Blog, SaaS

‘The Product’ in Product Led Growth (PLG)

I call it the “Cyber of 2015”, the “Machine Learning of 2020”… well you get the idea — Everyone’s talking about Product Led Growth as the hottest topic around. It seems pretty clear that this is a very strong movement in the SaaS world and we’re only beginning to see the light. In general, for those who didn’t catch my drift, we’re talking about a business movement primarily driven by user adoption of a product rather than being driven by the force of sales or marketing. Usually, the typical examples of the best performers of PLG are companies like Slack, Dropbox and Calendly.

Money and Customers? Let the VP Marketing/Sales handle it…

The usual consensus behind generating growth, pipeline, and customers is that Marketing drives leads, Sales run the show, and all is well in the world. Although there are a lot of concepts here that are being pushed by Marketing Departments which might strongly affect the structure and workflows of the Sales organization, people are often missing a very important part of the story: The “Product” in Product Led Growth is a vital player in this game. 

Here are a few examples that will clearly illustrate why the discussion around the main concepts of PLG should not stop at the Marketing/Sales level:

Example #1: Try before you buy

One of the main aspects of PLG in the SaaS world is the need for users to try out and test products before they pay for them. This is a simple concept to grasp and the implications it has on the economic foundations of the business are massive. Customer testing of products before committing to purchase them must put the customer at center stage. Marketing tactics, sales pipeline and processes, product roadmap – all change when choosing the PLG path, thereby shifting a companys’ strategy and plans. 

That being said, how can we talk about giving customers a product trial period without discussing important product experience aspects such as:

  • Easy sign-up to new accounts
  • Ability to lock/unlock certain features dynamically
  • Ability to monitor my features usage and get notified when reaching the limit 
  • Ability to shut my account dynamically if I don’t like the product

If you read the list of experiences above and felt like you could relate, then keep reading.  Remember that when considering a ‘Free trial’, or a ‘Freemium’ model, these elements make it even more crucial at a very early stage, setting the grounds for upgrading your users into paying customers. 

Example #2: Self-service

Another important focus of the PLG is the ability for the user to have an AMAZING self-service experience within the product without the need for a dedicated customer-success, technical support or an onboarding specialist to help make it happen. Users want little-to-zero dependence on you in order to have a  successful experience using your product. This concept affects important SaaS metrics such as CAC, the structure of the sales and customer success teams and a lot more.

But then again, there are important product concepts around this topic, that include:

  • Seamless onboarding and walkthrough flows that make sure I have the best experience once I’m signed up
  • Great documentation inside and outside the product to provide both a toolkit and best practices to fully utilize your product. 
  • A full profile management portal 
  • A full account management portal to allow the admin of the account to control every company level setting

While these may sound that’s overdoing it, not being able to add team members or change basic settings in your product, could really hurt your chances of winning an account. In order to give users a true feeling of independence, the above capabilities (and many others) have to be provided as part of the product self-service experience.

These two examples above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to assessing the implications of every core aspect of PLG on the product itself.

Always start with the why how…

Product Led Growth

If you understand the concept behind Product Led Growth and you think that this is the right path for your company, especially on the business side,  you’ll need to shift your way of thinking about the product that you’re building.

You need to understand that embracing the PLG concept within your organization affects the basic foundations of the way you plan, design, build and monitor your product.

The “non-core” becomes the “core”

When building capabilities within your app, it’s common to think that that “non-core” capabilities are less important than “core” product capabilities. But when wanting to build a strong PLG motion within your product, you have to acknowledge that some “non-core” capabilities have to be promoted to first-class. This is especially true for features that strongly affect the way your product is consumed and the user journey within. So the time and thought invested in onboarding features, alerts, self-service signup, setting up roles and permissions and user management need to be thorough.

Take a product like ClickUp (used by Frontegg from early days) which provides an amazing experience for personal and organizational account setting. Their product provides users with the ability to easily invite team members and control billing and security aspects, all of which were vital for our experience with them from day one and up to the point of growth and vast usage.

Clickup saas platform

ClickUp: An amazing account management experience.

The metrics are supercritical

Providing a great experience and tons of capabilities is not enough anymore. You have to be able to monitor and analyze every little movement of the user within your app. Which features are being used, which are misunderstood, what is causing frustration and what is eliciting joy in your users? This is the only way to make sure you’re doing everything to provide an amazing experience for your end-user and it will play a major part in converting them into paying customers later.

The UX is critical

Checking off your yearly product roadmap feature plan is no longer good enough. Every feature has to be designed with great thought and creativity to make sure that the end-user experience is vividly clear and no less than amazing. Make sure you create a toolbox of design patterns that repeat themselves across the app, to ensure that your users get a sense of what it means to “use your product”. No surprises, keep it consistent and clear.

Product Led Growth is critical, hence your Product as well

When embracing the Product Led Growth approach, make sure that the product is capable of leading growth. You need to invest thought and acknowledge the fact that the product will be highly affected by the move. From hiring the right people, to planning and prioritizing the backlog, from the design and specifications of each feature to the building and the measures and monitoring. Every aspect is vital to making sure that users will fall in love with your product and spread the word among their colleagues, thereby increasing usage and leading to them eventually asking their boss for the company credit card.

Frontegg as a Product Led Growth Enabler

Besides believing strongly in the concept and putting a lot of effort into embracing this for our product, the Frontegg platform is perceived by many as an enabler of the “product aspects” we covered in this blog post. We meet companies that strive to enable powerful self-service experiences within their products, and our platform helps them do so easily in more ways than one.