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Product messaging masterclass: a 5-step framework and template for customer-obsessed teams
Being able to articulate what your product does and why people should use it is absolutely crucial for marketing, sales, and growth. But crafting product messaging that convinces people your product is the best fit for their needs requires deep knowledge of your ideal customers—their requirements, preferences, pain points, and journeys.
Last updated11 Jan 2024
Reading time7 min
To do this, you need to be customer obsessed—and we know a little something about being customer obsessed. Just ask Nick Cullen, the product messaging expert leading Hotjar’s product marketing team.
Keep reading for tried-and-tested tips from Nick and the Hotjar team, examples of product messaging in action, a free messaging map template to get you started, and our five-step framework to create compelling product messaging.
Understand the benefits of customer-centric product messaging: effective product messaging—the process of identifying and communicating the value of your product to potential and existing customers—helps you connect with your target audience, grow your revenue, and increase customer retention
Find out what you need to create a product messaging framework: ask the right questions to map out key messages like what your product does, who it’s for, and how it helps your target audience
Use our free template to create your own user-centric product messaging framework
How a customer-centric product messaging framework impacts business goals
“Product messaging is the translation of what your product does into an offer that the market resonates with,” says Nick Cullen, Product Marketing Lead at Hotjar. “The business goal is ultimately to help someone achieve their jobs to be done, and your messaging should help that person understand why you’re the solution they need.”
The most effective messaging is informed by customer insight and involves
Understanding and empathizing with their problems
Having a thorough overview of existing solutions
Being attuned to the exact language they use throughout their journey
If you’re creating messaging without customer obsession, you likely don’t fully understand your customers and are working off assumptions.
What you need to know for successful product messaging
Before we get stuck in, it’s important to note that while your product messaging framework contains all the core information teams need, it exists behind the scenes—think of it as a blueprint. What the customer or end-user sees is the result of product messaging, not the product messaging itself.
So: what does this result look like in action? Read on for key questions you need to ask when conducting research to inform your framework, illustrated by a few product messaging examples from Hotjar as they appear in the wild. 🕵️
What does the product do? What is the one-sentence description of your product in a nutshell? For example, ours is this: “Hotjar provides product experience insights.”
Who is the product for? What kind of teams, at what size companies?
Who are the key buyer personas? These are the decision-makers you need to appeal to most. What are their pain points? How does your product help with these?
The Solutions tab of the Hotjar navigation menu outlines the target user personas (teams, job roles) and company size, as well as how the product suite addresses their specific pain points
What jobs to be done (JTBD) does your product help with? What are the key problems your buyers are looking to solve?
The ‘Hotjar helps you’ section of the Solutions tab maps directly to key buyer personas’ jobs to be done and links to additional content for each one
What is unique about the product? What are your differentiators? Why should prospects choose you over a competitor?
👋 Need a hand? Use our free product messaging map template
Once you have the information you need, it’s time to consolidate your learnings into a product messaging framework—or product messaging map—that outlines the key points.
Plug, play, and present your insights with our handy messaging map template, and fill it in as you gather answers to the questions above.
How to create (or hone) your product messaging in 5 easy steps
Now that you know the fundamental questions you’re trying to answer, it’s time to dig deeper. This involves hearing your customers’ experiences in their own words, and seeing their journey through their eyes, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Whether you’re creating messaging for a brand-new product or giving your existing messaging an overhaul, here’s our advice for keeping customers at the heart of everything (which happens to be a Hotjar core value 😉).
1. Run user interviews to get feedback on product messaging
Nick says customer research can be as simple as letting people read the messaging or copy and asking for feedback. To test Hotjar’s messaging, for example, our product marketing team runs customer interviews via Hotjar Engage.
Another common approach is using these interview sessions to run a type of concept test. For these, you might create a number of landing pages based around the new messaging being tested, then use these pages for a flash test where the copy appears for a set amount of time (usually 15 seconds). After this, ask participants questions about the different versions to understand which parts of the messaging resonate with readers and identify any areas of confusion.
To complement this qualitative research, we also recommend using Feedback and Surveys to gather quantitative data. Asking questions with quant responses—like rankings, rating scales, or radio buttons—makes it easy to test landing pages or portions of messaging with customers. This is especially helpful when you want to scale your research and collect larger volumes of data, which would be time-consuming using one-to-one interviews alone.
2. A/B test your messaging to see what works
“We run a lot of experiments at Hotjar,” Nick says. “Once we have a solid draft and strong internal sentiment around our messaging, we’ll begin doing copy experiments on the website and in our communications.”
It’s always a good idea to watch recordings of user behavior on each version to see how people engaged with different variants, or use surveys to ask targeted questions (like “How easy is it to understand what this product does?”) for deeper insights.
3. Evaluate your current messaging to find areas to improve
For Nick and his team, continuously reviewing the effectiveness of Hotjar’s current messaging helps shape what new messaging might need to address. “There may be clear gaps in how it’s used or perceived, which can be addressed in the next version.”
At Hotjar, we stay on top of this type of user sentiment by sending survey and feedback responses from key audience segments straight to a shared workspace in Slack. This enables us to bring valuable user feedback right into our teams’ daily workflows, making it even easier to identify any shifts or customer frustrations in real time.
Always-on customer feedback gives us a constant stream of insights into users’ wants, needs, and jobs to be done
4. Measure the success of your product messaging using KPIs
As you roll out your new product messaging, keep an eye on critical key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure its success.
The specific KPIs you use will depend on your overall goals, but here’s how Nick recommends getting started:
For new messaging, such as messaging for a new product, an updated ideal customer profile (ICP), or a new market, use the KPIs associated with this initiative. These may include conversion rate, retention rate, adoption, or brand awareness.
For goals around positioning and brand sentiment, set up a brand tracker and Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) surveys. The former helps you understand where and how your brand is perceived in the market, while the latter tells you how your customers feel. (Psst…use our free NPS survey template to set up an NPS survey in moments.)
For internal enablement, create a feedback loop with customer-facing teams like Sales, Support, and Customer Education. Listen in on calls to understand how these teams use the new messaging and whether they run into any issues, and look at their relevant business KPIs (like win rate, support tickets closed, or learning modules completed) to ensure they’re having success.
Overall, track the success of your product messaging project against the main KPIs for the business to ensure you’re supporting these goals. You might also consider engagement and conversion metrics from key channels, like your website, emails, and in-app messages.
5. Optimize your product messaging as needed
As markets, customer needs, and the competitive landscape change, your product messaging will likely need to evolve, too. But how often do you need to refine your product messaging?
This depends on the stage of your company. “If you’re an incumbent in a well-known industry, annually is probably fine,” says Nick. “Barring a major new product launch or acquisition, the messaging is unlikely to drastically change in a given quarter.”
But in an earlier stage or higher-growth company, you should always have your messaging on your mind. With a higher volume of product updates, new releases, changes in your go-to-market strategy, and changes in your audience, your product messaging will fundamentally change your product positioning.
The reverse is also true: if there’s a change in positioning, you’ll need to update your messaging.
Even if it’s just small tweaks along the way, or testing it with new audiences to check it still resonates, you’ll want to have your messaging front of mind so that the story everyone in the company is telling is the same one.
Use customer insights to inform your product messaging and connect with the right audience
All the work you do to market and sell your product won’t drive real results if your product messaging is out of line with what your target audience actually wants. Use the above tips to build your product messaging on a foundation of rich customer insights, and you’ll resonate with your ideal users and connect with more right-fit customers from the get-go.