We take a deep dive into customer segmentation with Unbounce's Director of Product Marketing, Tamara Grominsky. From processes to filters to influencing the roadmap to reviewing to reporting, this show's jam-packed with tonnes of action-led takeaways.

Full transcript:

Bryony Pearce - PMA  0:00
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to the product marketing life podcast brought to you by product marketing Alliance, my name's Bryony Pearce and I'm the Content Manager here at PMA. As part of this series, we're connecting with product marketers all over the world about topics they're super passionate about. In this episode, we'll be speaking to Tamara Kaminski, Director of Product Marketing at Unbounce about customer segmentation. Tamara first joined Unbounce as a senior PMM back in 2018, and was moved to her current director position less than one year later, before joining Unbounce she also held Product Marketing roles at Freshbooks and the Yellow Pages Anyway, enough from me, welcome to the show Tamara, can I ask you to please give everyone a bit of an introduction to you, your role and Unbounce.

Tamara Grominsky  0:43
Absolutely. So I lead Product Marketing over at Unbounce which is a landing page builder for small to mid sized businesses. And I've been working in product marketing for almost a decade, really focused on the SMB market, so I started managing Product Marketing at Yellowpages, Canada, before I jumped over to Freshbooks. And that's what really brought me to Unbounce was this passion for empowering small business owners to really take back their own business growth. And really, Product Marketing is something that I'm extremely passionate about. So I've been focusing this past year on really championing the evolution of Product Marketing towards more of this new world of product marketing, so less focused on just being handed a product and bringing it to market but really more focused on strategic lead Product Marketing.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  1:36
And how long have you been at Unbounce for?

Tamara Grominsky  1:40
I've been at Unbounce for just over a year.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  1:43
Okay cool, so then in terms of your kind of direct team, what does that look like in terms of numbers and roles?

Tamara Grominsky  1:48
Yeah, so I actually run the product marketing department and in the department, we have two separate teams. We have a product marketing team and a customer marketing team. So right now on the product marketing team, it's a team of two, they each are responsible for part of the product in terms of product strategy, bringing it to market, as well we share responsibilities like pricing and packaging, segmentation and competitive intelligence. And then on the customer marketing side of the department, we're really focused on the full customer lifecycle and feature adoption. So how do we make sure that once someone has become a customer that they're seeing product value throughout the entire customer lifecycle?

Bryony Pearce - PMA  2:31
And is that kind of departmental split something new to you in terms of it's just been at Unbounce? Or is that a set up that you've had at previous companies?

Tamara Grominsky  2:38
Yeah, it's really been a trend that I've been seeing in the market over the past year. So traditionally, Product Marketing is responsible for things like feature adoption, and customer lifecycle, but this role of the customer marketer has been more of a new role, and so previously at Unbounce it sat in customer success, but the role was slightly different. And we've actually moved into the product marketing department and expanded the responsibilities of the role.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  3:05
Okay, cool. Sounds good. And I'll just move on to a few questions around customer segmentation. That'll be the main focus of the podcast. In terms of at Unbounce what does the customer segmentation process look like? And who's typically involved in the process?

Tamara Grominsky  3:19
Yeah, so we use a process that takes into consideration three different steps. And those steps are volume, performance, and potential. So the first thing we do is we really look at volume. And this means that we're pulling a bunch of different data on all of our current and past customers. And we want to look at how we can start to sort through the data to identify any patterns and start to group customers into attributes that would form larger segments. And the reason we look at all of our current customers and past customers is we want to be able to identify trends over time. So what groups of customers are more likely to become a high value customer? And which groups of customers maybe don't ever convert at all out of trial, or only convert and stick around for a little bit. So once we've done this volume stuff, we should have an idea of a couple different groups based on these attributes. So you know, an attribute could be something like business size, it could be location, it could be a variety of different things. And then once we have these groups, we're able to move on to what I call performance. So a lot of product marketers will stop at this step and just say, 'Hey, 40% of my customer base are dentist, dentist must be my best customers.' But that's not always true. And so we actually need to see which groups of customers performed better than the average customer. And so we want to validate this with our own data. So we'll look at performance metrics like conversion rates, product adoption, or feature adoption rates and lifetime value. Then finally, at this point, we should have a pretty good idea of okay what customers do we have a lot of? How are they performing? And then we want to identify our potential to actually win the segment in the market. So in order to identify potential, we can look at kind of four different things. So we look at customer acquisition costs and the channel that they're coming in on. So is this scalable? Can we get more of these customers? And hand in hand with this is addressable market size, so what's the actual size of the market for each of these customer segments? And does the size of the market match our growth ambitions as a business? And then what types of competitors will we be going up against? If we go after these customer segments? Does it introduce us to a new competitor that we didn't have before? Is that a highly competitive segment? Or is it a less competitive segment and it's a more of a blue ocean type strategy.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  5:47
Okay cool, and then you mentioned you've been in product marketing for 10 years. It terms of the customer segmentation process. Has that changed a lot from when you first came into the industry to now?

Tamara Grominsky  6:00
Yeah, definitely I've seen it become a lot more sophisticated. So as I mentioned, in the past, I've really seen product marketers, and just marketers in general stop at this volume step. So, you know, data is always been important to segmentation, but oftentimes, we don't go that extra step to say, 'Okay, how are these people actually performing?' And then on top of that, like, 'Can I actually win this?' So it's been cool to see it evolve and become much more sophisticated. I think one of the other challenges I've seen over the years is that this can be a pretty subjective exercise, especially when you have all kinds of teams like you have product management, and you have sales and you have customer success. And all of these teams are talking to prospects and customers and they all have their own idea of what a good customer or what a best customer should be. And so, in the past, I've seen different companies just say, hey, yeah, what's the consensus? We all agree our customer looks like this? But really going towards this more data informed approach to segmentation will help a business a lot more.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  7:02
Okay, awesome. And then in terms of, well without wanting to pry into any kind of trade secrets, top level, what kind of filters do you use to segment your market?

Tamara Grominsky  7:11
Yeah, so these filters are a result of that like volume section that I mentioned earlier. And so when we went into our customer segmentation, we looked at a huge variety of different filters. And it's going to be completely dependent on what your business has available to you in terms of data. So when our customers sign up for an Unbounce account, we ask them a couple of different questions in the signup survey. And then this helps us understand who's coming into the product. We also layered on Clearbit data to help supplement this information so that we had even more filters to look at. And so when we were doing our segmentation work, we looked at everything from business size to business vertical, the job title of the customer, what city they're located in, what country they're located in. Really anything. But what we found is at the end of the day, at Unbounce we're focused on empowering small to mid sized businesses, and so really, what we found is the two most important business filters for us was actually the business size, so how large is this business? And then what business vertical do they fit in?

Bryony Pearce - PMA  8:18
Okay, awesome. And then in terms of once you've got those findings, how do you leverage them to systematically try to influence the product roadmap and then sort of tying into that, how do you then get product management to buy into focusing the roadmap on a specific customer segment?

Tamara Grominsky  8:33
Yeah, this is critical to making sure that your segmentation is actually successful. And so when I started at Unbounce, and we were going to embark on this customer segmentation project, I really made sure that all of the teams across Unbounce were bought into it. So I spent time talking to product management, spent time talking to customer success, and understanding exactly what they would want to get out of a customer segmentation project, as well as what inputs they could provide to our project. And so we knew that there would be a lot of research both qualitative and quantitative research and these internal teams were constantly in contact with customers and prospects, were a great input for us. And so they felt like they were included in the process, and they were able to have their own voice but they could also see how we were taking this data informed approach and that it wasn't just our opinion versus their opinion.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  8:34

Tamara Grominsky  8:45
I also made sure that throughout the entire process, I was highlighting the importance of focus when it comes to gaining momentum in the market. And so instead of going after every possible customer that you could go after, how might we really understand our best customers and then focus on delivering them the best customer experience, the best product experience, the best marketing experience possible. And so everyone really rallied around this idea of focus. And it's helped us really double down on our segmentation and on building experiences for our very best customer.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  10:01
Okay, sounds good. And then how often do you review your segments?

Tamara Grominsky  10:04
Hmm. So when I first got here, we did a huge major overhaul. And that type of process really can't be done all the time. It's very intensive. So I would say when it comes to doing like a full blown analysis like that, it would really depend on like, when was the last time that you looked at your segments, if it's been a few years, then you should absolutely do a huge research project like that. But once you've done that work, and you feel like you have a really good baseline understanding of your segments, it just becomes this like continuous an iterative process. And so we've actually built what we're calling a segmentation dashboard and this dashboard highlights a bunch of key SAS metrics for our core segments. So we can see how our segments are performing compared to the average trial or the average customer on things like conversion rate, and average revenue per user, and even feature adoption. And so this helps us make sure that our segments are still performing at a high rate, we can start to identify if any of these numbers are dipping, or if we have any concerns, but we're also using this to help us identify other potential adjacent segments that we may want to go after in the future. So this idea of segmentation is baked into the heart of what we do on the product marketing team. And so it's not really a project. It's more of like a way of thinking, I would say.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  11:19
Yeah, and then is this dashboard you've got just kind of a custom internal built dashboard specifically for Unbounce or is it using a more generic tool?

Tamara Grominsky  11:27
Yeah, so we've actually been super scrappy and we've just built it in Excel. But we're pulling in data from our data warehouse in order to power that. And so we've partnered with our data analysis team to be able to kind of bring this to life. But we've done it in a scrappy way that we don't need to go in and like run any sequel in order to get updated numbers. We can just look once a month and we have all the data that we need.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  11:50
Yep. And then sticking with tools, do you have any go to tools for the process? And if so what are they and what do you use them for?

Tamara Grominsky  11:58
Yes. So the one tool that was critical to the actual process of building our segments was Clearbit. And so again, it would totally depend on how much information your business has about your customers. In my experience, almost everywhere I've worked, we don't have every information we would want. And so what we did was we pulled all of the data we could get on our customers, and then we layered on Clearbit data, to be able to cement what we didn't have. And so pros and cons with this, you know, obviously one of the cons is that Clearbit doesn't really work for like Gmail addresses it only works for business addresses. So we were limited in say, what supplemental information we could get, but it did help us get a full more well rounded view of all of our customers. And we've definitely learned things using the Clearbit data that we wouldn't have been able to learn without our own data. The other way that Clearbit helps us, Unbounce is 10 years old, and so 10 years ago, we weren't necessarily asking the exact same questions of our customers when they signed up as we are today. And so even if we have a great amount of information about our current customers, you know, what about the customers from 10 years ago, so Clearbit was critical for that. And now that we have our segments set up, and we know who we're focusing on, we've really been leaning into the competitive intelligence tool Crayon to make sure that we're tracking how our competitors are also prioritising these segments, and any changes that our competitors would make on their website or in any of their go to market materials, specifically around these competitors. So that's been really helpful to kind of keep that constant iteration that we just mentioned about.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  13:37
Perfect, awesome, thank you. And then in terms of communication, which teams outside of Product Marketing do you share your segments with, and how do you go about sharing that kind of info?

Tamara Grominsky  13:48
Yeah, so because we really want everyone at the business to focus on these customer segments it wasn't just like a product marketing initiative, it's a business initiative. We want these segments to drive our whole strategy, it was important that my teams spend time socialising with everyone in the company. But there's obviously different teams that need different levels of information. And so we spend a little bit of time at, you know, all hands meetings and department level meetings, just sharing the high level findings of the project, keeping people up to date on the high level stages. But then we would go way deeper with the teams that would be impacted on a larger level. So we spent a tonne of time with product management and UX. We spend a tonne of time with sales, marketing, customer success, the teams that actually would want to know this data, and that it would help drive their strategies. So really, though, if you spoke to anyone at Unbounce they would be able to explain to you the process that we went through who our core customer segments are and what we're doing to focus on them, which is amazing, because it's really brought together the entire company, not just the marketing and revenue teams, but the product teams, the operational teams and the revenue teams.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  14:58
Yeah, and was everyone quite receptive to this or was it quite hard to get buy in in the first place? Or what's the culture like around it there?

Tamara Grominsky  15:06
Yeah, it's, it's such a tricky thing because as I mentioned, everyone has this like, preconceived notion of who our customer is. And you'll find this at every company that you go to. And this notion is really based on like your experience with that customer, right? And so if you're in customer success, and you're taking calls, you're speaking to a specific type of customer that's more likely to call in. And if you're in sales, again, you're speaking to a larger customer that really wants that sales touch. And so it was about hearing everyone's perspectives on who our customer was, and then providing a non biassed way to unify those. And that's what I found was really critical, which was, hey, this isn't just product marketing's opinion on who our customers are, this is based on months of qualitative and quantitative research, taking into consideration everything that everyone has to provide, so that was critical to getting everyone on board.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  16:03

Tamara Grominsky  16:04
And then it has been an experience rolling it out as well. Because, you know, you stand up in front of everyone you say, 'here's our customer segments. This is what they look like.' And then people have a tonne of more questions. Well, 'what do we mean by that word? What do we mean by this?' And so it's been great because we've actually been able to dig deeper into our segments now based on the information that the other teams want to know. And I think being able to take that next step and provide that information back to the team has helped build some credibility and some comfort level with the segments. Yeah.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  16:34
And then how do you say, for example, the sales teams, for example, when they're having these conversations, how, if it's all, do you kind of keep on track of whether people are using them or using them correctly?

Tamara Grominsky  16:46
Yeah, that's great. So I mentioned that we use Crayon and with Crayon, you can actually build battle cards that get put into Salesforce. And so we've updated our battle cards to make sure that is reflecting all of our segments, and the playbooks or the language we'd want to use when talking to those segments, and we can actually see how many people are looking at those, which is a good thing. And then really, it's just a lot of communication with our stakeholders. So we spend a lot of time just sitting with other teams talking to them, hearing feedback, and they're really generous in giving feedback to us as well, and so I can just tell by the questions that they're asking, because they're digging more in there, 'hey, we spoke to this type of customer the other day, and we weren't really sure about this value prop' or 'we heard this from them, do we hear this from a lot of customers that looked like that?' And so it's been great because we're getting feedback from all different levels.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  17:35
And is that sort of, is that process in terms of feedback quite structured? So for example say once a month you'll sit down and feedback or is it more ad hoc?

Tamara Grominsky  17:45
I would say it's much more ad hoc, and it's, it depends on the team as well. So one of the cool things we're able to do with our segments with the marketing team is that we actually, we were in the middle of a complete rebrand for our website and for our business while we were doing customer segmentation, and so we rebuilt the website, and we were able to integrate three new buying flows based on the new segments that product marketing introduced. But we were able to get really structured feedback from marketing as we went through that process. And so we built out the website together, we shipped the website, and then we've been able to see, okay, how are people going through the website? What do the flows actually look like? Is this working? Is this not working? So in that way, it's been quite structured. But with someone like the sales team, for example, or customer success, it's much more ad hoc, just based on the different conversations that they're having. Because obviously, every conversation with every different customer is going to be completely different.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  18:40
Yeah, for sure. And then if someone was listening to this right now, who's never ran customer segmentation before, what would your introductory advice to them be?

Tamara Grominsky  18:49
Yeah, I would say don't be afraid to challenge the existing assumptions that your company has and make sure you're asking the hard questions. Most companies have this like legend or myth around who their core customer is but more often than not, this is based completely on opinion, it has never been validated. And so you can be the one to help validate this. But the only way to do it is actually through using data and not just opinion. So don't be afraid to be the one that does challenge those existing assumptions.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  19:22
And then for people who aren't so new to it, do you have any hacks on how they can maybe drill into their process a bit more and take it to the next level?

Tamara Grominsky  19:30
Absolutely, I think segmentation is really just the beginning of something pretty great and so once you have your customer segments, I would challenge you to start thinking about how you can impact your entire go to market strategy and start to build highly relevant experiences for these customer segments. And this would go across the entire customer lifecycle or the entire funnel really so as I mentioned on our website, can you completely redo your website to focus on buying past for these customer segments? Are you running competitive campaigns? Do you want to build different landing pages for each of the segments within each of the competitors? How are you prioritising these segments on the product roadmap? Do you need to start spending time with product management to make sure that they're being prioritised? Just really challenging yourself to say, 'Okay, how do I take this to the next level and roll it out across my entire go to market strategy?'

Bryony Pearce - PMA  20:20
Yeah, and then last question, you mentioned kind of the big overhaul of your customer segmentation process, in terms of, I know they're done less frequently, but how long, typically, would that kind of process take you?

Tamara Grominsky  20:32
Yeah, completely dependent on how many resources you have. We have a fairly small team, but we were able to do the bulk of the work within three months. And this really included that first step that I mentioned to you, going through the volume, performance and potential, but then we also took it a step forward and we did feature preference analysis in order to understand what are the features that our customers segments would prefer? And we also did a Van Westendorp  to understand the price sensitivity of each of these segments. And then we built our go to market strategy. And all of that was really done within that three month period.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  21:08
Okay, great. Well, thank you. That's all my questions. It's been really interesting speaking to you, and hopefully people have got lots of great bits of hints and tips on this.

Tamara Grominsky  21:16
Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Bryony Pearce - PMA  21:18
You're welcome. For everyone still tuned in thanks so much for listening and if you enjoyed the podcast, please help us spread the word to other product marketers. Before we leave you to get on with your day, if you want to get involved here are a few ways you can. If you're a product marketer and you want to come on the show to speak about your day, a specific topic or just your role in general, that's one option. If you want to flex your podcast hosting skills, being a guest host is another. And finally, if you or your company want to sponsor an episode, there's a third. Thanks again and have a great morning, afternoon or evening wherever you are.