Product Management

5 Product Management Communication Hacks to Streamline Your Crazy Job

You’re the go-to get-it-done-gal/guy, the linchpin between departments, teams, higher-ups and lower-downs. There’s a word for for what you do: everything. Or, at least it feels that way.

But you’re not far off. As product manager, you have the information everyone needs (which means they come to you when they need facts and figures), and you’re in charge of taking that information and sifting through ideas to create a real product, for real people.

Fun fact: There’s a card in Tarot called The Magician. He’s the one who takes ideas from the sky and transforms them into something tangible. You’re The Magician.

“But when you’re The Magician, ego is a no go,” says Jess Sherlock, Group Product Manager at GoSpotCheck, a Denver-based software company. “Be self-aware, be humble, be the calm in the chaos. But here’s the trick: You’re no one’s boss, and killer product managers know how to influence without authority.”

The product manager’s role is so much about effective communication—and yet those “communications” courses you took in your MBA program probably didn’t prepare you for… this.

That’s Roman Pichler’s diagram of the many responsibilities often assigned to Product Managers. Look familiar? John Cutler, Senior Product Manager at Zendesk and prolific product management writer puts it this way:

“In a lot of organizations, you’re swimming in this diagram. You’re all over the place. Especially in a smaller organization, this diagram might be your brain. . . . Product is the connective glue. They literally fill the cracks of everything.”

It’s a hard job with a lot of moving parts—but knowing a few hacks can make it easier on yourself (and everyone else).

Killer product managers know how to influence without authority. Click To Tweet

Read More on InVision

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Bots, Customer Experience, Customer Success, Sales, Social Media, Startups, Tools

How to Use Facebook Bots to Automate Your Sales Funnel – with @ArriBagah of BAMF 🤖


Although I wholeheartedly endorse connecting with people personally (rather than with automated messages), there is a strong argument to be made in favor of bots that function to get customers what they need a little faster, and a lot easier, than they could with humans alone. With that in mind – bots as Customer Success tools – I give you this fab interview with BAMF’s Arri Bagah – Head of Chatbots. Because this is the next big thing, if you do it right.

Chatbots let businesses communicate with their customers inside of social media messaging apps. Haven’t heard of them? Facebook only made them available just over a year ago.

In this article you’ll learn how to use bots to delight your customers and smooth out the rough patches at every stage of your sales funnel.


Do I really need a bot? 🤖💕

The main appeal of chatbots for businesses is that they’re on 24-7, which means they can answer questions and nurture consumer relationships when humans aren’t available. On the other side, consumers appreciate being able to ask a question and receive an immediate answer, or schedule a consultation in a fraction of the time, or have a funny conversation that helps them decide what to buy.

Bots can be downright loveable – for everyone.

For those reasons, and many more (which we’ll get into), bots are poised to become the next big thing. If you like being in the lead of cresting trends in marketing, you’re going to need one.

But, do you need one right now?

That depends on your target demographic.

According to Arri Bagah, BAMF Media’s Head of Chatbots, the greatest adoption of bots is with consumers between the ages of 18 and 35. But that doesn’t mean older consumers aren’t willing to engage with bots – not by a long shot.

The greatest adoption of bots is with consumers between the ages of 18 and 35. Click To Tweet

“The people who are using chatbots the most right now are super savvy 18-35 year-olds who are not afraid of using new technology. A recent App Annie report showed that the 18-24 year-old demographic spends 8 hours in messaging for every 1.5 hours on email, and the 25-55 age range spends 4 hours on messaging for every 2 hours on email.”

Older consumers are more used to email for communicating with businesses, but the fact that they’re already spending so much time on messaging apps means there’s opportunity there. If your target audience is older, you may have a little time before you really need to consider using bots in your marketing and customer service, but… not much.

Why BAMF Loves Facebook Messenger Bots 📱💕

Social media messaging bots are offered on multiple platforms, but if you have to choose one, Chatbot expert Arri Bagah leans towards Facebook because “that’s where everybody is.” Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion monthly active users worldwide – more than the Facebook app itself.

“If you look at the stats of other messaging apps like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger comes out on top in terms of how many downloads it has. Last I checked, it was the most downloaded messaging app in the US, with over 70 million downloads.”

That does not mean your business can chat up any of those 1.3 billion users, however. There are rules.

Messenger Bot Rule no. 1: They have to come to you.
Brands can only send promotional messages within 24 hours of a customer initiating a conversation with the business page by messaging it, or by explicitly ‘opting in,’ within the past 24 hours. After the end of that 24 hour window, the business can send one follow-up message to active subscribers. After that, the brand can’t send ads or promotional messages until the consumer interacts with them again. It’s called the 24 + 1 rule.

Messenger Bot Rule no. 2: No email free-for-all.
Businesses can’t download email addresses of their Messenger subscribers.

Messenger Bot Rule no. 3: Users can block you.
Facebook users can block conversations with a tap, giving them ultimate control.

Here’s what Facebook Messenger can do. Messenger can send notifications to users’ phones every time they receive a message. If they don’t have notifications turned on, Facebook will keep prompting them to turn them on. Emails easily get buried, but it’s very difficult to ignore a chat message.

All of these factors result in increased conversion rates, because Messenger only allows you to send promotional messages to people who’ve shown interest in the product. They’re warm leads, if not downright hot.

And users appreciate the extra layers of protection. As Arri says, “Users have more control, which is why people love using the messenger apps over other ways of communicating with brands.”

According to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen, 56 percent of people surveyed would rather message a business than call customer service, and 67 percent expect to message businesses even more over the next two years.

3 Surprising Ways to Use Bots to Increase Sales 🤖📈

Very few people understand what bots can do, especially this early-on. Arri Bagah is at the forefront – his day job is helping companies increase sales with bot campaigns that are so much more than just automated messages.

Because that’s what many early adopter businesses are getting wrong. They only scratch the surface of bot capabilities, using them mostly for customer service.

That’s just the tip of the bot-berg.

Here’s how to do bots right at every stage of your sales funnel – from top (TOFU) to bottom (BOFU) and in-between (MOFU).

Note: Bots cannot be used with personal profiles, only with a Facebook page.

TOFU Bots

The mission: Build relationships by educating prospects

The Top of the Funnel is when prospects are “just browsing” – they’re checking out their options; unsure whether they need something, or even want something. This stage is when a high-value freebie offer can grab attention, but these types of campaigns are usually done through email. Not anymore.

Pro tip: Anything email can do, bots can do better.

Arri recommends this strategy:

  1. Do a quick survey of your Facebook fans to see what your audience wants to learn. Then create a high-value freebie offer around that, like a 5 day e-course.
  2. Create a Facebook post (which you’ll want to ‘promote’) that asks users to comment using a specific keyword to gain access to the free content.
  3. Using the keyword will trigger your bot to ask the user to type in a specific word that explicitly opts them in to receive bot messages from your business. They need this, because you’ll…
  4. Send the 5-day e-course via Messenger bot. Plan for 1 great tip per day.
  5. At the end, have your bot present an offer that will help your prospect take the next logical step toward his or her goal.

Arri warns that whatever you offer should be genuinely valuable to overcome the natural distrust people have about opting in to Messenger. It’s a substantial amount of friction at first, but once you gain their trust with helpful information, they’ll warm up fast.

MOFU Bots

The mission: Help people make purchase decisions faster and answer frequently-asked questions

The middle of the funnel is also called the “evaluation stage,” when prospects are weighing their options, kicking the tires, doing the last bit of research before making the final purchase decision. It’s a great time to share tips and information, and find other ways to provide immediate value – via bot.

On Arri Bagah’s website, he uses the Facebook Messenger widget to automatically ask visitors “How can I help you?” If they respond, they enter into a bot sequence that asks if he can walk them through “a few strategies to help them reduce their Facebook ads cost.”

He says, “you can put people through that sequence and, at the end, recommend a product that would help them move forward to the next steps. And people can ask questions.”

Any questions someone asks that can’t be answered with pre-programmed responses right away are immediately forwarded to Arri in either email or Facebook Messenger. Once Arri answers the question, the user gets a Facebook Messenger notification to check out his reply.

How does this work with a big brand? LEGO’s bot Ralph is a great example of middle-of-funnel bottage.

Ralph takes users through a pre-scripted question-and-answer sequence where users respond via multiple-choice answer. It’s a clever way to circumvent the main issue with bots – it’s hard for them to come up with useful answers to unusual questions. Narrow the scope though, and you have an enjoyable, helpful interaction.

BOFU Bots

The Mission: Make the sale

The bottom of the funnel is where the rubber hits the road – you make the sale, or you don’t.

Arri recommends using bots in a lead nurture sequence that qualifies users, and then leads them to the logical next step: Purchasing. Here’s how:

Let’s say you’ve put someone through a 5-day sequence. By the 5th message, you have pretty much nurtured and built a relationship with them and it’s time to offer the next step.

Not everyone that subscribes to your bot is a qualified lead, but you can use the chatbot to ask questions and see if they are the right fit for your business. If they are a fit, you can send them a link to your webinar or product page. If not, you can simply say thank you.

For example, if you only work with people who have a certain budget, you ask that question and only send the offer to those able to buy. You also have the ability to tag those leads for future promotional content.”  

Another BOFU problem bots can help with is cart abandonment – one of the most common causes of head-desk frustration among e-commerce store owners.

Arri’s best tips for recovering carts with bots

  1. Send the user a message saying ‘Hey, I saw you left a few products here. I’d hate for you to miss out. Would you like to complete your purchase?”
  2. Make your message fun and chatty, low pressure.
  3. An optional step: Offer a limited-time deal to close the sale.

He says this technique can more than quadruple open rates:

“The great thing about using bots for this is that cart abandonment emails usually get a 15 to 20 percent open rate, and even smaller clickthrough rates. With Messenger, open rates are around 90 percent and clickthrough is between 30 and 50 percent.”

Arri’s Quick Guide to Better Bots 🤖❤

Arri Bagah will be the first to tell you that “Most chatbots aren’t that good.”

The most common problem: a failure to communicate like a human being.

When he’s scripting a bot conversation, Arri’s goal is for users to “talk with a brand just as if it was their friend.”

And friends don’t just type text back and forth. They use emojis, GIFs, photos and jokes. They use informal language. They’re funny.

The second most common problem: Not updating the AI.

Bots have artificial intelligence built in which allows you to teach bots to answer questions on the fly. That only works if someone is responsible for regularly updating the AI by first observing how people interact with the bot, recording common questions, and supplying the bot with the answers.

If Arri gets this right, he gets this response from users:

“Is this a person or a chatbot?”

That’s the response you want.

And the third most frequently-seen issue: A lot of people are ignoring the 24 +1 rule.

“I have seen lots of people lately who have gotten their chatbots banned by Facebook because they are not playing by the rules. People are using Messenger like it’s email, constantly sending promotional offers outside of the 24-hours window. Facebook is watching. And this year. more businesses will adopt chatbots than ever before which means they’ll be watching very closely to see who’s trying to take advantage of their users.”

So play by the rules.

5 Steps to a Better Bot 🤖💗

  • Script with personality, using humor, emojis and GIFs where appropriate. Think of your bot like you’re writing for a character, one that’s suited to your audience.
  • Keep a record of bot conversations so you can see what users expect from your bot, what they’re after, and whether or not the bot is able to deliver.
  • Train your bot to answer the most frequently-asked questions, or script the experience around what most people come for (like LEGO does).
  • Always keep your sales funnel stage in mind. What does your user need at the stage they’re in? Useful information that builds the relationship? More detailed information to make a purchase decision? A reminder to finish their purchase? Whatever it is, you can create an automated bot sequence for it.
  • Always, always make it fun.

💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Community, Women in Tech

Happy International Women’s Day 2018

Happy International Women’s Day, friends! ❤

This isn’t just a day for celebrating women – but heck yeah, break out the cupcakes! – for me, it’s about celebrating women who lift each other up.

So I wanted to write a special note that gives a shout-out to a women-led community I’m so proud to be part of: The Shine Crew.

The Shine Crew is made up entirely of female founders, consultants, and experts in their fields of CRO, SaaS, and more.

The eight of us came together to support each other, help each other, bounce ideas off of each other, and be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. And it has been a profound experience being part of a group of women who are brilliant, driven, and so incredibly generous.

A community doesn’t have to be big to have a powerful impact.

Community, Content Marketing, Startups

How 14,500 marketers are creating the future of content consumption ft. @ZestisApp

Yam Regev is CEO, CMO and Co-Founder of Zest.is, a platform that delivers extremely high-quality content about marketing to marketers. In this interview, he talks about building a company with tribes, launching by word-of-mouth, and the big idea behind Zest that could change content consumption as we know it.

Zest.is addresses a problem we’ve all felt when searching for useful, informative articles online that tell us what we need to know – only to find fluff, misinformation, clickbait, and fake news. Social Media filters, Google’s algorithms and machine learning are currently no match for people who have learned to game these systems and manipulate readers into clicking into useless articles.

The nuts and bolts of Zest are simple. It’s a new-tab Chrome extension where marketers can share and discover high-quality, genuinely informative articles about marketing. All of the content on Zest’s feed is suggested and manually moderated by its marketer community members. In fact, less than one percent of suggested content makes it to the feed – a point of pride for Yam Regev, Zest co-founder, CEO and CMO.

Why sift through content manually instead of just developing better algorithms and machine learning? The thought had crossed their minds – before they dismissed it as just not good enough.

“When we thought of doing it that way, we thought we’d be only creating another manipulatable type of platform, like Google. We needed to create a human-based model, a vote-based type of platform. But even an upvote system can be manipulated, and there’s no guarantee upvoted articles contain valuable content – it can be like a popularity contest. We went to a Seth Godin Ted Talk in 2009, and he talked about the Tribe-based model.”

Seth Godin’s Ted Talk sparked an idea for Yam Regev and his co-founder Idan Yalovich, who didn’t plan on just creating another content curation platform. They wanted to start a much larger movement.

Seth Godin’s Ted Talk sparked an idea for Yam Regev and his co-founder Idan Yalovich, who didn’t plan on just creating another content curation platform. They wanted to start a much larger movement.

Read More on Canva


Enjoy this article? Sign up for my Sunday Brunch newsletter.

My newsletter is strictly about building online communities, in places like Facebook groups and Slack channels (to name but two), around your SaaS product and brand. Communities help promote higher lifetime value, lower churn, happier customers, and – my favorite – customer success. But it’s not enough to just invite people to join. Creating a genuine sense of community is a little more complicated – and that’s what my newsletter is about.

Community, Content Marketing

Forget content – pro-blogging is all about networking ft. @mtnsidebride

Christie Osborne—bride blogger at Mountainside Bride and marketing consultant for wedding professionals at Mountainside Media—talks about how today’s bloggers are banding together to make a living.

Blogging has changed significantly over the past seven years. Algorithms and banner ads rose and fell. Blogs grew from personal journals into serious business, as bloggers and brands learned how to work together.

Christie Osborne has been blogging about weddings since 2010, first with Hindsight Bride, then transforming that into Mountainside Bride and her marketing consultancy, Mountainside Media. She’s also been on the other side of the blogging world as the media director for Visit Mammoth.


Image Source: Mountainside Bride

In blogging, as in much of the tech world, seven years is a lifetime. In wedding blogging, where most bride bloggers last for one or two years before finding they have nothing left to say, you can count Christie’s tenure in dog years.

To say she has a valuable perspective to offer on building a sustainable blogging business is an understatement. She’s got it on lock.

And the secret to successful, income-generating blogging isn’t at all what you’d think.

“Everyone thinks blogging is about the content. Great content just gives you parity. Publishing your content on social media just gives you parity.

“What’s the X factor that allows some people to grow really quickly? In my experience, as a small niche blog and a consultant who quit her job a year ago and got work immediately – it wasn’t my blog. My blog was there as a testament to what I could do, to build authority, to be there at the review phase, but I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business so quickly without people referring me.

‘Yes you need SEO, a great website, to blog regularly and be on social media. Yes you need to be a real person in your email marketing. But unless you have a posse in 2017, you don’t exist.”

Did I mention that Christie is blunt? She’s blunt.

But that’s why she gives such good advice.

Bride blogging has come a long way

Christie started Hindsight Bride (now Mountainside Bride) in 2010, after planning her own mountain wedding. She felt alone, without resources. And mountain weddings can be unexpectedly difficult. Vendors can be unreliable, and if you’re stuck halfway up a mountain without port-a-potties, you’re not just up a mountain, you’re up a creek.

“Back then there was neither information nor inspiration for mountain couples. So I dove in to help people like me to learn from my mistakes, and to find the resources and information that are so specific to mountain weddings.”

From the beginning, her bride blog was “all about The Pretty,” but supported by information.

“I run between 25 to 40 images per real wedding and often support my advice posts with 5 to 10 images.”


Source: Mountainside Bride

In the early days, she says growth was easy – and exponential.

“It was easy because there was no one else in that particular space. And you feel like that’s never going to end. But when you stick through the slumps and plateaus, you find that your audience (and it’s a little easier with weddings – our audience changes every 6 to 12 months) gets burnt out. And your message after two or three years doesn’t seem shiny, new or exciting. Not for you, not for anyone.”

Part of Christie’s success in growing her blog into not just one, but two businesses, is sheer staying power and professional drive.

“If you’re going to be a blogger for more than 2-3 years, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that you won’t always be that special internet snowflake and a huge part of your audience will churn. You have to understand that you’ll have to drum up new businesses, and you won’t feel like it, and it won’t be as easy as it was in the beginning.

“That’s when your huge plateaus happen.”

That’s a natural hurdle any blogger, in any industry, comes across sooner or later. But there were other obstacles that came clear out of nowhere that hit the bride blogging industry especially hard.

Read More on Canva

Content Marketing

Ross Simmond’s guide to getting content noticed (ft. @TheCoolestCool)

Digital marketing strategist and entrepreneur Ross Simmonds explains how to use content to rise above the competition, deliver tangible results, go viral (even if your industry is boring), and impact the world in a larger, positive way.

It’s safe to say Ross Simmonds does not sleep.

Ross runs three businesses, all of which are related to content. There’s Foundation Marketing, a consulting business for B2B brands that creates and implements content strategies. Then there’s Hustle & Grind, an e-commerce business selling T-shirts, art, coffee mugs and even coffee grinds, all targeted at a thriving community of more than 100,000 entrepreneurial followers on Instagram. And then there’s GetCrate.co, a content curation and social media management service Ross co-founded that delivers relevant articles primed and ready for social sharing.

And we’re not even counting RossSimmonds.com – Ross’s personal website and blog where he shares insights on marketing, entrepreneurship, and cold, hard hustling. He’s like a machine that turns caffeine into content, and content into profit.

He’s come a long way from a self professed “geek playing video games,” who went to university and paid more attention to his fantasy football blog than Shakespeare.

“In my English classes, I’d write about what was happening in sports—on my fantasy football blog. That got on the radar of some significant media outlets. All of a sudden, I was reaching thousands of people all over the world, giving advice on fantasy football when I was 19 and 20. I was writing content every day, paying for a chunk of my tuition that way, and it taught me how to sell products and ad space.”

But then his grades dropped, and Ross’s mom was having none of it.

“My mom made me shut down my blog.”

This turned into a silver lining, inspiring Ross to shift his focus to “marketing and blogging about marketing. And that took off and became my career.”

In this interview, Ross talks about the business side of content, how to use it to rise above the competition, deliver tangible results, go viral (even if your industry is boring), and impact the world in a larger, positive way.

You might need to refill your coffee mug before reading on…

Read More on Canva
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Conversion Rate Optimization, Language-Market Fit, Product Launches, Product Management, Products, Startups

Don’t launch your product without a strong value proposition.

In today’s competitive landscape, brands are continually on a quest for innovation. A lot of research goes into understanding the consumer mind, their wants, and demands. Using such knowledge, companies invest thousands of dollars every day to develop new products.

A Nielsen report shows that almost 3000 new products are launched every year in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) space. Out of these, only 15% are truly successful.

Even if you have created a great product, a lot of its success is dependent on the launch. A product launch is vital because it creates the first impression in your audience’s minds. Here are some of the best tips shared by experts to help you avoid a product launch failure.

Shane Barker asked 32 experts to share their best tips on how to avoid product launch failure…

Here’s my tip:

You don’t want to launch without a strong value proposition. I see this happen far too often when people submit products to me for review (to post on Product Hunt – because that’s how they’re going to launch), I go to their website, and their value proposition does not convey their product’s value. It’s generic, or vague, or not there at all. There’s nothing that tells potential customers, at a glance, why they should be interested in the product or how it helps them solve their pain points. I recommend that anyone looking to launch a product first get the Value Proposition Design book (strategyzer.com/vpd) and work through it. Although there are many ways to work on your value prop, this is my favorite.

Two really good value propositions are on Lyft right now. They have a two-way marketplace, one for drivers, one for riders, and both value propositions are on point. The driver’s value prop is “turn miles into money” and the riders value prop is “meet your 5-star ride.” The first is stronger than the second, in my opinion, but that “meet your 5-star ride” basically tells riders that they will, absolutely, have a great experience.

Read Other Expert Tips on Shane Barker’s Blog

Wish you had someone to tell you if you’re planning your product launch right? Someone who’s done this before – a lot – and knows what it takes to bring SaaS products successfully to market?

Well hello.

I’ve helped hundreds of companies with their product launches – and I am happy to help you, too!

Launch your product with Rocket Fuel! 🚀

Photo Friday

A Series: Treasure Island Winter Sunrise

Photos I took and edited of a beautiful winter sunrise in Treasure Island, Florida.




Follow me on Instagram for more of my work. I also have prints for sale.

Content Marketing, Customer Success, Language-Market Fit, Podcasts, Product Management, SaaS

Aligning Content and Product to Empower Your Teams and Customers [Podcast]

99% of the time, success isn’t found within your product – it’s outside in the real world.

Listen in to learn all about:

  • Why aligning content marketing and product management matters for the health and longevity of a SaaS business
  • The “product death cycle
  • What defines your ideal customer and where this definition stands compared to a marketing persona
  • The best ways to get feedback from your ideal customers and the technique of forming questions for them
  • The concept of the success gap by Lincoln Murphy and desired outcome, with examples from retail and SaaS
  • How content marketing plays a role in filling the success gap
  • The value of retaining versus acquiring new customers and why it’s okay to not know immediately who your ideal customer is
  • What it is you need to teach your customers that isn’t how to use your product
  • Why retained customers are valuable and how they lower the cost of acquiring new customers
  • How to find the language-market fit both if you’re just starting out and if you’ve been active for a while

Read More on Marijana Kay’s site
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗

Content Marketing, SaaS, Startups, Teams

5 Brands Share Their Content Marketing Process ft. @Buffer, @AdEspresso, @CoSchedule, @Mention, @Hotjar

It’s a hazard of the job for content marketers. When you read or see a piece of high-quality content, you wonder how it got created. You ask yourself, “What does this company do to create great content? Is it great for business too?”

The simple answer is high-quality content serves both audience and business. “It’s written in such an energetic and engaging way that it will trigger the audience to take actions,” says Massimo Chieruzzi, CEO of AdEspresso.

If great content is written in an engaging way it will trigger the audience to take action. Click To Tweet

Nathan Ellering, head of demand generation at CoSchedule, says high-quality content is synonymous with highest-performing content. At his firm, that content includes five distinct characteristics: great topic, well-researched, optimized for search engines, comprehensive plus actionable, and optimized to capture leads.

High-quality content is synonymous with highest-performing content. Click To Tweet

Quality content is “powerful enough to stop people in their tracks, make them think, and debate with themselves or others. It is user-centric, capable of solving a user’s most painful challenges,” according to Hotjar’s Louis Grenier and Fio Dossetto.

Quality content is capable of solving a user's most painful challenges. Click To Tweet

Content marketing strategists from these three brands plus two more willingly shared how they ideate, strategize, and produce that high-quality content, and evaluate its success. Read on to get some tips and insight that you can incorporate into your content marketing process.

Read More on Content Marketing Institute
💗 Check out Nichole’s Services for SaaS startups 💗