How Start-ups can Leverage Product Led Growth

How did companies like Slack, Dropbox, and Loom drive such explosive growth?

Spoiler alert… Product led growth.


What is product led growth?

Product led growth is a product development strategy where the design of the product itself drives user adoption.

Typically, product led growth is realized simply by allowing customers to try your product before they make a purchase. Rather than white papers and other sales materials, let your product do the selling for you.

An example of this is our work with the WWE Network. The WWE Network is a streaming service similar to Netflix. Prior to our design consultations, they had a pay wall that blocked users from engaging with the Network app.

We worked with them to take the pay wall down and let users engage with the content. They were able to explore the full category of WWE shows and programming to better understand the value of the WWE Network.

At a deeper, organizational level, product led growth is a mindset shift, viewing the product as an opportunity to engage users and provide value as early as possible before asking for anything in return.

Why is this taking off now?

With exponentially growing competition in the SaaS market, customer acquisition costs are skyrocketing. Implementing a product led growth strategy lets your users immediately experience your product’s value firsthand, ultimately providing the most value to new users.

User onboarding and product led growth

User onboarding can completely make or break your company’s growth efforts. It’s also a great place to start when implementing a product led growth strategy.

Product led growth puts an emphasis on letting users learn the product by themselves. Turns out, this is a great user onboarding design strategy (“just-in-time” education) and also helps users become familiar and into your product.

From the moment users reach your site or app they can try out your product and start getting value. At this point, transitioning them to paid users or customers becomes an easier and smoother endeavor. The user has already experienced your product. They know how to operate it and they have given thought to the value that it brings them.

Successful implementations

Product led growth strategies are rapidly being adopted by thousands of SaaS and subscription-based startups as countless companies are showing how successful of a growth framework it can be. Some of the world’s most successful companies all built their success on product led growth strategies: Slack, Dropbox, Loom, Zoom, Airtable, Github, Docusign, and Calendly. Let’s dive into how some of these companies did that.

Product Led Growth examples

Slack

With nothing more than your email, you can use Slack. This helps you become familiar with the product and see the value it provides in just a matter of minutes.

Docusign

First time users are driven to Docusign with a clear need to electronically sign a contract or other business material. Docusign realizes this and smartly implemented product led growth, providing their services for free, again only requiring an email and other very basic information. These first-time users now completed their task, fully experiencing the Docusign product.

Through this process they have also developed brand loyalty, are familiar with how to use the Docusign product, and are much more likely to use it for future document signings. Subsequently, these users are much more likely to pay for the service in the future.

Loom

Within mere minutes and without any payment, you can record your own loom video. Users now know how to use Loom, and have already started to receive a great amount of value out of the platform as a first time user.

All of these companies have successfully shown how implementing product led growth strategies in their user journies can result in explosive growth in both the user base and in revenue generation.

How to Implement a Product Led Growth Strategy

First, adopt the mindset. Think about your first-time users and how you can provide these potential customers with as much value from your product as soon as possible possible. Similar to a hook of an essay or a first date, this is your user’s first impression of your product, giving you a massive opportunity to distinctly show how your product can help them.

After this, focus on the next step: the onboarding journey. At this point, the user will have experienced your product and hopefully has had a positive initial experience and a clear understanding of your product. Prompt users to stick with your platform, upgrade their subscriptions, and introduce ways to provide additional value.

During this entire process, make sure to listen to users. Product feedback is of the utmost importance, especially when your product is being used as your primary driver for growth. Record metrics and figure out how users are interacting with your product. This will help you understand their motivations, intentions, and pain points, so that you can further improve your product.

Pairing virality and network effects with product led growth can also be very beneficial. Read about how we combined both of these for HEED, a internet-of-things start-up sports entertainment.

This can also be seen with Slack, where the natural user action is to share Slack with others in your organization. What good is a chatroom if you’re the only one in it?

Another example is Dropbox. Shared folders are inherently viral products and referral links for additional storage proved to be an extremely successful progression tactic paired with their product led growth strategies.

Have questions about product led growth?

We focus on improving customer and user experiences, and have extensive experience with organizations such as WWE, Chegg, and more.

Get a free consultation on your product led growth strategy today

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