69% of senior marketers cite understanding buyer needs as the most important go-to-market strategy, and 80% of these same marketers view creating collateral as their top priority.

Let that sink in for a minute. In the Age of the Customer, the best B2B product marketers are keenly aware of the convergence of understanding buyer personas and building content specifically targeted at those buyer’s needs.

We chatted with top B2B product marketers about the future of product marketing, solving the elusive customer experience issue, and best practices for cross-team alignment. Here’s what the had to say.

Insights from World-Class Product Marketers

Product Marketing Is Content Marketing

Often times, people think about “content marketing” as limited to top-of-the-funnel content—white papers, blog posts, infographics—all aimed at driving leads. But, the best marketers are realizing that content is the fuel to the entire customer journey. It is the act of creating content that can uniquely position your product as exactly what your customer wants and needs at each and every stage.

“More brands are realizing that the product of marketing is content.”—Jesse Noyes, Dir. of Product Marketing & Inbound, Kahuna

Jesse Noyes, Director of Product Marketing and Inbound at Kahuna, had this to say about the link between content and product:

“Product marketing is in the middle of a transformation, one each of us should all embrace. Content marketing, demand gen, and product marketing are experiencing a convergence. More brands are realizing that the product of marketing is content—content to draw in leads, educate them, and ensure a consistent story across sales and in support. That doesn’t start or end with just positioning and solid messaging; it happens at every touchpoint.”

Content is the backbone that supports product marketing. It’s the reason product marketing is so powerful.

“[What excites me most about the future of product marketing is] the ability to drive new markets and products to improve people’s lives, influence buying behaviors and awareness, and utilize new technologies and media (e.g. twitter, Facebook) to reach consumers,” said Mike McNamara, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at NetApp.

The future of product marketing is leveraging content to shape the way buyer’s think about your product, and perhaps, change the very way in which they buy.

Related Content: The Customer Experience Management Guide [Chapter 1]

Personalization Shapes Customer Experience for the Better

When asked what can improve the customer experience, we hear again and again about personalization and customized content. “[We] need to better understand our target personas…customer pain points and challenges,” said Mike.

“We work for the user. Customer and community training is critical.” —Cesar Rojas, Dir. of Product Marketing, Pivotal

Having an ongoing understanding of your customer, community, user, persona…it’s an integral role product marketers play in shaping a smooth customer experience. For Cesar Rojas, Director of Product Marketing at Pivotal, the it’s simple, “We work for the user. Customer and community training is critical.”

The best product marketers take this prospect and buyer insight and use it to shape a successful product launch and a cohesive marketing funnel. Because personalization drives results.

“A personalized web experience results in an average 19% increase in sales. [We’ve seen] personalized marketing emails receive 29% higher open rates and 41% higher click-through rates,” sited James Mello, Marketing Manager and Lead Author at Product2Market.

“Segment content to customer type.”—James Mello, Marketing Manager and Lead Author at Product2Market

But for James, the answer to a personalized experience doesn’t have to be complicated. Segmentation is an easy way to customize.

“Moving beyond name personalization, segment your audience by time zone. Schedule email blasts so that they’re optimized per time-zone. Segment content to customer type. How so? Take Boca Java for example. As a gourmet coffee retailer, they segmented their email lists based on how many bags of coffee customers ordered. In this way, they were able to offer relevant discounts according to customer’s individual purchasing habits.”

And All This Hinges on Cross-Team Alignment

But with so many moving pieces across people, teams, and channels, aligning messaging grows increasingly complicated. How can teams address this issue to eliminate silos and disjointed messaging?

Many product marketers address this issue with closed-loop strategies—one which truly integrates internal teams. For Teddy Tehrani, the answer is an agile marketing strategy.

“Collaboration is key when it comes to product marketing. I feel like the best way to work across different teams and departments is to have an agreed upon process and framework which enables quicker execution. Agile is the path forward to better collaboration.”—Teddy Tehrani, Product Marketer, Kapost

Product Marketing Has Proven It’s Value—and Has the Power to Drive the Customer Experience

Product marketers, now more than ever, have the power to bridge the gap between top of funnel leads and a closed deal, effectively measuring marketing-driven revenue. It’s this proven value that continues to drive teams forward, “Product marketing has proven its value. It provides the vision and direction to many startups and large organizations. We have become mission critical,” said Cesar.

And Jesse closed with this:

“Product marketers can be a powerful catalyst within this converged state if it understands not only the solution they market, but can frame up the initial problems the buyer faces better than their competitors. Competitive advantage belongs to the brand that best understands the problem, delivers content that continues to educate the buyer at every point in the sales cycle, and is ready to uniquely position the solution within that framework.” 

Kelsey Loughman

About Kelsey Loughman

Kelsey is the former Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Kapost. She oversaw the Marketeer blog, created amazing eBooks, and inspired marketers to create more advanced strategies. See what she's up to @Kay_Lockman.