Have you ever wondered how certain SaaS companies effortlessly dominate the market? Or how do they glide past the competition and snag a coveted spot on the list of tech unicorns?
It’s no magic trick. It’s product-led growth (PLG).
Whether you’re clinching deals as a salesperson, orchestrating campaigns as a marketer, or fine-tuning operations—you know the power of strategies.
But have you fully tapped into the right ones? Do you let your product take center stage, wooing clients without a demo or pitch?
If not, it’s time to practice this proven growth strategy. If so, let’s take PLG up another level.
In this deep dive, we’re unveiling four product-led growth models from the playbooks of seasoned SaaS brands to help you rise to the top with your product-led growth strategy.
1. Implement a lead scoring model
One of the biggest challenges for SaaS brands is to build a lead scoring model that tracks user behavior and identifies product-qualified leads.
Why? When you offer freemium plans or use free trials to lure in leads, turning the free users into paying customers can sometimes be a struggle. You have to weed out leads less likely to convert after the trial ends (i.e., they don’t have the budget for a premium plan).
Or if you offer a self-service pricing model, you want to:
- Track what visitors spend money on
- How people interact with different product features
- How many free users are actively using your product
With access to this data, you can uncover indicators that predict the probability that a lead will convert into a paying customer.
Enter intent-based lead scoring.
With the intent-based lead scoring model, you opt for a modern lead scoring strategy in which you score your leads based on in-product behavior, firmographic data, and demographic data that identifies product-qualified leads.
That way, your sales assistant can uncover insights into the best and worst customer paths or patterns. For instance, a freemium user who’s thrice clicked on a specific paid feature but never upgraded to a premium account.
After observing this pattern, you can start nurturing these prospects through in-app messaging and emails with small discounts to persuade them to upgrade.
That all sounds impossible, right? That’s where Breadcrumbs comes into play.
Breadcrumbs uses an ML-assisted approach that leverages the power of machine learning while giving you complete visibility over data and scoring models that power your business engine.
You can use it along with other go-to-market (GTM) motions, including PLG.
With Breadcrumbs, you can understand how your current contacts align with your current ideal customer profile (ICP), what actions your active users take on the webpage, and how those actions correlate with intent.
Swiftly identify and engage with the most promising leads using dynamic scoring methods that are both reliable and intuitive.
2. Offer a freemium pricing plan or a free trial
One of the best ways to invite prospective customers to get to know your product and increase their buy-in (read: build trust) is to offer a free trial.
Or you can also use the “free forever” model (also known as a freemium plan). Let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.
With the free trial model, prospective customers can access all of your product features for a limited time (say 7 days, 14 days, or 30 days).
This pricing model is a great option for your SaaS when you only want customers to leverage the full potential of your product for a limited time. Once you’ve earned their trust, you can convert them into paying customers.
With this approach, you can generate monthly recurring revenue, which is music to any entrepreneur’s dream. Why? It’s a steady flow of revenue every month.
Freemium model (free forever)
You give your customers access to limited product features (for a lifetime). This model is a great option for your SaaS to let prospective customers use the product for longer.
During this period, they can explore the tool themselves and experience the quality of customer experience you provide. Over time, they’ll learn that the tool is even more valuable with a paid plan, ultimately getting them to convert.
Fun fact: Many SaaS businesses use both—the freemium plan and free trial. For example, Toggl Track offers a freemium plan where the user can record and track their time log.
However, you’ll need to pay for the subscription to use advanced features like getting call log insights. But before offering the upgrade, Toggl Track offers a free trial of their entire product.
So, how can you implement a freemium pricing model in your SaaS and optimize it for better conversions?
Set the right product limit
One of the trickiest things to do while employing a freemium pricing model is to choose which features to give away for free and what features to put behind the paywall.
Here’s the thing: If you don’t provide enough value for your customers in the free plan, acquiring them in the first place is a challenge. But you also can’t give them the entire product for free.
In such a scenario, you need to find a sweet spot to offer the right set of features that’ll provide enough value to get them to sign up but not enough so they’re encouraged to upgrade to the paid plan. Magic Studio, a SaaS company in AI Image editing, uses the freemium model in all their products. This allows them to give their users a taste of their products and also incentivizes them to upgrade to paid plans.
How do you know which features to include in the freemium plan and which ones not?
Use a product analytics tool to track product features your customers actively use while using your product. That way, you’ll understand which features your existing customers are using and what they think are the most valuable.
For example, ConvertKit has a freemium plan that allows users to build unlimited landing pages but misses out on the ability to send automated emails.
This example tells us that ConvertKit relies on automated email sequences as the feature that convinces users to upgrade from the free to the paid plan. It’s very strategically placed behind the paywall. Well done, ConvertKit.
Include a free trial with full features
If you’re looking to switch things up a bit, you can also combine both pricing models for a product-led strategy.
Offer a free trial for your paid plan that converts into a freemium plan without action. To implement this, all you have to do is offer users a free trial for a limited period after signing up for your product.
Once the trial period ends, they’ll have access to limited features for free. This strategy works well because even when the user doesn’t upgrade to the paid plan, you can keep them as free users and nurture them to convert down the line.
Often, users don’t convert instantly but take an ample amount of time — even 3–6 months to decide to purchase the product.
Read more: Zero-Party Data: How 3 Brilliant B2B Brands Approached it
Is your data truly zero-party data? In this guide, we’ll demystify what zero-party data is,…
3. Create personalized onboarding for customers
As humans, we crave a personalized experience. And that holds true with SaaS products.
Providing a personalized product-led onboarding experience helps first-time customers:
- Learn how to engage with your product
- Understand all of the features they have access to
- Access contextual support and guidance
To create a personalized onboarding experience, use interactive product walkthroughs and product checklists. Product walkthroughs educate users on how the product works and provide a tour of the main features.
For example, Stairwell uses a guided product tour to simplify the onboarding process. It also uses a product checklist to tell users what they can expect inside the product tour.
When the user views a section of the product walkthrough, users will know which sections they’ve already viewed and can move on to the next.
Another great way to personalize onboarding is to ask users questions after they sign up for the product. Here are some questions you can ask them:
- What’s your goal for using the software?
- What industry are you in?
- What’s your current role?
That way, they can provide a list of features that are most valuable to that user. Well played, Wrike.
Focus on customer success
After onboarding the customer, your next step is constantly nurturing them to provide an excellent user experience.
- Have your marketing team send an automated welcome email along with an email sequence that focuses on highlighting the specific features of your product.
- While sending the welcome email, ensure not use free email address. Use a professional email address in this format–email@example.com.
- Highlight important product features with in-app messaging prompts and notifications.
- Create a knowledge base for customers to address their queries without the need to contact customer support.
In other words, the easier you can make your product to use, the better. People hate friction. It’s one of the leading causes of churn. Share training modules. Provide self-service tools. Your customers will thank you. And so will your bottom line.
4. Focus on product adoption
In product-led growth, your product is the key driver of your SaaS business. But the problem is, people won’t start using your product just because your product solves their problem.
So don’t underestimate the power of product adoption.
Because there are plentiful products in the market like yours, but what encourages people to use your product is the interactivity and engagement.
- Are you nurturing your freemium users enough?
- Are you showcasing to them the value of your product?
- Are the new features of your product useful for customers?
For example, Presentable, an end-to-end business management platform, is a great tool for a freelance writer who manages multiple projects and multiple platforms to communicate with clients.
Even when the product seemed like the perfect fit for the freelance writer, she decided not to use the product. Why?
- She wasn’t confident about how to add client information to the platform (poor user interface).
- The brand didn’t engage with her enough to share insight tips and tricks on how to get the most out of the product (not enough brand engagement).
To avoid such scenarios and to increase your chances of product adoption, here’s what you can do.
Use product tooltips to provide additional details about your product features and highlight its value. For example, Slack (a product-led company) uses product tooltips to share insights on how to use the tool more efficiently.
Here’s another example. When Degreed transitioned to its new design for over a million users, it smoothly managed the change with a pop-up that offered a voluntary switch to the new view.
This proactive approach boosted user adoption immediately, with a 10% surge in new users on the home page. It also prevented any unexpected shocks or customer dissatisfaction, which lightened the load on their support and customer success teams.
While users were free to revert to the old design during the transition, the new home page upgrades far outweighed the old one, and all users chose to stay with it.
The takeaway? Upgrade your product to continue to offer more value. But don’t forget about your users along the way. Make it as simple as possible to adopt. That way, your customers get the most out of these new features you worked so hard to build.
Ready to accelerate product-led growth strategy?
Mastering product-led growth (PLG) is the secret sauce behind many SaaS unicorns.
Because when you place the product at the forefront of your strategy, you’re not just selling like in sales-led growth. You’re creating compelling experiences with your brand.
So, take inspiration from the four advanced product-led approaches we shared today. But remember that success lies in constant adaptation and a laser focus on providing the best possible product (and product experience) for your customers.