Product Marketing: What Are Product Marketing Responsibilities In SaaS?

Product Marketing: What Are Product Marketing Responsibilities In SaaS?


With product-led growth becoming more and more popular, product marketing is on the rise.

But what are product marketing responsibilities in SaaS?

While the role varies from company to company, with specific tasks depending on the product and the state of the market, every product marketing team will be in charge of executing the three pillars of product marketing: bringing your product to market, promoting your product, and selling your product to customers.

So, let’s take a look at the key responsibilities of product marketing and how to measure its impact.


What are Product Marketing Responsibilities in SaaS?

Product marketing is closely related to product management. It is different from traditional marketing, which promotes the company and/or brand in order to gain new customers.

Product marketing focuses on promoting the right features of your product to the right users at the right time – thus showcasing the value of your product to both the prospective and existing users. In that sense – product marketing is concerned with conversion and retention more than generating initial interest.

The SaaS product marketing team is responsible for pre-launch and post-launch activities including positioning the product and product messaging, driving demand, adoption, and retention, and account expansion of the product in a continuous cycle. They move users through the user journey in a smooth and easy motion – and each “turn of the wheel” is easier – creating a flywheel effect:

User adoption flywheel
The user adoption flywheel – check out Userpilot’s blog for even more tips!

SaaS products are constantly evolving – new features are introduced, the user interface is updated – so the product marketing team needs to be on the ball 24/7, no matter what changes are thrown their way. They are responsible for:

  • Defining product positioning and messaging
  • Onboarding users in a continuous way
  • Increasing feature adoption
  • Reducing churn
  • Identifying opportunities for driving account expansion

Product marketing responsibilities vs product management responsibilities

While product marketing is a component of product management, the two are distinct departments with different responsibilities.

The biggest difference is that product marketers are responsible for promoting products – communicating their value to the market – whereas product managers are responsible for building the products.

Depending on the company and product, a product marketer can be on the marketing OR product team.

Product marketers’ main focus is on the users and their job-to-be-done – our product X will help you with X, will help you solve X. They are responsible for creatively expressing a product’s value and making it desirable to prospective users.

Product marketers are also responsible for – secondary onboarding. This is selling the product’s valuable secondary features to existing users who have yet to adopt them. Their role doesn’t stop once the product has been sold – they have to promote a product’s continuous value and encourage users to get the full benefit from the product.

Product managers have a wider breadth of responsibilities. They are with the product from its conception to its final form. They figure out customer needs, translate them into stories, and then transform those stories into specifications for product engineers.

Product managers also ensure the product is made efficiently by a hand-selected creative team and utilize user feedback to constantly improve the product.

Furthermore, product managers work with more stakeholders, including product engineers and business stakeholders as opposed to just the users, and their role involves a lot of communication with many different departments, so they need specific skills to do their jobs.

Although the current trend of product-led growth is showing how beneficial product marketers are, there are some who argue that PMMs are not absolutely essential to a product’s success, unlike PMs.

Surya shares an overview of his general day
Surya shares an overview of his general day

“My day shuffles between checking where the user is coming from checking if they are coming back to the app; then circling back to the product team to report a bug or feature feedback; then I’m busy defining the user journey on the website and other collaterals, and fixing the positioning and content across all platforms – on the website, on the blog, on the FAQ…Being a product marketer you cannot leave out any form of content. For either the people who are just coming in, or for people who are already using your product – all the content that is going on any collateral – either internal or external. The third thing is monitoring the sales pipeline – what is happening on the demos, why we are losing deals – and then I’m coming up with sales enablement collaterals, to educate the leads better.”

Product marketing responsibilities: Product positioning & messaging

Two of the most important things product marketers are responsible for are product positioning (internal) and product messaging (external).

Product positioning is all about context-setting – what your product is, who your product is for, what to expect from your product, and how much your product will cost. It sets the tone for how you want your customers to think and feel about your product.

A fantastic product positioning statement includes a defined understanding of the market category, target customer segmentation, value for customers, distinguishing features and/or capabilities, and competitive alternatives.

It is crucial to position your product because no positioning is also a statement. If you know what your customers need, as opposed to what they think they want and go from there, you will not only deliver on what you promise (don’t be too broad – trying to appeal to everyone is impossible) but you will stand out from your competitors.

Furthermore, if customers know what to expect going in, they will quickly see your product’s value and they won’t be disappointed.

Check out common misconceptions about product positioning strategies here.

“Positioning defines how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.”

– April Dunford, author of Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It

Product messaging, despite what some old-school marketers would have you believe, is different from product positioning. Messaging is about communicating your product’s value to a very specific user persona in a way that is relevant to their pain, so they understand how the product helps.

Product positioning is an internal, context-setting, shared-vision strategy, and messaging is how that strategy is communicated externally. Messaging is how you express your positioning – you can’t have one without the other.

A Product Positioning Map created by Conceptboard
A Product Positioning Map created by Conceptboard

After deciding on positioning and messaging, the Product Marketing Manager will also need to work on user personas and user journey maps.

Product marketing responsibilities: Drive product demand

After establishing your product positioning and messaging, user personas, and the user journey map (as outlined in the previous point), product marketing is responsible for creating the go-to-market strategy and driving product demand.

A go-to-market strategy is a calculated plan, a blueprint almost, detailing how your company will execute your product’s launch and promotion to obtain new users. The end goal of a go-to-market strategy is to drive demand for your product and acquire new leads through the likes of trial sign-ups and demo requests.

Unlike a product strategy, which is ongoing, go-to-market strategies are mostly for new product (or feature) launches. They are informed by your product positioning as well as product messaging and involve activities such as:

  • User journey maps
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Community engagement: customer outreach, including influencers and partners, and public relations
  • Sales tactics and distribution channels
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Finance: product pricing and marketing budgeting
img src="onboarding.png" alt="user onboarding table"
Credit: UXPressia

Everything we’ve talked about up until now – product positioning, product messaging, product launch strategies – are pre-onboarding events! Onboarding begins from the moment a prospective user interacts with your brand for the first time, not when they first sign-up.

This leads us to one of product marketing’s most important responsibilities – user onboarding.

Product marketing responsibilities: Drive product usage through user onboarding

User onboarding involves helping new users realize their goals with the product. It is the stage after you show what your product can do for them (its value) – this is where you prove it. Enabling new signups to experience how your product solves their job-to-be-done in a smooth and efficient manner pushes them towards their “Aha! moment”, making them more likely to purchase your product.

Great user onboarding is crucial because the easier and quicker it is for a user to get acquainted with your product, the more likely they are to buy it. If your user onboarding is poor, it will drastically increase customer churn.

img src="onboarding.png" alt="diagram showing user onboarding journey"
Where user onboarding REALLY starts

Most SaaS companies assume that onboarding starts and stops when a user signs up but that’s just not true – you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you assume that! Think of onboarding as a continuous education loop.

Onboarding has three stages – primary, secondary, and tertiary – and they all have different goals.

userpilot user journey stages
Picture the User Journey Stages like a flight of stairs

Primary onboarding’s, or new user onboarding’s, main goal is to get your users to the “Aha! moment” – when your user realizes the value of your product but doesn’t directly experience its benefits yet – through the first 2-3 activation points.

You might think that primary onboarding is meant to guide your new user seamlessly throughout your entire product as soon as they interact with it – it’s not. Expecting a brand-new user to know how to use your product after one guided tour is not only unrealistic but unfair. It’s more likely to annoy customers and push them away, thus increasing churn.

If you keep the “Aha! moment” in mind throughout this stage, you’re more likely to keep customers engaged and reach the activation point of their user journey.

This leads us to the next onboarding stage – secondary onboarding.

Secondary onboarding is where the continuous education loop really starts. Secondary onboarding’s goal is to increase adoption and retention by enabling them to discover new features that add continuous value to your product – you’ve got your users, now you have to keep them. Product marketers can gather data via customer segmentation to market particular features to particular types of users. Userpilot can help with this.

This leads us to the final onboarding stage – tertiary onboarding.

This type of onboarding comes into effect once you have some user data available; you have to give your users a chance to use the product first before you can build use cases.

These tertiary features will keep you coming back for more – being able to see proof of ROI through retention rates will encourage internal buy-in from your team.

What KPIs are product marketing responsible for?

KPIs – key performance indicators – are performance trackers. In this context, they allow product marketing to see how successful their marketing is and how much of an impact it has in each stage of the user journey.

Here are some examples of KPIs product marketing are responsible for in each stage:

  • Product launch: promotional content engagement – views, clicks, saves, and shares
  • Customer journey: velocity metrics and conversation rate
  • Acquisition: sign-up rate, demos booked, and CAC
  • Activation: activation rate and average time to value
  • Adoption: feature adoption rate, active user, and DAU to MAU ratio
  • Retention: high-value action frequency, NPS and referrals, customer churn, CLTV, and LTV to CAC ratio
  • Revenue: upsell/cross-sell/retention targets and average revenue per user (ARPU)
  • Close ratio: closed sales versus unsuccessful sales
how to measure product marketing success
Some KPIs your product marketing team can track

Key Takeaways

The product marketing team’s job is to execute the three pillars of product marketing – bringing your product to market, promoting your product, and selling your product to customers.

Each pillar has its own responsibilities and can be achieved through creativity, teamwork, organization, and utilization of data.

If you’re a new product marketing manager working on your product marketing strategy – you will sooner rather than later need a tool to measure your user activity in-app and create onboarding experiences to improve your activation and adoption metrics.

Userpilot can help you do all that without coding – book a quick demo call to see it in action here!

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