Why “Less Is More” Is The Future Of Collecting User Data

Jon Falker, Marketing Director at GLIDR and a former Marketing Manager at Intel, shares his experiences on building marketing personas, evaluating product-market fit, and why “less is more” is the future of collecting user data.

Jon Falker GLIDR – Discovering Customers Series

Thank you for finding the time to speak to us, Jon! Let’s start off with a short introduction for our readers. What does your company do, and what is your role?

GLIDR is product management software that empowers product teams to make data-driven decisions on what to build, from roadmap through discovery, launch, and iteration.

I’m GLIDR’s Director of Marketing.

What does your day at GLIDR normally look like? And what are some of the biggest challenges in your role?

Most of my work day is focused on helping product teams improve their decision-making process. Usually, that takes the form of creating content that teaches how GLIDR can help.

I also spend a lot of time making sure that people who have decided to take our free trial get enough value out of the product right out of the gate.

As per your second question, like most of us, one of my biggest challenges is simply managing my time.

Who is GLIDR’s marketing persona?

We focus on psychographics over demographics.

GLIDR’s marketing persona is a product manager that is trying to align various product-related groups, like user research, customer success, sales, and the executive team, around product strategy. To do this, they have to constantly jump between many different apps and tools to pull the data they need.

Our persona hypothesis gets very viscerally validated whenever we walk someone through the software. We hear exclamations like “oh, I get it now!”

How did you initially come up with your marketing persona? Did it stand the test of time, or has it changed significantly over the years?

We started by focusing on the problem we wanted to solve – namely, that new products fail at a very high rate.

Back in 2012, the National Science Foundation’s iCorps program approached us and asked us to design a system for their technology commercialization boot camp. We built LaunchPad Central for that purpose and had success with it. We expanded the audience to corporate innovation teams.

Then, in 2016, we realized that digital product managers had the same problem, but with unique needs. We recognized that we could make a relatively simple pivot from LaunchPad Central to GLIDR in order to offer a tailored solution for digital product managers. We validated that audience hypothesis through actual sales conversions.

Once we saw that product managers were signing up for the free trial of GLIDR and then converting to paid customers, we knew we were on our way to product/market fit.

How do you currently make sure that your marketing persona aligns with your actual customers’ pain points, goals, etc.?

We stay close with our customers through in-depth, one-on-one interviews, quick in-app surveys, customer success surveys (like our product/market fit survey via Survicate and Intercom), and our ever-present chat function. We get lots of qualitative data that way.

We also use Pendo for product analytics, which gives us a lot of great quantitative product usage data to layer on top of our qualitative data.

Additionally, we attend a lot of great product management events and participate in active online PM forums.

During your time at GLIDR so far, were there any other online user research processes that had a significant impact on the company? If so, what were they?

Upon my arrival at GLIDR, we had pretty much established our user research processes already. However, the evolution I was able to guide was better sensing, listening, and responding via social.

We do a good job of responding in near real-time to folks that reach out via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Intercom, Twitter, or even Slack channels dedicated to product management.

All this enables us to follow the latest conversations, goals, concerns and pain points.

How about the way GLIDR approaches collecting personal data?

Privacy is important. Marketers are always balancing the need for better data with the need for user/lead privacy. Fortunately, there are ways to strike that balance.

For example, while our CRM stack contains personalized data, we ourselves try to collect only what we need.

You see, most of the data that marketers really need can be anonymized. And so, we track anonymous product usage and lead data whenever possible. A good example is our free trial qualification.

We have an opt-in free trial, which means that we only collect one data point: the user’s email address. We don’t collect any other personal data unless a user decides to become a paying customer. Only then do we ask for a name and credit card.

What about users who are open to providing optional information? Do you use any tools to collect such insights?

Our favorite apps in our marketing/sales/customer success stack are Intercom and, of course, Survicate.

With these tools, we give our clients and leads multiple opportunities to opt-in to providing us more information. For example, it really helps us to understand the work role of each GLIDR user.

So, we use Intercom to ask that question via a chat box at the right moment.

Does the cautious approach towards data collection affect lead qualification in any way?

We’ve built upon a self-serve qualification and sales model. It’s often called the “flywheel” model. So, we don’t bother with lead scoring, per se.

We simply nurture leads towards our free trial and let the product do the talking from that point on. We also have a separate nurture flow for people who have already taken the free trial but haven’t yet become paying customers.

Coming from a Marketer with experience at both startups and Fortune 100 companies – would you say that building an ideal customer profile varies greatly at companies at various stages of growth?

Yes. However, even more so, it varies depending on the industry.

The closest customer relationships (at scale) typically occur in B2C software and services. If you think of an example like Spotify, they have a short, direct 1:1 feedback loop with high average use.

If you compare that to a company like Intel, where I used to work, there are two degrees of separation between Intel and the end user. There was also no direct feedback loop. So, we conducted B2B2C marketing and created personas based on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party research data.

GLIDR is luckily closer to the Spotify end of that spectrum. We have a fairly short feedback loop, with fairly high average use, albeit with a corporate team customer. Our customer relationships look a lot like those of Slack.

And how difficult would you say can stepping into the shoes of corporate clients be for teams with no prior corporate experience, say, startups and companies <50 employees?

It’s often difficult for startups to understand the procurement process at large companies.

So, here’s my advice:

The best go-to-market strategy for startups to utilize for a Fortune 500 target audience is often a land-and-expand technique, like Slack or GLIDR, wherein it’s relatively frictionless for a team to begin to use the product without going through the formal procurement process.

Then, once enough employees are using the product, it becomes much easier to go through the formal procurement process.

Now, for our final question…if you could share one piece of advice with fellow marketers, what would it be?

One of the best marketing heuristics is the following order of media operations:

  • Owned media
  • Earned media
  • Paid media

If you only graduate to the next level after you’re satisfied with the current level, you’ll increase your odds of success. This is of tremendous importance – especially, for product-led growth companies.

Anna and Kasia

The invincible content team at Survicate.

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