How to Grow Using Product-led Growth in SaaS

Product Led Growth (PLG) is a business development strategy that leverages product usage to drive customer acquisitions, conversions, and market expansion.

Successfully implementing a PLG framework requires you to not only recognize that your product is the best source of scalable and sustainable business growth for your company but creating company-wide alignment across all of your teams around the product, from engineering and development to sales and marketing.

If your users can gain value by interacting with your product, they will automatically weave it into their everyday routines.

A key component to getting PLG right, however, is getting onboarding right. Doing so will help you deliver stellar product experiences, and this should be an actual end-goal for every department, regardless of the work they do.

Useful user onboarding software such as UserGuiding can help you disseminate the onboarding team’s DNA across all the departments of the company. This is important because product management teams that oversee onboarding, delivery, and the establishment of feedback loops with all customer-facing teams are in the best position to determine the direction your product should take, which will, in turn, determine the trajectory of your PLG initiative.

Other aspects of user onboarding and customer journeys also come into play here. Education is what closes the gap between successful product adoption and customer churn.

Onboarding must seamlessly educate users and should feel like an extension of the product itself. Also, when it comes to iteratively improve your product, approaches such as user mapping, customer feedback, and experimentation will only work if your teams are trained to use such insights and implement them the right way to increase the value or reduce/remove bottlenecks and customer pain-points as part of your approach to product design.

But how do you implement such a strategy, even if you have a clear idea about how users should be onboarded?

Here are a few things you should keep in mind when embracing a PLG approach – or refining the way you already approach PLG.

Minimize Friction and Sources of Resistance

People are understandably busy – not to mention lazy if we are going to be completely fair – and they do not always have time to try every feature or read the documentation before using a product.

Make your key selling points, benefits, and how to use your product as easy and obvious to your customers as possible.

This is where minimizing or even eliminating friction matters. Friction hinders usage and limits adoption. Signs that you may not have minimized friction include:

-Having a complex sign-up or sign-in process

-Inefficient user onboarding or user activation training that is needed to help users get up-to-speed as quickly as possible

– Asking for too much upfront, too soon

-Confounding usage with unnecessary steps, or littering the product itself with unnecessary features

Depending on the kind of product you have, you can use analytics and customer usage patterns to identify how and where friction creeps in and then address issues and prioritize features based on criticality or ease of implementation.

how to grow your saas business with product-led growth onboarding

As UserGuiding, we aim to be a platform where our customers can onboard their users better so they can grow their businesses with a Product-Led Growth approach. Click here to grow your business with the right PLG platform!

Demonstrate Value as Early as Possible

Not demonstrating value very early on will contribute to friction, but another reason to quickly show what your product can do for your customers is because positive initial experiences are crucial to converting new customers as well as generating the word-of-mouth that will get them to promote your product to others.

If you can make a product easy to use and can make its appeal instantly obvious, you will self-generate users and your product is more likely to succeed.

Align Sales and Marketing with Product Usage

Using PLG allows you to drive growth without spending great sums of cash and instead use available resources for improving the customer’s experience with your product.

But how will people use your application if they don’t know about it? You must learn what customers need and deliver it to them where they are.

But how do you do that?

Sales and marketing used to operate independently from product and customer teams, and there has traditionally been quite a lot of disconnect between the messaging of sales and marketing teams and what dev and design teams had in mind when creating or designing your product.

This can happen if your sales, marketing, and product teams are not aligned.

The good news, however, is that thanks to today’s analytics, these teams can leverage product usage data collected from the field and from your onboarding process to improve product offerings, public messaging, and the timing of deals and various sales conversations with clients or potential clients.

Go Free

PLG allows you to bypass demos, sales meetings, and marketing campaigns and get directly to ‘selling’ your product by getting it in the hands of users.

Customers generally don’t want such long, drawn-out theatrics, so it is a waste of your time as well. An alternative is to think about human nature – we all love to get things for free, and this applies universally, to clothes, music, physical products, and software, too.

If you can offer a freemium version of your product with sufficient functionality to prove that it works and you make it fast and easy to sign up, that is a winning combination when it comes to getting people to willfully try it out.

Eventually, you will want freemium users to upgrade to a paid plan, so be sure to allow them to compare both plans side by side before deciding. They won’t upgrade for a cost if they don’t need to, and they won’t if they see no reason to.

Show them how they will benefit by upgrading, but only after showcasing how good your product is in the free version and what they will miss out on if they continue to opt for the free versus the paid version.

how to grow your saas business with product-led growth freemium

Word-of-Mouth and Social Proof

Now more than ever, customers rely on reviews and testimonials – and sometimes case studies, for the discerning user – to help make purchase decisions.

Providing such users with simple proof that other customers used your software and it worked will help drive usage and growth. Add testimonials and relevant statistics to reassure your customers that they are getting something great and let the product take care of the rest once they sign up.

Getting it Right

A product-led strategy puts the product in the center.

Marketing models use online behavior KPIs to drive growth, but PLG uses in-product user behavior, client feedback, and usage analytics to improve the customer journey.

It also helps you identify other issues more quickly, such as usage inconsistencies and the importance of making your product available across a range of channels and devices based on who and where your users are.

Nowhere is all of the above seen in action more than it is in the onboarding process. Customer onboarding used to be defined as the steps that lead to the initial value for the customer, but it has evolved to include how you capitalize on product data, how new feature releases are managed, and how customers and clients are engaged with – not just when they initially sign up but well beyond the customer activation stage.

In summary, PLG can help you lower costs, get to market more quickly, and more effectively produce the product that customers want.

A critical component of getting it all right starts with the right user onboarding process because it will be the source of your customer insights, the place where you can experiment with better and more innovative ways of doing things, and the place where you can see what works and what doesn’t from a real-life, real-user perspective.


Frequently Asked Questions


🚀 What is Product-led Growth?

Product-led Growth refers to designing your entire business strategy around your product.


❓How is PLG Different from Sales-Led and/or Marketing-Led Growth?

Instead of relying on expensive marketing and sales teams for growth, product-led growth focuses on the product to offer better user experience and utilizes Product Qualified Leads for growth.


📈 How can my business become Product-led?

In order to become a product-led company, you must constantly improve your product to offer more value and transform your organization into a care-taker for your users’ needs.

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Selman Gokce

Selman Gokce is the Senior Inbound Marketer of UserGuiding. He is highly invested in user onboarding and digital adoption, especially for SaaS, and he writes on these topics for the UserGuiding blog. When he's not writing, you can find him either listening to LOTR soundtracks while cooking or getting angry because he lost in a video game.