How can product managers drive successful product-led growth?

Product-led growth
By Jose Gonsalo | November 18, 2020

“Just google it and see.”

“Slack me once you’re done with the design.”

“We’ll connect on Zoom.”

“Provide a link to your Dropbox folder.”

These conversations sound very familiar, right? Perhaps, the very conversations you have with your colleagues in your day-to-day work life.

We were tired of inefficiently checking multiple sources to find the right answer for a single query. Google helped us by showing results from multiple sources in a fraction of a second.

Emails weren’t enough for a collaborative workplace. Slack came into the picture and took internal communication to another level.

Remote Team Communication was often fiddly and slow. Zoom made it super-simple, affordable, and fast.

Collaborating and sharing work documents securely wasn’t an elegant process once. Dropbox had a solution.

Well, I guess, now you have some idea what product-led growth is.

Google, Slack, Zoom, and Dropbox are a few examples that show us what product-led growth is all about, and how we can win millions of customers with a great product in hand.

What is product-led growth?

Product-led growth is a go to market strategy that relies primarily on the product itself as the means to attract, convert and retain users.

In product-led growth many of the happy customers become loyal advocates of the product and strongly recommend their friends and colleagues to try the product, which in turn makes the product a huge success.

That’s what exactly happened with Google, Dropbox, Slack and Zoom.

Product-led growth entirely pulls the conventional sales and marketing strategies upside-down. Here the end-user becomes the decision maker by falling in love with the product and strongly recommending the decision makers or management in their organisation to buy that particular product.

So it’s clear that to drive product-led growth you need to have a great product in hand. Being the captain of the product, how can Product Managers get to this point?

Well, here are the best practices.


1. Understand your users through collecting feedback

You’re building a product for end-users who eventually become your customers. So it’s critical to understand their requirements, their satisfaction levels, and to what extent your product meets their expectations.

Based on the feedback they provide, you can make informed decisions. For instance, if you’re planning to work on a new feature and you get multiple requests from your customers that they want some other feature, you can deprioritize the old task and prioritize the critical one that your users actually want. Just like this you can make continuous improvements to your product and retain your customers.

How to collect customer feedback?

To collect customer feedback, all you have to do is signup with an online form builder, create your survey, and share with your customers via email or link.

When to collect customer feedback?

  • Once the customer is onboarded, you can trigger an automated feedback survey email in a day or two.
  • When the trial period ends and the customer hasn’t still upgraded to a premium plan.
  • When the customer downgrades to a free plan or deletes the account.

How to effectively Handle Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is as important as the marketing and sales analytics that you always keep your eye on. When it comes to product-led growth this becomes even more crucial and handling each customer’s feedback needs a personalized touch. You need to understand what specifically makes your customers happy or unhappy with your product and respond accordingly.

If something makes multiple customers leave your product, you need to escalate this to your engineering team, prioritize it and iron it out as soon as possible. Sometimes, it could be a missing feature or a bug. It goes without saying but when you respond to your customers, make sure you deal with them courteously, no matter how prickly their feedback may be!


2. Communicate the Value of Your Product

When you have a strong product, you’ve more reasons to engage with your prospects and customers. You can share a variety of content to keep them informed and engaged with your product ecosystem.

Here are some of the proven methods you can use to communicate the value of your product in solving their pain points:

Monthly Newsletter

The most critical customer success component of any software product company. You need to keep your customers and prospects in the loop by updating them on the products’ every single feature and updates that happened in the previous month. It’s recommended to issue the newsletter in the first week of every month.

Feature announcement

Everytime you roll out a major feature, you need to notify your customers and prospects via email. You can even put a notification strip in the product or website, or a popup.

Educating content

This could be an ebook, eguide or a whitepaper on a specific topic around your domain. As you grow and when you already have the newsletter and feature announcements in place, you can get started with this.

Product Webinars

Invite your customers and non-paying customers for live product webinars once in a while. You can get started with an overall review of the product. In the next episodes, you can talk about a particular feature and how it helps your customers to solve their pain points. The most interesting part is it does have a live Q&A session and anyone can shoot their question publicly. The speaker, usually the Product Manager or Head of Engineering, will be answering the queries live. This will also educate the other participants who’re online, triggering them to realise - “Oh, this was what I was looking for”.

3. Deliver what you promised

Always deliver on what you’ve promised. It is better to under-promise and over-deliver than to over-promise. Remember to only commit to what you can actually do. Here’s some common scenarios when promises are made, don’t forget to keep them!

  • Post customer feedback: When you receive the same negative feedback from multiple customers you need to prioritize the features and updates accordingly to keep your customers satisfied. This will also reduce the churn rate. In such a case, you promise the customer that you would deliver this and that feature. Make sure you deliver it even before the promised timeline, which will make your customer super-excited and more likely to become a loyal customer.

  • Product Roadmap: You need to realize that people sign up seeing the product roadmap as well. So it’s very crucial to keep your word by rolling out the features you’ve promised in the roadmap. If you don’t, it results in churn and negatively impacts your reputation.

4. Acquire new customer through referrals

When you retain existing users with a great product that is making them happy, there is a trump card in front of you which is - the referral system.

And here’s how it works.

Your product already has happy customers, super-happy customers and fans. The fans are the ones who fill the word-of-mouth funnel and bring more customers without any sweat from your side.

To fuel up this engine, you can set up a referral system aka “affiliate marketing” engine where everyone gets their share for every new paying customer. Once the referral system is set up, approach these happy customers. They will do their part for the incentive offered, with limited effort on your part.

5. Expand your product, and upsell and cross-sell

Look at Google! They started with their flagship offering - the search engine, and as they kept winning more and more users, they expanded their product suite over a period of time. Now Google owns a plethora of apps that people rely on for their daily work and life.

It’s not just about product expansion either. The expansion of product features will definitely provide users the convenience of having everything under one umbrella, which is obviously a major reason for many to choose a product or platform, it will also result in cross-selling. For instance, you buy a product seeing feature A and later realizing you would require feature B. Then you subscribe for feature B as well.

Zendesk, Zoho, Salesforce and Freshworks have done a fantastic job with that. They offer a suite of products, which will make the user explore the vendors’ other products as well. For instance, you start with Zendesk Support Suite for customer engagement. Later, you might realize Zendesk’s Sales Suite would enhance your sales processes and you subscribe for the same.

When it comes to upsell, smartly segmented plans with better offerings in the higher plans are the way to go. If you look at the SaaS domain as a whole, that’s how they increase their revenue. You need to come up with at least 2-3 plans offering more in the higher plans and make customers realise that the premium plans are the most value for money, which will encourage the customer to upgrade or choose the higher paid plan.

Wrapping up

Often the end-user is the one who is going to decide which product he/she needs to use to solve his/her problems, not his/her Manager. You need to build a product that the end-user can get started with quickly and which solves their issues without unnecessary exertion on their part.

If you know your customers well, you can provide exactly what they are expecting. To know your customers well you need to gather their feedback on a regular basis and prioritize the product roadmap based on this.

Just like how digital marketers gradually turned into growth marketers, every product manager needs to take a leap from their current responsibilities and understand the customers and market by working closely with the sales, support and marketing teams. If done right, you can ensure a product-led growth. Product-led growth is a long game, and yields long lasting returns.