Product Management

5 Steps for Product Managers to Ditch the Jargon and Communicate Better

5stepsforproductmanagers

“After conducting a heuristic review of this user story, we found several UX issues with the UI.”

You know what that means. I know what that means, mostly. But if anyone outside of our industry were to hear this sentence, they’d be very confused. Product managers and product owners have their own patois, dialect, lingo, parlance. But when it comes to communicating technical issues to non-technical users and colleagues, you’ve got to switch to a Lingua Franca that everyone understands.

Communication is messy, complicated, and hard, but it’s never optional. And jargon has its place. When you’re with your team speaking the same language, finding short-hand terms for complex issues, jargon is not only inevitable, it’s a real time saver. But it’s also often a wall that stands between you and getting your point across with outsiders.

And a failure to communicate effectively can have dire consequences.

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Customer Success, Product Management

The Critical Steps to Aligning Product Managers and Customer Success

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Once it looks like product market “fit” has been reached, Product Managers may be quick to celebrate. Building and iterating a product until it hits this level of success takes considerable effort. Inevitably, Customer Success will provide feedback about gaps in functionality, issues with usability and obstacles in guaranteeing a stellar customer experience. While valuable information, this input can feel rather unwelcome.

Customer Success teams aren’t trying to rain on the parade, but it can sure seem that way. And this tense relationship between Product Managers and Customer Success can foster an environment of unproductive resentment that drags both teams down.

It’s a natural human reaction. The customer feedback reported by Customer Success can sound less like constructive criticism, and more like straight-up fault finding. Any suggestions offered may get automatically labeled impractical by frustrated Product Managers. Nobody wants someone standing behind them, continuously pointing out flaws in their work, especially when they’re already working hard to create a good product.

But Customer Success sees it differently – they just want to make sure the product delivers its promises to customers! And from their positions on the front lines of the customer experience, they feel like their feedback is invaluable (and they’re right). Imagine their frustration at getting labeled as “complainers” for sharing real customer feedback.

Ouch.

Both teams are doing their best to create products people will love – and both are having trouble effectively communicating with each other.

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Product Management

Better Product Strategy Meetings in 5 Steps

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Ah, a free exchange of ideas. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Until you’ve got five stakeholders sitting in an enclosed space spitting out “Must Haves” like watermelon seeds in a county fair contest. Ideas are great, but a strategy everyone can agree on is better. How can you get from one extreme to the other?

Well, it’s a lot like this, but with fewer horses.

Successful product strategy meetings don’t happen by accident — they require planning and expert execution. So here’s a 5-step formula to help make your meetings run more smoothly and effectively, and round up those maverick cats.

Read More on ProductPlan

Content Marketing, Conversion Rate Optimization

​How to Create Images That Attract & Convince Your Target Niche

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Any old picture might be worth a thousand words. But your target niche doesn’t need or want a thousand words. Your ideal audience needs the right words, paired with the right images, to tell a story that uniquely appeals to their deepest desires.

Studies show that people understand images faster than words, remember them longer, and if there’s a discrepancy between what we see and what we hear, our brains will choose to believe what they see. Our brains prioritize visual information over any other kind, which makes images the fast-track to connection all marketers are looking for.

So don’t just slap some text on a stock photo and call it good. You can do better. Much better. And I’ll show you how.

Read More on Moz

Customer Success

Personal Service at Scale – The Secrets of Ari Klein, Head of Customer Success at DocSend

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Ari Klein is one of those rare people who is equally comfortable discussing the finer points of human relationships as industrial engineering. Balancing between customer needs and product requirements, Ari builds customer success programs that tow growth and product strategy in their wake for companies like CrowdFlower, and currently, DocSend.

But my favorite thing about Ari, the one that knocked my socks off in our conversation, is when he talked about how closely his Customer Success department works with Product Development.

It’s the kind of collaboration that strengthens the entire discipline of Customer Success, and it so very seldom happens.

So, if you want:

  • Bleeding edge opportunity spotting,
  • Personalized messaging at scale,
  • And customer success content that not only solves problems, but does so in ways people will talk about for months afterward…
    – Ari’s your man.

I sat down to discuss Customer Success at its best. What came out was the true story of one company leveraging a Customer Success mindset to its greatest potential.

Want in on some of those secrets? Read on. From this point forward, all words are Ari’s.

Read More on Wootric

Metrics, Startups

Lean Analytics: Why the “One Metric” is more complicated than it sounds

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“The One Metric that Matters” – sounds important, doesn’t it? There’s been a lot of talk about “the One” in Lean Analytics circles, but I’d like to let you in on a secret:

The secret is that the One Metric changes over time. It could change year-to-year or quarter-to-quarter, depending on your growth stage and what matters most to you now.

And, the One Metric for your company is often different than the One Metric for another company.

So the One Metric just got a bit more complicated. But when you get down to the heart of the One Metric, it becomes relatively simple again:Find what is most important to the health and growth of your company right now, measure it, and improve on it.

Let’s take a look at how you can do just that.

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Customer Success

“I Almost Lost a Customer When Our Champion Left”: A Customer Success Story from Zuora

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“I almost lost a customer,” says Rachel, “when our ‘champion’ and top user within the customer company left for another job. This is all too common an occurrence, and difficult to anticipate. In this particular case, I found out because I had set our customer analytics system to alert me when the usage volume within any account suddenly dropped off, and also when one of our “Power Users” switched to a less active persona. Both alerts were triggered, so I knew something was amiss within the account.”

Planning & data made the difference

She and her customer success department had put in the time to plan ahead for just such occasions, creating thoughtful playbooks that laid out and tracked each step to winning back a wayward customer. As these risk alerts triggered, they simultaneously set off a workflow that gave Rachel a series of predetermined tasks to manage.

“First, I did some research using our customer analytics tool and looked into the account’s recent trends – what was their normal usage, and how had that changed recently; what kinds of results had they been achieving using our solution; who were all of their active users, who had dropped off, and who else was still active or increasing in their use?”

Read More on Wootric

Content Marketing

10 Creative Visual Tools & Where to Share Your Visual Content

Visual-Content-Tools

Gone are the days when a simple infographic would cut the mustard. Today’s content marketers have to be agile, ready to take on everything from photo editing, to video editing, to creating memes guaranteed to go viral. Considering that many content marketers aren’t designers (or even former film majors) – that’s a considerable challenge. I’ve compiled my favorite tools that make visual content marketing easy for everyone, in nearly every medium. No expertise required.

But wait – there’s more. Creating visual content is only half the battle for marketers – I get that! So at the end of this post is a list of 10 Places to Share Your Designs That Will Bring You Way More Traffic Than Twitter or Facebook.

Happy visualizing!

10 Visual Marketing Design Tools for Non-Designers

1. PicMonkey (for collages & basic photo editing)

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Picmonkey is a free, web-based photo editor and graphic design tool with a surprising number of ever-changing fonts, trendy color schemes and fun designs to choose from.

2. Placeit (for product mockups)

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Placeit makes it easy to generate product mockups without Photoshop, and costs far less (one download costs $8, and monthly plans start from $12).

3. Visage (for data visualization)

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Visage makes it easy to bring great design to data by making it simple to create charts and graphs, and visually design them with colors, fonts, clipart and high-res image backgrounds. You can also use it to super-impose words on background images (many of which are included in the freemium version), or to create infographics.

4. Free Stock Photos (for all of your royalty-free photo needs)

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Free stock photo sites:

  • Unsplash – Adds 10 new royalty-free photos every 10 days, best for breathtaking landscapes, cityscapes and still-lives.
  • Picjumbo – High-res photos, no attribution required for almost all images, best for food pictures.
  • Gratisography – Quirky, fun, provocative images by Ryan McGuire.
  • NewOldStock – A random assortment of vintage photos ranging from the Sphinx to the Rolling Stones, and everything in between.

5. Awesome Screenshot (for annotated screenshots)

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Awesome Screenshot, available on Mozilla, Chrome and Safari, allows you to take screenshots of whole pages or parts of pages and annotate them with shapes – exceptionally useful for critiquing pages and images.

6. Social Image Resizer Tool (easy resizing for those who don’t think in pixels)

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Social Image Resizer Tool makes it extremely easy to resize your images according to where you want to use them. Just upload your image and choose where it’s going – no need to know the pixel count.

7. Dissolve (a resource for video stock footage for commercial use)

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Dissolve has HD quality, royalty-free stock footage available for commercial use, making it easy to create a jaw-dropping video. Footage isn’t free, so expect to pay a few hundred for a 10-20 second clip.

8. Stencil (basic words on image generator for social media)

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Stencil is a Chrome extension that lets you quickly put words on images that are pre-sized for social sharing. $9/month.

9. Imgflip (for making memes)

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ImgFlip is a meme-creating tool that lets you customize font and text, and make GIFs from images or videos.

10. Qzzr (for creating quizzes)

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Qzzr is an app for creating interactive quizzes for free (with basic customization) or $299/year for Pro-level options.

10 Places to Share Your Designs That Will Bring You Way More Traffic Than Twitter or Facebook

As a content marketer, you likely spend as much or more time promoting your content than creating it (or you should be). But with so many content marketers flooding the main arteries of social media, it’s getting harder to get your content noticed, which is why many of us have found much better results from sharing our visual content via these networks.

  1. Pinterest – Some bloggers have cultivated followings of thousands just by using Pinterest, or a combo of Pinterest and Instagram (see The Dabblist). Sharing is free, but there is a science to which kinds of posts do best. They’re image-heavy, informative, and list-centric.
  2. Instagram – Instagram is a powerful tool for visual content marketers, especially for sharing customer-centric photos (pictures about your customers), employee-centric photos (pictures about your employees or CEO) and contest photos.
  3. com/oggl/ – If you use Hipstamatic’s photo effects to stylize your photos, you can share them on Hipstamatic’s community via their app. No one is as likely to appreciate your creative efforts as other creatives, and you might just up your game by getting ideas from your peers.
  4. com – Describing itself for “show and tell for designers,” Dribbble is where you come to really strut your stuff, or get ideas from the best. Top designs get thousands of page views and hundreds of likes.
  5. net – Another showcase site for creative work, Behance also allows you to get peer kudos in the form of thousands of views and hundreds of likes. You can submit your work to several categories, including Branding, Graphic Design, UI/UX and Web Design.
  6. Tumblr – Incredibly sticky with a hip, young audience, Tumblr can be a great resource for marketing to millennials, especially if you’re marketing to a tight niche and have an amusing image.
  7. org – If your design skills are ready to turn pro (and freelance), you might want to check out Designers Couch. It’s like a collection of portfolios for designers, illustrators, web designers, and other visual creatives.
  8. Slideshare – For B2B marketing, Slideshare is a happening place for sharing slides, infographics, and other informative visual materials. Don’t use it for blatant ads, but do use it for publishing exceptional original high-value content.
  9. Vine – With channels like “DIY” and “Gaming,” and a young, tech-savvy demographic, Vine is practically made to foster viral videos. If you’re trying to reach younger millennials, this is where they are. Prepare to entertain them within 6 seconds.
  10. Sub-Reddits & Reddit-Infographics – Finding the best Sub-Reddit for your niche is the hard part (there are so many). Uploading your infographic, meme, GIF or image is the easy part. But watch out for Mod rules like “no more self-promotion.”

Each social media outlet has its own style and its own user demographic, but that just makes them better tools for finding and attracting your target market. But one characteristic rings true for all of them: These are users who love good humor, great visuals, and truly innovative creativity.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Hot or Not? Check Your Images with Heat Maps

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Do you suspect that your sales page leaves people cold? Do you think nobody’s reading your content – or, at the very least, they’re ignoring your Call to Action (CTA) buttons? Are the images on your website turning visitors off – or confusing them?

What are your visitors thinking?!?!

If you’ve posed any of these questions, or just want to know what your visitors like and don’t like, heat maps are the super simple (and crazy valuable) answer.

Copywriters and designers take note: This will change the way you do everything. Ready? I’m going to show you how to use heat maps to get the most out of your visual content. Best part? These programs are usually free or affordable (I recommend five favorites at the bottom).

Read More on SEMrush

Product Management

Make better products with your team’s input: using NPS-style internal polls

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You already know the value of net promoter scores (NPS) and feedback forms from customers. Their opinions drive the direction of your company, determine your product, and validate your product experiments (sometimes signaling the need for a change in direction).

And you undoubtedly also understand the vital importance of building a culture of innovation so that new ideas and solutions can come from anyone on the team. You’ve created this environment to capture the benefits reaped from so carefully selecting the brilliant people who make up your workforce.

Then, why don’t you tap into the resource of validating product experiments and company direction with internal NPS and team polls?

Your team knows more about the product than anyone else. They know more about the challenges, concerns, potential issues, and greatest achievements of the product and process – because they’re on the front lines. Not tapping into their insights leaves you vulnerable to mistakes and missed opportunities.

Which is crazy – since tapping into those insights is so easy.

Let’s look at some ways you can leverage those collective insights with team polls to make your company stronger, and help ensure it’s headed in the best of all possible directions. Regularly tracking your team’s sentiments over time can also give context to your business metrics and help you understand the success or obstacles of your company.

Read More on Notion