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How to unlock the power of marketing & product: A guide to collaborative growth

February 23, 2024

Kameleoon's 2023 Experimentation and Growth Survey found that industry-leading organizations used both product and marketing-led growth strategies to outperform competitors. The key to achieving this advantage was alignment; organizations with aligned product and marketing growth strategies have an 81% chance of growing significantly.

In this article, we’ll explore how to strengthen the relationship between marketing and product teams to achieve significant and profitable growth. 

Why is there friction between product and marketing?  

From an organizational perspective, product and marketing teams are set up as distinct functions with their own goals, working methods, language, and remits. This structure may have worked when teams used linear marketing funnels—marketing focused on acquisition and conversion and product focused on usage and retention—but now it causes conflicting priorities, competition, and confusion over ownership.

However, companies have recognized that to be successful in today’s market, loop-based growth models that focus on driving retention and loyalty are key. These models rely on both marketing and product to be successful. And while many teams appreciate that a unified customer experience drives retention, getting teams to work together isn’t always easy. The following challenges are some of the main friction points stopping teams from developing healthy collaborative relationships:

  • Organizational silos: Traditional structures often separate departments, creating cultural and communication barriers.
  • Competition for resources: Teams often compete for a limited budget, leading to tensions
  • Metrics misalignment: conflicting goals mean teams often pull in different directions.
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities: Overlapping responsibilities or ambiguities over who owns which part of the user journey causes confusion and inefficiency.
  • Absence of collaborative processes and tools: Without regular communication and shared processes and tools, collaboration stays as an aspiration, not a reality.


So, how can teams foster cross-team collaboration and reap the benefits? 

Focus on the user 

The customer experience influences key customer decisions, but as things stand, a line is drawn between the parts of the experience “owned” by marketing versus product. Shagun suggests that getting teams to focus on the user vs. distinct touchpoints can help teams break down barriers and orientate teams towards collaboration. A point she drives home in the following:

The user is not concerned that product has X data telling them a certain feature drives more engagement, nor do they care if marketing has to launch a campaign by a certain date. They care that they can take whatever action they want as easily and conveniently as possible. So when marketing and product teams can collaborate, share insights, build experiences together, and put the user at the focus, it creates a more seamless, relevant digital experience for the user, less power struggles between marketing and product teams, deeper insights, and ultimately better results for both marketing and product.
Shagun Aulakh
Experimentation, Marketing & Website Strategy

Continuing the theme of focusing on the user, working relationships can be strengthened by sharing data and user insights that help improve areas most important to each team. Andrew shares a great example of how product insights can improve the acquisition of high-value customers:

Marketing can use product conversion data to drive more of the highest quality users.

Here's how: Ask new users to self-identify their goals for signing up (aka their job to be done). Over time, you'll see specific goals that activate their accounts, use high value features, and convert (from free to paid) at much higher rates. Marketing can then create goal specific campaigns, copy, landing pages, lookalike audiences, retargeting campaigns, case studies, etc, to acquire more of them over time.
Andrew Capland
Andrew Capland
Founder of Delivering Value

Put decisions into the context of the overall experience  

Team objectives and goals often dictate where effort is spent, and this doesn’t always mean teams do the best thing for the user or business. For example, marketing might conduct research considering only the activation stage rather than what drives loyalty.

So, rather than focusing on ownership of separate parts of a journey, getting product and marketing teams to view things from an overall customer lifecycle and experience perspective can help shift siloed problem-solving into a collaborative approach that benefits everyone. You’ll end up building experiences that feel cohesive and that customers want. Here’s how Melissa recommends you approach this practically.

Look at conversion rate through your funnel - from marketing site to in-product sign-up and activation rates. Your product data can indicate where customers and users are getting stuck or abandoning their progress. Before top-of-funnel becomes important, you’ll need to fill those holes in the user journey and get a strong percentage of users moving through each step. Otherwise, your acquisition efforts will be wasted.

First, get a group of target customers who have never seen your product before to go from your marketing site to purchase and document their moments of frustration and delight.

Second, use a tool like Full Story to understand where users are dropping off and the value of those users to your business.

Third, build in clear support/chat functionality so that users can ask questions and engage with your team at any point; it will lead to marvelous discoveries.

Finally, be sure to thoughtfully surface referral opportunities to customers who are actively using the product, as those people may very well be your most cost-effective and authentic inbound channel.
Melissa Moody
Melissa Moody
General Manager - Matcha at Commsor

Create shared goals and data 

While trying to convince teams to focus more on the user or the whole customer experience is admirable, collaborative effort will only happen with shared goals. After all, it’s how business leaders evaluate success and failure. Shared goals mean teams have to start working together, driving greater efficiencies and higher overall impact and growth.

To illustrate how shared goals and data can drive collaboration, Ruslan shares a mini case study from his time at Vimeo.

Mini Case Study: Vimeo 

At some point, someone in the business has done an LTV calculation and then arrived at a target CAC, and this was set as a marketing goal. But at scale, there's only that much you can do to bring your CPA down without losing the quality of traffic. The same goes for product—we can't keep increasing the paywall conversion—we’ll eventually hit a local maximum. What we're left with is optimizing around retention, revenue expansion, etc., and these require a lot of experimentation around the entire product, so how do you grow?

This is the problem I faced when I joined Vimeo. I realized the primary conversion happened beyond the allowed attribution window that marketing was using. So, I worked with the BI, marketing, and product teams, sharing data beyond that default attribution window. It allowed us to build an extra lens in Tableau so that marketing could optimize their campaigns around activated, engaged, or retained users. We also shared insights as to what makes people retained users, so marketing could emphasize those use cases in creatives. This led to higher quality traffic, more effective targeting of high-value users with a potentially higher CAC allowed, and increased budget, reaching up to a 10x increase in the paid ads budget for some campaigns after recalibrating our CAC and LTV.
Ruslan Nazarenko
Ruslan Nazarenko
Former Growth at Vimeo & Bird; Angel investor

The key to collaborative growth

Siloed marketing and product efforts will struggle to achieve significant growth in today's retention-focused world. However, aligning these teams requires overcoming hurdles around conflicting priorities, misaligned metrics, and unclear ownership.

Leaders who evangelize cohesive customer experiences, set shared goals and ways of sharing data, and put the user at the center of decision-making will go a long way in unlocking the cross-team approach that drives growth.

To learn how to align product and marketing teams and uncover the factors that distinguish leading organizations from their less successful counterparts, read our full report here.

Thanks to the following product and marketing leaders who shared their insights for this article;