In the recently released, Hacking Growth, Sean Ellis identifies functional silos as a primary inhibitor to growth. Primarily, the way functions don’t share information, data, insights. He credits the insights as the source of what fuels much of the growth he’s seen in his career. I started my marketing career at a mobile ad network. My team wasn’t other marketers. I collaborated cross-functionally with 3 product managers, our business development folks and a handful of developers. Together, we led successful go-to-market launches primarily because of a free flow of insights. Research from product, user experience, and marketing must work together to seize on opportunity. But how can marketers, product managers, designers and founders work together and leverage insights across their growth teams? With an explosion of tools and technology in recent years, gathering insights is easier than ever before. Here are four startup research tools to help bridge the gap across functions and level up your startup.
Starup Tools: Personas
First, most product endeavors begin with the almighty persona. What do we think we know about our audience. What are we learning? From user personas that guide product development to sales personas that drive marketing messaging, personas are where it all starts. However, too often product has there own personas, marketing another set. Use a tool like PersonApp to quickly craft a product persona, and combine it with insights from a marketing persona generated on something like MakeMyPersona. Product needs, inform marketing and insights about what motivates people to convert can inform future iterations of product. The entire team should own the persona.
Startup Tools: User Research
As your team works to gather feedback on it’s product, are you sharing that feedback just with the designers and developers or the broader team? Understanding how people perceive the product, challenges to using it, what they say about real world use cases all are critical components of crafting initial sales and marketing materials. Tools like Handrail make team collaboration on research a lot easier, especially for distributed teams. Full disclosure, I work with the Handrail team, so I’m obviously bias, but as a marketer, I’m always asking sales and product for user and consumer feedback to refine our marketing efforts. Bring marketing to the table throughout the research process so they can craft messaging to test at the beginning.
Startup Tools: Audience Insights
On to those messages. Facebook’s ad insights gives great data to advertisers who aren’t spending millions a year and buying third party data sources. Armed with personas and user feedback. Marketers can craft an audience and pull in data to see an audience in 3D. What are their content patterns, purchase behaviors, what other things do they engage in via social media. This is vital to craft messages, content and campaigns that are relevant.
Startup Tools; Competitive Insights
Maybe you don’t have direct competitors, but you have an industry. Find out what trends exist in that industry online. For this, look at link research and site analysis tools. David Sweeney has a fantastic process documented here using Ahrefs and SimilarWeb. What can we learn here? All sorts of things. What kind of content is your audience consuming, what questions do they ask often, what media channels work to attract them, what international markets are relevant.
Pulling It All Together
In a traditional organization. Product gets to work designing and developing. Maybe halfway through the process they’ll bring marketing in on some of the meetings. By the time Marketing is ready to go to Market, product is onto something else, maybe another team is tasked with updates and sales is out selling. Sales now learns about objections, informs marketing who iterates through messaging, creative, targeting trying to find incremental growth.
In a cross functional, research aligned team, everyone shares insights from the beginning. Marketing can get started crafting ideas early. And if you’re really ambitious you can adopt a lean startup mentality, launch and MVP and see if people even like the product. Research is the common thread. It drives insight.
As a result, a cross function team iterates faster achieving growth goals with because of a free flow of insights.
Over to you.
What tools are you using to collect and share insights through your product development and go to market process? Hit me up on twitter.