You’re probably familiar with what a traditional product manager does. They’re the champion behind a single product, designing a customer-centric road map for its development. But what about a growth product manager? This role is on the rise in product-focused industries and businesses that also emphasize growth.
For these organizations, it’s the product that drives expansion. And without a great growth product manager at the helm, that buildout won’t happen. Compared to their conventional counterparts, growth product managers oversee multiple products and concentrate on short and long-term customer metrics. These metrics span the entire sales funnel, from acquisition to referral and revenue.
While effective growth and traditional product managers share some of the same skills, there are also clear differences. Those of the growth variety need to develop unique abilities and mindsets that are more dynamic and experimental. So, what does it take to become great at the job? This article breaks down the competencies you need to excel as a growth PM.
1. Know Your Customer’s Journey and Metrics
A growth product manager can’t make improvements if they don’t know what already exists. Product road maps, business goals and KPIs, and customers’ buying journeys come into play here. Growth PMs should know the ins and outs of what customers experience as they move through the company’s sales funnel.
For instance, what avenues do leads have to request more information and move closer to a purchase? These could include online forms or chatbots that connect people with local sales reps. Maybe there’s a landing page or blog post with relevant information and a series of calls to action. Or people sign up for more details about the product and receive a series of emails.
Successful growth product managers have to know the steps their customers take and whether there are differences between platforms. Someone using a mobile app might have a completely different experience from a person with a laptop.
Growth PMs need to know the conversion and drop-off rates for every step. In fact, according to Shortcut, understanding metrics for conversion is key for growth PMs so they truly understand what is successful growth. They also need to know what variances in those rates exist between platforms.
2. Be Willing to Experiment and Push Limits
Growth product managers have to be willing to move beyond the status quo. Once they know a product’s details and the steps in a sales funnel, growth PMs need to dig deeper. Is there something about a landing page’s copy and design that’s preventing conversions? Maybe there’s a bigger problem, such as undesirable or lackluster product features.
But product managers can’t reach these conclusions without the data from experiments that back them up. Growth PMs should know how to run A/B tests and come up with ideas for minor tweaks and major shifts. They also need to analyze the numbers.
Using tools such as Google Analytics can help uncover insights into how customers engage with a company’s online content. High bounce rates, for example, might mean a landing page’s copy isn’t helpful or what customers are looking for. Growth product managers have to be willing to advocate for alternatives to that landing page’s information.
An effective PM will help design a second version of the page with information that aligns better with market data. They might use feedback from customer surveys to supplement or springboard ideas. A growth PM won’t hold back from launching a second landing page version alongside the original. Then they’ll wait for the results to speak for themselves.
3. Understand the Market
Customers might be fickle, but their behaviors are also largely predictable. Good growth product managers develop a deep understanding of what motivates consumer purchases throughout the sales funnel. Knowledge of psychology, consumer behavior, and marketing tactics are crucial for any growth product manager’s success.
You have to know why your target audience sees your product as the best choice. Companies like Southwest Airlines aren’t simply selling a way to get from point A to point B. Instead, the airline is selling a unique, cost-effective experience that emphasizes efficiency, fun, and engaging customer service. Growth product managers should identify a product’s unique selling proposition and why that keeps driving repeat sales and referrals.
Thorough growth PMs also discover what product features drive customers away and prevent them from getting the most value. Maybe airline customers think baggage fees are burdensome, reducing the perceived value a cheaper ticket price provides. Travelers might also worry about unfavorable seating arrangements and a lack of in-flight comfort. Growth PMs can use this information to support the elimination of checked baggage fees and spur seating design changes.
4. Practice a Collaborative Communication Style
Growth product managers might be the driving force behind conversion rate increases and product expansions or changes. Yet they don’t accomplish these milestones alone. Growth PMs rely on the talents of other individuals in the organization. These colleagues come from various functions and roles with different perspectives and objectives.
It’s the growth product manager’s job to get everyone on the same page and moving in a similar direction. They have to gain buy-in and understanding from those responsible for executing their vision. That requires empathy and a collaborative communication style.
Growth product managers have to convince others that their plan is the best move. They also need to inform colleagues why what they’re about to do matters and how they’ll receive support.
Growth product managers might be leaders within the company. However, they often aren’t the direct supervisor in charge of the people they depend on.
Growth PMs usually walk a fine line between providing marching orders and working with others’ inputs to design those orders. An effective growth product manager should know when to compromise, persuade, and work on building trust and relationships.
Growing to Greatness
Becoming a great growth product manager takes persistence, a deep market understanding, and solid interpersonal skills. The ability to balance individual and collective perspectives and goals is also central to a growth PM’s role.
Some of your responsibilities might complement a conventional product manager’s assignments. However, the most effective growth product managers don’t carry out their roles as a set of tasks.
Rather, they focus on finding the best ways to transform a company’s offerings to meet immediate and long-term performance objectives. Along the way, growth product managers convince their teams to remain flexible and innovative in their approach. Great growth PMs turn into an advocate for the customer, company, and product.