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How do you coordinate and work cross functionally with the product team to create commonly shared KPIs?

Any advice on KPIs tied to product launches?
8 Answers
Sarah Khogyani
Sarah Khogyani
Coinbase Head of Product Marketing, CloudMay 26

My advice would be to build this into your regular team processes. If your company has an OKR setting process, this would be the right time to cross-functionally align with product partners on shared KRs or KPIs at a high level.

Beyond that, I would suggest gaining this alignment at the PRD and GTM plan stages of the product lifecycle. In an ideal world, PMs, PMMs and Tech Leads collaborate on launch objectives (financial, product, marketing, risk), which make up the shared launch KPIs. Data Science or Analytics partners can use this as a guide to creating measurement and reporting plans. That way, you're aligned on key metrics early so that you can measure results as soon as you launch.

Andy Schumeister
Andy Schumeister
Sourcegraph Director of Product MarketingJune 9

Great call to have commonly shared KPIs with the product team - this is the best way to ensure mutual success. When it comes to product launches, it depends a bit on what you're launching.

If your company has a "core" product and you're launching a new SKU or a product with a separate revenue stream, a great shared goal is attach rate: percentage of customers that have purchased the product. You'll want to look at the overall attach rate as well as the attach rate for new deals (out of all the deals that close after the product is launched, what percentage buy it). 

For all other new products/features, I'd also recommend having a shared adoption goal: percentage of customers that are actively using the product. Adoption should mean more than just trying the product - you want to measure customers that are actively using the product or customers that reach some aha moment within the product. That way, you're both optimizing for long term customer success. 

Pallavi Vanacharla
Pallavi Vanacharla
New Relic VP, Product MarketingMay 28

Good question.

I am sure you have heard this statement many times - “PM and PMMs are like two sides of the same coin”. It’s absolutely true, and work wise I see the roles to have a Venn diagram. There are things each team leads and drives by themselves and then there are overlap areas.

The overlap areas usually are:

  1. Product strategy
  2. Product roadmap
  3. Target markets
  4. Positioning and messaging
  5. Sales enablement (includes launches)

The first step to building joint KPIs is building a trusted, valued and collaborative relationship. Where each party trusts that the other side has the customer’s interest and the business success in mind. And both sides value each other’s opinion and input and actively seek it.

Because PMMs are typically hired after PMs, PMMs have to work harder to insert themselves into the strategic decision making process, by proving their value. The fastest and most fool-proof way to prove your value is by becoming the go-to person for market trends, competitive intelligence and customer insights.

For establishing a good relationship, you can ‘lead by example’ and include product in any discussions around #3-4 and encourage them to do the same for #1-2. Once you have established a good relationship, then getting aligned on the above areas and defining KPIs become easier. I would suggest the teams adopt the KPIs defined by product for #1 and 2 (such as time to market and customer wins) adopt the KPIs defined by PMMs for #3-5 (such as market share, customers win rate, and shorter sales cycles).

I do not believe having commonly shared KPIs is necessary. I always find it better to have a single leader/POC for a KPI. As long as you have a good working relationship with product and they care about the same things above (and I can’t imagine they would not), then getting their time, attention and input should not be an issue. If you don’t get the support, it is usually a bandwidth/resourcing issue, not a lack of desire to do so.

Product launches are the easiest area to align on in my opinion as both teams care about the success of product launches. Usually KPIs here include - # of trials/sign ups, traffic/impressions, and media coverage.

Jessica Webb Kennedy
Jessica Webb Kennedy
Tailscale Head Of MarketingJune 17

At a high level, I think it's essential for all teams involved to understand the ultimate goal of whatever product or feature they are launching - meaning what is the problem you are trying to solve and for whom? In terms of process I have found the most success from establishing formal kickoffs, consistent check-ins along the way, and retrospectives post-launch. It's all about having several touchpoints between teams and making sure people are on the same page.

Mike Polner
Mike Polner
Discord Head of MarketingJune 11

Broadly, alignment with Product should happen in an OKR or goals planning process at some regular interval. That's the real moment to align with you product partners on what problems you're trying to solve and what success means for a number of initiatives. 

More specifically, I push that Product Marketing co-owns Product goals (to ensure alignment) and that they're the responsible party for product adoption metrics. What % of the audience has tried XYZ product is a strong measure of adoption and engagement. 

Product launch KPIs should ladder into an adoption target (as stated above), but secondary metrics can range from anything like awareness (how many people have heard of the product), loyalty (what's the NPS of the product) or engagement (are you increasing frequency and usage within an existing cohort.) 

Grant Shirk
Grant Shirk
Cisco Head of Product Marketing, Cisco Campus Network ExperiencesJuly 7

This idea of cross-functional KPIs is core to what makes PMM the most interesting and the most challenging function to quantify. But, you can do it! Two things I believe strongly:

  •  Cross-functional (or shared) KPIs are the most powerful KPIs any business or team can measure, because they're qualitative and quantitative and they force alignment across teams.
  •  Product Marketing exists to amplify the impact of other teams. If you don't have shared metrics, you're probably amplifying only yourself, and missing the chance to deliver on your true objectives.

The best example of a cross-functional metric with product (and sales) is Qualified Pipeline creation. We'll talk more about that in a minute, but it's powerful because it's qualitative, quantitative, and aligned to what the org cares about: growth. Quant = pipeline $ (and avg. deal size); Qualitative = "qualified" means that multiple people have looked at it, measured it, accepted it, and are accountable to it. To get here, whether you have a product-led or sales-led go-to-market is work with these other teams to understand what are their key initiatives and measurements on a quarterly and annual basis. From there, drive metrics around where the "handoff" is between teams. For Product-PMM alignment, this can be Free Trial conversions. Quant = how many? Qual = conversion to paid. In a sales-led motion, this should be either Pipeline creation or Opp creation, depending on the duration of your sales cycle. Product launches are just one part of what PMM really delivers, but it's a high profile one. My best advice here is to link your point-in-time launch metrics to these longer-term shared KPIs. For example:

  • Net increase in activity around products and launch activity
  • Enrollment in high-conversion funnel activities like training, certification, or beta programs
  • Net new opportunity creation, or new meetings set with sales
Jeffrey Vocell
Jeffrey Vocell
Panorama Education Head of Product MarketingJuly 22

Great question! A lot of collaboration can come from shared KPIs, so it's great to align where possible. I'll divide this into two groups, on-going and launches.

On-going KPIs:

  • These should largely be goals you can both impact over time. Things like adoption, revenue (particularly if there's a freemium, or PLG motion at your company), retention, NPS. 
  • For example, with adoption there are product changes that can likely be made as well as dedicated marketing done to drive success. At Iterable, we were working to drive adoption of one of our AI products and did just this. The product team made it more discoverable and added to the UI, and in product marketing (with the help of customer marketing too) we drove case studies, and a bunch of use case content around this product. In addition, through some segmentation we found a cohort of customers who tried it once but hadn't gone back since so we dedicated content, and 1:1 conversations with CSMs and Product for these customers. 

Launch KPIs:

  • Similar to the above you can also drive adoption, revenue, and some of the same metrics here - and I think you should measure some of those on-going KPIs to see impact, but also look more granularly at KPIs that will drive success for this launch. For a freemium product, it may be more around user generation and upgrade metrics, whereas for a paid product it's likely more around lead generation and close rates, or even revenue from teh launch.
  • Personally, I like to look at the launch through the entire flywheel - from the very begining to what PR mentions we garnered - to the bottom on customers closed from the launch and (over time) what they're saying about the product/company.

Setting these KPIs is a huge step in the right direction, but don't forget about communicating them as well. If they just sit in a dashboard, or Excel spreadsheet somewhere it won't be really helpful so make sure you operationalize it and build a dashboard review into team meetings, or send out an email update on a regular cadence.

Lisa Dziuba
Lisa Dziuba Head of Growth Product MarketingSeptember 23

Super important question 🙌

Cross-functional collaboration happens much easier when teams have shared KPIs, OKRs, or North Stars.

To be honest, those goal-setting frameworks really work when they are adapted across all of the organization. This means that everyone is motivated to solve the company’s challenges, instead of working in silos on their individual projects. 

For this setup to work, it’s important to understand the Objectives of other teams. Here is how it can work with setting up common OKRs between PMs <> PMMs:

1) Setting up strategic company-wide OKRs
It’s important to determine what would be the most critical Objectives at the company level. Based on that Objective PMM and PM will be able to strategically align.

2) Setting department Objectives
Based on strategic OKRs, product marketing or product leaders set up their own goals for each function or department. PMM Objectives should intersect and overlap with other teams’ OKRs. For example, for the company-wide Objective “Achieve Monthly Recurring Revenue of $500K in three months”, the marketing Objective can be something like “Achieve XXX monthly traffic with Y% visitor/sign up conversion from GTM initiatives”. While the product Objective can be around delivering products/features for those GTM initiatives, as well as achieving better website conversion.

3) Setting PMM department Key Results and Initiatives with connections to PMs one
When product marketing and product understand how they contribute toward the greater goal, the Initiatives start having measurable outcomes, very business-related. So everyone in the team will be thinking about which Key Results and Initiatives are needed in order to have “XXX monthly traffic” and “Y% visitor/sign up conversion”. Ideally, at this stage, PMs and PMMs will brainstorm together which Initiatives they need to deliver together.

And it all work like magic 🫶

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