Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of TripActions, wrote an article recently on the importance of a seamless, simple, and frictionless customer experience throughout the consumer's marketing journey. Frankly, we LOVED it! Her article inspired us to delve further into the topic, ask a few more questions, and clarify what we can do to improve the customer experience.
Meagen's article dives into how a smooth customer experience can make all the difference. She asserts that to successfully engage your audience, the three core functions of the marketing organization (product marketing, brand and demand generation) need to align the company around a story, develop the right narrative, and unify technology and people.
In our latest Marchitect Q&A, we spoke with Meagen about her thoughts on why customer experience needs to be the star of the show in product marketing and shares examples of how she and her team make this happen for TripActions.
Product Marketing's New Role in Delivering a Smooth Customer Experience
Product marketing is one of the three core functions of any marketing organization. We asked Meagen about the role product marketing plays at TripActions to help build their AI-powered travel and expense management solution while delivering simple, frictionless customer experiences as part of their "360-degree marketing strategy."
Historically, the role of product marketing has focused on the buyer's journey, meaning everything that happens before the actual sale. As we see marketing evolve to focus on retention and growth from existing customers, product marketers must expand their knowledge beyond the initial buyer’s journey. The product marketing team must have a continuous feedback loop, gaining knowledge from existing customers about what matters to them.
One way Meagen puts this into action is by thinking of their product marketers as the GM for product releases. Product marketers have a clear grasp of personas and customer needs so they are well positioned to provide guidance to others on the revenue team about product positioning and messaging. For Meagen’s team, product marketers support launches by understanding product, sales, and customer success interactions and listening to new and existing customers to understand and explain the real power of what they're taking to market.
The Shared Future of Customer and Employee Experience
The future of the B2B company is dependent on the humanization of the customer and employee experience. It's no longer about B2C or B2B, but rather B2H: business to human. Meagen explained the four building blocks of a simple, frictionless human experience. The first is to "inform them like consumers, from their first experience with your brand," through to the adoption and expansion with your product.
How does product marketing inform and engage buyers like consumers? Meagen explained they simply looked at the needs of their customers and found ways to help. A big part of TripActions’ "360-degree marketing strategy" when the pandemic began was to focus on feedback from customers and their product and sales teams.
With so many customers asking questions about how to handle travel challenges, TripActions’ product marketers created a knowledge base during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide self-service information and solutions to existing customers, prospects, and even their own employees. They based content on the questions they repeatedly heard from customers to create courses to provide the answers, which often were not available from other sources.
Because of this focus on customer listening, they've quickly innovated offerings and adjusted to customers' new needs and prospects during a challenging time. TripActions supported existing customers in a way that set them apart in the market by listening, evolving, and learning. These efforts helped them win new customers who found TripActions as a resource and a better solution for their needs.
Engagement via Community in Today's Digital World
Meagen's second pillar of a seamless and frictionless customer experience is to "empower customers as participants." She notes that two-way communication in today's digital world is a must. TripActions' concept of engagement via community has been an essential part of their marketing strategy. TripActions has done considerable work to build what their users need throughout their journey.
The product marketing team uses data and two-way communication to develop their product to perfectly match their three personas who use their platform: the traveler, the travel manager, and finance. Meagen explained that if you don't design your product with the end-user in mind, in their case the traveler, you won't have a customer who continues to buy. Through the TripActions community knowledge base, they bring together suppliers, partners, consumers, and experts to create solutions their buyers need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When a company focuses on community and business-to-human experience, Meagen explained that brand tone of voice matters now more than ever. Consumers want human engagement, not a robotic corporate tone. She’s seen a clear evolution in marketing to a use more casual but still professional approach. When developing content, Meagen’s advice is to empower customers and put yourself in their shoes. Always ask, "Is this something I would want to read?"
The Connection Between the Product and Product Marketing Team
The interlock between the product marketing team and how the actual product works is crucial to delivering a seamless, frictionless experience, as Meagen mentions. The product marketing team must identify priceless “wow” moments throughout their user's journey, including after they buy. With this understanding comes insights that can be used to energize campaigns for both demand generation and customer marketing.
Leadership focus is at the heart of successful interlock. At TripActions, their CEO is highly involved with product management and product marketing and understands the value of those teams working closely together. This encourages strong alignment, especially with product launches and marketing. Their product marketers attend product management meetings and are involved in a continuous feedback loop to keep customer needs and experience at the heart of product development. Meagen said when those teams focus on the end-user, they work together to get the right product to that user.
The Future Shift in Product Marketing Management
The gap between the historical product marketing charter and the new role Meagen describes is significant. She understands not many product marketing teams think about a holistic pre-and post-sale experience. Yet, now more than ever, there must be strong collaboration between product, customer success, customer marketing, and customer experience teams. Product Marketing leaders must encourage their teams to acquire new skills and knowledge so they can succeed in the broader market’s shift to focus on product-led growth.
In planning for 2021, instead of focusing on what they can't do given market challenges, they're focused on what they can do, what they can enable, and what's coming to build excitement not only with their customers but also within the company. For example, Meagen said they’re working towards further aligning their product marketing roadmap with the product team, and creating a customer-friendly version for their sales teams to share.
Meagen noted that for her team at TripActions, and for every team, 2021 should be about opportunity, not limitation. Delivering a useful, frictionless customer experience in a time filled with anxiety and stress will do wonders for any organization. Find the human connections throughout your customer journey and create relationships that fulfill your customer and your employees’ needs. Community and customer experience are what every business needs to grow and succeed in 2021 and beyond.