4 Lessons for Mobile Product Managers

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Posted: January 22, 2018

As mobile engagement continues to increase, companies across all industries have shifted product strategy to push their mobile experience toward the top. Product managers have become the mobile-first strategists at their companies, and are leading the charge in building the future of customer experience for their businesses.

To explore what’s changed and what’s next for product managers, here are four lessons for product managers to start 2018 off strong.

Lesson #1: Product managers’ strategic value is rising in organizations

Now more than ever, PMs at every level bring value to the product and beyond. Their deep understanding of the customer base help drive decisions across the organization. We wanted to understand trends in how the rising-importance of PMs impacts task and goal changes.

While the fundamentals of product management (including roadmap creation, requirements definition, performance measurement, and customer obsession) remain the same, the daily tasks of today’s product managers have become much more cross-functional across teams. This means that today’s product managers are no longer simply tasked with managing project boards, prioritizing bugs, and speaking with customers; they’re now looked at as experts who can help other internal teams make decisions and stay at the top of their fields.

Lesson #2: Customer love is a requirement, not an option

The future of product management requires that every company adapts to the changing times and finds new ways to truly earn customer loyalty. In this journey, customer love is the real requirement: If your customers don’t love you, you need to truly invest in the actions and product that will get them there.

Because customer love is an ongoing act rather than a static place, every company can work to get there. In short, tracking customer love helps you understand three major metrics that can (and should!) affect your current and upcoming product roadmap:

  • Overall customer satisfaction: How happy are your customers with the quality of your product?
  • Loyalty: Will customers recommend you to a friend and continue using your product, even when competitors come calling?
  • Engagement intent: How likely are customers to engage again in a day/week/month?

Lesson #3: Always be learning  

Just like your app needs tools to take it to the next level, there are a plethora of resources mobile product managers can rely on to step up their game. If we apply the sales mantra of “always be closing” to product management, success comes from adopting the mindset of “always be learning.”

Reading, attending conferences, and connecting with others in the product management field are all great ways to flex your knowledge and stay up-to-date on what’s new. Here are a few resources our interviewees recommend:

  • Mind the Product: Mind the product boasts an impressive blog and puts on conferences for product managers. Presenters are brought in from around the world, giving attendees a chance to hear about new solutions and strategies that don’t exist in their corner of the world yet. There’s no shortage of relevant, engaging, and useful information presented and written about each year.
  • Women In Product: The Women in Product group sends a regular newsletter with a list of product reads that they’ve curated, and you can start discussions with the community on the Facebook group.
  • Product Hunt: Product Hunt is the place to discover new tools, resources, lifehacks, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Searching for a solution to a product problem? Chances are you can find it on Product Hunt. Keep your eye out for the up-and-coming on Product Hunt to always be on top of your game.
  • First Round Review: A blog and active newsletter, First Round Review covers tactical product advice regularly. With the goal of being “the Harvard Business Review for startups,” it’s easy to see how First Round Review relates to helping product managers learn new strategies.
  • Slack. There are tons of active, product management-focused Slack channels where you can connect with other PMs focused on similar goals. Search around for channels that may interest you and connect to keep up-to-date on news, tools, and content that’s shaping the PM community.
  • ProductTank Meetup Series: A brand of Mind the Product, the ProductTank Meetup series is hosted frequently in 75 cities around the world. Free, and welcome to product managers, designers, and developers, it’s a gathering where professionals are encouraged to share their experience and knowledge to help each other learn and grow.

Lesson #4: The road to product management is not always a straight line.

The Apptentive community is full of people trying to break into the product management field. As a result, a popular topic of discussion is how to get a foot in the door in product management, and once you do, how to land your first job.

We’ve written at length about boosting technical skills and utilizing existing resources to grow product management skills, but there’s nothing like hearing an expert’s personal account of their path to success to tell the full story. When asking our community, “How did you get into product management?” we learned that even for (or, perhaps especially for) the best of the best, the road to product management success is not always a straight line. Because product management—especially when focused on mobile—is still a relatively new field, many successful PMs grow into their roles over time rather than having product management as a clear focus early in their career.

Now it’s your turn

Product management has moved front and center in many business strategies, and will continue to expand its reach in the years to come. We hope these insights get you thinking about what’s next for you and your company’s product roadmap.