your emails must have eye-catching subject lines to attract customers’ attention and evoke their willingness to read your message. Boring subject lines mean only one thing – your emails will be ignored, perceived as spam, or deleted immediately. Here are some basic rules you must follow to develop captivating subject lines.
It is essential to closely align your email marketing efforts with each customer, depending on where they are in their lifecycle journey. Traditionally, marketers distinguish several emails you could employ within your product marketing strategy.
This type of email is meant to establish trust and a relationship with your prospects. Nurturing messages are sent to potential buyers as they move along the sales funnel. The purpose of these emails is to educate consumers and ultimately encourage them to convert. If you send a nurturing email to your prospective customer, include links to blog posts or social media pages, so they can continue interacting with your brand. For example, you could add a customer testimonial to your email so your potential customer could read what your current customers think about your product.
An onboarding email is a message a user receives after purchasing a product. By sending this email, you can welcome your new customer and get them accustomed to your product. For instance, provide an overview of its main features, remind the customer about the subscription terms and period, or educate them about how to use the product effectively in an onboarding email. For instance, you could use onboarding emails to give your new customer a warm welcome or lay out the basics of the product or service they have purchased.
This business outreach correspondence is often used to introduce a product to a potential customer. Unlike the aforementioned emails, sales emails directly ask the recipient to buy a product or service and often use specific psychological tactics. Brands can use scarcity and exclusivity marketing messages to urge consumers to purchase. Alternatively, they could offer discounts for a limited period of time to drive sales. For example, you could send your customers a sales email and offer them 20% off monthly and annual plans.
Using analytics can help you analyze consumer behavior and assess the effectiveness of your product marketing strategy. You need to base every decision on how your product is doing during the pre-and post-launch phases on data. Without analytics such, you won’t be able to identify what assets generated the best results, which did not, and why. While all product metrics and KPIs help evaluate performance, we focus on customer retention as one of the leading indicators of product marketing effectiveness.
There are two types of customer retention analytics, namely retrospective and periodic. The former allows for measuring when customers churn and how many of them your company retains over a given period. The latter, in turn, assesses user activity and demonstrates the level of customer engagement with your product.
To do customer retention analytics for SaaS, start by segmenting your customers and identifying the most valuable and profitable segments. For this purpose, you could use one or several user analytics instruments to automatically build the right user segments and identify the customers who meet the selected criteria.
Another way to improve customer retention is to conduct cohort analysis for the most attractive user segments. This analysis allows for measuring specific behaviors within a particular segment to discover when consumers stop using your product. By knowing the dynamics of your customer retention rates, you can better understand what engages your customers and more effectively forecast rises and falls in revenue.
You could also use analytics to get valuable statistics on how consumers behave when they land on your website (e.g., where they click and where the traffic is coming from). Some tools will improve your email flows and marketing content quality, while others will capture data about how your customers interact with your marketing funnels.
Spotify is a music streaming platform that is known for a high level of customization and personalization when it comes to its service. It offers a personalized experience by analyzing the user’s preferences and offering them the artists and music based on these preferences. Moreover, Spotify has various subscription plans for anyone, which is another reason why it is the number-one provider of a personalized music experience.
Canva is an online platform that is focused on users who are not well-versed with graphic design. Its tools enable users with no skills or previous experience in graphic design whatsoever to create beautiful and creative graphics and visual imagery, which largely explains why it has more than 100 million users in over 190 countries. The principle of simplicity and easiness is embedded in its product, so everyone who wants design services could use it without the need to spend time and money on a professional graphic designer.
The success of Netflix’s product marketing strategy is explained by its emphasis on personalization and customization. By providing every user with content specifically tailored to their need and preferences, Netflix offers a unique streaming experience, which is the main reason for its high customer retention rates.
Nifty is a project management instrument that maximizes team productivity and performance while lessening the time spent on a project. Nifty's project marketing strategy focuses on email marketing as the primary customer engagement platform. The company uses newsletters to announce new features to explore, which gives its users reasons to stay and brings them back to the product itself. Another practice that Nifty actively uses is sending weekly activity reports to its users via email as an elegant way to maintain product positioning.
Basecamp is another project management software that helps teams work together on a project while communicating and interacting. Basecamp provides its website visitors with detailed information about its monthly plan's benefits. Moreover, it lists all its rivals on the same page, which allows consumers to compare their offerings and see why they should prefer Basecamp. This is a great way to show what advantages Basecamp brings and how much cheaper it would be to run a business on this platform compared to rivals.
If you are planning to devise a winning product marketing strategy, AppFlows has got you covered! AppFlows is a low-code tool that enables users to create more behavior-driven and innovative email automation for their product. The software allows you to segment your customers, create various user personas, and build strong customer engagement.
One of the key benefits it provides is the ability to engage with your customers by sending them compelling messages to facilitate the desired behavior. Another reason you should use AppFlows is that it personalizes user experiences with behavior-driven and data-driven targeted emails.
More importantly, with the help of AppFlows, you can intercept and engage your customers with the right message at the right time of their customer lifecycle journey. This feature is crucial for the effectiveness of your product marketing strategy, as it allows for considering the current needs of each prospect and converting them into actual customers.
On top of that, AppFlows provides a set of analytics instruments so you can deep dive into data, map out user behavior, see how your customers interact with the app and build detailed user personas. You can try out AppFlows before deciding whether to buy a subscription.
Content writer by day and a book nerd by night, Ammar Mazhar has been writing for 3 years for B2B and B2C businesses. As a wordsmith, Ammar knows how to write SEO-optimized content that your users will find insightful, igniting results for your business.