SaaStr Podcast 470 (and Video): How Product & Marketing Should Work Together with PagerDuty

CMO Julie Herendeen and CPO Sean Scott are PagerDuty’s product & marketing power couple. They bring together their respective strengths to drive remarkable product-led growth for PagerDuty, the incident response SaaS that’s been invaluable to tech teams since 2009. The two have plenty to share about making product and marketing work together in a product led-growth model, including some insights drawn from Sean’s history with Amazon and the benefits of bringing B2C techniques to the SaaS game. 

 

Sean’s product department is responsible for engaging and delighting users—for making the happy customers that become the proponents of the brand. Meanwhile, in the marketing department, Julie works to seek the right prospects and put them in touch with the product so that they can become the best advocates. Julie finds ways to amplify the happy customer voices and to harness them to brilliantly drive more sales. Both sides measure the results and together they gain insights about who their happy customers are and how they use the product. This informs the experiences that are designed within the product, as well as the marketing and messaging that’s in play. Julie and Sean’s strategy is grounded in a few key tenets that keep them working together on behalf of their happiest customers.

 

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Working backwards to answer the hard questions before developing the full product. They start with their press release and FAQ, where they learn about who is interested and what’s going to work and what’s not. This is similar to Sean’s process at Amazon, when he worked on the design of Amazon’s delivery robot. His product team initially intended the robot to be flashy. With further insights, they discovered it should instead fade into the background, so they shifted to a new strategy of “designing for boring.” At PagerDuty, this initial stage of the process informs Sean’s product design and strategy, while Julie’s marketing team works on the initial go-to-market strategy. Both departments are able to iterate, but they don’t silo off. This sometimes means that Julie has to adjust the market strategy to suit what has become a different product, but it also means that they’re making the right product for the right people. 

 

Putting customers in charge of the journey. In the SaaS world, friction is the enemy of the customer. It slows down the journey, resulting in more churn and fewer happy customer-advocates. PagerDuty removes this friction by providing broad resources that allow the customer to be the driver of their own journey. Sometimes this creates friction within product and marketing efforts, such as with gated content. Gating helps marketing to gain leads and measure results, but at PagerDuty it was weakening customer success and sales. (When PagerDuty un-gated their demo, for example, three times as many people viewed the demo.) This demo is a key driver in sign-ups for the PagerDuty trial, and the trial significantly converts into purchases. So, while un-gating made waves for marketing, the trade was worth it. Plus, insights about how customers interacted with the demo informed sales, resulting in even more impact.

 

Instrumenting the product for self-service. Sean believes that the product must be built for self-service. If people contact customer service, Sean considers their interactions to be evidence of defects in the product. In one such instance, customers complained that there was a feature that PagerDuty didn’t offer, when really they were just limited by their specific profile within their org. Sean realized that this was because his team had hidden a button for those users. They added the button back in but greyed it out, and they added a message for the user about why they specifically didn’t have access to that feature. Customers were able to discover the product’s features but also understand what the limitations were for their specific journeys, reducing their customer service requirements. 

 

Enabling high value actions in the funnel. Marketing and product teams often measure results through aggregate metrics, such as conversion, but they make the mistake of doing this without drilling down further. But by zeroing in more, they might discover that while 50% of an activity isn’t converting into sales, it’s because 50% of those participants weren’t a fit for the product. Segmenting aggregate metrics helps marketing and product teams to measure where the journey is successful, what resources are most important, which messages are resonating with which audiences, and which channels are bringing in the most valuable customers. As Julie says, “aggregates aren’t that helpful, and averages lie.” The teams can discover which high-value actions are successful, such as if customers are successfully downloading the app, and to determine what the high-value actions should be in the first place. Sean addresses where things are becoming too difficult for customers within the product, and Julie addresses if customers are doing what’s expected when they visit the website, what they interact with, and where they need more knowledge. 

 

Making marketing part of the journey. Because the job of marketing is never finished, Julie uses insights to determine where customers might want more information, such as if they are integrating the product with Salesforce. The two departments can then update the product and marketing strategies based on this information, which of course, drives more marketing benefits. If the best marketing is word of mouth, it’s important to keep that dialogue going. 

 

The alignment of the product department and the marketing department is the backbone of this product-driven strategy. It’s Julie’s and Sean’s commitment to move through each iteration together and to understand how their actions impact the other department that make and maximize their powerful product-led growth. 

 

Takeaways:

  • Use PR/FAQ early to ask the right questions and drive alignment upfront
  • Self-service journeys enable behavior-based relationships and insights
  • Funnel metrics drive high value actions
  • Customer complaints are evidence of product flaws
  • Marketing doesn’t stop when the customer dives into the product
Published on August 6, 2021

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