As product managers we know that selling our product to a new customers is a fantastic accomplishment. When this happens, we feel great. However, it turns out that this is really just the start of a much longer journey. Once we have a customer onboard, it now becomes the job of the product manager to do everything that you can to make sure that your product development definition will allow you to keep that customer. There are a lot of different things that you can do to make this happen, but the most important one is to talk with your customer. This leads to the big question: what’s the best way to hold this kind of conversation?
It’s All About Being Personal
Let’s face it, the best way to stay in touch with your customers would be to pick up the phone and call them. Assuming that they answered your call, you could have a pleasant discussion with them and find out what they both like and dislike about your product. It’s this type of personal contact that means the most to people. However, if you have a lot of customers (and I hope that you do), this approach is not really all that feasible. Instead you’re going to have to come up with a different way of reaching your customers. Like with a newsletter.
If you choose to create a newsletter, then you are going to want to make it as personal as possible in order to capture that magic that you can get with a phone call. When customers sign up for your newsletter, you can collect information from them that will tell you what their interests are. If it turns out that you have groups of customers who have different interests from each other, then you can divide up your newsletter and send different versions to different subsets of your customer newsletter mailing list. Get this right and you’ll have something to add to your product manager resume.
Conversations Are Two-Way
Unlike a phone call, one of the drawbacks to sending a newsletter is that if you are not careful it can turn into a one-way communication channel. What this means is that you may have a lot of great content that you want to share with your customers, but if you don’t come up with a way to get their feedback on what you are telling them then you’ll never know if you are indeed providing them with the information that they both want and need.
A simple solution to this challenge is to include polls in your newsletter. In today’s electronic online information age, slipping an interactive poll tool into an electronic newsletter has never been easier to do. Ask your customers to provide feedback on articles in the newsletter and perhaps on the newsletter as a whole. Once you’ve collected the poll results make sure that you create an article that tells your readers what the outcome of the poll was the next time you send them a newsletter. By creating this two-way communication path you will transform how your customers view your newsletter.
Don’t Forget About The Subject Line
The best written email newsletter is not going to allow you to communicate with your customers if they don’t open it and read it. You need to remember that your customers, just like the rest of us, get a lot of email each and every day. What this means is that they spend a lot of time going through their received email and throwing away the junk mail that they never intend to read. If you are not careful, there is a very good chance they will end up throwing your email newsletter away before they ever read it.
In order to get your customers to open and read your emails, you are going to have to create a subject line for your email that catches their attention. While “Big Sale” always seems to work, you are probably going to want to make sure that your subject line relates to the content of your email newsletter. You’ll need to take a look at your newsletter and determine what you think the most important piece of information in it is. Then, using this information you are going to want to create a subject line that is both succinct and specific and which will cause your customers to pause for a moment and then open your email.
What All Of This Means For You
As product managers we need to realize that in addition to finding ways to get more people to buy our product, a key part of our product manager job description is to make sure that the people who have already bought our product remain customers. In order to make this happen, we need to make sure that we stay in touch with them. Although a personal phone call would be the best way to do this, with a lot of customers this is impractical and so product managers often turn to an email newsletter.
In a newsletter you are going to want to be as personal as you can be. By using information that you collected when your customer subscribed to the newsletter you can customize your content. If it turns out that you have different groups of customers, then you can create different versions of your newsletter to serve them. We need to remember that the best forms of communication are two way. When we are using an online newsletter, we can include a poll in order to get reader feedback and then provide poll results in the next edition of the newsletter. The best newsletter in the world will do you no good if you can’t get your customers to read it. That’s why you need to take the time to craft a subject line that will capture your customer’s attention.
Holding on to existing customers is just as important, if not more important, than landing new ones. Your existing customers are the ones who are the most likely to buy your next product. As product managers we need to understand how to stay in contact with our existing customers and an email newsletter is a great option. If you decide to create a newsletter, you need to make sure that you create one that the customer is going to want to read. This means that it has to have both great content and a great subject line. Get this one right, and your customers will be lining up to read your next edition!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™
Question For You: How often do you think that an email newsletter should be sent out to customers?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
So here’s an interesting question for you: when you customer uses up or runs out of your product, how do they go about ordering more from you? Perhaps this question would be better stated “how hard is it to order more of your product?” If you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes for just a moment, there is that realization that they have run out of your product, that understanding that they need to order more, and then the much bigger effort of figuring out how to order more and actually going about doing it. The product managers at Amazon sell a lot of products that customers run out of. They think that they’ve come up with a way to expand their product development definition in order to make reordering simple and easy: dash buttons.