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When I joined LiveChat more than two years ago as their first Product Marketing Manager, we were on an incredible journey to shape the structure of the teams across the company. For my first assignment, I was presented with a big challenge — launching our new product, HelpDesk. How did it go? What did I learn? Read on!
Building teams at LiveChat
It’s in LiveChat’s DNA to look for unconventional ways of growth. Over the years, we have created several side projects which later turned into complete products.
One such example is ChatBot, which started its adventure during a hackathon we conducted at our office. We love this movie-like story. We asked various developer teams to create something new and creative for LiveChat.
One of the teams came up with the idea of suggesting canned responses in a chat window for support agents. This was one of the very first automation applications. We were impressed and decided to hire the whole hackathon team! They formed the R&D team and started developing a whole new product at LiveChat. They’re still working with us to this day, successfully developing ChatBot.
Another product that we launched, one that emerged based on our gut feeling, is KnowledgeBase. It improves customer service for both customers and support teams. It seems to have really hit the bull's-eye, and right now there are many companies using it inside and outside LiveChat. Including our internal support team!
Our teams need to be open to innovation and independent in order to come up with ideas like the ones I described above. Great things unfold when we work together, and that's why we're passionate about building cross-product teams!
Today we're developing four different products simultaneously.
To do this, we need people who are comfortable in a fast-moving and highly competitive SaaS environment. (Do you think you're one of them? Check out our open positions.)
We create our teams in matrix systems. As a product marketing manager responsible for the marketing of one of our products, you are part of the PMM team, and at the same time, you are strongly connected to the product team.
On the other hand, we have a Creative Team with graphic and motion designers, web developers, SEO and analytics specialists, and more. We form sub-teams assigned to carry out specific projects where a PMM is usually the project owner.
How we define Product Marketing
The examples above show perfectly how we think about the marketing of our products. Marketing is an integral part of the product development process itself. And at the same time, we’re agile and choose projects with the highest priority.
The PMM is present at every stage of the funnel. This approach not only helps them to understand and market the product better but also allows them to take a real part in building the product in a way that supports its growth.
We can describe how our products grow by focusing on three aspects, following the Reforge model:
1. Acquisition (What are the linear sources & loops of customer acquisition?)
2. Retention (What are the engagement loops that make the user return to our product?)
3. Monetization (How do we monetize our users?)
The acquisition funnel can be broken down in different ways, and there are many different descriptions of it on the web. But it always comes down to what stage of awareness and consideration the potential customer is at.
Thus, in a funnel we can define the following phases:
1. Awareness — how many people do you reach with your brand and industry communication?
2. Acquisition — how many of them visited your website?
3. Activation — how many take the first important step (set up a product, register the first app, etc.)?
4. Retention — how many come back? Or how many can you retain over time (subscription)?
5. Revenue — considering your CAC, when do you start actually earning money on a customer, and how many of them get to this point?
6. Referral — eventually it's great if your customer recommends your solution to others.
The key to each step is to understand the customer. Who makes decisions, and how? What information do they expect? What language do they use? What do they want to achieve?
That's the core of product marketing. We want to be in the right place with the right method of communication in order to respond to customer needs in the best possible way.
What does a Product Marketing Manager do?
We have already established that a PMM is responsible for the whole funnel.
First, we’re taking care of building distribution channels that can provide us with sustainable growth of our user base. Depending on the product, a good PMM should know where potential customers are looking for a solution.
Then we take care of the acquisition. We need to understand what information the user is looking for on different buyer’s journey stages, and then provide that information to get the user to try our product. At this point, we’re also partly responsible for communication with users during their activation process (so-called onboarding).
This process can be understood differently depending on the product. In HelpDesk or ChatBot, we have a free trial during which we want users to get to know how we can solve their problems. In the Partner Program, we need to activate the partner so that they start recommending our products. And in our Developers Program, we want the developer to build an application with us.
Once a user discovers the value of our product, we should focus on making them return to it regularly. So, as a PMM, you work on habit loops designed to keep the user returning to the product and getting used to its natural frequency of use.
The last part would be working on monetizing your customers. Here, you're digging into the value metric you're relaying in your pricing model. This also involves working on what your pricing plans look like and/or what mechanisms you use to upsell customers.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the skills that a Product Marketing Manager should have.
Skills needed for a Product Marketing Manager
Be an outcome-oriented strategist
As a marketing manager, you're directly responsible for the growth of your product. That's why it’s crucial for you to have strong strategic skills. This means you need to see the bigger picture in everything you do. You can't think only about the current or the next project.
You need to make sure you know how you want to position your products and how to market them. It’s crucial to learn how to reach your potential buyers and how your marketing actions resonate with them. Your marketing efforts should be the result of that forward-looking approach.
To achieve this, you need to have the right mindset. Skills and abilities can be developed; it is often the mindset that people are hired for. In managers, we're looking for people that are focused on the outcomes of their projects instead of outputs. Outcomes are what you want to achieve for the business. While outputs are actions that you need to take to deliver the outcomes.
For example, your outcome can be to increase the percentage of users that are getting to the "aha" moment of your product. You can work on your onboarding process to achieve that.
Another example is if you're planning an announcement campaign around a new feature inside your app. The campaign itself will be just an outcome. What truly matters is how many users will actually start using the feature after your launch campaign, or how many new customers you will be able to convince to try your product thanks to that campaign. That's your outcome.
Communication is key for managers
At LiveChat, we're working with different teams on different projects. As a marketing manager, you need to always be up to date with all of them.
To make it happen, you should have strong communication skills.
It's important to know how to communicate the goals of your projects, how to talk about changes that need to be adjusted in the workflow, and how to describe successes and failures!
Make sure you know what the preferred communication channel is for everyone you work with, how often you need to make an update with your team, and how your teammates like to work.
Your stories must thrill!
Do you have a head full of ideas? Great! But can you hook your potential customers by pitching about them? Constantly practice your verbal and written communication skills to be a real storyteller that influences people. You can do that by pushing yourself to make presentations in front of different teams, sharing things that inspire you, joining discussions.
Know what and how to measure
Outcomes mean creating real value — for your customers, and for the business. But how can you measure it?
Your gut feeling is important, but to make impactful decisions, you need to be data-driven. This means knowing what to measure, and how. I'll skip the obvious marketing data like the conversion rate on your website.
To be a SaaS product marketer you need to understand the SaaS business model and the most important SaaS metrics.
Some of them that you should be aware of as PMM are as follows:
LTV — Lifetime value. How much money you're making on average on a customer in his or her full lifecycle with your product, so from the moment of conversion till churn.
MRR/ARR — Monthly/annual recurring revenue.
Activation rate — This one can be different based on how you define your acquisition funnel, but basically, it tells you how many users that are trialing your product take the necessary steps to get to the "aha" moment.
Churn — In subscription-based products, you need to measure your growth based not just on acquiring new customers, but also on retaining your existing customers. Customer churn measures the rate at which your existing customers cancel the subscription of your product.
CAC — Customer acquisition cost, which combined with your LTC, helps you make better decisions around investing in channels.
ARPA — average revenue per account, which shows how much money you make on a single account (assuming you don't have just one flat pricing plan).
— and many others, but you get the point.
You need to be able to select the proper metrics to follow during your projects. They'll help you decide whether the outcomes you determined have been met.
Product Marketing Manager skills in a nutshell
In a nutshell, as PMM you need to be:
- A team player: you work together with a team, leveraging available resources instead of being a single player;
- Well organized: you know how to set the priorities right and manage complex projects without assistance;
- Aware of the tools for marketing automation, email marketing, analytics, and project management;
- Experienced in drafting product websites with a focus on conversion rates;
- Open to having a “Get things done” attitude.
Want to give it a shot?
You now know all about our take on the position of Product Marketing Manager, and what mindset is a must for this role. If you’re open to a challenge, give it a try and apply for this position at LiveChat. Here’s a full description of the PMM position.
Remember to familiarize yourself with our values, decide if we’re the right fit for you, set your mind on the B2B SaaS market, and reach out to us. We’re waiting for you!