What is the role of Product Marketing compared to other parts of the business in driving product adoption?
Great question. Post-launch is the most underrated parts of the cycle. You've spent months aiming the rocketship, putting fuel in the tank and blasting off - now you've got to steer. Let's break it down into three steps:
The first thing is to immediately begin watching not just usage of the product, but which parts of the product. How are people interacting with your features? Where are they dropping off? Where are they spending their time? This will give you context and clarity to move onto step two.
Now that you know where your hypothesis was roughly right or wrong, develop a plan to go after those areas. Our team uses a one-pager that is incredibly simple, laying out the problem we're trying to solve (ex: the pricing is too high, awareness is too low) and mapping out in specific detail, right down to the deliverable specs, how we plan to solve it.
Especially soon after launch, when blemishes become clearer in the light of mass user feedback, we aim to move quickly. If you're still talking about a major problem with the way the product has been positioned or messaged two weeks later it's been way too long. Standups with your cross-functional team including creative shouldn't end at launch! The fun is just beginning...
Post-launch momentum, what I call "Rolling Thunder," is one of my favorite topics! I think a lot of times people throw in their hats when the launch moment is done, but this is really when it's just beginning. A good strategy is to take some of the "core" assets you've created for the launch (e.g. a case study, presentation with new stats, a blog post) and to chop them up and use them in many ways. A good way to frame it is: How can you reuse and improve the content over and over again to hit your launch goals?
For example, take your "stump" deck and use it at speaking events, and webinars. Take your launch blog series and turn it into a gated whitepaper or ebook. Take those great customer case study stats and quotes and share them across your company's social channels.
As far as owners, I see Product Marketers as the Driver (See the DACI model) but not necessarily the person building each individual piece of content. Hopefully, you have partnerships with the marketing team or external vendors. But as a PMM, you are responsible for the goals at the end of the day, so make sure you're driving that plan along!
In an enterprise B2B business, you’ll often be working closely with customer success and product management on driving adoption post-launch. Marketing can provide air cover in the form of email nurture programs, relevant content, regular product update communications, and internal trainings. But often customer success and product will need to take the lead in getting customers to successful usage of the product.
The answer to the second part of your question depends on the business model, number of customers, and the way your company is set up. At Practice Fusion, a free product with many customers that depended on adoption for revenue, the PMM team was biased toward driving adoption of new features among signed up customers through marketing campaigns. At Optimizely, a product sold through an enterprise sales process, we’re much more focused on accelerating sales and market awareness.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and it’s always going to be different depending on the needs of the business. Cross-sell sales plays and campaigns to the install base are often a part of product marketing, while simply driving product usage may be more in the domain of customer success or customer marketing.
It’s never too early to connect with your customers to constantly expand and deepen the strength of your product. Get insights from your customers through product usage data - where are you seeing dropoff? Form hypotheses on why through customer interviews and customer-facing teams, and validate those hypotheses through experimentation or surveys.
At Asana, adoption is a team effort. Teams such as product marketing, product, design, user operations, and for our larger customers, customer success and professional services, all contribute. PMM at Asana focuses on delivering insights from customers, competitors and the market. We use those insights to craft effective positioning and messaging, and to co-create a go-to-market strategy, which typically starts with experimentation when we're focused on improving adoption.
I always like to have a product adoption goal Day-of, 1-months, 3-months, 6-months, and 1-year out. Having this clarity is critical to figure out what we need for launch and in the weeks, months after launch.
The next step is to back into the awareness, lead (if sales led) and conversion goals from that adoption goal.
I see PMMs as the CMO of their product. They are the QB for product adoption goals. Looking at the product adoption metrics on a weekly basis is good cadence to keep an eye on what's happening and what should be done.
To operationalize these activities with the rest of the org, suggest sharing the traction on a weekly/monthly basis with the product & executive team.
Launch isn’t just about market awareness, pipe and ARR/ revenue, it’s also about product adoption - MAU, WAU, DAU, product page views, clicks, etc.
To optimize your post-launch product adoption, you need an integrated campaign approach where you reuse a lot of the content that was put together for the launch. Remember, a lot of time and effort was put into that launch and as such, it's your responsibility to reuse a lot of that content, repackage it to make it live a second or third life after launch!
Of course, tweak the existing content, change the format, mix the channels, break it down into chapters, but always keep hammering the same message that you had at launch. In-app as a channel works really well for adoption. Also think about your other customer channels like a customer community, a learning management system, etc.,
Something else I've seen work really well at Salesforce is doing hand-on product workshops at in-person events where people would be clicking along.
Lastly, I would say Champions if you have a champions group or if you built a champions program with your customer marketers. Work with them to show the value that users are getting from the product. This should go a long way for product usage.
PMM ultimately shares adoption goals with Product. There's two sides to adoption though: awareness and usage. PMMs focus is primarily in driving awareness and education (how and why you should use the feature), and Product's focus is usabilty (building a feature that solves a real problem). Because PMMs shares adoption goals with Product, it's important that PMM share back to Product user insights and barriers to adoption. To do this, you need to track performance of each channel involved in the product launch, track awareness levels, and identify if users are not adopting a feature even if they're aware of it. If that's the case, you need to do user research to understand what's not working and share those insights with product. It's important to keep supporting features even after launch in order to sustain levels of adoption, especially as new users join your platform.
In my experience, most product teams are not well incentivized to pursue adoption over moving onto the next feature or problem to solve.
Dedicated product growth teams are great for this, and if your organization has one, then it's likely their job to drive product engagement. Product marketing can support this with customer marketing and the right messaging, or in targeting non-engaged users / non-customers.
In cases where there isn't a product growth function / team / person, then I think there is good scope for Product Marketing to step up and drive adoption. Key things that this can include:
- In-product comms / marketing (e.g. targeting users that are a good fit with more info or mini announcements)
- Customer-focussed marketing (e.g. blog posts or emails for customers)
- Training of AM / CS teams
Of course all this requires a mandate for the Product Marketing team to drive adoption, a decent understanding of adoption metrics and some relevant systems / tooling to enable these activities, as described by others.
The strategies will differ based on the maturity of the market segment and/or product category. For example, if you are dealing with a mature, risk averse market segment you need proof. Buyers will kick tires all day, waste your resources, get everyone excited, then won't buy. They are skeptics and need proof. Visionaries are risk takers that won't need proof, you just have to deliver on your commitment. See the book "The Diffusions of Innovation" for more detail.