Customer Success = Our Success
Launching a new, game-changing product is intense. Have we got the messaging right? Is the market really there? Is the product mature enough for launch? It is the time when all of your decisions, assumptions and beliefs about the market and their needs are put to the test. It is a time when product managers, product marketers and marketers to start to sweat.
For our new product it’s crunch time. It has been a month since launching and, well, the best-case scenario didn’t happen. Engagement at the top of the funnel looks good, the market is engaging with us; reading blogs, attending webinars engaging in Q&A. To date though, the trial signups are low, with sales lower.
What does this mean? Well, it means our initial assumptions about market adoption were perhaps too ambitious. It also means what we do next is of critical importance.
Our primary research of the market suggested there is a need for our new product. I sign up to Michael J. Skok’s approach to establishing a value proposition: the need for a solution like ours is both unique and compelling. What is not so clear is the urgency of the need. There is clearly some inertia we still need to resolve to improve adoption.
The next step for us was to expand our marketing capacity and establish a dedicated customer experience (CX) program around the new product. Placing CX under marketing is really the cleanest option from the customers perspective. Buyers engage with the organisation first through marketing channels; they engage with marketing during their buyer journey, all the way to a purchase decision. By having CX integrated into the overall marketing strategy we have the opportunity for CX activities to be incorporated along the buyers journey, past the sales point and through to advocacy development. Placing CX under marketing seems to be a growing trend according to recent research by the Economist.
Right Data, Right Time
Marketing automation plays a big part of the CX program. The online engagement intelligence we gather in Hubspot is essential insight needed to better engage our trial users and buyers. It helps us understand where someone is along the buyers journey so that we can chose where to directly engage, offer assistance and respond to enquiries with rich insight.
But, CX is not just there to nurture prospects to adoption and then to addiction. Currently, it is the most important source of market intelligence for our new, infant product. We are engaging with every trial user, requesting time to talk about their experience. We are learning what they like about the product, and what they dislike. Is the product delivering on the initial promise? What could we do to make it easier to adopt? Etc.
It sounds counter-intuitive to say in this digital age of online, automated, big data marketing but the most valuable data we are gathering at this time is from 1:1 user phone calls. Phone calls! This, good-old-fashioned, analogue, manual process of qualitative intelligence gathering is currently the most essential insight we can get to grow the product the right way. The product is in a precarious early stage of life. Those users that try or buy now are our potential innovators and early adopters.
Being the lead of a small team of marketing and CX I have the opportunity to call customers as well. The most recent one was just last Friday. The feedback was detailed, constructive and invaluable. My write up went straight to Slack for everyone in the company to review and synthesise. Everyone involved in the product can use that insight and drive the right change at the right time with our two-weekly sprint cycles.
It is true — you learn faster and deeper from speaking directly to a customer than you will from any broader scale market research activities.
“You’ll learn more in a day talking to customers than a week of brainstorming, a month of watching competitors, or a year of market research.” Aaron Levie, CEO Box.com
Right Buyers, Right Time
I am a bit of a fan of the Diffusion of Innovation concept. If we direct our resources to the right types of buyers at the right time then we can avoid going scattergun and wasting time and effort on misdirected activities and other forms of panic marketing.
For now, we need to get to know our innovators and early adopters, guide their success and nurture their advocacy. It is with their help we can reach the early majority and late majority buyers — where profitability becomes a more relevant metric of success.