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The critical role of marketing in product-led growth

SaaS giants like Figma, DocuSign, and Calendly have all used the PLG framework to achieve their success. But it's not just them – plenty of SaaS products today are still using this framework to supercharge their growth and meet their business objectives. PLG marketing acts as a driving force for various companies in the PLG world.

Start. Improve. Iterate.

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A no-nonsense guide to product-led growth at every company stage.

A no-nonsense guide to product-led growth at every company stage.

03. Team roles in PLG

03. Team roles in PLG

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What is Product-led growth?

Product-Led Growth (PLG) is a business methodology that focuses on using a product's value to drive growth, rather than traditional marketing and sales efforts. As mentioned, this approach is gaining popularity among successful software companies, as it allows them to create a more seamless and enjoyable customer experience, which in turn leads to increased user adoption, retention, and revenue growth.

The key to PLG success lies in effective marketing. PLG marketing is the process of creating and executing marketing strategies that support and enhance the product-led growth approach. In a world where customers have more options than ever before, it is essential for businesses to stand out and demonstrate the unique value of their products. PLG marketing plays a critical role in achieving this goal, as it helps companies to attract, engage, and retain their target audience, ultimately leading to accelerated growth and increased market share.

In this article, we will explore the importance of PLG marketing and discuss various strategies that can help businesses to maximize their PLG success. From understanding the role of marketing in PLG to building a strong marketing department, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the knowledge and insights needed to excel in the world of product-led growth marketing.

Understanding the role of marketing in PLG

The role of marketing in PLG success cannot be understated. While the product is undoubtedly the star of the show, it is the marketing department's responsibility to make sure that the product shines brightly and reaches its full potential. In a PLG company, marketing plays a crucial role in driving user adoption, increasing user engagement, and ultimately, driving revenue growth.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in PLG, the products usually don't cost a lot, so the company needs sizable lead volumes to make good profits. This is where the marketing team steps in. They have to plan and run campaigns that attract lots of leads because each customer doesn't spend too much. This helps make up for the lower prices since there are lots of customers.

To achieve this, marketing must align closely with the product team, working together to identify and promote the key features and benefits that make the product stand out from the competition. This involves creating targeted messaging and campaigns designed to attract and engage the ideal customer profile. Furthermore, marketing must also focus on the customer journey, ensuring that users have a seamless and enjoyable experience from the moment they first encounter the product through to ongoing engagement and retention.

Strategies for PLG marketing

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of PLG marketing strategies, let's cover the basics. These elements will be the bedrock for subsequent stages of PLG marketing. While PLG marketing can seem complex, there are several key strategies that any business can implement to support their product-led growth ambitions. These strategies include:

1. Defining your target audience

Understanding your target audience is a fundamental cornerstone of successful PLG marketing. By gaining profound insights into the preferences, needs, and behaviors of your potential users, you can craft tailored strategies that resonate on a deeper level. This not only enhances user adoption and engagement but also fosters lasting relationships that drive sustained growth. Let's explore how you can achieve this and provide an illustrative example.

Begin by creating a comprehensive ideal customer profile (ICP). This involves delving into demographic information, such as age, gender, location, and industry. However, it goes beyond these basics, diving into more nuanced aspects like job roles, responsibilities, and challenges. This information serves as the foundation upon which you'll build your PLG marketing strategies.



For example, imagine you're marketing a project management software platform. Your ICP might be mid-level project managers in the technology sector who struggle with team collaboration across different time zones. This specificity will guide your messaging and content creation and will help you create content tailored towards your users. After all, if you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one. 

For instance, with this insight, your marketing team could develop content that offers practical solutions for bridging time zone gaps and optimizing collaboration. This content might include articles, webinars, or case studies spotlighting successful strategies for overcoming such challenges.



2. Emphasizing product value

In a PLG company, the product is the primary driver of growth. As such, it is essential to ensure that your marketing efforts emphasize the unique value that your product offers. Be sure to direct your marketing endeavors towards highlighting the features and advantages that distinguish your product from the competition. 

This can be achieved by presenting visual content like screenshots and demo videos. The Arcade platform is perfect for crafting step-by-step guides and illustrating the benefits of your product for prospective customers. Armed with a well-defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), you can construct product demos along with messaging tailored specifically to address your audience's challenges, aspirations, and needs. This personalized approach will deeply connect with your audience, demonstrating your grasp of their issues and your capacity to provide solutions

For instance, let's consider the same project management software company explored above. Your product offers a unique feature that automates task assignment based on team members' strengths. To emphasize this value, your marketing team could develop a campaign showcasing real-world scenarios where teams experience enhanced collaboration and efficiency. By underlining this distinctive feature, your ICP is more likely to recognize the product's edge and be enticed to explore further.

3. Focusing on the user experience

PLG marketing focuses on creating a smooth and enjoyable user experience. This isn't just about getting new users, it includes the retention and engagement of existing ones. To make this happen, it's important to understand how customers use your product and find opportunities for improvement. With this knowledge, marketing plans can be adjusted to keep users engaged and coming back. If this seems a little complex, we'll explain the details and give examples below.

Imagine an e-commerce platform embracing PLG principles. Here's how they make it work:


Step 1: Identify the Issue

The platform notices that users often leave their shopping carts during checkout due to a confusing payment process.

Step 2: Team Up

The marketing and product teams join forces. They work together to simplify the checkout, making it easier for users.

Step 3: Spread the Word

The teams launch a campaign. This campaign teaches existing users about the new, improved checkout process or attracts completely new customers.


The Result?

This teamwork between product enhancement and marketing communication simplifies the checkout process, makes the experience more user-centric and drives up conversions as a result.

The use of tools like Flywheel adds even more value to this approach. Combining features such as Session Replays with Milestones helps companies watch user videos that only include specific, important actions. Imagine having the ability to watch session replays of how users interact with your product, seeing exactly where they face difficulties in completing certain actions. 

This is like watching a replay of a game to understand where the players stumbled. By analyzing these replays, you can make adjustments and improvements to your user experience, which in turn can lead to better results. With these insights, you keep making your product better, and also adjust your marketing strategies to help users overcome these specific pain points. This constant cycle of making things better, guided by both product analytics and smart marketing, leads to a really great user experience. And that's what sets the stage for a successful PLG!


4. Leveraging customer case studies

In the previous section, we highlighted the importance of showcasing your product's value. One highly effective way to achieve this is through customer success stories. People tend to trust the opinions of fellow users more than what a company claims about itself. In fact, according to Demand Gen Report, 97% of B2B customers find testimonials and peer recommendations the most reliable content. By presenting real-life instances of how your product has addressed challenges for others, you can weave a compelling narrative that connects with your target audience and motivates them to explore your product. You can share these stories through case studies, testimonials, video reviews, and more. To maximize their impact, ensure that your success stories highlight specific problems faced by customers, the solutions your product offered, and the tangible results they achieved. Ultimately, these stories solidify your product's credibility and encourage potential users to take the leap.

To gather these valuable testimonials, you can encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences. Consider reaching out via email or in-app notifications, inviting them to provide feedback. You could also offer incentives, such as discounts or exclusive access, to motivate users to contribute their stories. Additionally, make the submission process as simple as possible and ensure users know how their testimonials will benefit others. By making it easy and rewarding for customers to share their successes, you can collect a wealth of authentic and persuasive testimonials that will skyrocket your product's credibility and appeal.

5. Using "Powered By" Style Features

An often-overlooked strategy with significant impact in the PLG realm is leveraging "powered by" style features. These features allow free tools to prominently display their branding within the user interface. While users benefit from the tool's functionalities, they also become familiar with the tool's provider, enhancing brand recognition and trust. Imagine offering a free version of your software that includes a watermark or a small logo indicating it's powered by your company. As users engage with the tool, this unobtrusive branding creates a lasting impression. When users see the value in the free version, they're more likely to explore premium options or recommend the tool to others, boosting both user acquisition and word-of-mouth marketing. By employing these strategies, you'll pave the way for successful PLG marketing.


6. Utilizing data-driven marketing


Data-driven marketing involves using data and analytics to inform and optimize your marketing efforts. Leveraging data is the only way to iteratively improve marketing campaigns. The usage of data itself is no longer novel for the average marketer, but the best PLG marketers take it a step further. Here’s an example of our own internal process:

  1. Define user personas in Flywheel. We first create profiles for different types of users to personalize our approach.

  2. Tailored email campaigns. The goal here is to send customized messages to each persona to maximize engagement.

  3. Analyze user actions. We then track what users do on your website after receiving emails.

  4. Watch session replays. Finally, we use our session replays to observe users from target companies, understand their interactions, and unlock opportunities for improving our platform.

These steps form the backbone of our data-driven marketing strategy.

Let’s explore this practice in more depth by analyzing the utilization of a PLG marketing tool like Flywheel. Platforms like this show how marketing and user actions connect, showing the importance of two things in PLG marketing: how users grow within the product and how well marketing gets new users.

Analyzing in-product actions means figuring out which features get users more interested in your product. This info helps you learn exactly how to attract, reactivate, or convert users. You'll have lots of numbers to help with this. For example, you can leverage Flywheel’s “Milestones” feature to define the features you want users to explore for a full product experience. You can then check these milestones for your contacts, assets or predefined segments. Imagine the power of this – you can identify which features prompt specific user actions, utilizing your insights to refine these features and enhance your product accordingly.

On the other hand, when it comes to analyzing user adoption, you might require different metrics. For example, you might be curious about metrics like the number of Monthly Active Users (MAU) being driven by your marketing pages, the count of users revived from your email campaigns, or the channels that bring in the highest number of signups. These insights can be readily analyzed using your Assets page. Just picture having these crucial metrics at your fingertips– you could efficiently extract insights from your campaigns and implement any improvements needed to optimize the impact of your marketing efforts.

With these fundamentals in mind, let's look closer at the main parts of PLG marketing that help your platform grow: PLG Growth Marketing, PLG Content Marketing, and PLG Product Marketing. 

Growth Marketing in PLG: Increasing your user base

PLG growth marketing focuses on drawing in and converting new users to your product, a pivotal step toward achieving platform growth mastery. Within the PLG community, 3 practices stand out as highly effective and widely accepted: SEO, PPC, and social media marketing. The key here is to approach all these elements strategically, so that you unlock the power to PLG-driven growth. Let's dive into each one to learn how.

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is a crucial component of PLG growth marketing, as it helps to ensure that your product is easily discoverable by potential users. In the world of PLG, where converting free leads to paying customers is a significant challenge (with around 95% not converting), an effective distribution strategy is highly important. One of the few ROI-positive methods for acquiring new users is through SEO. While SEO requires a strategic and lengthy approach, it stands out as a cornerstone for PLG-driven growth. Let's explore the practices that contribute to this growth strategy.

By optimizing your website and content for relevant keywords, you can increase your visibility in search engine results and drive more organic traffic to your product. You can leverage SEO for growth by developing high-quality, engaging, and valuable content that addresses the pain points and challenges faced by your target audience. Here’s how.

SEO involves both on-site and off-site elements. To strategize effectively, start by defining your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). With your ICP in hand, you'll know (1) where your potential users hang out, enabling you to build relevant backlinks from authoritative sources and establish thought leadership. (2) Understand their pain points to tailor content that resonates. (3) Identify the keywords they use, enriching your marketing materials. By executing these steps, you'll master SEO strategically, fueling your growth engine. 

When it comes to SEO, remember that quality far outweighs quantity. Instead of chasing numerous backlinks and an abundance of content, prioritize appealing to your ICP. This approach is key to capturing the attention of potential paying customers. Once you've mastered these three components, you can be confident that your SEO efforts will serve you as a growth engine. It will consistently attract users genuinely interested in adopting your product.


2. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

PPC advertising is a smart way for businesses to reach specific audiences at the right moment. It lets your product shine in front of the right eyes by targeting particular keywords and demographics. When you put your money into well-directed PPC campaigns, you can attract top-notch leads to your product, speeding up how quickly people adopt it.

Now, how can you be sure you're pulling in the right kind of leads? Well, with PPC, the secret is to have spot-on copy that speaks directly to your audience. If your copy isn't aligned with your audience's needs, your efforts might not yield the results you want.

Here are some tips to get your copy just right for your audience in your PPC campaigns:

  • Create a headline that hooks: Start strong with a headline that grabs attention and makes people want to know more.

  • Guide with a clear Call to Action (CTA): Help your audience know what to do next with a short, clear action phrase like "Sign Up Now" or "Get Started."

  • Use feelings to drive action: Connect emotionally with your audience. When people feel a connection, they're more likely to take action.

  • Keep it short and sweet: Say what you need to in as few words as possible. Avoid using jargon or complex terms that might confuse your readers.

  • Monitor and tweak: Regularly check how well your PPC campaigns are doing and adjust your copy based on what you learn. An awesome trick is to rewatch how people use your landing pages – this helps you see where they're getting stuck or excited. Don't forget to pay attention to what users do within your product too. This helps you figure out if the leads you're getting are actually a good match. Flywheel is an amazing tool for all this. It not only gives you insights into how people use your product, but it also provides a Pacing score to show lead quality. Plus, you can use session replays to see how users behave on your landing pages. Analytical tools like these make life easier, believe me!


3. Social media marketing

Social media is a powerful platform for PLG growth marketing, as it allows businesses to engage with their target audience, share valuable content, and showcase the unique value of their product. By leveraging the power of social media, businesses can increase brand awareness, drive user adoption, and foster a loyal community of users. 

The effectiveness of each platform may vary depending on your specific industry and target market. Here are some social media platforms commonly used by PLG companies:

LinkedIn 

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform where you can share thought leadership content, industry insights, and product updates. It is effective for reaching professionals and decision-makers, especially in B2B markets. LinkedIn has recently upgraded its B2B marketing features, allowing businesses to connect better with their audience through targeted ads, better analytics, and improved engagement tools. These improvements make it an even stronger option for PLG companies aiming to connect with the right B2B audience.Using these improved features with a B2B focus can enhance your PLG growth marketing plan and build valuable connections in your target market.

X (formerly Twitter) is a fast-paced platform that allows for quick updates, engaging conversations, and sharing of industry news. It can be used to promote your PLG solution, engage with users, and participate in relevant industry discussions using hashtags.

Also, the “Building in Public” practice has started to gain more traction, particularly on platforms like X. This approach involves openly sharing your product's journey, progress, challenges, and insights with your audience. By doing so, you not only demonstrate authenticity but also foster a sense of community and trust around your product. Thus, when selecting X as a possible social media platform for your PLG marketing efforts, consider “Building in Public” as one other technique you can use to spread the word about your product. 

Facebook 

Facebook has a large user base and offers robust targeting options, making it suitable for reaching a wide range of audiences. You can create a business page, share content, run targeted ads, and engage with users through comments and messages.

Instagram 

Instagram is a visually-focused platform that is more commonly used as an acquisition source for platforms targeting younger audiences. Use Instagram Stories, Reels, and hashtags to increase visibility and drive more signups. 

YouTube 

You can use this platform to create informative and engaging video content to demonstrate the value and functionalities of your solution. Tutorials, product demos, and customer testimonials work well on this platform. Companies like MongoDB have effectively used YouTube to their advantage, gaining a substantial number of leads by teaming up with popular YouTubers and creating videos that educate, entertain, and showcase their product's strengths.

TikTok 

TikTok is particularly effective for reaching younger, tech-savvy audiences. Consider creating engaging and entertaining content that showcases the benefits of your product to gain more traction. Notion, for instance, skillfully used TikTok to demonstrate how versatile their productivity tool is. Their engaging and light-hearted videos effectively showcased the benefits and real-world applications of their platform, connecting with TikTok's audience and noticeably enhancing their brand visibility.

Reddit

Reddit is a discussion-based platform organized into various niche communities called subreddits. Participating in relevant subreddits allows you to engage with a targeted audience and establish thought leadership. However, be mindful of Reddit's self-promotion guidelines. Primarily effective for B2C (business-to-consumer) companies, Reddit's diverse subreddits can provide valuable insights into consumer preferences and trends. Engaging authentically within these communities can lead to significant brand awareness and connections with potential users.

Product Hunt

Product Hunt is a powerful platform for launching and promoting new products, especially in the SaaS industry. When you present your product there, you connect with a community of tech-savvy people on the lookout for fresh solutions. A successful launch here can significantly boost your product's user base, elevating its position within the industry. If you decide to launch on Product Hunt, refer to this checklist to ensure you maximize the launch's impact and achieve maximum results.

Product Marketing in PLG: Showcasing your product's value

Product marketing is the third and final critical component of PLG marketing. It focuses on positioning and promoting the unique value of your product to your target audience. Why is this important? Well, PLG is centered around creating a seamless and valuable user experience, and employing the best practices of product marketing is the most effective approach to achieving this. You should be able to translate your product's features into relatable benefits that resonate with your target audience's pain points and aspirations. When users see the value your product brings to their lives, they are more likely to become engaged, stick around, and explore further. Thus, effective product marketing can lead to higher user activation and retention rates, which is ultimately the goal of any SaaS company!

While product marketing entails a range of various activities, there are several key strategies for successful PLG product marketing. We'll delve into each strategy below.


1. Creating compelling product messaging

Effective product messaging is essential for communicating the unique value of your product to your target audience. By developing clear, concise, and compelling messaging, you can ensure that your product stands out from the competition and drives user adoption. Here is exactly how you can create the most compelling product messaging:

  1. Craft a compelling Value Proposition: Create a concise value proposition that captures the essence of your product's value in a single sentence. Your Value Proposition succinctly answers the question: "Why should customers choose your product over others?" By effectively conveying how the product addresses their needs, solves their problems, and offers distinct advantages, a value proposition aims to capture the attention and interest of the target audience, ultimately driving them to consider and engage with the offering. It serves as a key tool in marketing and sales efforts, helping to differentiate a product and create a compelling reason for customers to choose it. Don’t forget to use clear language, focus on the outcome your users will achieve, and make it memorable and impactful.

  2. Use Storytelling: Incorporate storytelling elements to make your messaging more relatable and engaging. Share real-world examples of how your product has positively impacted users. A good story will help to humanize the brand, evoke emotions, and connect with the audience on a deeper level. By weaving a compelling story that showcases the journey of how the product came to be, the challenges it addresses, and the positive impact it has on customers' lives, storytelling makes the product more memorable and resonant. This approach helps to build a stronger brand identity, foster customer loyalty, and differentiate the product in a crowded market by establishing a meaningful connection between the product and the customer's aspirations and values.

  3. Align with user journey: Tailor your messaging to different stages of the user journey. Whether they are discovering your product, considering it, or ready to convert, your messaging should guide them seamlessly. This alignment enhances user experience, builds trust, and guides users smoothly through the buying process, ultimately leading to higher engagement, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction.

  4. Test and Iterate: Don't forget to regularly review and refine your product messaging based on user feedback, market trends, and the evolving needs of your target audience. Effective product messaging should be customer-centric, persuasive, and clearly communicate the value your product offers.

2. Developing product collateral

Product collateral, including datasheets, case studies, and whitepapers, takes on the role of your sales team, acting as a comprehensive resource that informs potential users and aids their decision-making process. The goal is to create content so detailed that it replaces the need for a salesperson to walk prospects through the process. Crafting high-quality product collateral is a strategic move, arming your sales team with the tools required for effective communication with prospects.Clear and captivating collateral addresses customer queries, overcomes objections, and highlights unique product features. This results in more confident purchasing decisions, leading to quicker conversions and bolstering PLG success through enhanced user adoption and satisfaction.

To create impactful product collateral, begin by defining your key messages and identifying your target audience. Develop visually appealing materials that combine engaging visuals, concise text, and compelling narratives. Ensure your collateral tackles common customer questions, provides solutions, and presents real-world usage scenarios. Regular updates are crucial to align your collateral with product changes and customer feedback, maintaining its relevance and effectiveness in supporting sales efforts and driving PLG success. By crafting powerful product collateral, you enable your prospects to navigate the decision-making process independently, contributing to a smoother journey toward PLG growth.

3. Leveraging product demos and free trials

Product demos and free trials are a powerful way to demonstrate the value of your product and drive user adoption. By offering potential users the opportunity to experience your product firsthand, you can increase the likelihood of conversion and foster long-term customer loyalty. 

A product demo is a complimentary walkthrough conducted by a Sales team member, aiming to demonstrate the potential value that the product can provide to potential customers. 

A free trial provides customers with the chance to experience the product for a specific period or a set number of uses without any cost or obligation.

Freemium offerings allow users to access a basic version of your product for free, with the option to upgrade to a premium version with more features.

While most software users prefer exploring a product through a free trial or a freemium, there are instances where a product demo proves to be a significantly more impactful method for showcasing the product's value. Therefore, it is crucial to conduct thorough research to determine the most effective approach within your industry and the most preferred method among your target users.

Measuring the success of your PLG marketing efforts

Now that you have well-established PLG marketing strategies, it is essential that you keep track of them and ensure their effectiveness. We’ve mentioned testing and iterating multiple times throughout the article and will not shy away from talking about its importance again! Successful PLG companies have only had their success due to careful observation and testing of various hypotheses. There is no way to guess what your target audience wants and needs, and asking them is important but not enough. You need to make sure that you constantly follow through with your decisions and measure the effectiveness of your PLG marketing activities. To ensure the ongoing success of your PLG marketing efforts, it is essential to regularly measure and analyze the performance of your campaigns. Key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider when measuring the success of your PLG marketing efforts include:

  1. User acquisition:

User acquisition is a critical metric for PLG marketing, as it directly impacts revenue growth. By tracking the number of new users acquired through your marketing efforts, you can assess the effectiveness of your campaigns and identify areas for improvement. A good way to do this is by leveraging product analytics and user behavior data. Additionally, conducting A/B tests to compare different marketing channels or implementing referral programs that incentivize current users to invite new ones can provide valuable insights into user acquisition strategies.

  1. User engagement

User engagement is another crucial metric for PLG marketing, as it directly impacts user retention and lifetime value. By monitoring metrics such as time spent in the product, feature usage, and user feedback, you can gain valuable insights into user behavior and preferences, allowing you to optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.

  1. Conversion rates

Conversion rates are a key indicator of the effectiveness of your PLG marketing efforts, as they demonstrate the percentage of potential users who take a desired action (e.g., signing up for a free trial or making a purchase). By tracking conversion rates, you can assess the success of your campaigns and make data-driven decisions to optimize your marketing efforts.

Building a strong PLG marketing department

All the strategies and techniques we’ve talked about throughout this article can only be achieved by having the right team in place. You must have a strong marketing department that is aligned with the product team and focused on driving growth.

First, to build a successful PLG marketing department, you must hire the right talent. This includes individuals with a deep understanding of the product-led growth approach, as well as those with expertise in areas such as content marketing, SEO, and data analytics.

To ensure that the marketing department is aligned with the product team and focused on driving growth, it is essential to establish clear roles and responsibilities. This involves defining key performance indicators (KPIs) for each team member, and ensuring that everyone understands their specific responsibilities and how they contribute to overall PLG success.

Finally, to build a strong marketing department for PLG success, businesses must foster a culture of collaboration. This involves encouraging communication and collaboration between the marketing and product teams, and creating a shared sense of ownership and responsibility for driving growth.

Fin

PLG marketing plays a critical role in driving product-led growth success. By embracing the principles of PLG marketing and implementing targeted strategies designed to attract, engage, and retain their target audience, businesses can accelerate growth, increase market share, and achieve long-term success. From basic strategies such as defining your target audience and emphasizing product value, to advanced strategies such as leveraging customer success stories and implementing data-driven marketing, this comprehensive guide has provided you with the knowledge and insights needed to master the critical role of marketing in accelerating product-led growth success.

Published on

Jan 12, 2024

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and the future of growth is here.

Track and activate up to 1,000 active contacts a month, for free.

PRICING

Flywheel is free.

and the future of growth is here.

Track and activate up to 1,000 active contacts a month, for free.