Product Should be at the Heart of Your Marketing Strategy – MarTech Series

Marketers have long been at the bleeding edge of technology. From creating company web pages in the dot coms, to reaching customers with Salesforce and Marketo, and shifting ad spend from print to digital and social advertising—we’ve seen it all. In an unprecedented shift, during the first half of 2020, marketers moved their entire strategies to digital ones, almost overnight. Today, I believe marketers should be at the front of the next era of technology: making digital products the heart of their marketing strategies.
I believe in this shift for two main reasons: the market is moving that way, and because of the data I’m seeing within Amplitude’s own platform. First, IDC estimates that by 2023, over 500 million new cloud-native products will be developed. It’s clear: people are moving to products. Second, people are using digital products more than ever. Amplitude’s own data shows that daily active use of digital products has grown 54% since January 2020.
The team at Amplitude was curious to see how these recent trends and behaviors have impacted product usage around the globe. We leveraged insights from more than 6,000 digital products to understand what products are growing fastest and how people are engaging with digital apps and services. Many of the findings reveal fascinating insights for marketers that can help them plan and execute better in 2022.
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The best marketers are constantly on a mission to better understand what their customers want. The answer used to lie in surface-level website analytics, but those days are over. Now the product itself is the best marketing tool available. Marketers need to understand which in-product promotions, user paths, or experiences lead to the desired result. That could be purchasing a subscription after a free trial, writing a positive review or using a social-sharing feature.
In the past, marketers didn’t have access to these types of product insights, but our report found that’s no longer the case. According to our data, today marketers are leveraging product data more than data scientists—that’s something I would have never guessed five years ago. As the data democratization trend continues and marketers continue to gain access to digital insights, I expect to see more collaboration between marketing and product teams as well. One example of this collaboration is our customer, Jersey Mike’s, whose digital marketing team wanted to improve the customer app experience to feed their growth pipeline. A cross-functional effort between marketing, product and UX, the team leveraged product data to inform in-app feature changes and user interface improvements, and as a result, more than doubled its online orders.
While it won’t come as much of a surprise, our report found that ecommerce dramatically picked up during the pandemic. Activity on ecommerce apps rose 47.4% in April 2020, compared to January of the same year. This activity level continued throughout the rest of 2020 and 2021, reaching a 143% increase on Black Friday and a 126% increase on Cyber Monday.
For marketers, understanding where customers are making purchases is vital. Strategies shift depending on whether our goal is to get someone into a brick-and-mortar store or a mobile app. Even as retailers have begun to re-open their physical storefronts across the world, there is no doubt we have a new normal for ecommerce activity, and those who continue to invest in their digital customer experiences will reap the benefits. This applies to B2B marketing strategies as well. Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) was traditionally a face-to-face business, but that’s not scalable when every bodega, restaurant and liquor store wants to sell your beer. It launched a mobile app to help retailers and supply partners make purchases, arrange deliveries, manage invoices and access business insights. By moving from in-person to online, its team is now able to provide better targeted promotions and in-app reminders to drive sales.
Not only does consumer behavior differ in-store versus online, it differs across the United States. Different parts of the U.S. have their own cultural norms, and these differences apply to digital behavior as well. In Colorado, for example, the hiking app AllTrails is more popular than it is in other states, and Slice, a pizza-ordering app, is very popular in New York. Whether you’re marketing a pizza app or not, it’s important to consider how location and culture impact customer behavior in order to best personalize experiences and increase customer lifetime value.
And these insights extend beyond marketing teams. Marketing, product and customer-facing teams that have a unified view of customer and product data are more successful, and this is especially true when it comes to regional trends and behaviors. Access to the same set of product data allows these teams to work in conjunction to develop new offerings, features or targeted campaigns that will drive better results in specific markets. For example, Disney+ Hotstar, an international streaming service acquired by Disney in 2019, was popular in India with communities in Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but the team eyed further expansion. Using product data, they improved their user acquisition and retention strategy in order to successfully expand into new markets including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Successful marketing cannot happen in a silo. Marketers need to stay on top of changes in the industry and customer behavior to create better, more effective customer experiences. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our world has undergone a massive shift to digital, and I predict that as consumers spend more time using digital products, marketing leaders will shift their purview to digital products to grow and drive revenue. The biggest takeaway is that understanding customers’ digital behavior should be the heart of any strong marketing strategy. When you understand your customers’ needs, desires, and behaviors, you’ll be able to create better experiences that resonate across audiences and lead to true conversations, engagement and loyalty.
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Adam Greco is one of the leading voices in the digital analytics industry. Over the past 20 years, Adam has advised hundreds of organizations on analytics best practices and has authored over 300 blogs and one book related to analytics. Adam is a frequent speaker at analytics conferences and has served on the board of the Digital Analytics Association.
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