I sometimes find that there is some confusion around the definition of product management versus product marketing. So, let’s clarify the difference before we dig into the details. Wikipedia defines it well: "Product marketing is the process of promoting and selling a product to an audience. Product marketing, as opposed to product management, deals with more outbound marketing or customer-facing tasks (in the older sense of the phrase)."
Pretty straightforward, isn't it?
An efficient product marketing process is a foundation for successful product launches, effective SEO, eCommerce, and much more. Without compelling high quality product stories—including descriptions, specifications, how-to videos, images, cross-sells , and so on—it is very hard to provide a great product experience. The product experience is such a vital part of the customer's buying journey that, without a great one, it is almost impossible to convince anyone to buy anything. Unfortunately, despite its importance, product marketing is often not considered as a strategic process.
There is a big difference in how you need to communicate to B2B Buyers versus B2C Shoppers. It is important that you know to whom you are marketing before you start communicating with them, so there is always a need for buyer personas regardless of industry. However, personas are not persons, and persons have different contexts and intents during the buying journey. Most customers will move across touchpoints and devices, creating a need for content to be developed and stored granularly to help the front-end solutions select the right pieces and adapt the product story—in real time.
There seem to be a misconception that micro-moments are only happening within B2C, but B2B buyers are mobile too, and thus are constantly connected. The B2B buying journey is now as fragmented and unpredictable as it is within B2C. According to Google, 89% of B2B buyers use the internet during the B2B research process. Think with Google has written an interesting piece about this. With B2B marketing, also comes the complexity of often having more than one decision-maker, each of whom can have a different persona and be in a different phase of the buying journey.
Digital marketing is extremely competitive. To win, companies need to have the resources, processes, and systems in place to create large volumes of high-quality content, manage knowledge about the customers, communicate effectively in real time, and have ways of analyzing and optimizing it all.
It is time to realize that without this in place, the other strategic processes and systems that are managing transaction and logistics, such as ERP, are going to have less and less to do in the future when sales are going down. That is why you need to make product marketing a strategic process. If it is not considered strategic to your organization already, it is time to make it so.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver
Online shopping is increasing as a percentage of overall retail transactions every year. Even higher-priced and bulky items, such as furniture, appliances, and other home goods, are taking place online. In fact, according to an eMarketer report published in October 2016, U.S. retail ecommerce sales of home furnishings grew more than 15% in 2015 to nearly $27 billion. Because shoppers are becoming more comfortable making these large purchases using smartphones and tablets, furniture manufacturers and retailers are realizing that they, too, must address the needs of the online and mobile shopper.
According to a newly published report from Forrester research, home furnishings is one of the retail categories that has a high level of web-influenced offline sales. The report states that, “The day when almost all products are 100% web-influenced is rapidly approaching.” What this means for furniture retailers is that they must focus more on the accuracy, completeness, and searchability of their online product information. When shopping for long-term décor for their homes, consumers need compelling product stories to assist them in their search.
Jordan’s Furniture Put Customer Experience First
For nearly 100 years, residents in New England have come to rely upon Jordan’s Furniture for the largest selection of brand-name furniture and mattresses. Peter Clark, Vice President of Information Systems, shared how Jordan’s Furniture has stayed on top, with the support of great product information software and efficient processes. “We were searching for a product information management (PIM) solution that would integrate with our current web solution. Perficient brought inRiver PIM to our attention.”
inRiver PIM allows the Jordan’s team to pull the basic product information from the host ERP system, enrich it, and prepare it to be channel-ready—significantly reducing the time it takes to load new product information onto the website. Jordan’s CIO lauded, “Perficient implemented significant changes to our website strategy and…I'm pleased with the value we realized.”
Additional results include improved site search, product indexing, and page load times, and a newly-designed robust online shopping experience. “When we compare the way we made changes in the past to how we do it today, we are more than 30% faster. An unexpected benefit has been providing our customers with really great information, telling them everything we know about our products. To this day, inRiver PIM provides great value and ROI.”
Wehkamp Improves Time-to-Market
Wehkamp, the biggest online department store in the Netherlands, is also seeing growth in its eCommerce sales of home furnishings and large appliances. When the Dutch retailer was looking for a system to meet their needs for next-generation product information management, they also selected inRiver. inRiver has allowed the company to become more agile and speed time to market. “We can do more with the same people in less time,” Wehkamp's Manager Marketing Technology Development, Gerhard van der Bijl told us. “inRiver is ahead of the market for PIM technology. In the future, we will combine insights from PIM with other insights for better customer experience.”
Let inRiver Bring Comfort to your eCommerce Platform
Together with our partners, inRiver has helped guide furniture companies, and other retailers around the world, as they strive to provide their buyers with an exceptional online customer experience. Deploying inRiver PIM helps these companies provide compelling product information and tell exciting product stories about how shoppers can find products to enhance the homes they love. Our partners work with us to connect inRiver to internal systems and external channels to get product information into consumers’ hands—at the moments when they need it—and to provide a seamless and enjoyable purchasing experience.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver