How Marketers Can Get Respect at Startups – Even From Tech

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    Having worked with tech startups as a marketer for several years now, I’ve learned a few things that I wish someone had told me when I was getting started.

    What Do Marketers Do Anyway?

    For almost every company I’ve worked for, I’ve noticed that almost everyone in the company has a different idea of what “marketing” even means. And I’m not alone.  Marketing managers at most medium-sized tech companies or startups constantly get the following sentiments from people—either directly or implied:

     “Sales and marketing are pretty much the same things, right?”

    “Your job is to send emails, post stuff on social media, and your goal is to go viral!”

    “Anyone can do what you do.”

    Tech teams are especially guilty of these assumptions, especially if they’ve never worked with a marketing department before. But it’s also true of almost every other department, too. Even when staffers work in open spaces or are otherwise physically close to each other, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone knows what everyone else is working on, what they’re accomplishing, or much less understand why they’re doing what they do.  

    That’s why, as marketers, it really pays off to take a few extra steps to establish a great foundation for working with people in tech and in all the departments of the company.

    Here are four steps you need to take to be your best and to get the most out of working with others at your company.

    1 – Immerse Yourself in Your Company’s Culture

    When you get hired by a tech company, one of their first tasks is to introduce you to the fundamental features and benefits of the company’s products and walk you through the company sales pitch and brand messaging. That’s a good start—but it’s only a start.

    In those first few weeks, be sure to ask as many questions as you can across a variety of departments. To begin with, make an effort to build a deep understanding of how the company works and what its vision and philosophy are. Be sure to take time to build an understanding of who is doing what. Then, you’ll get to know who the best people are to reach out to for each of your marketing efforts in the future.

    Next, make the effort to dig deeper into the value of the product. For example, find out why it’s valuable to your customers on a daily basis. Spend some time with the product and engineering teams to get a clear grasp of the development cycle. Make it a point to find out how features and improvements get prioritized. Be sure to learn about the product’s roadmap, too. These are just a few places to start to enrich your knowledge about the product you’re marketing, which will empower you to do your job.

    2 – Produce Higher Quality Content with Your SMEs

    Guess what, you’re not the Subject Matter Expert on everything! That means that you’re going to need to work with and solicit help from a variety of people within a variety of teams in the company to create your best content.

    To make the process go smoothly and to support them as they help you, start by clearly conveying your goals and the results you expect from their efforts. You want them to write some valuable blog articles? Then be sure to explain to them (and show them) the impact your blog has on website traffic. You want them to write a white paper on a specific topic? Be sure to show them data on downloads and conversions from your previous white papers. Sharing data is essential to working together. I’ll go into more detail about the impact of sharing data later.

    Here at ClicData, for example, I rely on people from sales, professional service, engineering, and financial departments to produce and suggest new content. Why is that good for our marketing strategy? It allows us to create high quality, diverse content, much more quickly. It also frees up some time for me to focus on other activities. By working closely with all departments, I’m getting closer to market reality and customers’ needs.

    I got help with two articles, for example, including ones about how to choose the right database for your business and how to keep your business data safe, and they turned out to be the best performing articles on our blog. Both were written by our CTO —yet the best part is that I didn’t even have to ask for them. Our CTO already recognized the value that our blogs contribute to our SEO and web traffic, so I had an ally in my efforts to produce content. To be honest. I didn’t even know what a DTU-based model was before we wrote the article. But our CTO knew that it would get noticed by a lot of people since it discussed one of his top concerns at the time. And it did.

    3 — To Improve the Product, Use it

    Quick quiz: What’s the best way to “dig deeper into your product”? Answer: use it!

    When I joined ClicData’s team, I wanted to build my own marketing dashboards—the company’s signature product—to track our web marketing KPIs. I saw so many examples of powerful marketing dashboards on the company website that I wanted to replicate them with our marketing data.

    By spending a few hours on the platform, I quickly grasped the extent of its capabilities. I was all in on the marketing and sales pitch already, but everything became much more real and concrete to me by working with the platform.

    But there’s more. Since the product and engineering teams are always looking for feedback and ways to improve the platform, so by using the app for yourself, you can help them do that. You will also double the chances of raising bugs before your customers do. You might even have ideas and suggestions to offer to enhance the product.

    Improve the Onboarding and User Experience

    Go through the product’s signup and onboarding process yourself to put yourself in the shoes of your prospects. No doubt, you will spot things that could be improved. Consider:

    • Is your signup page attractive enough?
    • Is all of the required personal information really necessary?
    • Can the form be shorter?
    • How long does it take to get to the application?
    • How did you experience your first interactions with the interface? Was it painful? Easy? smooth? Or were you completely lost?
    • Did you find the tutorials or documentation easily? Were they helpful?

    Then, compile your observations, support them with data, and raise the issues to your product team.

    A discussion with the product and engineering teams can also generate ideas for new features or improvements. At the same time, they’ll be able to explain why some things just won’t happen right away, due to a lack of resource, time, or because it doesn’t really make sense.

    In these discussions, it’s best to put your ego aside and ask yourself: Will these changes significantly improve our users’ lives? If you think that your suggestion will, you need to convince your audience—product and engineering—and that’s where data comes in. If there’s a drop in your signup or account activation process, you need to show them the stats. Use your data to prove your point.

    After all, the point of your meetings is to find ways to improve the user experience on your platform. Not to make your wish come true.

    Improve Customer Retention with Product Marketing

    In a tech company—and especially in the SaaS industry—customer retention is as critical to success as lead acquisition. In fact, even if you go ahead and congratulate yourself for improving acquisition and conversion stats, if no one uses your platform, or if they quit after a few months or a year, your efforts in lead acquisition may be of little value in the long run.

    To nourish customer retention, then, you need to highlight your product capabilities, get your users excited about new features, and give away pro tips and best practices to get the most out of your application. Again, your product team can help you do this in a way that makes an impact. They can provide ideas based on their experience with calls with customers, support chat, or tickets. And boom—you have your next blog article, newsletter, or webinar topic in your pipeline.

    4 – Share Your Results with Dashboards

    Last but not least, create presentations to demonstrate and illustrate your results with data. This is probably the most valuable thing I learned by joining ClicData’s team. You are going to need to prove that your efforts and the efforts of those working with you have paid off. Or, you’re going to want to recognize that your efforts weren’t what you’d hoped for—and understand why not. And only data can help you do that—specifically through interactive and real-time dashboards. Centralize all your KPIs in a single place and share your dashboards during your marketing meetings. Dashboards allow you to dive into your data, and they give clear information and feedback about the performance of your content and actions.

    Here are some dashboard examples you can use with your data and share with your team:

    Website and blog performance dashboard

    In this dashboard, we’re looking at the basic website and content performance indicators. You can drill-down into the data by zooming on the charts at the bottom or by clicking on the tab in the table. You can compare data over time with the date range filter on the right.

    Campaigns ROI and Customer Lifetime Value

    This dashboard has been created by our Product Specialist during our webinar “Marketing Analytics and Calculating ROI“. This dashboard displays data from Google Ads and an accounting system like Xero or QuickBooks –for which we have connectors– to calculate the Acquisition Cost and the Customer Lifetime Value. The sliders are dynamic and change the data on the other charts.

    Facebook Ads performance dashboard

    This one is tracking Facebook campaigns’ performance with two KPIs Impressions and Total Reach. You can filter by region, ad and campaign. You will get information on your ads’ performance, most receptive audience by gender, age or country.