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SaaS Marketing

How to Structure a Product Marketing Team

Perry Steward
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July 19, 2023
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How to Structure a Product Marketing Team

No two SaaS companies deploy the same product marketing strategy. Some rely on a sole product manager, while larger SaaS companies may have a full-fledged product marketing team. 

Add to the mix the multitude of ways to organize a product marketing team, and you might be confused about what’s the best strategy for you.

Worry not. 

As a SaaS marketing agency, we've got the answers. In this guide, we’ll help you understand how to structure a product marketing team for your SaaS business. 

What We'll Cover:

What is a Product Marketing Team? 

A SaaS product marketing team's priority is understanding the various customer segments. With this insight, they create strategies that drive demand, retain customers and find opportunities to unleash account expansion campaigns. 

Whenever the business releases a new update or product feature, the team is responsible for shortening the learning curve and ensuring users remain familiar with the tool.

The responsibilities of the product marketing teams impact two of the most valuable KPIs – adoption and churn rate. 

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Modern Product Marketing Team? 

Product marketing teams often involve cross-functional roles to build a marketing strategy that impacts every department. Here are five common roles that teams have. 

Product Marketing Specialist 

A product marketing specialist uses their technical, analytical and product knowledge to assist in the development of pre, go-to, and post-launch strategies. They are experts at developing unique strategies that help in lead generation and successful launches. 

Their daily responsibilities involve;

  • conducting market and competitor research,
  • creating product positioning and messaging,
  • managing product or feature launch activities,
  • strategizing campaigns that lead to account activation and expansion.

The KPIs used to measure their performance are customer feedback, launch success, and lead generation. 

Content Manager 

A content manager ensures the content you create matches the requirements of your ICP and has the correct topics, keywords, and search queries. Instead of relying on gut feelings, content managers use data and analytics.

Their daily responsibilities involve;

  • creating a content schedule for product marketing which involves different content formats and types like emails, blog posts, video tutorials, case studies, and social media posts, 
  • setting editorial guidelines, assigning roles, and setting goals for each project.

The KPIs used to measure their performance are content engagement, conversions, ranking positions and brand awareness.  

Market Research Analyst 

A market research analyst is a valuable addition to your product marketing team. Their main role is to study trends in the market and help your product and business stay relevant and dynamic in the changing times. Being agile ensures you don’t waste time on strategies and campaigns that will ultimately waste your resources. 
Their daily responsibilities involve;

  • collecting and analyzing data on various market trends, conducting competitor research, 
  • finding out changing customer preferences,
  • analyzing how these changes will affect the product over time.

The KPIs used to measure their performance are market insights, competitor analysis and customer segmentation.    

Sales Enablement Specialist 

A sales enablement specialist creates relevant materials and aids the flow beyond lead generation activities. This helps sales teams close deals faster and utilize their time better.

Their daily responsibilities involve;

  • creating and managing training materials and sales collateral that supports the sales team, 
  • finding out the content leads have already consumed and advising on the types of content that will bring leads to a close, 
  • creating competitive information fact sheets.

The KPIs used to measure their performance are sales cycle time, deal size and sales team effectiveness. 

Data Analyst 

A data analyst or scientist analyzes existing data to find valuable insights that make your strategies more powerful. This role often involves gathering data on existing campaigns and optimizing them based on the analysis results.

Their daily responsibilities involve;

  • funneling data into marketing automation tools,
  • understanding different jargon and what they mean for the SaaS business,
  • carrying out market research projects to understand customers better, 
  • finding the key KPIs to track.

The KPIs used to measure their performance are data effectiveness and campaign success. 

How Do You Organize a Product Marketing Team? 

There are many ways to organize your product marketing team. The right choice for you will depend on your priorities and team dynamics. Let’s explore the common organizational structure options. 

By Feature 

One of the most traditional ways of organizing your product team is to pair each product marketer with a product manager. This reduces any confusion as it provides clear communication and responsibility sharing.  

The biggest drawback of this structure is that it’s not customer-focused. Your messaging becomes more about your products and their features. Product marketers make these features the center of their world instead of describing “how” these features benefit customers. After all, they want to know what they can achieve with your tool and not what the tool has. 

By Function 

In this product marketing team structure, your team splits into four core domains. The four domains are positioning and messaging, market intelligence, product launch, and sales enablement.

This structure can be a high-cost option. It also makes it hard to integrate the domains to develop better insights and strategies for your customers and other teams. For example, if you separate market intelligence from sales enablement, your sales team will struggle to get the best data and analytics to close deals faster. 

By Segment 

This organizational structure means splitting your team based on different customer segments. For example, Slack caters to customer segments like SaaS, IT, manufacturing, agencies, etc., so they have a team for each. 

While this can help target specific customer needs, the boundaries can get blurred regarding business-wide tasks like product launches. Do you have all five teams working on a single product launch? Having detailed plans work best for this team organization structure. 

By Line of Business 

Instead of customer segments, you can establish departments like finance, technology, HR and operations. This can be a great option for companies that have buyers across different departments. For example, Salesforce has products for CFOs, CMOs, COOs, etc. 

This helps teams cater to one department and find unique ways to market their product and generate qualified leads. If your SaaS tool has a limited number of departments it caters to, it’d be best to stick with other team structures.  

By Objective or Theme 

TThis is one of the most popular ways businesses structure their product teams. It involves modeling teams around high-priority objectives or themes. These could be reducing churn, increasing product engagement or boosting brand awareness.  

Each objective will require different strategies, and thus, it allows for specific goals and fluidity. For example, if there are two product launches yearly, teams can work on that for two quarters and shift to different objectives like market research. However, this approach requires a lot of coordination for effective switching. It also works on the assumption that product marketing managers have skills across all four domains of product marketing. 

By Product Line 

This structure is for companies that have multiple product lines. For example, if a SaaS company offers several tools like SEO tools, grammar check tools, and AI for content creation tools, the team can have different product managers for each tool. 

This structure requires you to have enough resources at hand to have multiple product marketers and managers. These managers should also be experts in the different verticals under product marketing.

By Specialty 

Not all product marketers are experts at different functions. Some are better at competitive intelligence. Others would excel at creating plans for product launches. You can organize your team based on these skills with the specialty approach. If you sell several tools, you can have one team with multiple roles instead of having separate product marketing teams.

A specialty structure means you find experts instead of generalists. It lets you dig deep into each product marketing domain and reap those benefits across tools.  

What are Some Popular Organization Structures for Your Product Marketing Team? 

Each organizational structure has its advantages and disadvantages. Based on your company size, customers, and product type, you can pick one from any of these four structures. 

Functional 

A functional product marketing structure is built around the key functions the team has to perform. For example, under a product marketing manager, there are different functions like research, positioning, messaging, and sales enablement.

The structure would look like this: 

organization structure of functional product marketing

Using the functional hierarchy allows for clear communication and division of responsibilities. The biggest benefit of this is greater collaboration between departments. 

This structure is preferred by larger organizations and those with a stable environment. One disadvantage is that it can be quite inflexible and lead to decreased creativity as people keep working on the same things daily. Moving people within functions would also be difficult, which hampers the company’s ability to respond quickly to market changes.  

Geographic  

As SaaS companies cater to global markets, some product marketing teams are structured by different geographies. For example, if you cater to three countries, you might divide your product marketing team into three parts. 

Each team will be responsible for promoting the product within the particular location. This structure looks like this: 

organizational structure of geographic product marketing

Geographic works best for SaaS businesses that see changes in buying patterns or customer behavior with changing geographies. In such a scenario, your teams must go in-depth and find unique geographical traits. 

The one disadvantage of this structure is financial. Having multiple professionals for each geography becomes costly. 

Product-focused  

In a product-focused structure, the team is segregated by your business's different products or product lines. For example, if your SaaS company offers three products – marketing automation, email automation and content automation -- your product marketing team will be divided into three parts.

The structure would look like this: 

organizational structure of product-focused marketing

The main advantage of this model is your team can understand each product in-depth and create relevant strategies. This structure can be costly, especially if you have a lot of products, as you’ll need to hire specialists for each product. 

Hybrid  

Most SaaS businesses have trouble sticking to one organizational structure as their team dynamics and priorities keep changing. Depending on your requirement, you can adopt a hybrid model where you can combine the best parts of some or all of these structures. 

For example, you can combine functional and product-based structures where you have a head for each product marketing domain followed by product-line experts. 

A big advantage to creating such models is you tend to be more responsive to market changes as your structures are generally flexible. The disadvantage is you need to have strong collaboration. Without this, there could be conflicts between departments and divisions. 

What Are Some Best Practices for Managing a Product Marketing Team?

Below are six best practices you can adopt for your product marketing team: 

Setting Specific Goals and Expectations 

Your product marketing team may be putting in the effort. But what if these efforts are not materializing? One way to guide your team’s responsibilities and inputs is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time). 

presentation of SMART goals with icons on the left

A S.M.A.R.T. goal for your market research personnel could be something like this – 

Find out 5 competitor product gaps for XYZ company within a month.” 

The goal is specific because it focuses on competitor gaps. It’s measurable because the number was set at five, and that smaller sample size makes it attainable. It’s relevant because it’s vital to know what your competitors offer and how you can exploit the gaps. Finally, it has a defined time frame which keeps the project focused.

You can set these KPIs at the team level or for each personnel/department and track them to ensure things are moving in the right direction. 

a diagram of product marketing success

Provide Regular Feedback and Coaching 

Teams run on autopilot mode most of the time. Even if something is going awry, it will not always come to light without regular checks and feedback.  

As a product marketing head, you are responsible for reviewing each team member’s work and providing detailed feedback on improvising or correcting something wrong. 

It's helpful to create guides and documents with important details that your team members can access when confused about something. As your SaaS product evolves, ensure you coach the team on the different features and benefits and how to portray them to your customers. 

Encouraging Collaboration and Cross-Functional Communication 

When you adopt a team structure like functional or geography-based, you inevitably have teams working in silos. When you need them to work together for certain situations, like brainstorming ideas for the next product launch, you might see a gap in collaboration. 

To avoid that, diminish the boundaries. This ensures that insights flow freely between the teams.

illustration of advantages of cross functional teams

There are various ways to achieve this; have team meetings every week or bi-monthly, align project goals in a way that encourages collaboration, and encourage knowledge sharing by creating channels in communication tools like Slack. 

Investing in Employee Development and Training 

With SaaS competition only increasing, you need a product marketing team with up-to-date skills. To ensure that, provide employee development and training where your teammates can up-skill themselves and learn something new. 

One question on your mind right now would be – Wouldn’t it be too expensive? 

It doesn't have to be. With so many free online resources, you can create a repository of materials that your team can learn. To make this learning more practical, include experiments they can run independently. This helps them learn by experience, and they can put those learnings to use for future campaigns or strategies. 

Recognizing and Rewarding Performance 

Now that you're setting and tracking KPIs, it’s important to recognize star performers in your team that are meeting or exceeding your goals. Employees who see their hard work rewarded are more likely to stay, be more productive, have higher morale, and feel a greater sense of purpose. 

key benefits of employee rewards

Even if you aren’t providing any monetary benefit for small wins, here are five ways you can recognize those who are doing a great job: 

  • Give shout-outs via emails announcements or praise them during company meetings
  • Offer them fun/challenging projects where they can develop personally or professionally
  • Give them a gift card, movie tickets, coffee shop vouchers, etc.
  • Allow them to slack off early on some days
  • Just say a simple “Thank you” in your group channel

Continuously Monitoring and Adjusting Strategies Based on Market Feedback and Data 

You might be getting great success with your existing product marketing strategies. But would they work six months down the line? Are there any recent developments that would impact your strategies? These are some questions you need to keep asking now and then. 

Your research team should also stay up-to-date with the recent market trends and how to use them to optimize campaigns, product messaging, positioning, etc. 

Build Your Product Marketing Team Today

Building a successful product marketing team is no cakewalk. You need to hire the right people, finalize a team structure that suits your niche and its changing dynamics, create a product marketing strategy, set goals and KPIs to measure their performance and keep optimizing everything. 

While there is a lot to do, the return is worth it. A skilled product marketing strategy increases brand awareness, qualified leads, and conversions. If you need help nailing your SaaS strategies, contact our experts at MADX

Here’s how we have helped SaaS clients so far: 

How we 28x’d Postalytics' organic traffic in under a year? 

How Good Annotations secured 300 new backlinks in 90 days?

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