Product marketers face significant challenges in keeping customers happy and supporting potential leads, all while the rest of the marketing world struggles to understand product marketing responsibilities. We get it, we’ve seen your hard work from planning and launching features through encouraging adoption and following up to ensure customers are happy. It’s a big task, and product managers are amazing at it.
However, if you’re reading that paragraph above and thinking to yourself, “That sounds like a team we need,” then the rest of this post is for you. We’ve got the right tool recommendations to help you get started and a quick recap on who product marketing leads are, how they help a business succeed, and why they should always be a part of your overall marketing strategy.
What Is Product Marketing?
If you Google “product marketing,” you’ll find many different articles from experts talking about a wide range of things. Because we’re focused on the software industry, both with CloudApp and for our look at product marketing tools, our definition of product marketing will focus there too.
Product marketing is the marketing your team does to drive demand for software among existing customers. You’re looking at people who are using your tools, have used them in the past, or are running a free trial and the lookalike audiences. Converting them is up to the product marketing team.
Or, as HubSpot puts it: “It’s focused on the steps people take to purchase your product so product marketers can build campaigns to support this work.”
For companies that have a product marketing team, this group will help build out customer personas and targets, do extensive research into what makes people adopt software or products, monitor the competition, and determine product changes or features needed to increase adoption.
It’s a lot of research and work to ensure your product matches your market, and then the assets to convince your audience that they need it.
Product Marketing vs Conventional Marketing
Even when we discuss product marketing on its own, the most common question about the topic is what’s product marketing vs conventional marketing? They’re similar, but you’ll find plenty of differences that are important to understand.
The key takeaway is that product marketing wants to learn and target your existing customer base, while traditional marketing is aimed at converting new customers. Product marketing is just a part of your overall conventional marketing strategy.
If you’ve been a project manager yourself, then think of product marketing as the stage when your vendor came in and trained your staff on how to use the system, helped you with change management, and followed up to ensure you were happy with how the software was performing.
Segment is a smart tool to integrate multiple customer data streams so you can look at audience and product analytics. It works across many common analytics platforms such as Google Analytics, Salesforce, social channels, and HubSpot, while also supporting your work with things like Slack Channel Integration.
The service includes some persona development tools by looking across product purchases and past churn, giving you a good baseline to use with other customer insight tools. You can ensure that the identities of customers are correct across channels, look for common traits in audiences, and see what elements in your campaign are working for activation.
Like most on this list, it works well within common channels including offering an API for both on-site and in-app experience management and tracking. I’ve also found its data management tools to be especially useful and easy to use. For small companies, services like this are easier than building your own data warehouse and analytics stack.
Amplitude is an excellent product intelligence tool for product marketers. It’ll help you track customer data throughout your funnel as well as existing sales to understand retention, growth, and reactions to product experiences.
It has a specific toolkit for setting up a product strategy and tracking changes in behavior as your products evolve. Direct insight into how new releases change user actions and usage can help product marketers see big trends or issues, including the best-performing customer cohorts after any change occurs.
The company also has a strong knowledge base to help with product team creation, organization, and metrics management. Its free plan covers 10 million user actions per month, which can make it a solid entry point for any growing product team.
Many product marketing teams come from a product background that doesn’t always include a lot of time deep in analytics tools in your marketing stack. So, Heap is on our list to help companies that might need a little extra support getting analytics off the ground, and understanding what complex behaviors mean for their audience and product.
Heap is an on-site and in-app analytics platform that monitors customer behavior data and can be integrated with your system with little-to-no coding. Once it is integrated, the system learns about you and customers, tracking relevant actions they perform without needing a specific metric definition or manual tagging beforehand.
It’ll significantly speed up your ability to user habits and small actions to notable events like retention and conversion. Session data and analysis can also be particularly useful for product teams.
We’ve got a detailed look just at online survey tools here if you want to have multiple options to compare for just that one specific feature and some thoughts on how to use them.
Knowing your competition works best when you also understand how you perform against them. Pi Datametrics’ offering includes tools to analyze the performance of your entire brand as well as individual products against competitors.
What we like is its ability to look at changes relative to competitors after any campaign — yours or theirs. It’ll give you a promising idea of when messaging is making a difference, allowing you to go back and review campaign elements to see what is best resonating with your audience. Specifically, for product marketers, there are tools to see competitor (and your) visibility across an entire product range, as well as see competitor pricing strategies.
The company’s reporting and other data are also useful for understanding who is dominating your industry and related industries, pointing you in the right direction to see where you can improve or need to shift.
Kompyte is a more traditional competitor tracking option to look across products, campaigns, and sites. It automates competitor tracking which can be a nice feature, so after initial efforts, you’re able to rely on automated alerts to understand the shifting landscape.
Benchmarking and reporting are simple on a product level, but it has insight that you can share with your team as needed too. By looking across engagement and pricing as well as elements such as feature comparison, you’ll get a good picture of how your offers stack up to the competition.
If your market’s sales rely heavily on social channels, Kompyte has one of the better social tracking programs. It’ll give you competitor analysis and monitor when campaigns change, plus help you collect data about their audience and engagement. It’s an effective way to ensure that your efforts are targeting the right people or see if you’re missing a market opportunity.
When you’re ready to start trying to grab audience away from your competition, SpyFu is a good starting point. The service provides detailed marketing analysis including a look at competitor ads and campaign spend for PPC, SEO ranking and tracking across keywords, and backlink research.
You’ll get a quick guide to which keywords are most profitable for your competition, how they do across organic search in general, and even some ad performance data. SpyFu tends to have fewer restrictions on keyword numbers or historical data than its competitors, which can make it a reliable tool in your arsenal.
Its SEO tools are also designed to help you find gaps in current efforts, which can make it easier for product teams to tie announcements and feature information with the right targets. Organizational features also help you create a more robust SEO and keyword strategy, finding frequently used words and groups that can ensure your customers don’t miss you when they search.
Another strong customer understanding option is Clearbit, which has sales and marketing tools designed to track data across the customer life cycle. You can look at data you already have plus run custom retargeting for each segment. If you’re willing to give it more control, you can use the platform to customize your website in real-time based on visitor data.
When you’re narrowing down your target audiences, Clearbit can help with tools that help you verify and create accurate contact records for prospects. It offers its own list of potential leads, giving you more people for A/B testing and lookalike audiences.
A core piece of product marketing is getting customers to engage with your products — it’s not only a goal for marketing but also something you need to build your campaigns. Chameleon is a helpful tool here because it supports the creation of targeted, custom experiences.
Integrating it with your customer intelligence tools allows you to build a variety of content designed for engagement quickly. These include traditional surveys and tooltips as well as customized walkthroughs and guides, notifications, checklists, and even custom video demos.
For product marketers, Chameleon has a strong toolkit to use to highlight features and increase adoption. Tie that back to marketing efforts spent understanding what your customers feel is most useful and needed, and you’ve got a campaign built to succeed with existing customers and new leads.
Part of getting personas right involves understanding what your audience does with their time outside of the marketing and sales world. You know the keywords they search for thanks to other tools above, and BuzzSumo helps you see what kind of content those keywords drive people to each day.
You’re not restricted to sales or marketing collateral but instead will see a range of news, social, video, and other content. It’s commonly used as a tool for large brands to see if their content marketing is working, and that’s a great application for many.
For you small and scrappy brands, BuzzSumo can help you understand what kind of content your audience wants to see. It’s also a useful tool for finding content to share on your own social channels to start discussions or include in newsletters to give people a good roundup of the week.
Other features, such as identifying influencers and monitoring comments, can help you refine persona likes and actions, making it easier to build products and campaigns that resonate.
Sketch is a growing competitor to Illustrator, and we see it crop up in more and more companies, product teams, and projects because of its power. Sketch is an excellent choice for UI and UX design on the web and for mobile devices, with minimal need for coding knowledge even in more detailed use cases.
It’s fast to create and prototype products as well as assets, and you can use already built assets in new campaigns quickly. Current in Beta is Sketch for Teams that makes it easy to share prototypes and designs in a unified workspace. You can get everyone on board and even have engineers build prototypes that are then able to be approved and used by your marketers.
InVision is another strong contender for asset creation and sharing. It allows designers to create product prototypes and share them, test out workflows and user interactions, and highlight how things will look and behave across multiple platforms.
It puts all your design elements in the same place, which can be a tremendous help, and unifies communication so the entire team is working from the right assets and campaign elements. For designers, InVision is a go-to for simplifying handoffs and getting approvals. As marketers, you can also see transitions and micro-interaction moments to help you plan when to approach people with messaging or where a product might need adjustment to better meet client needs.
We’re really looking at the product as the asset here, so integration with Basecamp, Slack, Trello, and others is a big help.
And how could we leave ourselves off a list of the best tools for product marketing in 2021?
We’ve become a leading way to help product, design, and marketing teams communicate. Plus, many of the assets you build to explain products internally can quickly be edited and annotated within CloudApp to become customer-facing elements.
Video editing, GIFs, photo sharing, and screen capture all make it easy for updates to be visible. They’re also handy for asking your team a specific question and getting feedback, without needing another meeting. It’s simple to integrate with your existing workflow so there’s no new software channels to learn, just simple tools to share your thoughts.
See how easy we make content creation and sharing for your team with a free trial by signing up here.
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