Why Marketing and Product Teams Should Bet on Customer Behaviors

Customer centricity is the unifying principle that brings these teams together.

When Galileo proved that the earth was not the center of the universe, it shattered long-held beliefs across every aspect of society. It may seem like organizational success depends on hitting certain metrics or KPIs. Marketing teams need to prove ROI, and product teams need to solve for engagement and retention.

If we invest in those teams, we’re sure to win. Right? If a SaaS-minded Galileo were alive today, he’d say the above strategy lacks customer centricity. Customers don’t revolve around businesses—businesses revolve around customers, specifically their digital behaviors, actions, and preferences.

How to Bridge the Gap Between Marketing and Product

Marketing and product teams are two wings of the same bird. If they don’t flap in sync, the bird won’t take flight.

Marketing and product teams usually have their eyes on different benchmarks—and they rightly should—but sooner or later, the lines blur, and goals overlap. For instance, who is responsible for engagement? Is it the marketing folks who have to usher in customers to actually engage? Or is it the product team who has to capitalize on those acquisitions and drum up product usage? The answer is both—one cannot be successful without the other.

If we strip away all the jargon and industry buzzwords, we can say that these two teams are responsible for copy, art, and code. Marketing professionals leverage their skills to design copy and art. Product teams create product experiences through the language of code. In the end, they’re both “talking” to the same person in two different ways. When a prospect fills out a form or a user abandons a cart, those behaviors are the customer talking back. Those digital conversations can be connected so that both teams walk away with new insights about the same customer.

The unifying principle for both of these teams is, of course, the customer. Aligning your company’s marketing and product teams around a common vision is a worthwhile investment that can’t be numerically quantified.

Whether you’re a scrappy startup or a tenured corporation, every business consists of people, processes, and technology. When those pillars come together for the sole purpose of delivering value, your business becomes customer-centric.

Why Product Teams Can’t Depend on Google Analytics

The problem with Google Analytics is that it works well for what it’s designed for—learning where your customers come from. But traffic does not reveal motivation—only behaviors can do that. For this reason, a dependence on Google Analytics can widen the gap between marketing and product teams. Achieving customer centricity is only possible when a company’s people, processes, and technology are aligned. In most cases, it all starts with a change at the leadership level.

To be clear, Google Analytics will likely remain a mainstay technology for marketing teams, but it doesn’t spark the kind of questions that lead to sustained product growth. Companies that find early success with Google Analytics will ultimately outgrow its functionality. Getting people through the door is an exciting accomplishment for any company. But what will you do to keep them there?

Invest Early and Often in First-Party, Behavioral Data

Who your customers are and what they want are two different things. Third-party demographic data like age, location, and occupation helps confirm who you should talk to, but not what they want or what they value.

Suppose you’re targeting two individuals with the same demographic data—they’re both female SVPs at a big financial firm located in New York City. What are the chances they’ll use your digital app exactly the same way? Will they click the same CTA buttons throughout your ad campaign? Will they buy the same items or share the same links? Maybe, but you won’t know until you look.

Some third-party aggregators will include responses to surveys which sounds more useful than it actually is. These are shallow insights because what a customer finds valuable now could change at any moment. The only way you’ll know when to adapt your product in step with the economic zeitgeist is by paying constant attention to customer behaviors.

The best way to discern what’s going on in the customer’s heart is to watch how they behave. When you invest in first-party, behavioral data, what you’re really doing is investing in the future interests of the company and its customers. The more behavioral history you’re able to cultivate, the deeper and richer your insights will become. With a catalog of authentic user behavior, you can then pair your product roadmaps with confirmed customer desires, continuously experiment with new features, and predict change before it happens.

Find One North Star Metric That Reflects Customer Motivation

Depending on the maturity level of your company’s product analytics, you may be distracted by a wild amount of KPIs or metrics. This can become a never-ending rabbit hole that eats away attention and money. Worse, you’re still left wondering how to make your product better and satisfy customers.

In this scenario, the way forward is discovering your company’s North Star metric—the data point that serves as the keystone locking all other metrics together. In Amplitude’s North Star Playbook, there are three primary benefits to the North Star metric:

  1. It helps prioritize and accelerate informed but decentralized decision-making.
  2. It helps teams align and communicate.
  3. It enables teams to focus on impact and sustainable, product-led growth.

Your North Star will be unique to your business, but the most customer-centric companies know that this “mother metric” needs to be rooted in what your customers value. In 2005, Netflix discovered their North Star metric: customers who place three or more DVDs in their queue during their first session with the service were the ones who saw the company’s true value.

Once you find a telling pattern of behavior, your marketing and product teams can design and iterate with a clear goal post in sight—the value your customers seek in your product. Netflix figured out that one metric was better than twenty, and if they went all-in on that, they would likely manifest customer retention and subscription revenue.

Map Everything You Do Back to the Customer

A customer-centric business says, “We put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and we trust that success will follow.” Instead of placing hope in the hands of trendy metrics or KPIs, your product or service should be utterly devoted to delivering real customer value.

Customer-centric businesses spend their time and money answering questions like:

  • What customer problem is my product or service trying to solve?
  • How can we offer a customer experience that’s highly personalized, not one-size-fits-all?
  • Which key performance indicators actually reflect customer motivation, not just usage?
  • Are customer needs changing, and if so, how can we step up our value to meet new demand?

Convenience, accessibility, and enjoyable digital experiences come from companies that prioritize an intimate understanding of what the customer wants. Being customer-centric means knowing what your customer wants throughout the entire customer lifecycle. The penalty for prioritizing metrics over what the customer wants is product stagnation or even failure. The reward? Customer loyalty.

This article was originally published on Amplitude.com

Published by Peter Klayman in Marketing, Customer Experience, Product