Making the Switch to Product-Led Marketing – an extensive guide

You have a business. What do you sell?

That’s right. You sell a product.

Your company grows thanks to the product that you sell. You build strategies that will bring out the best sides of the product.

For you, the product is the core of everything.

But what about the user?

The user wants to be exposed to the product as much as the marketing strategies, the ads, and your sales reps.

Many companies, possibly including yours, already realized this and started to grow with a product-led growth strategy. In other words, you put the end-user in the middle of everything by allowing end-users to discover you through your product.

And now, there is a new crisis…

Since product-led growth has taken over the SaaS world, customers don’t trust traditional marketing strategies anymore.

And this is exactly why you need to know more about Product-Led Growth Marketing.

Thus, here I put together the key points of PLG marketing for you to have a better relationship with your customers.

Let me start with the answer to the question that you still ask yourself:

What’s Wrong with Traditional Marketing Strategies?

Let’s define the traditional approaches first:

  • Writing blog posts and bragging about your product,
  • Creating the cutest and most convincing landing pages,
  • Writing case studies about how much your customers liked your product,
  • Cherry-picking positive comments about your product and displaying them at the top.

There is nothing wrong with those approaches, and they are still valid marketing methods for some customers.

And they generate brand awareness even if they don’t fully work.

But, according to the TrustRadius B2B Buying Disconnect Report, those old-school “best practices” aren’t trusted by users anymore.

All the old-school strategies became untrusted.

Instead, people started valuing actual users, honest reviews, and knowing the cons of a product before adopting it.

So yes, it is time to ditch most of the old-school marketing tactics that you learned from a 10-years-old book.

At this point, our hero became the savior of every product-led company:

What Is Product-Led Marketing?

The Product Led Marketing approach is putting the product in the hands of the end-users, and letting them experiment with it instead of being forced to use a certain tool that the IT department chose. In order to succeed with a PLG Marketing approach, your product must have a free trial or freemium version that the potential customers can interact with.

Simply put,

▷ If traditional marketing is reading paper books, PLG Marketing is letting people know that “kindle” has been invented.

▷ If traditional marketing promotes product experience, PLG Marketing promotes customer experience.

Why is product-led marketing better?

Because it is all about gaining trust.

The core of a product-led approach is getting people to trust you without forcing the proof that you generated. Instead, you let them know that you are the best, and let them do their own research.

HubSpot is living proof that this approach is actually the best.

They generated 59% of their customer base through word-of-mouth and Google. Very few people learned about them through a forced blog post, even though their blog is one among the best SaaS blogs.

So, HubSpot used social proof and organic growth to make people want to get into the HubSpot sales funnel.

HubSpot is neither the first, nor the last among product-led growth companies. I gathered four of my favorite different SaaS companies to prove that PLG Marketing works for everyone. 

4 Examples of Great Product-Led Marketing

Each of these tools used PLG Marketing differently, but all of them got the same result:

They became the best in what they do.

Well, honestly, I don’t know if there are any better tools on the market. There might be. But these companies made themselves known for sure…

Let’s begin with our first, and probably easiest example:

1- Hotjar

In case you don’t know, Hotjar is a heatmap-based analytics tool that helps you analyze how users engage with your pages.

Here is what Hotjar did:

😎 They educated users about what heatmaps are, why they are important, and how you should utilize them.

And this is how they utilized Product-Led Marketing:

  • First, they ranked at the top of Google searches about “heatmaps” and what they are.
  • Then, within their guides and blog posts, they taught people what they might be doing wrong.
  • Lastly, they showed people how easy it is to solve their problems using Hotjar.

Of course, the fact that they value user experience and have premium features made it a lot easier for them to become likable, but still, their marketing team did an exceptional job at incorporating Product-led content marketing perfectly.

2- Grammarly

Grammarly did something very similar but at the same time very distinct to Hotjar.

The similarity is the method of customer acquisition: through organic searches and problem-solving.

The difference is the method of targeting qualified leads: Grammarly didn’t put on Google search ads for people who search for “how to correct grammar” or “how to proofread an essay.”

Instead, here is what they did:

Whenever a user searched for any kind of grammatical question, Grammarly was there to help them.

And as soon as you click the link, this shows up:

And so, Grammarly became the #1 preferred proofreading tool throughout the world.

3- HubSpot

I already mentioned that HubSpot triggered most user acquisitions through a virality program.

Now, it’s time to dig into “how” they did it.

I felt too simple to be alive when I realized what their main strategy was…

Here is what they did:

  • They built a free tool, a website grader for people to see what kind of product developments they need.
  • Then, they suggested their free CRM solutions for all the people to benefit. In other words, they used their own interpretation of a freemium product.
  • Lastly, people got very satisfied with HubSpot’s wide range of solutions, along with their never ending resources, and HubSpot became one of the first and best CRM software of this Product-Led era.

Building a side product instead of spending hundreds on marketing tools or marketing efforts… This is pure genius.

4- Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an SEO and keyword research tool, if you already don’t know. I highly doubt that anyone in SaaS doesn’t know about Ahrefs.

Because their deep understanding of B2B buyers, combined with a perfect marketing strategy and great key features resulted in Ahrefs being the #1 SEO research tool.

What they did was a combination of all three examples above:

  • They wrote blog posts about high-volume searches,
  • They somehow made the problem about SEO and taught people how to use it,
  • And they taught people how to solve it by using their product only…

And it worked.

It can work for you too. Wanna see how?

How to Switch to a Product-Led Marketing Strategy in 6 Steps

As I promised, here are the 6 easy steps to becoming the best in your industry:

1- Change the focus from your product to the solution you provide

This has been my main focus from the beginning.

If you want to be one of the best product-led organizations and optimize your marketing strategies accordingly, you have to bring out the solution, not the product.

Here is an example:

❌ This product is the best according to this review, pay us!

✅ We are aware that you have such a problem and we are ready to help you!

And if you find a way like Grammarly to make them realize they had a problem for so long, that’s even better.

2- Collect PQL as much as SQLs and MQLs

If you don’t know what PQL, SQL and MQL are, here you can find the definitions.

Instead of sales or marketing qualified leads, try to find ways to collect product-qualified leads.

There are three steps to this:

  1. Identify the segments that qualify as “product leads,”
  2. Provide them with a free version of your product,
  3. Provide them with an exceptional user onboarding experience.

As soon as you get these steps done, get in touch with those people and ask for feedback. The feedback that the product-qualified leads give will be your compass in deciding on a path to follow

3- Build a knowledge base around the problem you solve

Let’s remember the examples above:

👉 Hotjar wrote blog posts and knowledge bases about the problem they solve,

👉 Grammarly created awareness by solving people’s most common questions,

👉 HubSpot made people realize they need HubSpot by offering them a free tool,

👉 Ahrefs convinced people that their solution is the easiest way to solve the problem.

Do you see the one thing that is in common?

Apart from solving the problem – which every company does – they created resources that people are searching for.

They gathered people by advertising the solution, not the product.

And that’s what you should do as well.

4- Step-up your CTA game

A call to action is basically a phrase that is used to motivate your visitors or potential customers to take the desired action.

In other words, they are the “eat me” signs in Alice in Wonderland.

CTAs have x main strengths:

  • They create a feeling of urgency,
  • They help determine the action to take,
  • They act like attention magnets,
  • They are what people look for when they look for a solution.

The CTA will be the link between your knowledge base and your solution because the people will want to have an easy access once they learn that you exist from your page.

That’s why having clear CTAs in your posts is essential to make those posts work.

Here are 8 great CTA examples and a teardown of why they work.

5- Don’t hide your weaknesses

People buy your solution, not your company. They don’t need “the spotless company they dream about every night,” they need a solution.

They need your solution.

And you need them to trust you.

Thus, you should be honest with them in every aspect. Sugar-coating your weaknesses will only decrease their trust instead of making you seem perfect.

Just like a job interview.

Therefore, be honest about your weaknesses in your marketing strategy and say “I am the best solution to problem x, but I am still developping at the y aspect.”

Once you do all five, there will be only one thing left to track:

6- Measure Product-Led Growth Metrics

As with everything else in the SaaS market, PLG Marketing has its own success indicators and metrics.

In our case, the metrics you need to focus on are:

  1. Retention Rate,
  2. Stickiness,
  3. Product Adoption Rate,
  4. Feature Adoption Rate,
  5. Churn Rate,
  6. PQLs,
  7. Customer Lifetime Value,
  8. Time To Value,
  9. Expansion Revenue,
  10. Average Revenue Per User.

Wanna learn how to use them? I got you covered.

Conclusion

A Marketing-Led approach and marketing for Product-Led growth are two very distinct things.

Today’s circumstances made people craving for trust, and no customer intends on trusting a company without seeing it for themselves.

That is where PLG Marketing comes in, that is why PLG Marketing works best now.

So pack your bags, solve the users’ problems, and let them see how valuable you are for themselves!


Frequently Asked Questions


What is a product-led strategy?

A product-led strategy puts the end-user first by letting them know that you are the solution to their problem, and giving them full authority to decide how to use it. In other words, in PLG, the focus in on the solution rather than the product.


Which company is an example of product-led marketing?

HubSpot is a great example that successfully created a product-led growth strategy by building a free website grader and showing people the problems they weren’t even aware of. Then, they offered to solve those problems with their services.

guide for product-led marketing

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Hilal Yıldırım

I’m UserGuiding’s growth-obsessed creative content writer and junior journalist. I like to research and write about growth, onboarding, and inbound marketing. If you feel like we could exchange ideas, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn or email! P.S. If I don’t respond, please know that I’m on a road trip with my camera and motorbike.

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