How Product Marketing impacts churn & retention.
Director of Marketing
Today on the show we have Bozena Pieniazek, Director of Marketing at Maze.
In this episode, we broke down the function of Product Marketing, discussed how it impacts churn and retention, shared views on where it should sit in a company, and dove into how product marketers help companies understand user personas and their different use cases.
We also discussed why Maze decided to rethink their positioning, how nailing your positioning & messaging, can help attract and bring in the right customers for your business, and how you can fill your marketing funnel by asking the right questions.
Andrew Michael: [00:00:00] Hey, Bozena. Welcome to the show.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:00:02] Hi, thank you for having me.
Andrew Michael: [00:00:04] It's great to have you today for the listeners, Bozena is the director of marketing and Maze a user research and testing platform that helps product teams collect actionable insights. they're official partners with the world's best design companies like Invision Figma, Sketch, Marvel and Adobe, and have more than 15,000 designers and product managers from companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, and IBM, using their product to power up their user testing processes. Bozena is also the Barcelona ambassador product marketing Alliance. And prior to Maze, she was the head of brand and product marketing at Typeform. so my first question for you Bozena today, what is product marketing to you and why is it important when it comes to churn and retention?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:00:46] yeah, so I think, defining product marketing is something that's quite difficult. And I think that product marketing is done differently at every company, but for me, product marketing is a strategic function that facilitates growth by [00:01:00] taking products to market and ultimately keeping there.
And for me, this means , defining and refining your go to market strategies, including positioning messaging. Developing personas. It's about bringing customer and market insights to the table to help inform the product marketing and sales strategy. And ultimately it's about like clearly communicating the value of a product in a way that resonates with the target market.
And I think all of these things, to some extent, impact yeah. Retention or churn. So I think, yeah, product marketing can have a big impact on churn and retention if done well.
Andrew Michael: [00:01:36] Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that the biggest areas is really that awareness and acquisition stage is really nailing that product positioning and having the clear value prop that your users understand and get, and it's not overselling.
And then under delivering on the product side is quite an important component. So you mentioned a positioning sort of being one of [00:02:00] the, roles or responsibilities of the product marketer. can you talk us through it a little bit? we've, as all previously I'd like April Dunford on the show talking through positioning and, how it is one of the central.
The point is all. But how do you view positioning from a product marketing perspective? What are some of the things that you think people need to be thinking about when undertaking a positioning exercise, trying to make sure that their customers understand the clear value prop of the product and, they not overselling and under delivering.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:02:30] Yeah, I think for me, there are a lot of different elements, obviously that come with positioning, but it's really understanding your market and where your product fits in that market. So what is the true value that your, your product delivers, to a specific audience? So I think it's mapping out these different elements within the market, your product, the ideal customers, your competitors, and really thinking about.
how does that value resonate with your audience. And for me, a key [00:03:00] part of not just positioning is also the messaging. So it's about connecting all of these dots. And I think this is where product marketing really comes in because ultimately how you position your product informs who you attract. And then, also makes sure like you mentioned earlier that you deliver on that, that value that you communicated. So for me, it's about bringing in the right customers. Through your positioning and your messaging, and then ultimately retaining them by making sure that you deliver on the value that you initially communicated.
Andrew Michael: [00:03:31] Cool. So let's talk through that a little bit more tilt as well. So one side of it is really about bringing in the right customers, understanding who they are, and that's going to be done through like good positioning, but like the positioning that, what's really bringing them in is the product messaging.
They, the thing that they're reading at the beginning, that's maybe the ad they see or something that peaks and intrigues the interests where there may be problem aware, but not solution aware. How do you go about working with your team to get product messaging in place that's really [00:04:00] going to attract and bring in the right, customers.
What is your process to developing that product messaging to ensure that you're delivering the message in terms of what the product really, provides?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:04:11] So I think, it starts with the customer. we are actually currently at Maze, redoing our positioning and what we did the first step that we did was actually speak to customers.
So we did a few customer interviews to really understand, why they're using maze versus for instance, It's an alternative solution. What is the key value that they get from maze? And then based on these numbers for stations, and obviously also internal conversations, right? Did the organization really understand the key values that maze provides or any product?
And based on that, we built our primary and secondary message. So it's really about kind of identity through customer interviews, identifying what are those values that your product provides. And then based on that building messaging, Obviously this messaging needs to be tested and validated. but I would say that, yeah, it all comes down to really, speaking to [00:05:00] customers to get their insights on why they use your product and the value that they get from me, that is the foundation of good messaging.
Andrew Michael: [00:05:08] Absolutely I think. And, yes, in your customer's own words, as well as the super powerful, a way to make sure that you're hitting the nail on the head essentially of how they would describe your product. I think one of the questions I used to like to ask is if you were going to sell. our product tech, how would you sell it to a friend?
and just listening, how they describe what you do and what your product is about and the value that it delivers. I think it gives you some good insights and ideas into how you can actually then go about working on your own messaging for your product. Nice. Going through then the cycle from the product marketing perspective is you done some customer research you've identified.
What are the traits in your ideal customer profile? you've got a picture and understanding now of how they communicate about your products and how you're going to communicate. to them, where do you go from there then? [00:06:00] Like from a product marketing perspective of once you've understand, like you've got good positioning in place, you're delivering product messaging, you acquire customers.
What would you say is like the next thing that a, product market is responsible for on the customer's journey?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:06:16] This really depends on the organization because product marketing teams are set up differently everywhere, but once we have the positioning identified the messaging ready, and we have that rolled out across our properties.
Let's say we have the right landing pages for personas, the use case pages, updated messaging on the website. I would say that the next step for me is onboarding and activation. So really thinking about how do we, now that we've brought them into the funnel, how do we get them to value faster? so yeah, I would say onboarding for activation purposes is the next, step on a product marketing or market is journey.
Andrew Michael: [00:06:52] Yeah. And essentially it's really about making sure that you not only, helping to bring the customers in, but making sure [00:07:00] that you're activating them and making sure they're getting use out of the product itself. I'm interested as well. Now you mentioned that maze, that you're currently really looking at, positioning from your side and your customers.
What was the motivation that led you to want to do that? Psych? Why now? Why have you decided to start this exercise again?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:07:21] Yeah, so I joined maze in February and from day one, I knew that we had to prioritize positioning. So maze initially started out as a user testing, the prototype testing tool initially only for envision.
And then we slowly added, Or prototyping tools. But earlier this year we launched a new solution, which is called discovery. And that really changed what you could do with me. So now amaze was not only, competing a research and testing market, but to some extent also in the forms and survey space, yeah, we just expanded our product and we knew it was critical to think about positioning more strategically.
And this is why we made it a priority. So for us, I think initially at the beginning of the year, it [00:08:00] was very clear. We were a user testing tool. Then we added this new, solution, which expanded what we did. So we knew that we had to think differently about how we went to market. So I think that was the key trigger, for us to rethink positioning.
Andrew Michael: [00:08:13] Yeah. So essentially your product started really evolving over time as well. You started expanding on the offering and then really trying to make sure that your new positioning encapsulated what you were doing today, as opposed to something maybe being a bit outdated from when you got started. How old is the company now?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:08:31] About two years
Andrew Michael: [00:08:32] or two years old. Okay. So fairly young as well. And you've managed to get to quite an impressive list of customers and, volume of customers to, what do you think it is? That's been the magic behind it.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:08:45] I think that there was really a need in the market for this. Jonathan, who was one of the co founders and the CEO.
So he reached out to me, last year about the director of marketing role. And although at the moment, our product is mainly for [00:09:00] product teams, even during the interview process. One of the things that I said to him, and one of the reasons that I ultimately ended up joining bays was that I really understood that there was a need for this product.
So even as a product marketer, I had the need to test messaging quickly. And there was just nothing in the market that really enabled me to do this quickly and easily. So I think, even I, as a marketer really understood the pain and the need for such a solution. So I think this is why maze has been so successful because it really addresses a problem in the market to really do, testing early frequently and easily.
Andrew Michael: [00:09:32] Yeah. And, I think what you're talking a part as well as the different use cases for the product and the different user personas that the product has. so like you mentioned, product, designers or product managers, maybe having a different use case to someone in marketing who's wants to test messaging.
This is also something, I think that falls under product marketing itself in other companies. And it's also probably one of the crucial elements in nailing what you build and who you speak to and how you speak to [00:10:00] them as well as really understanding who are your key user personas. And who's your ideal customer profile?
I'm interested to see like maybe here at Mays or in your past, a Typeform, what is the process that you take when you helping the organization. And who these personas are, and who's the ideal customer that you want to be targeting.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:10:20] So I think, this goes back to customer interviews and research.
So what we did at me is for this current positioning project, we, what we segmented our user base to understate. Stand fed. When people sign up, they submit their job titles. So we did some segmentation within the user base. We looked at some key data that related to that. So lifetime value, et cetera.
And we did interviews with the different profiles. we also ran a product market fit survey to get the understand, where do we have product market fit? Where do we not? So we did a lot of research to really understand, our product market fit, to understand our current user base, to see the value that, They get out of me.
So I would say [00:11:00] that it really starts with, Understanding who is your current? let's say the people that currently love using your product say, yeah, I think it starts with, understanding that
Andrew Michael: [00:11:10] it's interesting that you say that as well. So I think what I got from that as well as one, you just looked at out of your current user base, what was the split of roles and then just looked at other sort of data points, maybe things like you mentioned, LTV product usage.
I'm assuming, just to see, who has maybe more engaged too, who was spending more with you? I also liked the fact that you mentioned sort of the NPS and just seeing the satisfaction side of things. I think, how people, the product market fit. Cause I'm assuming that's the question that you asked is if you could no longer use maze.
How disappointed would you be? Yes. Cause really interesting. We actually had Rahul on the show and from superhuman and this is essentially how they iterated their way to product market fit was really trying to understand like who, the people that actually love the product. What were the key characters, resistance and segmenting then on different [00:12:00] variables, that role, industry so forth, just to understand.
Okay. Who these people were and what the main value proposition was. so yeah, you do that, exercise, you take a look at your overall user base. You try to see where you have strongest product market fit. That's all good and having that insight yourself and doing that research.
Where does that work go from there, from the user, the sun is like, how does the company uses information? How do they leverage it to make sure that they get the most out of it so that you're actually building the rock product and speaking the right language.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:12:34] Yeah. So yeah, after you use that information to, develop your personas, you need to think about, what does that mean for, in my case for your marketing funnel?
So different personas might have different journeys. So for me, that kind of impacts everything. You do, how do you attract those different personas? What is important to them? So what do you communicate along the journey? there might be [00:13:00] different ways to activate them because they might be using different use cases.
So for me, this information, like the persona development, the messaging specific to that persona because different personas might have different value propositions that really informs the entire funnel. yeah. So I think that you need to use that information to build your funnels for those different personas from acquisition to activation, to retention all of that.
Andrew Michael: [00:13:23] Yeah, I'm interested, like from your perspective, how you see things, different kid maze versus type form, from this specific exercise. Cause I think with maize sort of the use cases are a lot more clear cut. there's very specific use cases that you use the product for. Whereas in Typeform, although the use case is clear, cut, there's so many different ways that people were using the tool itself.
How did you see the difference between the two when it came to the user journey and the messaging and how you had reached the different audience? When it like with maze, you can know, you can speak to product managers and you know exactly how they're going to be [00:14:00] using the tool. And for what reason, did you have a similar workflow at Typeform or is it really just trying to, focus on the main value prop?
That's the majority of, personas.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:14:12] Yeah. So this is a re good question. And it's something that we actually talked about a lot at Typeform. And, one thing we noticed at type forum was that we had a lot of, same day Turner. So essentially people that subscribed insuring the same day, because they knew they would only need type for one specific project.
And this generally was a survey. We went on a mission to educate our users on the versatility of Typeform. So all of that jobs to be done that you could achieve with type firm. So I think there, and this was actually an initiative. we started to, Yeah, fight. Sure. And to really showcase to our users, all the different things that you could do with type form.
And I think one of the things that we talked about for a very long time was at what point do we do that? Do we position type, form as this versatile tool where you can do anything to all of our personas [00:15:00] or do we need to be more specific? the different use cases that we showcase. Okay, so different personas.
So when I was there, we took the approach of the more versatile approach to. Oh personas. And then we started to customize one. People had entered the funnel, so we collected a lot of data. once people signed up and then based on that, we did what we called cross discovery. So we introduced, new use cases.
To specific personas and not even just the personas, but specifically based on, behavior that they had already done. So we created a flow, like if someone uses Typeform for this, then they're more likely to use this as their next use case. So it was really, showcasing different ways to use type form for retention purposes, ultimately.
And I think, talking. Yeah. Talking about maze at the moment is a bit different because like you said, the use cases are a bit more clear cut. but we do have very similar issues. So we do have a lot of the one off project, they're less use [00:16:00] cases. we do see. Yeah, similar issues.
And we are thinking about how can we get people to use mace to the fullest potential? Because one of the key use cases is the user testing, the prototype testing, but we now also have surveys, tree testing card sorting five second test. So a lot of things that we, still need to work on how we communicate along the journey so that people can, and actually do user testing and research along the entire point development or design process.
So it is very similar. Although of course the type from there are more use cases.
Andrew Michael: [00:16:33] Yeah, for sure. I think it's a fairly similar challenge. Both businesses probably face similar to actually a Hotjar where I'm at now at the moment is as well when you're dealing with a lot of smaller businesses too.
That's a lot of, it's just Project based. And it's related is one of use cases where they're coming in to do something specific in time. And it's not a bigger company organization where it's easy to transition to those ongoing use [00:17:00] cases. I think this is something we talked about with Americana, as well on the show.
and one of the things you mentioned as well, was that having the ability to segment, your. customers and the churn specifically for the white, I think that you can impact them that you can't. I think one of the challenges, which is, I think with what you're talking about is like transitioning people to use cases.
It works really well in companies that. Have those use cases and can transition to them or have those problems and needs. but a lot of the time, I think as well, like the smaller businesses, they just don't have the bandwidth to do all of these things as well. So how do you view segmenting or customer churn when it comes to maize?
And like you say, you do, or even a Typeform where you had these, A lot of users churning on day one because they came in for that very specific use case. which we're most lucky, just small businesses or individuals trying to get started. Like how do you view it now at maize versus how you viewed it at Typeform?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:17:57] so I would say that [00:18:00] one thing that we're doing at MES right now is, and this is another thing that I think has a big impact on price on, retention is pricing. So we are actually looking at user behavior. How did. Do they use the platform and how, or how do our pricing plans contribute to that? So for instance, the one off projects, there's, an alternative solution, the place called in the space called usability hub.
And what they've actually done is, and I'm not saying this is the right solution or not for me is, but they've offered, a project based plan that addresses the specific needs of design teams. So I think they're. A solution is looking at the pricing that you're offering. And maybe that is a solution for that specific problem of one off projects.
Andrew Michael: [00:18:45] As really aligning the pricing and packaging then to make sure that you're not forcing your users into a, like frequency of usage, that's not aligned with how they're actually using your product would need to use for product.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:18:58] Yeah. yeah, and at me [00:19:00] is what we're doing is we are looking at our pricing to, like you said, match.
The usage of a product with the need yeah. with our pricing tiers. And I think, one other thing that we're doing, and this is also where product marketing comes in is a lot of product education. So we really believe in testing throughout the, the product life cycle. So it's really about educating people and showing them.
The that, Hey, you don't just need to test when you have your high fidelity prototype, you can run surveys, collect insights early, you can run tree tests to inform your prototype. So it's really around educating users of how to do, testing along that product cycles. So we really, yeah. We really want to encourage people to do it more frequently to do it faster so that they have that process along the way.
Andrew Michael: [00:19:47] absolutely. I think like transitioning use cases and educating people on more ways that can use your product and service is always going to deepen engagement. so from a product marketing perspective, we've had, she talked through, quite a lot of [00:20:00] different yeah. Areas that influence has an impact.
So we. First spoke about the positioning and acquisitions side of things like bringing in the right types of customers. we touched briefly on, onboarding and activation, being a role of responsibility. And then now you've also introduced pricing and monetization being like another area, trying to figure out what the pricing and packaging should look like.
So I think Product marketing is one of those roles that sort of touches all three pillars. When we think about like growth leavers in a subscription business, being acquisition, retention, and monetization, it feels like it's a very yeah. Central and strategic role with an organization. Like how do you see this role working and operating within a company?
sometimes you see it sitting in marketing. Sometimes you see it sitting in product, what is your view? Like where does product marketing sit. how is it most effective in a company?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:20:50] This is a really good question. it's interesting because product marketing really is such a cross functional role and it touches or product marketing works with [00:21:00] so many different departments from products.
Yes. Sales indirectly with marketing. yeah, I think it's really difficult because you mentioned earlier that product marketing really. touches a lot of different areas. And I would say that this really depends on the company. every company sets up product marketing in a different way.
So I would say that where product marketing sits really depends on where it can add most value within an organization. And that depends a lot on how an organization is structured, what their focus is, what are the key challenges, just that they're trying to solve. I think. One thing that is great about product marketers, especially in early stage start ups, is that, they can be used like a Swiss army knife because they can do a lot of different things.
whereas in bigger companies, a lot of times product marketing and then individual product marketers, they're a lot more specialized on a specific, thing of product marketing. So yeah, I would say it really depends what I really, Personally, what I really like is what Unbounce is doing. at unbalanced, the marketing team is a highly strategic team and they sit outside of product or marketing.
So they've really formed a team that reports directly to the [00:22:00] leadership team. They're a highly strategic team that really, Yeah, impact strategic decisions across the company. So I think that if you ask me what the ideal setup is, I would say that's something that I really believe in because I see the impact that they're having.
And I think it makes sense that product marketing is an independent function. but it's not like that at every company because every company is different. So
Andrew Michael: [00:22:21] yeah. Yeah. That's an interesting model. Definitely. Cause it is the glue at the end of the day, that brings everything together and it doesn't ever really sit nicely anywhere.
Cause there's always that tug of war no matter where you're at, no matter what stage, I'm interested as well, like from your side now, moving on to like a director of marketing role, like what set transition been like for you? what motivated you to make the move? anything interesting that you've learnt along the way?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:22:47] Yeah. I actually think having a product marketing background is quite a good foundation to move into, , head of marketing role. And I think, thinking, talking specifically about churn, [00:23:00] I thought in like the early days of my in Korea, I always thought that sharing was something that the CS team took care of or maybe part.
And it wasn't until I started working in product marketing that I realized it's really a cross functional effort. And I think that I learned a lot being a product marketer and it has given me really a different perspective on many things and going into my new role. I knew that, Knowing all of this, I was going to make product marketing priority at Mays, and they also did this, like one of the first hires that I, or one of the first positions I opened was a product marketing position.
I knew that we needed to prioritize positioning. So I think that having worked in product marketing gave him you're really good. The standing are really good foundation to go into a director role, because I know, the value that product marketing or the different areas of responsibility that from product marketing, yeah.
That it can bring to an organization and the marketing, I think it has really shaped, as the director of marketing at Maze. Hopefully in a good way.
Andrew Michael: [00:23:56] Yeah. I think, yeah, cause you're right. Like it's one of those things [00:24:00] you get to touch on so many different elements and aspects as well. It's not as focused as other areas in marketing.
when it comes in, like you said, like early stage startup, like a product marketers, maybe typically somebody. Who's getting involved in a lot of different areas and has that ability to learn a lot of different aspects of marketing, which really does maybe set you up then for that next level and being able to lead and head up a marketing team as well, having that, different viewpoints and perspectives.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:24:28] yeah, definitely. I think for me about knowledge of marketing, product markets, a lot of times in kind of the customer or the product, the messaging marketing. And I think this is super valuable going to a leadership role. And there are areas that are not my expertise. I mentioned the ratio of marketing, but I think.
Then, to hire the right people for those roles. But I think what's really important is understanding the big picture and getting those foundations, like the positioning, the personas messaging, Because ultimately they enable growth across the entire marketing team.
[00:25:00] Andrew Michael: [00:25:00] Absolutely. Yep. Cool. seeing like we're running up on time, one question I ask every guest that joins the show.
And I'm interested to hear perspective as well as let's imagine a hypothetical scenario now. and you joined a new company and you arrive at this company and turn, our attention is not doing great. and this year it comes to, and he asks you to help try to turn things around, but he's looking to try and get results in the first 90 days.
what would you want to do with your time to try and turn things around for the company? No.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:25:35] so the first thing that I would do is. Do some research, so understand, the data behind it. segment the user base, understand who is turning, maybe can identify a pattern and then go from there. But I think ultimately it comes down to understanding the data behind churn. Because if you just use the churn rate across your entire cohorts, you might not be able to, Identify some [00:26:00] micro, issues.
So I think for me, that's the first thing that I would do. I would try to understand the data. And then from there, that would define my next action. So if I see that a specific, part of the. A specific segment of the user base is turning higher than others. Then maybe we need to think about, are we, not delivering on the product?
Are we acquiring the wrong users? Are we not activating them? So I think for me, ultimately, it comes down to understanding the data. And then from there kind of action,
Andrew Michael: [00:26:28] so really trying to get to the root cause of the problem before a dictating what the strategy should be on how to go about solving it.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:26:36] Exactly. I think you need to have some data so that you can, yeah. Decide on what kind of experiments do you want to run out? If they're looking for quick results, you'll need to run a few experiments to see, what's going to work and what's not, but without the data you're just stabbing in the dark.
So for me, that would be the first thing that I would do.
Andrew Michael: [00:26:57] Cool. nice. but I [00:27:00] think now thanks very much. I was all for during the show, it's been like a pleasure chatting to, and diving to details as well around product marketing and its influence on churn & retention. is there any sort of final thoughts you want to leave the listeners with anything they should be aware of or how they can keep up to date with your work?
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:27:17] LinkedIn, so I'm very inactive on Twitter. So if anyone wants to reach me, feel free to, yeah. Contact me on LinkedIn or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andrew Michael: [00:27:26] Nice. All right. thanks so much for joining the show today.
really appreciate the time it's been a pleasure chatting and wish you best of luck now going forward.
Bozena Pieniazek: [00:27:35] Thank you so much for having me.
Andrew Michael: [00:27:36] It's a pleasure.
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My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.
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