Product Marketing for the Inbound Age

As modern marketers, we communicate to an audience that takes a selective approach to how they engage with brands. Given this reality, marketers have learned that attention is earned by using inbound approach to genuinely build interest. In 2016, 86% of B2C organizations reported that they are using content marketing to engage their audience.


As marketers continue to transition to inbound marketing strategies, their understanding of other marketing functions have changed as well. For example, look at the way product marketing has been defined in past years. In many definitions — including the first definition still displayed when searching on Google for “product marketing” — this function is described as an outbound tactic.

When we think about outbound or “push” marketing, tactics such as advertising come to mind. While “push” marketing certainly has it’s place in building brand awareness, today’s consumers are looking for a more authentic experience.

Need proof? Look no further than the 400 million internet users that are blocking ads worldwide.

Despite any predispositions inbound marketers might have about product marketing, its still crucial to your overall marketing strategy. Whether or not we do it is not what needs to change — what matters is how we do it.

Let’s take a look at what product marketing for the inbound age isn’t, what it is, and why it remains important.



What Product Marketing Isn’t


For large organizations and growing businesses alike, bias often goes to any process that is geared towards increasing sales. The results is a “me too” approach to product marketing, which more than often proves ineffective when competing with for the attention of consumers. This is where you often see poorly-targeted promotions that fail to deliver the context and credibility needed to influence decisions.

By taking an inbound approach, marketers tend to go the complete opposite direction, often avoiding products all together. You may increase brand awareness with interesting content, but the result on winning business remains the same.

What is needed is an approach where value is clearly delivered, yet centered around your product.



What Product Marketing Is


With the number of definitions and purposes available for product marketing, its all too easy to get confused. Introduce the idea of an inbound approach into the equation, and things only get worse. For this reason, let’s keep things simple.

After reading a variety of product marketing definitions provided by Drift, we decided to create our own:


Promoting your products in a way that delivers value to your audience.  

Sure, we’re not re-inventing the wheel here, but think of this definition as the jumping off point for all of the content and communication that follows. Whether you intend to show differentiated product features, launch a new product line, or create a series of best practices and tutorials, assume the mindset of your customers and imagine what is valuable in their evaluation of your products. This is how you will turn interest into purchase intent, without annoying shoppers by constantly throwing ads at them.



Beyond Customer Acquisition

Stepping outside of the marketing and sales funnel, product marketing is also crucial to customer retention. According to Gartner, 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customer base.

To keep your current customers engaged, market your product’s unique features, expanded use cases, and success stories customers. This will build a stronger connection with existing customers, while delivering more great content for future marketing efforts.

There you have it. As your business makes the change to a content marketing approach, product marketing doesn’t just belong in your inbound strategy — it’s essential to it.