What You Need To Know About The Product Marketing Manager Role and Responsibilities
The product marketing manager role has been growing steadily over the two decades:
And no wonder – the exponential growth of the SaaS industry, combined with the Product-Led Growth trend created a lot more demand for (and awareness of) product marketing. Everyone wants to grow organically through great product experience.
But what does the average “SaaS Product Marketing Manager Role” entail? What should you expect of your PMM? What responsibilities and KPIs should you expect out of this role, and what should PMMs’ be responsible for?
If you have come here looking for an answer to these questions, this post will help you wrap your head around this ‘in-between’ role better.
- The PMM role is at the intersection of product, marketing, and sales, so the responsibilities of these roles get easily mixed up with marketing managers or product managers.
- A product marketing manager’s responsibilities will vary from company to company depending on the company’s size and growth model.
- Those responsibilities take place in three stages: pre-onboarding (the things the PMM does before a user signs up), onboarding (the things PMM does to drive user activation), and account expansion responsibilities (the things the PMM does to retain a user and make them upgrade their account).
- If a company is product-led, then most of the marketing manager’s activities happen post-signup.
- The pre-sign up activities of a product marketing manager involve planning product launches, writing and optimizing product and feature pages, creating sales enablement assets, writing FAQs, customer help docs, and developing educational content that brings the prospects to the sales funnel.
- The post signup responsibilities include optimizing user onboarding, in-app communications with users, conducting A/B test experiments to increase feature engagement, customer retention, account expansion, and doing feature announcements.
- Product Marketing Managers must set some goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track how they are performing in achieving those goals.
- To be able to do their work efficiently, Product Marketing Managers should use a product analytics tool.
- Growth in SaaS depends to a large extent on how much you are able to track a user’s journey and tailor experiences to each touchpoint in their journey.
What is product marketing?
In SaaS, product marketing is a subcategory of marketing. It involves positioning a product, promoting it, and enabling sales. It’s important for SaaS companies to have a product marketing strategy. It increases sales, improves cohesion between teams, and improves customer understanding.
Product marketing manager role vs product manager role: what’s the difference?
In summary, a Product Manager is responsible for leading the creation of a product, while a product marketing manager is a person who is in charge of taking the product to market and ensuring its commercial success.
A product manager focuses on product development through user research, product roadmap, backlog prioritization, and everything that ensures customer satisfaction.
The product marketing manager role, on the other hand, focuses on driving signups, adoption, and retention.
Product marketing is important because, without it, you and your mum may be the only people using your world-changing product.
Roles in a product marketing team
The product marketing manager role is, well, a diverse one.
Hence, what your product marketing team would look like depends on the size of your company, your products/services, how diverse they are, and your in-house capacity.
This will also depend on whether your company’s growth is product-led or sales-led.
From Ahrefs to Slack to Dropbox, it’s safe to say that we are in a world of product-led growth.
Speaking of roles, however, if you are looking to build a product marketing team, it’s advisable that you have the following:
- Head of product marketing (Product Marketing Manager)
- Growth product marketer (Focuses on in-app)
- Content marketing manager
- Customer success manager
- SEO specialist
- Chief marketing officer
Product marketing manager role: pre-onboarding responsibilities
The goal of pre-onboarding responsibilities in SaaS is to drive signups.
This stage defines the journey of customers from the moment they first become aware of your product’s existence to the moment they decide to sign up.
Pre-onboarding responsibilities are the activities your product marketing manager undertakes to kickstart that journey.
You may not hear of pre-onboarding responsibilities in a Product Marketing Manager role at all because most SaaS companies assume that onboarding only starts when a user signs up.
In fact: onboarding begins from the moment a prospect first interacts with your brand.
And that’s why kickstarting the onboarding process before the signup falls under the product marketing manager role.
Here are a few activities that contribute to pre-onboarding:
1. Product positioning and messaging
[Product Marketers are also responsible for] defining the whole value prop before the signup — you need to somehow nudge the users to sign up. — Parth Shrivastava, Product Marketing Manager at Kommunicate.io
Prospects’ interest in your product usually boils down to one thing: a unique selling proposition (USP).
It has many names, product positioning, branding, USP.
Whatever you call it, you need to highlight your USP in all your messages to your target audience.
Another way to explain USP is that you should own one thing in the mind of your customers.
Like FedEx symbolizes overnight delivery, Gucci represents luxury wear, and Google stands for a search engine powerhouse, your product positioning should be developed to shape how you want people to think and feel about your product.
Upon identifying this positioning, a product marketer then goes on to detail it in a messaging that links each feature to customer-oriented benefits.
Messaging is about understanding users’ Jobs-to-Be-Done and building the right value propositions that showcase the use of the product.
2. Communicating the value of the product and making sure users understand it
Successful communication of your product value to users involves a lot of activities.
It isn’t just communication; it is knowing what value to stress, it is knowing your audience, it is knowing where and when to say what, and a whole lot of other things.
To do this successfully, you need to lay down your tactics in one go-to-market strategy.
3. Create the product go-to-market strategy
A go-to-market strategy is a detailed document you create in order to launch a product, in order to market it successfully.
It contains all the tactics you’ll use to attract prospects and how you’ll convert them.
What should a good go-to-market strategy include? Let’s see below:
Product positioning statement
A product positioning statement is a brief description that explains what your product does in one sentence.
E.g. For Binance, it’s simply “Buy and sell Crypto in minutes.”
Your prospects are going to evaluate your alternatives/competitors.
Your go-to-market strategy should contain a list of your competitors + how you will persuade your users you are better than the rest.
If you have developed a product that’s for everybody, then you have developed a product for nobody.
This is why having a user persona is an indispensable part of a good go-to-market strategy.
Much as you distinguish your product from its alternatives with the right product positioning, you should also distinguish your ideal users from people your product isn’t for.
User journey stages definition
User journey refers to the stages your customers go through from becoming aware of your product to the moment they decide to keep using it.
A user is generally expected to go through five stages:
- Awareness stage: when a prospect first discovers your product, probably through your marketing efforts, and ends the moment they begin considering it
- Consideration stage: they begin to consider making a purchase
- Purchase: this is the moment a customer makes a purchase
- Retention: at this stage, the customer engages in more features and continues to use them
- Brand advocacy: he begins telling others about your product
Goals and KPIs
When it comes to product marketing goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), there are over 20 product marketing metrics to track in different categories that span user acquisition, activation stage, adoption stage, retention stage, and referral stage.
Don’t forget that taking a user from one stage to another is the goal, and KPIs are just the metrics you measure to see how you are progressing towards each goal.
If you need help setting the right KPIs for your product marketing efforts, see this piece.
Marketing in SaaS is done in two stages: in-app and outside the app.
Of course, outside the app tactics are the things you do to get users to sign up.
Outside-the-app activities include writing and optimizing product and feature pages, creating sales enablement assets, writing FAQs, customer help docs, and developing educational content that drives prospects down your sales funnel.
And once they sign up, the in-app phase begins.
We have a comprehensive post on in-app marketing tactics on our blog here, if you’d like to learn more.
Product marketing manager role: onboarding responsibilities
User onboarding in SaaS is the process of helping new signups realize their goals with the product.
This stage can make or break your product as failure in onboarding is the leading cause of customer churn in the SaaS industry.
The goal in this stage isn’t to tell your users what your product can do for them but to let them experience it and feel the need to make a purchase.
This is where you nudge them towards their Aha! moment.
There are three stages of user onboarding: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
Each one of them deals with specific goals that cut across users getting to their Aha! moment and activating, adopting more features, and finally expanding their accounts.
Let’s see some of the onboarding responsibilities of a product marketing manager in this stage.
1. Create and optimize new user onboarding (primary onboarding)
Primary onboarding is where the first user’s experience of Aha! in your product occurs.
The goal here is to nurture your users to their Aha! moment and lead them to their activation point in their user journey.
To get to this point, they must have completed a series of actions depending on their jobs to be done and how your product makes that possible.
For example, if your brand offers email marketing services, an activated user could be someone who completed the following actions:
- Collected email addresses for a new online store/blog or imported an email contact list
- Created their first email campaign and sent it out
You can use a product analytics tool like Userpilot to track if your users are performing the actions needed to get to the activation point and guide them in case they need help with in-product experiences.
How Userpilot can help you:
First, you have to understand that there are two ways to guide a user through in-app experiences: the traditional product tour and interactive walkthrough.
The traditional walkthrough tour is not very effective, and the reason for this is not far-fetched.
Instead of actually taking users through their assignment in a step-by-step guide, it shows them how to perform tasks 1,2,3,4 in a flash when they hadn’t even taken their first step.
On the other hand, an interactive walkthrough walks them through your product step by step. The user is only prompted to take step 2 after they have successfully completed step 1. And that’s exactly what Userpilot offers you.
You will know where the user is on their user journey from the Userpilot Goals dashboard. The goals are created based on a custom even/ feature tag that indicates the user has performed a certain feature:
Userpilot comes with an in-app checklist of a user’s jobs to be done to move to the activation point:
And once you’ve established what your activation events are, you can set goals to see if your users are performing them or not.
With Userpilot, you can track in-app engagement and set up custom events for each action, the result of which would allow you to trigger contextual onboarding for each user.
By doing this, you’ll be able to encourage each user to take action that will bring them to their Aha! moment at the perfect time.
2. Increase user adoption through secondary and tertiary onboarding
By now, the decision-making stage is over. They are now your active customers.
But you need users to discover more features and added value.
That is the goal of secondary onboarding. You want to ensure that they get all the benefits they can from your product so you have the best chance at retaining them for longer.
Luckily, Userpilot can help you navigate this stage successfully.
How Userpilot can help:
Userpilot lets you segment users based on product analytics such as custom events, user identification, and product usage to identify at what stage a user is at, so you can launch in-app experiences to drive feature adoption and retention.
With Userpilot, you can also analyze user behavior and A/B test experiences meant to increase adoption and retention.
3. Drive new feature adoption
Your product team may develop a great new feature, but what if users don’t know that it exists?
If you launched a new feature in your product, it would require its own in-app and outside communication plan to get users to engage with it.
Knowing which users would benefit the most from the new feature and focusing your resources on them is the key to succeeding in this stage.
How Userpilot can help:
Using Userpilot, you can highlight new features with native tooltips.
Once a user interacts with the new feature, run an interactive walkthrough within the app through a series of tooltips that show in a specific order and guide the user through each step of using the feature.
If you’d like to segment which users sees which experiences, book a demo with Userpilot and we’ll show you how!
4. Run product adoption experiments
A successful marketing campaign is half expertise and half testing.
Product Marketers test constantly to improve the effectiveness of their tactics.
They need to test to see what drives the best results for the goals they’ve set.
While testing is not a new activity in marketing, the SaaS industry has the luxury of doing A/B testing on the product, without coding.
A/B testing means showing different experiences to two separate groups of users and comparing the results against each other plus a control group.
Userpilot allows you to conduct A/B testing in-app experiments and link them to goals to see the impact of each experiment.
Product marketing manager role: account expansion responsibilities
By now, your customers have gone through different stages in their customer journey.
Do you just abandon them and start chasing a new set of customers, or you try to make them adopt more of your products/features and become your brand advocates?
Experience has shown that the latter is cheaper and far more feasible.
Let me show you some of the things product marketing managers do to drive account expansion.
1. Identify upsell opportunities based on product usage
If you want your users to upgrade their accounts, don’t just hire a copywriter to write a great sales copy or send an “Upgrade Now!” email.
Part of the things that set the SaaS industry apart is the ability to hyper-personalize.
By mapping an account expansion effort to a user journey and touchpoints, you’d have a better chance of getting them to act.
This is why, in SaaS, people use product analytics to track product usage. This helps them to determine when is the best time to nudge a user to upgrade.
But what should you track?
Let’s find out.
Feature usage that’s limited to each subscription
When a user has exhausted the number of activities permissible under their subscription package, they are likely ready for an upgrade.
In the case of an email automation tool, when a user has sent the number of emails their subscription package allows, it would be a good time to introduce them to an upgrade.
User tries a feature that’s not included in their subscription
Users’ knowledge of what’s possible in each product is limited. The more you let them know, the more they are likely to adopt.
So, instead of emailing them glorifying new features that they might or might not need, introduce new pro features only to the users who may really need them.
You can use product analytics to identify a user segment that’s likely to benefit from the new feature and also know when the time is right.
Intercom comes to mind here. When users are in the middle of building a communication series, they gently introduce their Product Tour Pro feature to them.
(We wouldn’t recommend Intercom Product Tours as they don’t allow building interactive walkthroughs and are a terrible value for money)
They do this by using an in-app native tooltip when the user hovers over an element. This tells users what the PRO feature is useful for and gives them a chance to upgrade.
How Userpilot can help:
Since success in this depends to a large extent on your understanding of product usage from product analytics, Userpilot no-code tagging feature can help you build a tooltip.
From there on, it’s just a question of which in-app experience you want to trigger to drive the upsell, whether that’s modals, slideouts, tooltips, etc.
Then you can A/B test to see which one works best and you can also build multiple in-product experiences.
The field of product marketing management is relatively new, and it’s easy to get confused when it comes to identifying roles and responsibilities.
This becomes even harder because some companies hire a single individual to play both the role of a product manager and a product marketing manager.
That doesn’t help anyone, not the business, and certainly not the person in the product marketing manager role.
Hopefully, this article helped outline some of the clear responsibilities and KPIs for PMMS.
Now, if you have a SaaS product you want to grow or you have been hired as a product marketing manager for one, you can get a Userpilot Demo and see how it can help you achieve your marketing goals!