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The New Dynamics of Growth: From Marketing and Sales to Marketing and Product Alignment

Usha Vadapalli
July 9, 2024

Driving revenue growth is a team sport. Marketing and Sales alignment is a huge factor that contributes to a predictable pipeline and revenue growth. LinkedIn reports that companies with well-aligned Marketing and Sales generate a whopping 208% more revenue through their marketing.

This is not new information that highly aligned marketing and sales teams achieve a higher year-on-year growth as compared to their competitors who are not aligned well.

Marketing and Sales alignment is so worth getting right, there is a wealth of information about it. About 10 years ago, this is all anyone would talk about; well, this and the Ice Bucket Challenge! And, as a result, we have some excellent playbooks to guide us to get the alignment right.

The world of SaaS evolved since then and we are in a space where the majority of the customers like getting a feel of the product before purchasing or subscribing.

The advent of this product-led trend means there’s a new power couple in town! Marketing and Product.

We need to care about aligning marketing and product teams as much as we do about marketing and sales alignment.

Marketing and Product Alignment Is The New Marketing and Sales Alignment

According to Forrester’s State Of Customer Obsession Survey, two-thirds of B2B product managers and IT decision-makers at enterprises believe their organizations effectively meet customer needs, compared to only 46% from Marketing and Sales. However, Forrester experts side with the marketing and sales teams in this assessment, noting a significant gap between Marketing and Product.

It's crucial to align marketing and product teams to deliver the value customers expect. This alignment goes beyond agreeing on product use cases, user and buyer personas, positioning, and competitive intelligence. It requires close collaboration and the sharing of data and insights on product development and customer feedback loops. When marketing teams have a deep understanding of the product and product teams are well-versed in market dynamics and customer personas, the organization as a whole is better equipped to create and effectively communicate value.

Poor or no alignment between Marketing and Product means the company’s ability to fully understand and meet customer needs is compromised. This ultimately impacts the acquisition, retention, and expansion too. I’ll explain with an example.

Consider an onboarding campaign.

Scenario #1- When Marketing And Product Are Poorly Or Not Aligned

A user signed up for your product and started using it right away. After a day they hit a snag and don’t know how to move forward. They are very likely to see a signup confirmation and a ‘Welcome’ email in that period and not any helpful resources.

You probably can only automate an onboarding email sequence with a fixed schedule. For example, a Welcome email on day 1, an email with helpful resources on day 3, a Feature highlight email on day 5, and so on.

These drip campaigns don’t consider user interactions with the product before sending the emails hence, they are not very contextual or useful. They are not customized in any way because you are not aware of the user’s product interactions. The user ends up frustrated and you will miss your conversion goals because emails are your only communication channel with the new user.

Scenario #2 - When Marketing And Product Are Aligned

Now, consider a second scenario where you receive a ‘Get started’ email that takes you through the basics of the product to get you onboarded. Followed by a ‘How to …’ email if not tried a basic feature by day 2.

If the user has already tried the specific feature, skip ‘How to…’ and send an email with the next steps. This is a product activity-based onboarding journey.

You might have seen some timely emails (likely from a product-led growth business). These are comms based on specific user actions and behaviors within the product. These are tailored to the user’s actions and needs.

Here’s a great example from Twilio Segment. They send personalized recommendations based on the customer’s activity and product role.

They offer an adaptive experience that evolves based on user interactions and progress. Here’s an example from Inflection guiding a new user to the next step after completing the onboarding checklist.

To summarize:

These examples are a good representation of how good alignment between marketing and product teams can be a game changer. This is exactly why we need to care about Marketing and Product alignment.

Clearly, product activity-triggered email workflows are more relevant to users and customers, making them inherently more effective. We all want to run effective campaigns, but this often isn't happening because Marketing and Product teams aren't always aligned. As a result, Marketing can't access the necessary product data for their use cases.

Lessons to Learn from Marketing and Sales Alignment

To solve marketing and sales alignment issues, companies had to shift their thinking in several fundamental ways.There is a lot to learn from this to solve Marketing and Product alignment too.

1. Unified Goals and KPIs

Both teams needed to work towards shared business objectives. This is tougher when it comes to setting common goals with Product than Sales because there’s zero overlap in the KPIs each team measures.

Marketing and product teams need to establish shared goals that align with the overall business goals like NRR (Net Revenue Retention). Break down the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each team in the customer lifecycle. For example:

  • Marketing focuses on onboarding completion, free-to-paid conversion, and initial feature adoption.
  • The product team is responsible for the time to onboard and feature adoption rate.

2. Product Data and Marketing Automation

Salesforce integration with marketing automation was understood to be a crucial step in aligning the marketing and sales teams. This ensured seamless data sharing and lead tracking, providing a unified view of the customer journey. Now, all marketing automation platforms have a CRM integration offer.

Marketing needs access to product data. Sharing data that is already heavily processed for storing and analyzing is not going to cut it. Marketing needs raw and granular product data to flow into marketing systems in near real-time. This is a lot more complex than integrating with a CRM and requires a deep dive.

3. Collaborative Culture

Establishing regular communication channels between marketing and sales teams fostered collaboration. Weekly or bi-weekly alignment meetings became standard practice in many organizations.

The same approach applies to aligning with the product team. Additionally, encourage Product to share their roadmap with the marketing team and mandate 'tell Marketing about…' in the launch checklist. Creating feedback mechanisms to optimize and improve the whole process.

4. Product Lessons for Marketing

To achieve Marketing and Product alignment, the marketing team needs to invest time in understanding how the current product data orchestration works. It pays to know the basics of your data platforms. At the marketing team learned the 101 of Twilio Segment - the CDP we and many of our customers use.

The New Power Couple: Marketing and Product

Effective revenue growth in today's competitive landscape requires more than just aligning marketing and sales teams. To stand out in an ocean of competitors, a cohesive partnership between marketing and product teams makes all the difference in your marketing efforts.

The shift towards marketing and product alignment is driven by the need to deliver personalized and contextually relevant experiences throughout the customer journey. By leveraging product insights and user data, marketing teams can create more effective campaigns and experiences that resonate with customers at every touchpoint. This approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also improves retention rates and lifetime value.

Inflection is a marketing automation platform that lets you activate your product data and data warehouse to drive more pipeline, product adoption, and revenue expansion, all from one platform. Request a demo to see how.

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