The Complete Guide to Product Qualified Leads

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Chapter 9: Creating High-Converting Content for Each Segment

By now, you’ve:

     - Gathered your product usage data

     - Created your segments

     - Identified the key “aha” moments and trigger actions required to convert trial users in each segment

     - Collected qualitative VOC data to inform:

          - The hierarchy of messages each segment needs to receive to convert

          - The copy you’ll use to write out each of these messages across your sales and marketing campaigns 

Now, you’re ready to plot out the content along each segment’s trial.

The campaign you’ll create for each segment should act as a trail of breadcrumbs, guiding users from one trigger action to the next.

This is where many marketers fall flat: they know WHAT users need to do, but they don’t quite know HOW or WHEN to say it. 

This is where your VOC Worksheet comes back in.

Using VOC data to create compelling content

It’s easy to write an email or in-app message telling someone what to do.

It’s not easy to convince that person they should listen to you.

Users don’t care about your product or the trigger actions they’re supposed to take; they care about solving their problems and making their own lives better in some way.

So for your messages to be effective, you’ve got to focus each one on your user’s desires and pain points -- and write using words and phrases your user naturally uses in her own day-to-day.

From the VOC worksheet you completed, pull that segment’s top…

▪️ Pains pushing them to seek a new solution in the first place (before they found you)

▪️ Improvements / better life they envision once they find a solution

▪️ Words & phrases used to describe ^^ and your product

▪️ Interesting stories of people’s journeys from trial > paid (any noteworthy fears / doubts they had about the product early on? Any cool anecdotes around product usage -- reactions from their team, improved experience for their customers, uptick in their KPIs)

Remember those old slide projectors, where you could layer clear sheets of plastic on top of one another to create a more and more complete image? That’s what you’re going to do with your quantitative data (profile, firmographics, event actions) and VOC data to convert people from trial > paid

▪️ Your segment is the bottom slide: it’s who you’re talking to

▪️ Your event actions are the middle slide: it’s what you’re guiding them to do

▪️ Your VOC data is the top slide: it’s HOW you talk to this group of users

Plotting your messages

The number of messages you’ll send to each segment, the format of the content, and the channels you use will be completely unique to your product -- but here’s a basic messaging map to get you started:

Map notes

In this map, the sample product has 3 trigger actions that guide the user to “Aha.” Increase or reduce the length of your message map to fit the number of trigger actions in this segment’s trial.

YOU know which channels are appropriate for your product, so we’ve left channels undefined here. Some will all be automated -- in-app cues, onboarding emails, etc. Some will be manual -- sales outreach, implementation, etc.

Consider your audience’s content preferences

YOU know your audience -- so it’s up to you to determine how much your content “feels” like sales/marketing, and how much it “feels” like education/customer success. Some details to think about:

      - How tech-savvy are most users in this segment?

      - What buying processes are they accustomed to -- and possibly expecting? (self-serve vs high-touch, upgrading without a second thought vs getting approval from a superior)

As mentioned in Chapter 5, Emmaneulle Skala -- VP Sales at DigitalOcean -- knew that messages couldn’t come from SDRs, and they couldn’t “look” like marketing. Because DigitalOcean’s audience is developers -- who tend to be sales-averse -- either of these would hurt the brand and relationship with potential high-value prospects.

Instead, they turned to sending technical how-to content, which the audience found to be useful when delivered at the right time.

“It's more like, ‘Hey, we noticed ABC about your usage, here's a great piece of content on how to better implement a certain technology or integrate with something or take advantage or set up something,’” said Emmanuelle. “It’s not marketing content.”

Lead with how life will get better -- not with your product

In B2B, it’s highly unlikely a new user signed up for your product purely for fun. They’re here because they’re trying to fix something that feels broken or painful. There’s a better life they’re imagining for themselves -- and addressing that better life in your messages will make them pay attention.

Your goal is to agitate the top pains and motivations you found in your VOC Worksheet -- the ones pushing people to try your product -- to overcome the top concerns, old habits, and other blockers that most often prevent this segment from reaching “Aha.”

Content within each message should do the following:

- Message 1 (arrives directly after signup): 

- Welcome the new user

- Speak to their motivation -- remind them how much better they’ll be once they start using your product successfully (why will their life be better with your product than it was before?)

- Direct them toward ONE trigger action -- the first one in the sequence

- Do not overwhelm them -- reference Hiten’s recent post on this (don’t kill your product with crappy onboarding)

- Messages 2 and 3:

- Reinforce positive behavior -- congratulate the user on completing the previous action

- Speak to their motivation. Either the same one as in Message 1, but in a different format (e.g., a quote from a happy customer who got great results), or the second most important motivation you listed in your VOC Worksheet

- Direct them toward ONE trigger action -- the next one in the sequence

- Messages 1A, 2A, 3A:

- Gently remind the user about their desire + how your product will provide it for them (people get busy / bogged down with other stuff)

- Direct them toward the trigger action again

- Offer help (knowledge base, support team, etc)

- Messages 1B, 2B, 3B: 

- Agitate users’ pains (pull from VOC worksheet again; what was so awful that motivated them to go find you in the first place?)

- Acknowledge common blockers -- put them at ease

- Offer help a second time

- Links to further reading on campaign writing

Test your messages

Now, you’re ready to test whether your new messages increase conversions within this segment.

When launching, send your new campaign to only a portion of this segment, while sending your old campaign (or no campaign, if this is your first one) to the rest of the segment. The goal here is to find out whether these messages actually increase conversions.

Remember from Chapter 5, this is how Emmanuelle Skala tested DigitalOcean’s content; 20% of eligible users were held back as a control group and received no outreach, while the other 80% were divided up amongst the sales team for outreach. 

At the end of the first quarter of 2017, she and the data team compared the three cohorts:

1. Outreach, with responses to the outreach

2. Outreach, without responses

2. Control group (without any outreach)

What they found was that the accounts who received proactive outreach to offer a consultative conversation were twice as likely to expand their usage above a specified threshold. In turn, setting these customers up for success led to a 30% increase in account value compared to those who received no outreach.

Curiously, the middle cohort who received outreach, but did not respond, also saw an increase in usage. 50% of those accounts found an increase in product usage, too.

Takeaway Points: Creating High-Converting Content for Each Segment

1. From the VOC worksheet you completed, pull that segment’s top…

          - Pains pushing them to seek a new solution in the first place (before they found you)

          - Improvements / better life they envision once they find a solution

          - Words & phrases used to describe ^^ and your product

          - Interesting stories of people’s journeys from trial > paid (any noteworthy fears / doubts they had about the product early on? Any cool anecdotes around product usage)

2. Based on how many actions a user must take to reach “Aha,” plot out the number of messages to send (use the Message Map above as a guide

3. Decide which channels you’ll use, and which content content format fits best (emails that look like sales/marketing? Help docs? Case studies? Blog posts?)

4. Write your messages

5. Launch your campaign

6. Test and measure

Authored By

Claire Suellentrop

Founder, LoveYourCustomers

Claire Suellentrop helps high-growth SaaS companies get inside their customers’ heads. Previously the Director of Marketing and #2 employee at Calendly, she’s seen firsthand that truly effective marketing stems from a deep understanding of existing users’ needs.   

Now, she works with companies like Wistia, FullStory, and MeetEdgar to uncover their best customers’ needs and desires, then uses those juicy details to create more relevant, high-converting marketing and onboarding campaigns. 

Ed Fry

Head of Growth,

Ed Fry is passionate about helping marketers grow their organizations and directly contribute to revenue. He was the first employee at and worked with thought-leaders like Rand Fishkin, Co-Founder of Moz, and Dharmesh Shah, Co-Founder of HubSpot. During his tenure, membership grew from 5,000 to 165,000+ members between 2012 and 2016.

Ed currently oversees Growth at Hull - a customer data management platform that eliminates data problems for marketing and sales teams alike. 

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