Question Page

How often do you talk to customers, or do qualitative + VOC research?

Is it continuous or at specific campaigns?
14 Answers
Vikas Bhagat
Vikas Bhagat
Webflow Senior Director, Brand & Product MarketingJuly 13

This is a fantastic question! In my experience, for competitive research/marketing, it is critical to spend time with your customers and frontline sales teams. In my previous roles, I've built voice of customer programs to help support quant and qual research. This has come in a number of formats - a win/loss VoC program for enterprise sales deals, an annual customer survey and a churn surey. I've typically used survey tools like Medallia, Qualtrics and Gainsight. The key is being able to build a repository of these insights and operationalize them across the organization so people take action from the customer feedback. 

Typically, when I've done win/loss surveys, I will send a short survey to the customer (think 3 questions max) with one question asking if it is okay for a 30 minute phone follow up. I'll typically do a more in-depth interview where I can go in to specific questions about product, marketing, sales process and of course, competitors. 

I think the best VoC programs are the ones that operationalize across an organization. Withr egards to messaging, I've typically used those findings to do messaging audits once a quarter. The other area I've focused on with customer feedback is helping inform our product roadmap strategy and general GTM strategy (I.e. identifying the white space in our messaging, product investment and amplifying our differentiation). 

1151 Views
Kevin Garcia
Kevin Garcia
Anthropic Product Marketing LeaderJune 24

I think every PMM benefits from talking to customers. In some cases, it helps polish what you already know. In others—like in my case—you’re marketing to an audience you do not belong to, and talking to customers helps you see the world in a way you normally wouldn’t.

I’ll speak to my preferences, but please note that this is specific to someone who markets a technical product to developers without necessarily being one myself.

I think it’s important for me to never stop learning how developers think, so every quarter I assign myself OKRs that force me to stay connected to customers. In any given quarter, I assign myself a few case studies (that require customer interviews), I listen to 6-12 sales calls, and try to include at least some research (beta testing, user interviews, surveys) requirements into the product launch(es) I’m working on. In short, I do both continuous and campaign-based customer research because I think it makes me a better PMM.

On tools: I love a good interview, and they’re great when you have a problem that requires exploration. Depending on your area of interest, a few interviews might give you all the signal you need. If it still feels fuzzy, it can help to explore quantitative insights. My current insights stack includes: Segment, HubSpot, Google Analytics, SEMrush, FullStory, Gong, Intercom, NPS scores, Typeform surveys, and custom Retool dashboards.

On using insights: Insights inform marketing/CX in two ways: directly and indirectly. Sometimes, your user research helps you prioritize which feature to launch, which messaging to choose, how to position against a competitor, or what to charge—that’s direct impact. But research compounds, and over time you uncover patterns or trends that would have been impossible to spot without all the puzzle pieces coming together. This is an indirect—but game changing—way that user research impacts marketing strategy over time.

466 Views
Dee Dee Wolverton
Dee Dee Wolverton
Udemy Product & Instructor Marketing, DirectorDecember 14

The language of love at Udemy is Data. As such, we're always looking for more, and consumer insights are a constant.

Research is conducted on an ongoing basis by our incredible User Research group. This includes longitudinal research where we would like to track progress over time such as for upper-funnel brand metrics like recall and awareness, as well as campaign specific research related to things like message testing and feature promotion.

We use a combination of survey tools like SurveyMonkey and Qualaroo, and host in-depth interviews 1x1 with prospective and existing customers via UserTesting. 

We also leverage more complex survey methodologies, such as MaxDiffs and Conjoint Analyses. However, these can be costly in terms of time, resource, and funding, so are reserved for more long-term, strategic initiatives Typically an agency will support these, but for smaller-scale projects, they can be executed internally with Conjointly, a self-serve platform that builds and analyses the data

Insights are distilled and shared with the cross-functional team fairly regularly every month or two, regularly revisited, and built upon.

418 Views
Harsha Kalapala
Harsha Kalapala
AlertMedia Vice President Product MarketingJuly 7

Staying in touch with customers/propsects directly is not an option for product marketers, IMO. There are passive ways to do it by being a listener - listen to sales/CS calls, attend talks by your audience on relevant topics, follow notable people on linkedin and read the content they are posting or engaging with.

In my experience the best insights come from the most unexpected conversations involving customers and prospects. So my team always invests in time engaging with our audience every chance we get. That said, we definitely plan conversations for specific campaigns like early access product feedback, launch campaigns, positioning testing, case study development, etc.

There are some great tools I used in the past and planning to use to help with user research. Wynter is a great tool for positioning feedback from a similar target audience.

363 Views
Christina Lhi
Christina Lhi
Square Head Of Product MarketingSeptember 14

All the time! It is so critical for PMM teams to talk to customers to understand their pain points, their jobs to be done, their delighters, motivations, etc. It's also important for GTM teams to have a pulse on customer feedback via customer success, sales and account management in order to understand potential barriers or blind spots that you may have from a PMM perspective. But it's not just enough to have a consistent flow of insights and information - it's really important to synthesize all of these datapoints into the "so what" -- the key themes that inform either product improvements or campaign specific workstreams. 

2301 Views
Alex McDonnell
Alex McDonnell
Airtable Director, Compete & Partner MarketingSeptember 20

All the time, through a mix of continuous and specific pointed research. Our Research teams owns some always-on research work such as our NPS survey or Brand Tracking survey, which often have competitive insights. For win/loss, I've taken both approaches. Currently we only use that research type for specific burning questions. 

459 Views
Andrew McCotter-Bicknell
Andrew McCotter-Bicknell
Apollo.io Head of Competitive IntelOctober 18

Multiple times per month. It varies though, depending on bandwidth as a one-person CI team. 

The most important thing is that, as a whole, ClickUp's Product Marketing team speaks to customers all the time for different reasons. I focus my conversations more around competitive intel, or win/loss info. Our persona PMM directors speak with customers that fit our ICP so we can better understand our strengths, weaknesses, and what their jobs-to-be-done are. Our Customer Advocacy leader speaks with power users and champions to make them feel great + excited about working with us.

And then we each report back on what we learn. 

I've also worked with third-party win/loss consultants who conducted interviews on my behalf. That's always been super helpful (especially when I'm stretched thin).

408 Views
Desiree Motamedi
Desiree Motamedi
Salesforce CMO - Next Gen PlatformNovember 16

Ideally, I think this should be systematic and conducted on a weekly basis in order to keep research fresh. Something Shopify does amazingly well is setting up time with the merchants and listening to support calls. We also enjoy connecting and meeting in-person with local merchants to hear about their experiences directly. In fact, we have a program that allows us to connect with merchants locally and learn more about their experience with Shopify first-hand. At our last team offsite we were able to spend a half day with a merchant and really get to know her and her business. We also listen to Gong sales calls to hear from prospects and customers about what their needs are; these conversations provide a lot of insight into how we can solve for any gaps. As a product marketer, I think you learn the most by staying on top of customer research and doing this on an ongoing, consistent basis.

589 Views
Adrienne Joselow
Adrienne Joselow
HubSpot Director of Product MarketingDecember 6

Customer listening is a critical investment in any product marketing program. For us, we've taken a number of different approaches to customer listening in my time here. From direct customer conversations, to focus groups, to ongoing market research (qualitative and quantitative), listening to our customers is critical for our success (and, more importantly, theirs!). One thing we've recently explored and will continue to build into is to draft off of an existing organization wide program - the customer advisory board - to further engage those folks, as well as folks that were interested but not selected for this program. Highly recommend getting thrifty like this to drive efficiency for your teams while also keeping a pulse on customer needs, pain points, value, and market perspective. Get listening! 

1581 Views
Michele Nieberding 🚀
Michele Nieberding 🚀
MetaRouter Director of Product MarketingDecember 5

I hate to say it, but my answer is...it depends. I typically like using "prescheduled" customer interactions like CAB meetings as a forum to get feedback, but there are times when you need answers sooner (i.e. informing a roadmap, important beta programs, needing customer involvement for an event and/or case study).

To make things more personal, I also like to follow our top advocates, partners, and CAB members on LinkedIn so that I can also celebrate and elevate their wins and share in their successes beyond just the "working" relationship and asking for things like case studies.

So generally, I would say quarterly, but this can vary based on business need and project prioritization.

388 Views
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Jennifer Kay Corridon
Yelp Product Marketing Expert & MentorJune 20

At the core of my approach as a product marketer is the belief in staying connected with customers through ongoing research and conversations. I consider it essential to have a deep understanding of their needs, pain points, and aspirations. This understanding lets me to make informed decisions and develop products or positioning that truly resonate with our target audience.

I regularly engage with customers through various channels- from informal "get to know you" calls with new customers to more structured qualitative research initiatives. I believe in maintaining an "always on" approach to research, where I proactively reach out to customers on an ongoing basis. This allows me to stay in touch with their evolving needs and preferences, as well as to gather feedback on new features, updates, or improvements.

When there are new initiatives or programs my cross functional team is working on, I'll generally create a more formal hypothesis based qual. study to help validate assumptions, gather evidence, and uncover valuable insights to support our strategic decisions. These are highly structured and usually completed in a specified period time or audience group.

Whether it's a formal versus an informal conversation, I always aggregate research and share-out highlights with my stakeholders.

429 Views
Amanda Groves
Amanda Groves
Enable VP of Product MarketingNovember 2

Pretty regularly. I talk with customers at least once a week! To do this I have automated campaigns that share my availability with customers to set up time with me (via calendly). This results in at least 1, sometimes 2-3 customer calls a week. Do not sleep on talking with customers - it is arguably the most important part of the job. The customer is the ultimate aligner so if you understand their voice, and present their voice, you have influence.

364 Views
Chris Glanzman
Chris Glanzman
ESO Director of Product Marketing & Demand GenerationSeptember 16

Frequency: Marketers (not just PMMs) should aim to be their company's experts on their target customers. That means you should talk to customers as frequently as you need to. If you need a measurable benchmark, aim for a weekly conversation. You'll naturally find projects and time periods where you far exceed that frequency. Campaign design, refining segmentation, conducting win/loss following a product launch, and onboarding marketers all create a greater need for this customer insight, so expect the volume of customer research activity to spike.

Tools: I stick to interviews. I haven't found tools that offer the same amount of flexibility and the ability to instantly dig deeper when something interesting comes up. The one tool I have found useful is Dovetail. I use this to upload interviews that I'm lucky enough to record. It automatically transcribes them and lets you tag key phrases and snippets.

Using Insights: I don't have a good prescription for how to actually use the insights because it will depend heavily on what you learned, your offering(s), and your company structure. The one universal recommendation I would make is to create some sort of information radiator to share this information across the company. You'll need to distill it to the insights while also providing a link to the supporting evidence to satisfy the extra curious recipients.

320 Views
Joe Abbott
Joe Abbott
Brex VP of Product MarketingJune 22

I think the only correct answer here is not as often as we'd like :)

We typically rely on good old fashioned interviews and questions can vary depending on whether it's for customer references, beta product feedback, or buyer research. So, generally point in time.

Customer inputs are critical across the board, here are a few examples: 1) informing the product roadmap (some feedback may not be shared in a PM interview context), 2) informing messaging for your website (use the words your customers use), 3) defining your buyer journey and decision-making criteria for sales enablement.

527 Views
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