3 Product-led Progress Frameworks: A Comparability


Lately, the tech trade has seen a paradigm shift in the way in which folks purchase and use software program. At this time’s prospects need a hands-on encounter with a product earlier than they make a purchase order, and so they count on an amazing expertise. Because of this, consumer-grade UX, personalization, self-learning, and prompt worth have turn into the norm. Firms catering to those buyer behaviors are often known as “product-led.”

Product-led development has unfold quickly throughout SaaS organizations. A 2022 survey by ProductLed discovered that 58% of B2B SaaS corporations have already deployed a product-led development technique, with 91% of these planning to extend their funding in product-led development initiatives.

Two statistics reflect the high adoption rate of product-led growth strategy at SaaS companies.

With greater than a decade of expertise constructing, launching, and rising world merchandise, I’ve carried out many development fashions and methods. Primarily based on these experiences, I like to recommend product-led development, significantly for SaaS companies. On this article, I clarify three frameworks I’ve had nice success with, to be able to choose the one that can work greatest in your firm.

Gross sales-led Progress vs. Product-led Progress

In conventional sales-led fashions, corporations sometimes use content material or paid channels to create consciousness and appeal to prospects. A prospect turns into a marketing-qualified lead and is handed over to the gross sales crew, which then nurtures the prospect right into a sales-qualified lead and attracts them by way of the gross sales course of. Solely after making the acquisition can the shopper expertise any worth. As soon as they purchase, nonetheless, they is probably not proud of the acquisition, wherein case you’ve probably misplaced them as a gift and future buyer.

With a product-led mannequin, prospects expertise the product early within the journey, normally through a trial or freemium. Then they make an knowledgeable resolution about whether or not or to not buy based mostly on their precise use of the product. An incredible person expertise will, subsequently, usually result in greater activation, engagement, retention, and referrals, leading to the next fee of natural development.

Briefly, product-led development has two foundational pillars:

  • Every part revolves across the person expertise.
  • The product should ship worth earlier than it could possibly seize worth.

The Most Efficient Product-led Progress Frameworks

Firms looking for to undertake a product-led development technique have a number of frameworks to select from. Those mentioned listed here are the three most generally used, and, for my part, the best. The very best framework in your firm will finally rely upon the character of your product.

1. The Product-led Progress Flywheel

The flywheel framework allows companies to develop by investing in a superior person expertise designed to generate excessive person satisfaction and enhance word-of-mouth referrals, thus driving new person acquisition.

The first layer of the product-led growth flywheel starts with Activate and moves through Adopt, Adore, and Advocate.
The product-led development flywheel exhibits the shopper journey with the product and the way it corresponds to buyer actions.

On this framework, 4 sequential person segments (evaluators, newbies, regulars, and champions) correlate to the important thing actions (activate, undertake, adore, and advocate) that the shopper must take with the intention to graduate to the following degree of engagement. The main target is on optimizing the person expertise in order that they’ll progress by way of the levels. Because the variety of customers finishing every motion will increase, the flywheel spins quicker, additional rising the speed of referrals. This creates a optimistic suggestions loop: As extra customers turn into champions, they drive extra acquisition—in addition to exponential development.

Product-led onboarding is vital right here: This implies it’s essential to design the onboarding movement for brand spanking new prospects in order that they’ll rapidly turn into common customers and champions of your product. For a great instance of how this may work, contemplate Notion, a quickly rising SaaS firm centered on data administration. It makes use of personalization to offer a superior expertise and presents a visually interesting sign-up movement that helps make clear person intentions. It then presents customers a guidelines to drive activation, serving to them see the device in motion and incentivizing the completion of onboarding.

Two screenshots show Notion’s user interface for customer onboarding.
The sign-up movement of productiveness app Notion presents personalization and visible readability to assist the shopper by way of onboarding. (Credit score: Notion)

2. Product-led Progress Loops

The expansion loop is a self-sustaining framework that reduces the necessity for acquisition channels to extend the variety of customers. The idea is that the output of 1 stage is routinely reinvested as enter in one other stage. Calendly, a gathering scheduling device, is a superb instance of this framework in motion.

The Calendly growth loop details customer interactions with the product and how these organically increase customer sign-ups.
The Calendly development loop particulars buyer interactions with the product and the way these organically enhance buyer sign-ups.

Let’s say Participant A needs to schedule a gathering and sends a Calendly invite to Participant B through the platform. Participant B receives the invitation through electronic mail and clicks by way of to start experiencing the Calendly platform. They discover it helpful and begin sending invites to others when they should schedule conferences. In doing so, they’re routinely selling the product, beginning a viral loop. Every Calendly buyer brings in new prospects, with little effort wanted from the corporate. These prospects deliver extra prospects, and so forth.

3. The Hook Mannequin

This framework was popularized by creator and investor Nir Eyal in his ebook Hooked: The best way to Construct Behavior-Forming Merchandise. Because the identify suggests, it’s designed to hook prospects and encourage them to develop a behavior of utilizing the product. The technique is made up of 4 key phases: set off, motion, variable reward, and funding.

The hook model shows the customer journey through external or internal trigger, action, variable reward, and investment.
The hook mannequin exhibits the shopper journey by way of exterior or inner set off, motion, variable reward, and funding.

1. Set off: The issue that elicits the conduct, cueing the motion that then turns right into a behavior.

There are two kinds of triggers: exterior and inner. An exterior set off could be a social advert, billboard, and even the climate (e.g., seeing rain clouds and shopping for an umbrella). An inner set off is more durable to pinpoint. It’s an emotion or feeling that the person has, and it’s fairly difficult so that you can know when precisely your buyer is hungry, bored, or overwhelmed.

2. Motion: The conduct the person executes in anticipation of some reward.

The person appears to be like to discover a answer to their downside (the set off). There are two pulleys of human conduct that corporations can leverage right here: skill and motivation. Virtually, which means making the motion as simple as potential whereas concurrently boosting the person’s need to take that motion.

3. Variable reward: The answer created by the motion taken, which reinforces the cycle of conduct.

Analysis exhibits that folks’s our bodies expertise a surge of dopamine when their brains count on a reward, and variability in rewards multiplies that impact, activating the elements of the mind related to wanting and need. As Eyal describes, these reward sorts embrace:

  • Rewards of the tribe: Social rewards based mostly on connection and acceptance.
  • Rewards of the hunt: Rewards based mostly on materials assets.
  • Rewards of the self: Private gratification within the type of mastery or self-realization.

4. Funding: An motion that can enhance the product or service sooner or later.

Customers are requested to spend money on the product itself, normally by way of a mixture of time, knowledge, effort, social capital, and/or cash. As soon as they make an funding, they’re unlikely to desert the product.

LinkedIn is an efficient instance of a product using the hook mannequin. The necessity to discover a job might be an inner set off, whereas looking out on Google and discovering an attention-grabbing govt profile on the platform could be an exterior set off. Finishing the sign-up course of is the motion. After that, the person receives suggestions for folks to attach with, job ideas, and posts which may be of curiosity, to allow them to expertise the product’s worth. Their variable rewards are the power to develop their community, details about jobs they’ll apply for, and useful content material they’ll learn. A person invests within the platform by finishing their profile and publishing posts, which in flip garner views, likes, feedback, and direct messages—successfully participating with different customers. Contributing in these methods helps customers clear up their set off downside, and even obtain different targets, and so they maintain logging on.

The best way to Measure Product-led Progress

Whichever framework makes probably the most sense in your firm, you’ll want to trace numerous product-led development metrics to watch efficiency. Listed below are the elementary knowledge factors I like to recommend :

  • Time to worth: The time it takes new customers to expertise significant worth

  • Free-to-paid conversion fee: The proportion of customers who decide to a paid account after the trial expertise

  • Enlargement income: The income generated from current prospects through upselling, cross-selling, or add-ons

  • Common income per person: An indicator of total enterprise well being that’s measured by dividing the month-to-month recurring income by the variety of prospects

By using one in all these three frameworks, you’ll be able to reap the rewards that product-led development presents. Because the examples of profitable implementation that I’ve shared recommend, one framework received’t match all corporations. The one which’s proper in your group will differ relying on your small business context and the kinds of merchandise you promote.

Regardless, what I’ve realized is that on the coronary heart of all product-led development frameworks is knowing your customers and how one can ship worth to them. Whether or not you resolve to observe the flywheel framework, development loops, or the hook mannequin, making a seamless expertise in your prospects must be your aim. At all times maintain their wants and behaviors in thoughts as you propose for the long run.


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