We recently shipped Touchpoints, a new feature in Yesware. It allows sales reps to create standardized plans for reaching out to their customers and prospects (e.g. an email followed by a phone call, then a LinkedIn connect, followed by one more call and email). The functionality is extremely powerful, and our customers have been asking for it, so it feels great to have this feature out in the wild.
As a product manager, naming is a critical part of your job. You can’t outsource it to marketing, design, or anyone else. Because, if you can’t name it, you can’t build it.
In software, names matter for different reasons:
- Marketing – What you name a product or feature will impact your ability to optimize SEO and SEM.
- User comprehension – At a glance, can your users understand what this feature or product will do for them?
- Internal understanding – As a team, can you, your engineers, and designers understand what all the parts and pieces of this feature?
Marketing may seem like the natural place to start when naming a product or feature. Names can influence branding, go-to-market materials, and search engine optimization. But these should all be the result of a well chosen name, not the driver. Like great content marketing, optimization is a tiny piece– building content that people care about is the critical part.
So let’s focus on the last two: user comprehension and internal understanding. These go hand in hand. As you refine a name by working with your users, you increase your own (and your team’s) understanding of exactly what you’re building.
For Touchpoints, we interviewed sales reps and listened to them speak. They talk about “drip campaigns” to “reach out” to their prospects. These “sequences” are made up of a number of “touches” or “stages”. When they work, they “connect” with their prospect and “set an appointment” or “book a meeting”.
Initially we picked up on the word “campaign” but were concerned about the confusion that might cause for our customers that use Salesforce campaigns, so we opted to rif on “touches” and came up with a feature called “Touchpoints” that allowed reps to create “Touchplans”. When we went back to our users though, they continued to talk about “campaigns”, and even though we showed them mockups with the word “Touchplan” everywhere, they still called them “campaigns”. So we switched. Our new feature is still called “Touchpoints”, but you use that feature to setup “Campaigns” composed of multiple “touches” (Salesforce be damned).
Armed with this understanding, we could come together internally around a set of terminology that kept us all clear. We were building a new feature called Touchpoints. With this feature, sales reps can create Campaigns. Each Campaign is made up of mulltiple Touches, and when the time is right, you add Prospects to a Campaign, with the goal of Connecting with them.
As we dug down, there were many more terms we needed to get right (Sharing, Duplicating, Starring), but in the best cases, they followed the same pattern: talk with users and tease out the words that they use naturally.
It’s hard to get naming right 100% of the time, and we’re far from perfect. But now, more than ever, users don’t read the manual, and development teams don’t work off of product spec docs. So, clear, thoughtful, up-front naming becomes more important than ever. If you don’t know what to call it, your dev team won’t know what to build, and your customers won’t know what it does.