At the time of this presentation for the Masters of Product Marketing in October 2021, Missy Martin and Jason Monahan were working at Vancery as Account Manager and Sales Executive respectively. Catch up on the presentations from this event using our OnDemand service.
My name is Missy Martin and I'm here with Jason Monahan. We're so excited to dive deeper into this topic today. In this article, we want to share some tools that will make the research process easier and more effective so that you can save time in your role.
First, let’s break down the main topics:
Main talking points
- Let’s start with a survey
- How to carry out effective research
- Key aspects of product marketing research
- Target market selection
- Conducting interviews and surveys
- Looking at a demo
- Streamlining your project
- To sum up: Key takeaways
Let’s start with a survey
In preparation for this article, we connected with product marketers on Vancery’s platform.
We sent out a survey to many different people across all different industries. We're unable to go into the solutions without first highlighting what the challenges are. So, let’s go straight to the source, and find out which problems product marketers highlighted.
Things that take up marketers' time & solutions
We asked them to highlight the problems they were facing. One of the questions that we asked was, what's the most time-consuming portion of your job? The main pain points were:
- Research - there’s a lot of it to be done, and it takes up a good chunk of our time.
- Managing communication - just because you know where you’re headed, doesn’t mean your whole team is in alignment.
- Sharing information from the research process effectively - this is where you ensure that alignment takes place.
100% of the product marketers that we talked to were doing some form of research each month, and 40% were doing some more research three or more times a month. I think the main takeaway here is that research is an integral part of the product marketing role.
Problem: As a result, many of you are using a lot of different tools. This can be a real headache.
70% of the people that we surveyed were using five or more tools, whether that's quantitative, qualitative, or video conferencing tools. The fact is, you're using a lot of different tools to make the market research process easier.
Problem: This is just messy and inefficient. How can you retrieve the info you need? There’s so much needless communication needed to access data.
Here’s a really shocking stat:
60% of private marketers are transcribing calls themselves.
Problem: Now, I've done transcribing in the past, and I know it takes a really long time. If you're still transcribing calls, this is a key area where you can save time because there are tools out there that will do it for you. For example, at Vancery, within 30 minutes of doing an interview, you have a fully automated transcript that you're able to download, share, and look at closely.
By freeing yourself up in this way, you get to spend more time on the data rather than transcribing the calls. In addition to this:
45% of marketers are needing feedback outside of their typical customer list. In certain circumstances, we're looking for completely new perspectives. Sometimes within our existing customer list, the feedback can be biased.
Problem: Well, this isn’t really a problem, but sometimes it’s a big bonus to get non-customer feedback.
Whether that's product and content validation, market intelligence, competitive insights, non-customers can provide us with a unique perspective. They can show us something that we may have missed. They can show us something innovative that our competitors aren't tapping into. Finally..
95% of new products fail to meet customer expectations. This is due to the misalignment of product offerings and buyer needs. It is so important to know what our buyers need. It’s important to reflect those needs in marketing messaging. But how do we do that effectively? How do we do the research process effectively?
How to carry out effective research effectively
Here’s a really great solution. As I mentioned before, the existing market is fragmented. Many different tools exist on different platforms. Vancery allows you to do the whole market research process in one central hub.
Here are some of the things it allows you to accomplish all in one place:
- You can do surveys.
- You can do interviews.
- You can directly message people on the platform.
- And, most importantly, you can keep all your projects and all your files and folders in one place.
How does this help?
The reason why this is so helpful is because product marketers are working with many different departments. At bigger companies, in particular, the product marketing team is talking to at least ten other different departments.
Many of the product marketers that we talked to said that they're sharing their insights across the organization to different departments via email. And the reason why that can be challenging is because those insights can get lost in email chains.
It's essential to have one place where your information is living. This is where Vancery really comes in to save the day! It allows for you not only to better organize yourself, but also to see how your colleagues work and build off of their work so that you don't need to start from scratch every time.
Key aspects of product marketing research
There are many different parts of the product marketing research process. 👇
You can’t have product marketing research without a central idea! This is really the eureka, lightbulb moment - everything else stems from this.
This is the qualitative date aspect of the research. Here, you can really gather very specific insights that can drive the marketing strategy. This has the benefit of being more in-depth, but it does have the drawback of being more time consuming and less convenient for users to fill out.
In contrast, this is where you’re more likely to get your quantitative data. We’re able to gather more structured data from the market on buyer preferences, and it provides a really great visual representation of data that you can track over time.
This involves directly engaging potential buyers in marketing strategies for feedback. This is how you can make users active participants in your research process. It’s the practical part of your research. Otherwise, it’s all just theory. This can let you know very quickly whether it’s better to stay the course and be validated in what you're doing, or pivot and try something different.
Target market selection & ideal customer persona
This feature is just so incredible. You know how it is, when you're actually going out and trying to find your target customer base, it can be difficult to connect with them directly.
Luckily, Vancery has a functionality where you can actually filter for many different topics. So whether that's industry title, seniority, product, or location, you're able to filter for the person you need specifically and request a call right away.
It connects customers to hundreds of professionals who can provide feedback and perspectives to product marketers looking to hone in on their products. So, if you’re looking to really get to know your buyer, Vancery provides a really great solution.
Now that I've given some insight on what product marketers are facing at a high level, let’s have Jason take a deeper dive into how you can utilize Vancery.
Conducting interviews and surveys
Hi - my name is Jason Monahan. Now that we've given some insight on what product marketers are facing at a high level, let’s take a deeper dive into how you can utilize Vancery.
There are really two approaches when it comes to research. There's going to be surveyed, quantitatively oriented research, and there's also qualitative research.
There are a couple of golden rules to bear in mind when it comes to conducting research.
Don't ask leading questions
Those are the types of questions that push the respondent to answer in a specific manner based on the way they're framed. More often than not these questions already contain information that you as the interviewer want to be confirmed. You're trying to get to an answer that is in line with your own perspective or worldview.
For this reason, it’s important to avoid leading questions.
Have your research be as clear as possible
Here are some essential steps you can take to make it possible:
- Make sure you can go back into your raw material anytime that you need to.
- Use tools to record your interviews in video or audio format.
- Take notes during the process.
- Make sure you're noting anything that stands out during the interview that might indicate a discrepancy between the response answer and what they truly think.
And when you're outlining your strategy for the research process there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself:
1. What is the problem?
2. What is the impact of the problem?
3. What solutions are customers using now?
4. What's the competition doing?
5. What's the pricing structure?
6. What are the features you're looking to dig further in on?
7. What integrations are you shaping your messaging around?
Next, we’re going to dig into the demo, and look closer at Vancery’s tools and how they help product marketers get closer to the market.
Let's look at the demo
On the Vancery platform, this is the ‘create a new project’ page. 👆
Create a new project
1. In the title field, we're going to label this project, ‘PMA test project.’
2. Under type, you're going to want to set it up as ‘surveys and costs,’ because, as I mentioned, we’re trying to conduct qualitative and quantitative-oriented research.
3. Let's say we want ten calls as a goal.
4. Finally, we don't want this particular project to repeat with any frequency, so we’re going to leave that repeat frequency field blank and hit ‘next.’ As far as a description for the product project, we're going to call this ‘the PMA test.’
This section can be as long or short as you want. Just make sure it’s truly applicable to every aspect of your research and that anyone involved in the project is going to be able to read it and understand it.
Quantitative data selection
Here, I'm just going to showcase how to set up one type of question. This is a long text response. The question we're putting in as an example is, “What tools does your current solution have that alternatives do not have?” Once we’ve created the question, we can then hit ‘next’ on the project creation, and go into the search filters section.
For this section you want to participate in that project, you really want to find your target market.
1. For the purposes of this example, we’re going to put ‘technology’ in the sector field.
2. Under industry we’re going to put ‘software as a service.’
3 Finally, under job title, we’re going to input the ‘director’ job title.
Audience selection tool
In the audience selection tool, you can add any of these experts or people to your specific project. These are the people that you're looking to have surveys and calls done with. Here, I’ve added a handful of participants to this particular test project. With just the click of a button, you can add them to the pipeline of the project.
Next, we’re going to look at what happens after you’ve gathered your survey data.
This particular survey had 93 people complete the survey. And with that, we're going to go into the survey responses so you can take a look and dive deeper into the kind of data analysis we need to carry out when conducting a research process.
A fun fact from the research we looked at earlier - we found out that a presentation or a deck was a deliverable for research efforts 100% of the time for product marketers. The other crucial thing that we found intriguing is that a data set is deliverable 90% of the time.
So, having aspects that you can include in a presentation or deck, and then also having the data set in the raw data file is going to be highly important. All of that can be found within Vancery’s toolset as well.
But within Vancery’s platform, we automatically create charts, quotes, and transcripts that can be included or quoted and included in any deck. You can also download any of the raw data files from the platform.
Let’s look at one question in detail
As an example, let’s hone in on question 27, “Who was involved in the tool implementation?” When I click on that, you can see there are charts automatically created based off of the responses from the survey in breakouts.
In the interest of having a qualitative approach, underneath the charts you can see the specific sectors that participated in the survey.
To go even further, when you click on specific job titles, you actually see a snippet of the person's profile who has answered the question. From this point, you message the individual directly with one quick follow-up to this question.
Or, you can actually request a call for the purposes of your qualitative field. You can schedule a call in the next couple of days, and that call can be recorded and transcribed within just a couple of clicks.
Look at the background of the individual
Let’s look closer at the profile of this person, Mike Smith. This can really help you contextualize some of the data before speaking to him. You can get a little bit further background on Mike Smith. You can see a quick summary of his profile and his work experience
Within Mike's profile, you can actually set up a video call with him directly. For the next step, we’re going to look specifically at the video call function.
Setting up a video call
Once you’ve requested the call, you can assign it to the project that you're working on in your calendar. You can integrate your calendar with Vancery’s tool, and highlight the time slots that you’re available to talk at.
Once the individual confirms that the time works for them, you can go to your home dashboard screen, and it'll be listed in your upcoming calls on the upper right hand corner.
Next, we’re going to look at what the video call section looks like.
Jumping on a call
You can join the conference from there. This is the screen that you're going to see as an interviewer. As you can see on the right-hand side, you can take notes as you’re conducting the interview. The person that you're interviewing cannot see these notes, so that allows for some discretion as well.
Once you’ve got the call set up, there are some typical features that you'd see in any video call platform:
- You can chat with them directly within the platform.
- You can also share screens during UX-oriented work.
- All calls have the option to be recorded for you.
Once the call is completed
As I have stated before, it can really aid your research efforts to have your calls recorded and transcribed. Once you end the call, you go back into the project, and you can actually start to see where the recorded calls are, and what that looks like.
Here you can see it tells you exactly how long the call was, and there’s actually an option to go in and see the transcript from that call as well.
Finally, streamlining your project
It's absolutely vital to help streamline initiatives across an organization. I'm actually going to go back into the main dashboard view here. Within your dashboard, you can see the active projects that you have coming up, any active calls, and any folders of research initiatives as well.
These folders can include projects that you've done within Vancery, or any other types of materials or datasets that you want to have included and uploaded into the Vancery platform.
The benefit of it
You don't have to jump into five different programs to find five different pieces when your boss reaches out for the data behind it.
So, once you're able to start to hone in and build out your central research hub within Vancery platform, you might be wondering if your research has already been done somewhere else across the company.
This can be a huge time saver and a money saver for you as you build out your central research hub for your organization. You don't have to go out and do new research initiatives if something's already been done.
Here’s an example of how this works. 👇
You can see here that we’ve searched for a ‘new data warehousing study’ that has already been done as an organization. You can see everything that has been tagged under ‘data warehousing,’ or has the name of it.
You can see past projects, and experts that you've tagged for data warehousing, any files you've uploaded for data warehousing, and any folder systems that you've created for data warehousing as well.
This really helps you start to connect the dots across the organization. This is the holy grail: you can start to have a central hub or repository of your research efforts. This is going to make you a more efficient organization.
To sum up: key takeaways
- Product marketers need research and must do it all the time.
- Research takes up a lot of time.
- Sharing information is key. Everyone and everything must be in alignment.
- Multiple tools create inefficiencies.
This last point is really the most crucial. There’s no point in having a bunch of data if you can’t retrieve and action it. The time saved on searching and requesting info is what makes us more efficient as an organization. 💪