This case study is based on a recent Product Chat Webinar >> Watch It
In 2020, Watch Party launched as a response to quarantine lockdowns when people couldn’t safely meet with their friends and families. It allowed people to interact with each other while they were stuck at home.
During the Product Chat Webinar, Arnaud Berube, Senior PMM at Zillow, used Watch Party as a case study to explain his phased go-to-market approach reduces risk and maximizes resources. This article pulls the key takeaways from the conversation.
Timeline for Watch Party’s Go-to-Market Strategy
Three months after big lockdowns as a part of the Covid-19 response (June 2020), Berube’s former company prioritized Watch Party. By September, they launched Phase 1 and Phase 2. By December, the team did a big, broad Phase 3 & 4 that included a TV spot.
The go-to-market strategy for Watch Party plays out over 10 months, but this case study focuses on the first six months.
The Big Picture Approach
This framework is a modified big-picture approach and is how you ensure your marketing goals align with business objectives.
You do this by starting with outlining both business and marketing objectives. Then, you progress into strategy, which can be defined as segment, target and position (STP). Finally, you can move on to execution (or the 4 Ps).
Notice these aren’t the traditional 4 Ps. They are tailored to a tech company: pricing and offer, user journeys, promotion and communication, and website.
The Messy Reality
The messy reality is it’s never linear. It might feel like all you need to do is think about objectives, strategy, and execution in that order—if only it were that simple.
In reality, when you’re thinking about objectives, you’re already jumping to execution and thinking, “how much is this going to cost?” You’ll be wondering if it’s going to be worth it. When crafting your marketing objectives, you might already be segmenting and targeting. So, all these tasks intertwine.
Step 1: Watch Party: Business and Marketing Objectives
In this example, the objectives are tied closely together. But marketing objectives are specifically what product teams can drive in the marketing function.
Step 2: How to Use Research to Size, Position and Name Your Products/Features
It’s important to work closely with your consumer insights team, especially at the start of a new initiative. It helps to pull a report and create a visual summary.
It might look something like this:
This research provided a few important insights:
The top two charts showed that there was going to be interest in this co-viewing experience and that people would be doing it frequently.
The first question we needed to answer was what types of content would people be interested in watching? Then what’s the experience or how many people would need to be in a watch party?
Was it gonna be audio-only, text or video chat? Video chat won compared to other options. Finally, the last piece was the idea of a relationship. So co-viewing involves at least two people. What’s the relationship between the two people? The answer was it would be either friend-to-friend or parent-to-child.
These consumer insights allowed the company to prioritize Watch Party and start thinking about the positioning and how to build the go-to-market strategy.
Building Personas from Consumer Insight Research
Using the same consumer insights, the product team created some rudimentary personas like host-to-friend and host-to-child relationships. Then identified some of the persona goals.
Additionally, they spent time listening to what the customers thought about Watch Party. They said things like:
- “Nice to watch together when we don’t live close to each other.”
- “Our relationship is close; locations are distant. We could introduce them to a new content genre and have shared learning during the lockdown.”
- “To appreciate watching TV together even though we weren’t able to be physically together.”
Turning Verbatims into Positions
Through consumer insights, they heard the customers verbalize the need to stay connected at a distance through having shared experiences.
From that, they created the Top Reasons to Believe (RTB)—or the top things Watch Party was solving for the customer.
- The only brand that lets you stay connected with Live TV
- Everyone’s welcome
- Starting is easy
- Live video chat is available
Then, the positioning helps guide decisions for naming and tagline research.
One resource Arnaud recommends for a messaging framework is the book Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It. It does an excellent job of explaining how to connect insights to RTBs and how those can help you develop effective messaging.
Step 3: A Four-Phased GTM Approach to Prove Marketing Value and Reduce Risk
First, the product team separates the go-to-market into a marketing beta versus a marketing full release. Marketing beta was defined as a release to internal customers. So Phase 1 and Phase 2 are all about existing customers. How do you market to these folks? How do you prove that this is a product or feature people want and need?
Then, there’s the marketing full release during Phase 3 and Phase 4, where paid promotions to prospect audiences begin.
It’s just progressively getting bigger to target broader and broader prospects. In the beginning, you might use a smaller budget. We focused mostly on digital media. Then you target broader prospects; you’d start talking to audiences on less-targeted marketing channels.
The rollout date is important to keep in mind. It helps bring together the PMM and PM roles as they prepare.
Also, in Phase 1 and Phase 2, there are dates. In Phase 1 and Phase 2, you don’t know if the feature or product will be successful, so Phase 3 and Phase 4 don’t have dates. And that’s the point of the phased go-to-market approach.
It’s important to dissect how these phases will roll out across channels. The soft launch included public relations. Sometimes with the initial launch, there is a debate about whether or not to include public relations.
“We knew industry insiders would hear about this, and we wanted to grab that opportunity to spread the launch widely” — Arnaud
Phase 1 included email and video promotions to existing customers. It also included a landing page to direct existing customers to the new feature.
Phase 2 included digital remarketing and improving the approach to those initial launch channels.
Then, in Phase 3, there is a focus on engaging prospects on owned channels in addition to paid social and paid search.
Finally, in Phase 4, it’s time to move to the one-to-many marketing channels, which include TV and radio.
There is one more key piece: You need to create a marketing calendar that focuses on your campaigns. How are you going to communicate to your customers and what are you going to tell them?
For Watch Party, the messages were categorized into brand campaigns, content campaigns, and cultural moments (e.g. holidays, movies or something important happening at the time).
Results During Each Phase
Arnaud used the stop, start or continue framework to decide what strategies we’d invest in during later stages.
Here is the results he reported:
“In Phase 1 and Phase 2, we had our second largest PR event ever that brought in 652M unique impressions, so we continued that strategy. In three days, we also reached the number one spot on search engine results pages. We stopped our standalone Watch Party emails, they were performing below benchmarks. Finally, we started iterating on the email strategy and launched digital campaigns.
In Phase 3, we stopped tentpole paid campaigns because they had a 30% high subscriber acquisition costs. We continued the host-for-the-holidays campaign because it had a 34% lower subscriber acquisition cost. We also found some success with our email iterations. Our evergreen campaigns continued to look promising too. All of those decisions allowed us to move forward with a TV campaign.
TV is significantly more expensive than other channels. The benefit of this phased-marketing approach is you start to see success before you produce a big TV spot.
The purpose of this approach is you can create momentum or you can discover problems early before making too much of an investment.”
Keep Refining Your Go-To-Market Strategies
You can learn more about go-to-market approaches at Pragmatic Institute by enrolling in the Market course.
Market helps you gain a thorough understanding of your buyers and how they like to buy so you can build the product marketing strategies that deliver results. Learn how to align across go-to-market teams by effectively sharing and leveraging your buyer knowledge to prioritize the right product marketing strategies. Measure your strategies against the metrics that matter most to your organizations, focusing on outcomes and impact, not vanity.