Despite record-breaking investments1 in digital transformation, many companies are still grappling with organisational structure issues that are preventing them from maximising their return on investments (ROI). As digital transformation blurs the boundaries between marketing and product teams, organisations may find they need to realign internally.
Marketing and product teams, in my experience, often operate in completely separate worlds. And yet, today, it is often the digital experience that determines if customers are loyal to a product or not. Ultimately, retention is the most important metric, and it’s an end goal that falls under the responsibility of both teams. Here’s how they can collaborate to support the entire customer journey.
Clear alignment and communication
The first step may sound obvious, but it’s crucial that both teams understand the value of working together. Without this initial alignment, it’ll be impossible to get anything else in motion. Over a decade ago, I worked as the Director of Analytics at Salesforce, where my mission was clear: I needed to work out how we could leverage data to elevate sales leads. As part of the marketing team, we utilised SEO, paid search, email, social media, and testing to bolster the sales pipeline. At that time, the website’s primary call to action was to initiate a free trial of the Salesforce CRM product. Though we pushed for collaboration, we were ultimately unable to convince the product team that we should collaborate on the free trial process. This was undoubtedly a missed opportunity for a fruitful collaboration, and I’m sure many teams will have experienced similar frustrations.
The reality is a lot of good could have come from that collaboration had it worked out. Say, for example, a product and marketing team are collaborating over a free trial. If prospects involved with the free trial stopped engaging, the product team could send the list of non-responsive users to their marketing counterparts. Marketing could then attempt to re-engage them via their marketing channels. This could result in an engagement boost with the trial and even lead to paid conversions later down the line.
After collaboration has been agreed upon, the next step is making sure both teams are all working from the same source of truth. Today, it’s pretty common to see organisations using one analytics product on the website, another for the mobile app, and so on. But all this results in a jumbled mess of tools, with different teams working from different platforms. This can also create the problem of each team working from its own set of data, resulting in more time being spent arguing over whose data is correct instead of productive action. As such, if you want your product and marketing teams to work together, it’s important to use a unified analytics platform for both teams to access.
Let’s look at an example. For years at MySwimPro2, nobody had confidence in the company’s data because it was kept in multiple places. This hampered collaboration, which in turn slowed progress on improving the user journey. In 2021, the company moved to a consolidated analytics platform and the collaborative environment rapidly changed. Now, no time is lost arguing over which direction to take. Rather than being a situation where it is simply the loudest voice that wins, the data now wins the argument and the teams can easily collaborate to create improved customer experiences.
This is a testament to the fact that a single, consolidated platform boosts collaboration and reassures teams that they can trust each others’ data.
Visibility into the complete customer journey
Finally, it’s crucial for both marketing and product teams to be focused on the entire customer journey. Too often, marketing teams focus on acquisition while product teams concentrate solely on engagement and retention. This creates a disjointed customer experience.
To successfully engage customers, teams must create a seamless experience between the in-product and out-of-product experiences. Consider streaming services like Netflix or Spotify. While known for their in-product personalization, the experience extends out of the product, too—in the way they communicate through email, social media, and ads. You may get emails about top artists releasing new music or recommendations for new shows based on past viewing. This is the level of experience customers are looking for today. And it cannot be realised without product and marketing team alignment.
Amid the complexities of digital transformation, companies must put the customer experience first. And those organisations that continue to rely only on acquisition-focused marketing analytics will fall behind. There will always be a need for marketing and marketing analytics, but over time, I believe it will become a subset of the overall product experience rather than a separate discipline. And this means more than ever, product and marketing teams will need to align to build customer trust, support long-term retention, and drive lifetime value.
Adam’s career has been shaped around the intersection of product strategy and marketing, and would be available to talk about the intersection of product strategy and marketing, and how business owners can utilise data for cost-effective marketing results. He authored the “The Adobe SiteCatalyst Handbook: An Insider's Guide Paperback” book, which teaches companies how to integrate web analytics into their process to effectively track, and evaluate, how marketing campaigns perform.