The Ultimate Guide to Product Led Marketing
Instead of just taking “top-down” approach, B2B SaaS companies are marketing from the bottom up, hooking end users on their products rather than appealing to CIOs or CTOs.
Enabling that GTM motion requires different marketing tactics, known as product-led or growth marketing.
What is Product Led Marketing
At its most simple, product-led marketing is a form of PLG but starts easier in the buying journey. It is a user-focused strategy that showcases the product itself as a means of acquiring new users.
If your company is looking to become more product-led, product-led marketing should be a first step in that direction.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of product-led growth marketing, explain why it’s important to focus on now, and share several ways of implementing its core strategies in your business.
Limits of current Product Led Growth
Product-led growth, or PLG, has been all the rage for the past few years.
Startups make an offer, like a free trial or free plan, and users sign up for that offer. The users that gain value from the offer upgrade to a paid plan. Simple, straightforward, and effective.
But today, we’re starting to see the momentum of that playbook slow down.
According to growth professional Andrew Capland, only 3 - 5% of SaaS website visitors sign up for a free trial. And of those signups, only 30 - 40% of accounts actually activate.
What this suggests is that the standard PLG motion is missing a major piece of the puzzle: users aren’t seeing immediate product value.
As PLG expert Saad Khan puts it, “Activation failure simply means [users] don't get what you are about, what you solve, and you are unable to give them a reason to come back.”
Clearly, product-led experts are noticing this trend, and we’re also seeing other problems with conventional PLG in our data and research. The way PLG is currently operating:
- Is difficult to implement
- Takes 6 months to a year to see results
- Causes only 2 - 3% of people to see your product
- Has low trial to paid conversion and activation rates
The reason we’re pointing out these limitations isn’t to advocate companies replace PLG with PLM. Instead, we recommend companies use PLG marketing as a precursor to other PLG strategies to maximize their returns.
Why PLG marketing is the next phase of PLG
Free trials and freemium plans can only take PLG companies so far. Organizations must demonstrate product value far earlier in the sales cycle to improve conversion and activation rates.
Enter: product-led marketing.
PLM can put your product value front and center without any reliance on engineering. No-code interactive demo solutions like Navattic make it easy to spin up a demo that takes users directly to “aha moments.”
And embedding these product tours in your content ensures that everyone sees your product and interacts with it.
In fact, our data shows interactive demos have a 25% - 40% engagement rate, meaning 12x more website visitors will see your product.
Plus users who are familiar with your platform before they jump into a PLG motion are more likely to be activated, healthy users down funnel.
Trainual, a knowledge transfer and training platform, wanted to test the efficacy of a Navattic demo. So they ran an A/B test, pitting Navattic against a product video on their homepage.
After several weeks, the Trainual team saw a +450% lift in free trial signups when the interactive demo was displayed.
Even better, they gained a +100% increase in users reaching activated trial status seven days after signup. During that time, they experienced a +175% lift in users converting to paid customers.
How to implement PLM
Companies typically use interactive demos or videos to implement product-led marketing.
But videos aren’t ideal. The time, effort, and money required to create high-quality videos are often not worth the return.
On an average site, only 10 to 15% of visitors watch a product video, and the features presented in a video become obsolete with every release.
Interactive product demos are an ideal alternative to product videos, providing prospective customers with a hands-on product experience without needing to set up a full account.
Unlike static videos, interactive demos encourage users to play around with a tool, allowing them to envision how they could use it in their organization.
Plus, the best interactive demo software comes with built-in templates and drag-and-drop functionality, making setup and changes quick and easy.
Product-led marketing examples
To give you some inspiration, we’ve collected examples of PLM in action on companies’ websites, on product pages, and even within their products.
Added to the website
Interactive demos and product videos add visual appeal and increase engagement on your website.
Mixpanel’s product tour is an excellent example — and customers are encouraged to use it from the minute they hit the home page.
The very first pop-up explains what Mixpanel does and how users can benefit from it.
After orienting the prospect to Mixpanel, the interactive demo takes them through features they might care about, such as visualizations, reporting functionality, and opportunities to gain exciting insights — all within the platform.
Drawing prospects’ attention to each unique aspect of Mixpanel and showing how those components work get prospects thinking about how they could put the tool into practice in their organization.
Salesforce built an entire demo center full of product demo videos to help prospects understand how each of their products works without talking to a sales rep.
When prospects click on a solution they are interested in, they’re taken to a page that outlines the product’s benefits and suggests they watch a demo video. Once a prospect provides their contact information, they can watch the product demo video at their leisure.
Added to product pages
Prospects head to product pages to learn more about the intricacies of your product. Adding an interactive demo to those pages can show, rather than tell, users how your product works.
Dooly, a sales enablement platform, strategically places its interactive demo just below the fold on one of its product pages.
Dooly’s interactive product demo informs the prospect of what they’ll see and do within the tour. Step by step, the prospect is shown exactly how they would keep their pipeline clean, updating the stage of an opportunity, adjusting its close date, and logging next steps.
When you visit Ramp’s product demo and hit “Explore Product,” it takes up your entire screen, making you feel like you’re actually in a real, live environment.
Ramp isn’t just telling users how their product works; they’re showing them, using pop-ups and overlays to point out features that save users time and money. Importantly, prospects may not have encountered these features in a traditional free trial account.
Try Ramp’s demo
Embedded within the product itself
Some companies are taking PLG marketing a step further and using it as part of their product onboarding experience.
MonitorQA, software that streamlines compliance audits, has an intricate back-end structure, so getting started with the tool is tough without guidance.
So the MonitorQA team added an interactive demo to their onboarding flow. This way, they can guarantee users see the most notable features and experience an a-ha moment right away.
Matillion is a data transformation tool for cloud data warehouses. As you can imagine, the product is quite complex.
So when a user first signs up for Matillion, they are presented with two options:
They can hop in and get to work or take a guided product tour to learn more about how Matillion works.
Within the tour, users are presented with even more options. They can jump straight to viewing credit consumption and pipelines or start from the beginning, transforming and cleansing their data.
Giving users a choice of how they learn increases the chances that they’ll stick around.
While traditional PLG yields some results, PLM takes conversion and activation rates to the next level, getting in front of every prospect and communicating the true value of your product.
Want some more PLM tips? Read:
How to Increase Conversions For Interactive Demos
In our State of the Interactive Product Demo 2023 report, we pulled data from over 3,000 demos to determine the best ways to leverage interactive demos. This guide shares three strategies for improving conversion rates and showcases examples of each tactic in practice.