The State Of Product-Led Experience Vol.One

Product-Led Growth Research with Data & Insights from 40+ Leading SaaS Organizations

Introduction

To uncover the challenges and competing strengths Product-Led organizations employ, we embarked on a mission to define Product Led experience in the SaaS landscape. To achieve this, we surveyed 40 SaaS organizations and 50 executives who own or lead Product-Led Growth practices.

The goal of our effort is to map, through real examples, Product-Led Growth techniques used and estimate how they affect the customer journey. We strongly believe that our massive data sample and thorough analysis will enable organizations to align internal teams and optimize product delivery.

Our commitment is to help reshape the SaaS growth mindset via the lens of Product-Led Growth GTM practices. The survey’s results guide those efforts, and this extensive report will highly reflect on them.

Product-Led Growth Research Key Points of Analysis 

  • Product-Led Growth as a concept. Introduction and analysis of Product-Led growth pillars, challenges, and limitations.
  • Product-Led Experience (PLX) ™. Introduction of the term and how it impacts fundamental elements of a Product-Led growth GTM strategy.
  • Product-Led Onboarding ™. Introduction of a remodeled onboarding definition – direct outcome of Product-Led growth GTM practices.
  • Product-Led Growth Metrics. Introduction of Product-Led growth metrics, SaaS organizations can consider when assessing product experience.
  • Product-Led Growth KPIs & Analysis. Extensive analysis of Product-Led Growth and Product-Led experience KPIs & benchmarks

Participants

Overall more than 40 leading saas organizations like: Hubspot, Intercom, Drift, Segment, Wistia, Userlane, Gainsight, Pendo, Bynder, Amplitude, Clearbit, Leadfeeder, Prodpad, Close, Typeform, Chargebee, Appcues, Lemlist, Yesware, Traveleperk, Filestage, Gosquared, Helpcrunch, Vuestudio, Hiver, Salesflare, Lemlist, Infogram, Supporthero and Vidyard were examined.

<img src="product_led_growth_research_participants.png" alt="product-led growth research participants"/>

Product-Led Growth Reseach List of Participants

Attribution Guidelines

At ReinventGrowth, we believe research is the best way to provide insights about the fast paced ever-changing SaaS landscape. Feel free to distribute and use this report in your own content and republish any charts or findings with the caveat of providing ReinventGrowth as the source of the original research.

If you would like to learn more about Product-Led practices we regurarly share more insights, on product management, onboarding, growth and SaaS practices on our blog.

Research & Authorship: Despina Exadaktylou Founder & CEO ReinventGrowth

The Product-Led Growth Challenge

Developing a product is hard. Delivering it efficiently to many customer segments is an ongoing challenge. It is one thing trying to increase a customer base and another retaining it for the long run.

Finding the optimal point that will make customers keep coming back for more, is a rather complicated task. Especially when we refer to B2B solutions applying to a range of personas and industries. 

For a while now, the emerging Product-Led Growth practices, having as panacea products’ superpowers raise the one million dollars question: What defines customer experience?

While optimized product delivery comes first into mind, the challenges following product-led transformation are far greater.

Product-Led Growth Challenge 1: The Dominance of IT Consumerization

The surge to deliver flawless product experiences in B2B is rising. This occurs by the major challenge IT consumerization brings on the table. The frictionless, seamless experience B2C solutions provide is now expected in B2B too. 

That shift in the customer acquisition process elevates the product as the primary growth driver. A fact that disrupts the ever-changing SaaS landscape once again.Is not enough anymore for a product to deliver.

Product features, should onboard users and sustain engagement levels. Even beyond that first experience, Product-Led organizations retain and expand their user base by exploiting product features. While keeping retention and support costs low.

On the other side of the spectrum, inconsistencies in GTM practices, limited experimentation, and infinite handholding still have their fair share across the SaaS industry.

 The more organizations deny to optimize product experience, the harder it will become for them to drive accounts towards retention and expansion. 

Product-Led Growth Challenge 2: The Rise of the Customer

The abandonment of long term contracts has liberated customers. The subscription economy enables them to make up to 12 buying decisions within a year. If we add on that:

  1. The reduced switching costs
  2. Fierce competition
  3. and the strength of customers’ voice on social mediums

We have the rise of an era where a sole user can hold all the cards under his sleeve. This shift has raised customer expectations. Any product is now supposed to enable them to grow while offering a stellar experience at the same time. 

Products’ complexity and their delivery across an array of devices make things worse. Context, of usage, is no longer optional. Quite the opposite. It is the one ingredient that should follow a Product-Led Growth strategy. Its absence can be detrimental to any SaaS offering. An effect that becomes stronger in case a systemic process delivering personalized and tailored experiences is not in place.

Product-Led Growth Challenge 3: The Abandonment of Silos

Getting rid of silos’ domination is the first step organizations’ should take when striving to deliver a Product-Led Growth Strategy. Customer-facing teams along with Product Management need common metrics when evaluating product experience.

Only the employment of a unified agenda and alignment across departments will bring clarity and optimize product delivery across the board. In the opposite scenario, confusion, misalignment, and decreased ROI will prevail.

Product-Led Growth Challenge 4: The Emerging Role of Product Management

Product Management is also changing face. Gut feelings are not supposed to lead any more product management decisions. Not when a Product-Led Growth agenda is in place anyway.

Product leaders, have to evolve into data-driven experimenters. Experimenters relying  both on qualitative and quantitative results. This shift will enable them to get internal buy-in from internal stakeholders and come closer to customers’ needs. The ongoing monitoring of passive feedback, user research, and investment in data will help them better understand the context of usage.

Continuous Investment in a customer-centric approach enables the delivery of optimized experiences. While at the same time Product Management is able to build features compatible with products’ vision and customers’ needs.

The State of Product-Led Growth

The first reference we get on Product-Led Growth as a GTM strategy is from Asana back in 2013. As a term, it was later on analyzed by Nick Bonfiglio and Mickey Allon, founders of Gainsight PX, in “Mastering Product Experience in SaaS” back in 2017.

If you are into the product-led realm for while though, you most probably are familiar with everything  Product-Led Growth (PLG) entails from Openview which coined and evangelized the term.

What is a Product-Led Growth GTM Strategy?

A Product-Led growth GTM strategy puts the product at the center of the organization. Product-Led organizations deliver products that anticipate and answer customers evolving needs. They achieve that by delivering stellar, customer-centric product experiences.

<img src="product-led-growth-ownership.png" alt="product-led growth ownership"/>

Representation of Product-Led Growth Ownership

In this instance, the product is not a part of the customer experience. In a Product-Led growth GTM strategy, the product is the experience. 

An experience so strong and optimized that converts accounts, in a matter of minutes. While it keeps delivering value on a consistent cadence in order to retain and expand them.

Product-Led Growth main pillars

Besides having their departments consider the product as the main growth lever, in a Product-Led growth GTM strategy there are other elements to consider. Most of them are also considered as challenges as we mentioned at the beginning of this paper.

Product-Led Growth Pillar 1: Company-Wide Alignment

“Customers attach value to products in proportion to the perceived ability of those products to help solve their problems.”

– THEODORE LEVITT, THE MARKETING IMAGINATION Part II

With the rise of digital transformation and the popularity of digital mediums across the spectrum, customer expectations are shaped way before they went ahead and try a product.

Whenever those expectations do not align with the product offering, customers experience a value gap and abandon the product for good.  The value gap represents the difference between expected and delivered (or perceived) value.

Product-Led organizations avoid that by reorganizing their strategy around the product’s mission and vision to improve collaboration across the board. They sustain their go-to-market messages across any medium and abandon silos for good.

Product-Led Growth Pillar 2: Investment in Product Analytics

A Product-Led growth strategy invests radically in product analytics to enable teams to understand where prospects leave their journeys and optimize positioning.

However, this is only one facet of their role. Product analytics can also improve onboarding, embrace in-product engagements’ experimentation and prove what needs to get on the roadmap.

With one way or another, product analytics become the single source of truth within a Product-Led organization.

Product-Led Growth Pillar 3: Barriers to Entry are Eliminated

In a Product-Led growth GTM strategy, the pricing model delivered should be a free trial or a freemium. This allows the customer to realize value sooner and accelerates the sales process. Put simply, in a Product-Led growth model organizations deliver a bottom-up approach. Ideally targeting users who in turn will promote the product to buyers.

Product-Led Growth Pillar 4: From MQLs to PQLs

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are replaced by Product-Qualified Leads (PQLs). Unlike the Marketing-Led model, where online analytic prevail in a Product-Led Growth GTM model product usage takes the lead.  

One of the earliest mentions of the PQL concept is in an article by Tomasz Tunguz where the natural progression from MQLs to PQLs is described. The term, however, was coined by Gainsight PX in 2017 and is described as a prospect that signed up and demonstrated buying intent based on product interest, usage, and behavioral data. 

Product-Led Growth Pillar 5: Product Virality

Organizations investing in a Product-Led Growth GTM strategy have products that include a virality component. They achieve that by investing in user research, UX and UI design, product marketing and building product features to engineer vitality.

Product virality is when the product users realize more value by inviting more users in their network or by sharing and evangelizing a product to grow awareness within their network.

Some popular product virality examples are:

The benefits following product virality? Lower acquisition costs and the creation of an eternal viral loop which is embraced (when the product meets its promises) by strong word-of-mouth-virality.

Product-Led Growth Pillar 6: Intuitive Product Features

One of the most important elements, of Product-Led growth, is the need to deliver intuitive products. Product features need to market, sell and onboard users seamlessly by capitalizing at the same time on a self-serve sales approach. The ongoing value provided to users lead to increased levels of retention and expansion.

As explained above the trend IT consumerization brings along is perceived as a challenge for SaaS organizations.  Users desire to manage products that are not followed by a steep learning curve – the likes of Facebook or Slack.

<img src="product-led-growth-hierarchy-of-needs.png" alt="product-led growth hierarchy"/>

Representation of Product-Led Growth Hierarchy of Needs

Product-Led Growth Misconceptions

Product-Led Growth Misconception One

Product-Led growth is supposed to be achieved only when end users realize initial value via a bottom-up approach. While we agree and believe that end-users should become product evangelists within their organization, internal teams need to also consider that this effect may reflect on buyers too.

A fact also supported by “The State of Product-Led growth” a recent research Openview conducted, where it was proved that  80% of companies have adopted in-product tracking and analytics.

Those data can be used to:

  1. Streamline the PQL segments and discover sales opportunities in disguise.
  2. Invest in a tailored JTBD onboarding framework that will accelerate time-to-value (TTV) for buyers.
  3. Streamline the onboarding journey by investing in team onboarding (breadth of use) that will deliver value to both buyers and end-users.

Product-Led Growth Misconception Two

Prospects are supposed to convert seamlessly only by product features, without Sales reps. intervening in the process.  A fact supported by Forrester which claims that  75% of B2B buyers are leaning towards a self-serve model.

While we agree with that claim and encourage the delivery of intuitive products, for solutions offering multiple value points (eg. Marketo) things can get more complicated. Furthermore, when enterprise deals are at play strategic decisions will eventually have to be taken. So Sales will have to eventually be implicated in the buying process.

To find the middle ground on those situations organizations should:

  1. Alter their pricing and offer free value that will make users keep coming back for more. Successful Product-Led organizations, like Hubspot and Gainsight PX achieve that pretty successfully:
  • They both invest in a freemium model. (Gainsight PX was also doing that at the time this research was conducted)
  • They offer human assistance during the activation phase but only when a prospect has proved to be a PQL.
  1. While intuitive features are paramount to adoption, organizations need to invest in ongoing in-product guidance at scale, to lead accounts to retention and eventually expansion.

The kind of guidance that will be reinforced by insights product analytics and customer-facing teams provide. Put simply product experience should replicate as much as possible human assistance to accelerate growth and reduce associated costs.

This realization does not downgrade organizations imperative investment to keep creating products customers love. It only means that product guidance, when delivered in conjunction with usage, should sustain engagement levels and lead users successfully to upgrades. 

Product-Led Growth Misconception Three

Product Qualified Leads are the sole point of reference in regards to in-product segmentation. While Product-Qualified Leads refer to prospects showing serious intent into buying a product they are limited to the acquisition and activation phase.

Users fall into many different buckets post-purchase. It only makes sense that internal teams need to define which bucket goes to each user category and how usage will be assessed.

<img src="product-led-growth-misconceptions.png" alt="product-led growth misconceptions"/>

Representation of Product-Led Growth Misconceptions

Product-Led Experience

What is Product Experience?

In a Product-Led growth strategy, the product becomes the vehicle delivering value to customers and summing up their perception about a company’s offerings. Always by considering all touchpoints, interactions, and engagements.

When delivered right, product experience increases customer lifetime value, drives differentiation and accelerates growth.

According to Gainsight, stellar Product Experience (PX) is delivered when organizations:

  1. Make data-driven product decisions and leverage analytics for anything that goes on their roadmap.
  2. Streamline onboarding and adoption by using product engagements that lead users to their desired results.
  3. Align the impact of product investments with new feature adoption, retention, conversions, and expansion.
  4. Achieve company-wide alignment and consider different business metrics per department but define ownership and accountability.

What is Product-Led Experience?

In many ways, Product-Led experience (PLX)  complements the definition Gainsight provides. It capitalizes the same technology and relies on Product-Led growth to optimize its outcomes.

But, what does this mean exactly?

Product-Led Experience (PLX) Foundations

  • Serious investment in a Product-Led onboarding strategy throughout the customer journey. In this instance, onboarding drives the Product-Led growth GTM strategy at play and is one of the main differentiators in regards to growth.
  • Investment in product analytics solutions like Gainsight PX, Mixpanel, Pendo, Heap, Amplitude and others. Those solutions provide real-time product insights and don’t rely on engineering resources to extract data. A fact that leads to:
  1. Reduced costs on engineering spend.
  2. Internal teams get product insights on time, constantly iterate the customer journey and promote Product-Led growth across their organization.
  3. Customer feedback is monitored on an ongoing basis and can be leveraged to the very end. Please note that depending on the product features each of those solutions provides product feedback can also be considered alongside product analytics.
  4. Onboarding can take infinite in-product paths, tailored to user-roles and lead to initial and true value.
  • Real-time product insights, allow heavy data analysis and the establishment of associated metrics that complement business KPIs. Product-Led Growth metrics prevail among those organizations. They extend the Product-Qualified Leads model to Product OQLs (Product Onboarding Qualified Leads), which rely on onboarding as a point of reference.
  • The growth team is collecting input from internal organizations and act as the Product (Led) experience gatekeeper.  It achieves that by putting together the insights provided by internal teams alongside Product-Led growth metrics and business KPIs. This fact alone results in a feedback loop and the optimization between high-touch and high-tech touchpoints.

Product-Led Experience as a concept

Product-Led Experience (PLX) ™, a term coined by ReinventGrowth,  is delivered when organizations adopt a set of Product-Led growth metrics that go beyond acquisition. Those metrics are considered in conjunction with business KPIs and user mapping and their outcomes lead to an end-to-end representation of the customer journey. PLX has as its backbone Product-Led onboarding and serious investment in a technology stack that enables product data analysis on a day-to-day basis.

<img src="product-led-experience-delivery.png" alt="product-led experience delivery"/>

Representation of Product-Led Experience Delivery

Product-Led Onboarding (PLO)

As a business function, the magnitude onboarding has for SaaS organizations renders it more critical by the day. Especially now that customer experience needs to be stellar and user satisfaction needs to be established in the early stages of the customer lifecycle.

When effective, user onboarding helps new users become proficient, and customers grow within a service. A poor onboarding experience though disappoints buyers, infuriates users, and leads to churn. Being subject to the GTM practices, onboarding changes attributes with the ease a chameleon adapts to a new environment.

On a Self Serve onboarding strategy it is fast and to the point, camouflaged behind scalable practices. On a Customer Success one, it becomes a thorough systemic process embraced by the hand-holding humans provide. 

Depending on its design, onboarding can include different attributes. It may entail basic setup help, training, and lead to experiences that create proficient and habitual users. When delivered right, it becomes a scalable and tailored educational framework. 

By enabling accounts to grow and moving them down the customer lifecycle. When executed wrong, it delivers out of context messages, creates friction, and encourages drop-offs.  

The Ever-evolving Onboarding Funnel

The multivariate nature onboarding has enables it to replicate Sales practices. The ongoing feature releases discourage the iconic sales funnel taxonomy. When a new release is up onboarding kicks in to deliver initial value and lead to account expansion. 

This process abandons the traditional sales model archetype, ending onboarding prevalence during activation. Being a continuous process, onboarding can be assessed at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

The sales funnel has evolved into a circle where onboarding stands in its center. Always waiting for the next feature release to be triggered again. The industry’s transition to Product-Led Growth practices also plays its part in this evolution. 

Onboarding no longer includes invasive, out of context in-app interactions presented at large in front of users. Product data exploitation overrules the assumption implying that product engagements cannot supplement human activations. Quite the opposite. Onboarding now becomes the connective tissue between the two.

Product-Led Onboarding as a concept

Product-Led onboarding (PLO) ™, a term coined by ReinventGrowth, is a set of data-driven product engagement practices, that consider behavioral notions and users’ proficiency.

As a strategy, it avoids random feature introduction to users. Instead, it exploits historic data and considers users’ skill level when exploring a product for the first time.  Contextual guidance is its main pillar. It enables organizations to double down on product experience and users’ workflow early on.

<img src="product-led-onboarding.png" alt="product-led onboarding"/>

Representation of Product-Led Onboarding Loop

Following in that way, their progressive route to excellence. Before, even when a tailored experience was at play, the work was not done. A viable monitoring process following users’ in-app progression could not be established. Marketing Led practices may have introduced the use of analytics to track prospects’ online behavior. But failed to provide organizations with an extensive analysis of in-product behavior.

Product-Led organizations already capitalize on PLO practices. They combine insights from prospects’ online presence with those the product itself provides. Product managers are at the forefront. They are now able to pinpoint which features are sticky and where drop-offs occur.

Onboarding is finally able to be measured end-to-end and pinpoint where growth lies or churn lurks. In a SaaS world, where stellar customer experience is now synonymous to optimized product delivery, user onboarding acts as the Jack of all trades. It takes users by the hand, helping them accomplish what needs to get done.

Product-Led growth practices transform onboarding in a data-driven force. One that fills in the gaps humans are unable to, by eliminating confusion and sustaining engagement. 

Eventually, it all comes down to what game is at play. The one ruled by humans, or the one led by machines.  

Assessing Product-Led Experience

To make products competitive and an investment reflecting customers’ expectations, product teams ship feature changes and improvements daily. The word “agile” is part of their DNA, a quality following the onboarding process too. In-app educational practices introduce those changes on time, by providing the right context.

Product management should measure those interactions on a day to day basis to reassure they yield the necessary results. Each department has a different set of business metrics for its input to the customer journey. Following this logic, Product-Led growth metrics need to supplement those insights.

They will add value to existing KPIs by assessing activation, retention, and engagement levels. Capitalization on product data, make this possible and delivers insights on every move a user makes in-app. Their learnings can pinpoint on which interactions humans should intervene, or the product can pave the way.

On the always online era where the power of a sole user can now jeopardize an otherwise “done” deal, onboarding is no longer measured as it should or lacking personalization. It becomes the single source of truth when referring to products’ capabilities. It is able to predict the anomalies caused by users having different context or skillset

Product Onboarding Efficiency (POE): Product Experience Evaluation Framework

In the foreseeable future, new terms will describe the User-Product intimacy levels. The first associated term established so far is the Product-Qualified lead (PQL). PQLs refer to prospects that demonstrated buying intent based on product usage.

The term refers up until the point where a paid conversion takes place. Product managers, need to create benchmarks associated with onboarding interactions. This is the only way for them to measure product engagement levels.

Onboarding has a dual mission. It needs to deliver both initial and repetitive value. Thus, it needs terms like Product Onboarding Efficiency (POE), to assess its effectiveness. 

Those calculations can track and guide onboarding efficacy throughout the customer journey. Depending on which stage of the customer lifecycle a user is in, the POE relies on four product variables:

Product-Led Growth Metric: Breadth Of Use

Product breadth is an alternate form of (team) activation. It helps product managers realize the extent a product is being used on an account level. It monitors account health and helps PMs proactively manage churn.

Product-Led Growth Metric: Depth Of Use

How much key features are utilized is something that always troubles product managers. Onboarding should enable users to progressively exploit product features to their maximum extent. Depth of use is about adoption, both on a user and account level.

Product-Led Growth Metric: Efficiency Of Use

The difficulty level to complete common tasks is a critical onboarding evaluation. To assess the efficiency levels product teams need the total number of users per account who begin a task versus those who complete it.

Product-Led Growth Metric: Frequency Of Use

Frequency of use shows how often and for how long users engage with product features. Reminding users why a specific feature is there in the first place. Or how this feature may optimize their workflow is also something reliant to onboarding activations.

The Product-Led Growth Adoption Loop

All things being equal, Breadth, Depth, Frequency, and Efficiency of use form an adoption loop.  

<img src="adoption-loop.png" alt="adoption loop"/>

Representation of Product-Led Growth Adoption Loop

The loop’s implementation is viable:

  • when an account’s users exploit a product (breadth)
  • by using its features extensively (depth) in an efficient manner (efficiency)
  • and repeating those actions frequently. (frequency)

Again, the decisive role initiating this process is (team) activation. But for the adoption loop to be consistent, on every stage of the customer journey, all four metrics should be considered. 

Depending on the onboarding strategy, it is being supplemented by business KPIs and parameters. 

Product-Led Growth Research Overview

Onboarding Strategies

<img src="onboarding-strategies.png" alt="onboarding strategies chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Onboarding Strategies Examined Chart

  • 40 SaaS Onboarding Strategies: In total, 40 Self Serve (55%) and Customer Success (44%) onboarding strategies were examined.

Industry Segments

<img src="product-led-growth-research-industries.png" alt="product-led growth research industries chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Industry Segments Examined Chart

  • All three main industry segments were surveyed. Those segments were 52% Small-Medium businesses, 48% Mid Market and 11% Enterprise.

<img src="business-roles.png" alt="business roles chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Participants Business Roles Chart

The executives surveyed were:

  • Product Managers(48%)
  • Customer Success Managers and Growth Managers by (24%)
  • and SaaS Founders (20%).

Participants were interviewed on their responsibilities, effectiveness, and organizational structure. Always, under the spectrum of the Product-Led Growth techniques employed. 

Team Onboarding

<img src="team-onboarding.png" alt="team onboarding chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Team Onboarding Chart

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • Only 22% (mean ratio) across participants focus on Team Onboarding
  • 16% of Self Serve adopters onboard only sole users.
  • The majority of organizations onboard both teams and sole users. With 66% preference on a Customer Success and 47% on Self Serve onboarding.
  • 33% Human Assisted and 11%  Self Serve adopters focus on Team Onboarding.

Onboarding By Persona

<img src="onboarding-personas.png" alt="onboarding personas chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Onboarding by Persona Chart

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • 68% of the participants onboard more than one personas.
  • While most participants onboard many personas (68%), a limited 20% onboards two and 16% only one

Product-Delivery Method

<img src="product-led-growth-research-delivery.png" alt="product-led growth research delivery method chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Product Delivery Method Chart

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • User Acquisition. Acquisition rates, with 43% of participants favoring a freemium and 22% a free trial model
  • Customer Segment. Whether or not product delivery fits the needs of the customer segments served. With an equal 14,5% preference across free trial & freemium.
  • Product Value. Optimized product Value delivery, with 14,5% mean preference across free trial & freemium.
  • GTM Strategy. The Go-To-Market strategy, with 14% opting for freemium and 8% for a free trial.

Onboarding Ownership


<img src="product-led-growth-onboarding-ownership.png" alt="product-led growth research onboarding ownership chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Onboarding Ownership Chart

Data Analysis & Product-Led Key Takeaways

On Self-Serve the ownership is dispersed across:

  1. Product Management (81%)
  2. Marketing (77%)
  3. Customer Success (68%)
  4. and Sales (40%)

On Customer Success onboarding:

  • Customer Success (76%) and Sales (69%) take ownership.
  • At the same time, Product Management (38%) and Marketing (23%) come last.

From the human resources’ allocation, it resonates that the KPIs following the two strategies vary.

Those results are not surprising since:

  • GTM Transition: The industry’s transition towards Product-Led Growth practices causes discrepancies on GTM practices.
  • Multiple KPIs: A challenge following Product-Led growth practices is the different metrics internal teams consider when assessing product experience.
  • Buyer-Seller Dynamic: The increased involvement of customer-facing teams is inevitable since both sides need to make strategic decisions.
  • High Touch vs. High Tech: The argument that scalable practices don’t apply to a Customer Success onboarding strategy is still at play. Thus, the decreased involvement of Product Management.

Key Takeaways 

  1. Silos abandonment, Product Led practices bring on the table, will not be achieved until internal teams learn to think as a unified force. The deployment of a unified agenda will bring alignment and clarify which parts of the customer journey may be neglected or falsely handled.
  2. Product Management, being the product’s main gatekeeper, should be involved and align with internal teams on every step of the customer journey. This is how product experience will become an intentional effort across an entire organization.

Onboarding Benchmarks

Onboarding Metrics Allocation

<img src="product-led-growth-onboarding-metrics.png" alt="product-led growth research onboarding metrics chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Onboarding Metrics Allocation Chart

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • SaaS organizations use an array of metrics – a blend of business (51%), marketing (15%), and product (34%).
  • Being a fundamental need for organizations to be aware of their business and marketing ROI, those KPIs can be lagging indicators. Since they have little to do with product experience. Negative changes in those metrics do not make their appearance instantly. Only when their (churn) effects are in place.
  • Internal organizations should invest in Product-Led growth metrics. This is the only way for them to distill the right conclusions on users’ behavior. This is how they will make the delivery of a stellar product experience an intentional effort across an entire organization.

Personalizations Factors

Personalization, the double-edged knife following any onboarding tactic. On Customer Success onboarding it involves Sales and CSMs. Increasing in that way a lot acquisition and retention costs. On Self Serve, it is established via scalable engagement practices tailored to users’ needs. 

Product-Led Growth Research – Personalization Factors Chart

<img src="personalization-factors.png" alt="product-led growth research personalization chart"/>Data Analysis

  • Self Serve adopters strive to balance Sales (40%) and Customer Success (63%) involvement on activation and retention.
  • On Customer Success Onboarding, the disposal of Sales (69%) during acquisition and of a dedicated CSM (93%) later on, is the first choice coming into mind. The nature and needs of Mid-Market and Enterprise customers make sales procedure complex. While customer satisfaction becomes a key priority.
  • Email practices is a personalization tactic with 84% (Self Serve) and 60% (Customer Success) preference.
  • Education practices affect the buyer-seller relationship. Having 68% preference on Self-Serve and 60% on Customer Success.
  • The same impact have Onsite/In-App messages with 84% and 53% preference on a Self Serve and Customer Success onboarding .
  • Social Communities play an essential role when establishing a personal connection. They have an almost equal level of preference among Self Serve (73%) and Customer Success (66%).
  • Social Media is a prominent personalization tactic on Self Serve (57%). While it is less preferred on a Customer Success onboarding strategy (20%)

User Behavioral Metrics Per Strategy

 <img src="product-led-growth-user-behavior-strategy.png" alt="product-led growth user behavior chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – User Behavioral Metrics Per Straegy Chart

Data Analysis

  • On Customer Success onboarding top benchmarks are Monthly Churn Rate (100%), NPS (85%) and Key Features Adoption (65%).
  • On Self Serve onboarding, top behavioral metrics are Monthly Churn Rate (65%), Website Traffic (65%), NPS (45%) and Key Features Adoption (45%)
  • 40% of the metrics the research uncovered are marketing and product-related. While 15% of them business.
  • PQL measurements (PQL Scoring) are used by 35% of participants across both strategies.

User Behavioral Metrics Per Department

<img src="product-led-growth-user-behavior-dept.png" alt="product-led growth user behavior per dept. chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – User Behavioral Metrics Per Department Chart

Data Analysis

  • Top behavioral metrics are NPS, Monthly Churn Rate and Website Traffic with mean preference 75%, 72%, and 60% respectively.
  • Marketing (46%) favors more PQL scoring, followed by Customer Success (36%) and Product Management (33%).
  • Key Feature Adoption is monitored more by Customer Success (63%), followed by Product Management (51%) and Marketing (46%).
  • Despite the increased consideration of product metrics Marketing also assesses Lead Scoring 46%.
  • Time to Invite Team Members (Breadth of Use) is mostly monitored by Customer Success (33%). While Product Management ranks second (17%) and Marketing (9%) last.
  • The ROI onboarding yields (Conversions), is monitored mostly by Customer Success (55%) and Marketing (46%). While Product Management (21%) stays behind.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • PRODUCT METRICS: Emerging product metrics (PQL Scoring) redefine customer satisfaction by considering product usage.
  • MARKETING METRICS: Marketing metrics still play a significant role when evaluating user behavior. Being out of the product activities, those evaluations assess acquisition practices.
  • PRODUCT MANAGEMENT: The lack of product managers to adopt product KPIs to their full extent suggests that there is room for improvement in their evaluations. Product performance and customer feedback in conjunction with product data analysis should be the top three priorities following product management decisions. 

<img src="product-led-growth-onboarding-toolset.png" alt="product-led growth onboarding tools chart"/>Product-Led Growth Research – Onboarding Toolset Chart

Data Analysis

  • SaaS organizations invest in solutions related to:
  1. Customer engagement
  2. Account-Based Management
  3. Email practices
  4. and Marketing Automation.
  • Investment in solutions that assess product experience is 20%. Such investments are realized from organizations delivering a Customer Success onboarding strategy.
  • Qualitative data show that organizations invest (50%) in enrichment and data storage solutions too.

Product-Led Key Takeaways 

  • CURRENT ANALYTICS PROGRAMS: The adopted services measure product analytics on many dimensions. Like feature or account/user-level measurements. If usage and UI instrumentation measurements do not supplement their analysis they cannot estimate in product behavior properly.
  • ADVANCED ANALYTICS PROGRAMS: Organizations in favor of advanced analytics programs (20%), put together quantitative and qualitative measurements to derive insights. They invest in core product analytics and augment data by focusing equally on the breadth, depth, efficiency, and frequency of use.

Advanced Analytics Programs Characteristics

  • USER MAPPING. Advanced analytics programs can skew users’ progress on the micro-level. On a macro-level they can show if an account is moving forward retention and expansion.
  • CUSTOMER FEEDBACK CAPITALIZATION. By investing in product engagement actions customer feedback complements Sales or Customer Success activations.
  • HEAVY EXPERIMENTATION. Those analytics allow rapid experimentation and deliver insights on users in-app behavior. It enables organizations to experiment with product engagement practices at scale. 

Customer Success Onboarding

Part One: Customer Success Onboarding Key Performance Indicators

<img src="product-led-growth-cs-kpis.png" alt="product-led growth cs KPIs chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Customer Success Onboarding KPIs Chart

Data Analysis 

  • Top KPIs are NPS (50%), Activation (42%) ,Time to Initial Value (42%), Key Feature Adoption (33%), Usage (25%) and Team Activation (25%).
  • Product measurements are critical, despite the limited involvement of Product Management (38%). This happens due to the continuous monitoring of the customer journey from CSMs.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • CUSTOMER ADVOCACY: Customer advocacy (NPS) should consider additional usage metrics. In the opposite scenario it acts as a lagging indicator and does not deliver objective measurements
  • BREADTH OF USE: Activation indicates how users embark into products’ value and should be measured via the lens of team activation (Breadth of use). While most participants attested to getting internal buy-in from end-users as the number one challenge, Team Activation is important by 25%.
  • RETENTION: Product engagement performance indicators are related to Retention on Self Serve. But on Customer Success onboarding the human factor plays the major role. Being subject to Customer Success, Retention is a KPI for 8%. At the same time, Usage and Key Feature Adoption (Depth of Use) have a 33% and 25% of preference.
  • EXPANSION: While Retention is neglected, its offspring, Expansion, is measured by 25%. Expansion is also subject to CS practices. Qualitative data reaffirm that consistency in meeting buyers’ needs, via live interactions, is the number one criterion following accounts growth.
  • HIGH TOUCH VS HIGH TECH.Despite the need to provide exceptional customer experience based on personal engagements, harmonization among the high touch techniques and high-tech techniques is essential. Targeted in application training is not supposed to be used to replace one on one interactions. When used in conjunction with Product-Led growth data, it supplements Customer Success activations and allows CSMs to focus more on customers’ needs. In addition, harmonization among practices reduces onboarding costs and increases adoption rates.

High Touch Vs. High Tech Use Cases

Product-Led Growth Use Case: Pendo

Pendo, is a living proof that this balance can be achieved. When new customers are onboarded, Customer Success sets up one-on-one calls. While it leverages the software’s features to train users at scale.

 Being ingrained into product data analysis, the provided training always considers the POE metrics to provide context of usage. Those practices provide positive outcomes for Customer Success. CSMs have the luxury to focus on business objectives by dedicating only 25-30% airtime in application onboarding.

Product-Led Growth Use Case: Userlane 

Userlane, launched an asynchronous onboarding to complement its Customer Success strategy. The vendor uses its own features to self serve end users all the way through. Without having to compromise the required decision making between the two parties.

 The “Inception project” as it’s known internally improved the delivery of the onboarding process and increased adoption (+48%). The targeted walkthroughs allowed a personalized, scalable onboarding process that didn’t need the active participation of different units. Additionally, time to initial value was decreased and post launch, buyers could go through the set up autonomously.

Part Two: A/B Factors

The optimization of product engagement practices is a rather big discussion. But mostly it is an outcome of rapid experimentation. Οn Self-serve onboarding, where product engagements prevail, experimentation is perceived as a given.  On the flip side, when targeting Mid Market and Enterprise customers, customization is next to any onboarding practice. The secret, in both cases, is the disposal of scalable practices by focussing on the context behind usage, always in conjunction with historical data analysis.

<img src="product-led-growth-cs-ab-factors.png" alt="product-led growth cs ab factors chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Customer Success Onboarding A/B Factors Chart

Data Analysis

  • 16% of the participants do not experiment on any aspect of the onboarding strategy.
  • Role-Based onboarding, Activation, UI/UX, Product Content optimization, Hotspots, and Sales Outreach have 8% preference.

Part Three: Scalable Tactics 

<img src="product-led-growth-cs-scalability.png" alt="product-led growth cs scalability chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Customer Success Scalable Tactics Chart

Data Analysis

  • Email Marketing Campaigns, NPS, and Walkthroughs are top of mind with 73%, 66%, and 60% preference respectively.
  • Product tours, Live Chat Flows, and Tooltips are preferred from half (53%) of the participants.
  • Customer feedback (In-App Surveys 20%) and in-app training (In Product Tutorials 33%) are not among the top preferred tactics.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • ROLE BASED ONBOARDING: If we compare the A/B factors versus the automation tactics, we realize that onboarding owners deliver many in-app engagements. Limited investment on Role-Based Onboarding (8%) indicates that those engagements suggest a predisposed route. While they don’t consider context of usage.
  • BREADTH: Organizations in need to onboard hundreds of end-users should optimize product experience by focusing on POEs metrics performance. In the opposite scenario, Sales and Customer Success will act as product champions who miss context behind users’ behavior.  

Self Serve Onboarding

Part One: Key Performance Indicators

<img src="product-led-growth-self-serve-kpis.png" alt="product-led growth self serve KPIs chart"/>Product-Led Growth Research – Self Serve Onboarding KPIs Chart One

Data Analysis

  • Main onboarding KPIs constitute Activation (61%), CRO Techniques (57%) and Retention (33%).
  • Retention, reliant to usage measurements, is an important indicator for a limited 33%. At the same time Expansion only for 14%.
  • Activation (61%) is top of mind for most participants. But its constituents, Time to Initial Value and Team Activation, fall behind with 5% and 10% preference respectively. Increased preference in Activation and neglection of Retention and Expansion indicates that onboarding prevalence ends after the activation stage.

<img src="product-led-growth-self-serve-kpis2.png" alt="product-led growth self serve KPIs2 chart"/>Product-Led Growth Research – Self Serve Onboarding KPIs Chart Two

Data Analysis

  • CRO techniques are among the top three KPIs (51%), but LTV (5%) is neglected.
  • 16% doesn’t set any KPIs to track onboarding.
  • NPS is among the least important KPIs (5%). Something implying that customer advocacy is not important when serving low trajectory customers.
  • Product Management has increased involvement in the onboarding process (81%). 

But critical indicators like:

  • Product usage (5%),
  • In-app engagement (5%)
  • and Educational Content Monitoring (5%), are neglected.

The only exception to the rule is Feature Adoption (28%). But, given the performance of product measurements, is not evaluated efficiently. 

Part Two: A/B Factors

<img src="product-led-growth-self-serve-ab.png" alt="product-led growth self serve ab factors chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Self Serve Onboarding A/B Factors Chart

Data Analysis

  • Email practices (out of the app onboarding activations) take the lead with 47% preference. While In-App Chat Flows (33%), testing of the Sign-up experience (20%) and UI/UX practices (20%) follow behind.
  • CRO Techniques (57%) are vital for onboarding evaluations. But their constituent, Sign Up Experience, is optimized by 20% of the participants.
  • Decreased experimentation on Activation (5%) imply that acquisition practices (eg.Sign up experience) prevail.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  1. Increased preference for UI/UX experimentation (20%) in combination with decreased investment on User Type & Proficiency and Activation (5%) make product experience subject only to design practices.
  2. Speed to implement (Trial Length), the No 1 factor associated with Self Serve activation, has 5% preference.
  3. 20% of the participants do not test any aspect of their onboarding process.

Part Three: Scalable Tactics

<img src="product-led-growth-self-serve-scalability.png" alt="product-led growth self serve scalability chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Self Serve Onboarding Scalable Tactics Chart

Data Analysis

  • Most preferred automation tactics are Email Campaigns (84%). Followed by In-App Tutorials, and Walkthroughs with 73% preference.
  • Equally important are Live Chat Flows, Product Tours, and Tooltips with 70% preference.

Part Four: Experimentation VS. Scalability

The table is a representation of the corresponding onboarding tactics for the top five A/B factors. 

<img src="product-led-growth-ab-vs-scalability.png" alt="product-led growth ab versus scalability chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Self Serve Experimentation Factors vs. Scalability Analysis

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  1. CONTENT: Content affects many scalable practices but is optimized by a limited 14%.
  2. EMAIL CAMPAIGNS: Despite Email Campaigns prevalence (84%) only 47%of the participants iterate them constantly.
  3. IN-APP ENGAGEMENTS: In-App Tutorials (73%), Live Chat Flows (68%), Welcome Messages (68%) & In-App Sales Demos (57%) have a high preference but are iterated by 33%.
  4. USER TYPE & PROFICIENCY: Limited investment on User Type & Proficiency (5%) experimentation implies that in-app messages are thrown randomly in front of users and neglect context of usage. Displaying messages to users indicates a predisposed route. While the learning curve, role, or proficiency levels are overlooked. Only product data analysis and historic usage can show where and why product engagements should exist. This investment does not imply displacing tooltips or product guides for the sake of experimentation.  Any product engagement iteration should follow usage patterns. Even more. It should be executed when the onboarding team can validate why that change took place. Random displacements lead to confusion and friction.  While keeping conversions and retention rates low.

Product-Led Activation

Product-Led Activation Part One: Self Serve

Crowned as the onboarding queen, activation is the set of practices leading to first impressions. Being the lifeblood of new business, on Customer Success onboarding it is subject to the Sales organization activities. 

Prospects taste a solution’s magic via a series of demos, likely to be followed by a POC (Proof of concept) or “controlled” trial. The involvement of human element guarantees that buyers are aware of a product’s capabilities. On Self Serve onboarding, the product is accountable for sealing the deal.

In reality, regardless of the execution, activation is the acquisition grasp derived from the product itself. Being a considerably faster process, the “ideal” activation formula delivers value to trialists. Who ideally return to the product and eventually create a habit out of it. To increase conversion rates, internal teams strive to shorten trial periods and create a sense of urgency. Speed to implement always needs to come first.

In reality, this may not always be the case. Since products’ complexity, radically affects the learning curve period. A multifunctional solution like Hubspot cannot fully onboard its freemium users in two weeks time. As intimidating factor the learning curve period can be, users familiarize with the product by following their own pace.

But simpler solutions like Leadfeeder and Yesware, manage to shorten the trial period from 30 to 14 days. While they increased conversion rates by 18% and 5% respectively. It is also important the use case, role, and proficiency level to be defined early on. 

The organizations’ internal teams acknowledge that and invest a lot  in behavioral aspects. The JTBD framework, with 50% preference, distinguish the use case a prospect falls under. Data-driven contextual guidance can now embrace this framework’s results. As it can define skill levels early on and deliver initial value per user role.

Product-Led Activation Part Two: User Segmentation

User Segmentation: The Tactics

<img src="onboarding-user-segmentation-tactics.png" alt="onboarding user segmentation tactics chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – User Segmentation Tactics Chart

Data Analysis

  • Outreach optimization is the number one priority for every organization. Since Sales involvement leads to tremendous CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) increase. This association resonates when companies serve the Mid Market and Enterprise. Sales involvement on Self Serve (40%) though, suggests that the customer experience gap, caused by lack of personalization and involvement of customer-facing teams, is a hassle for every organization.
  • Qualitative data (50%) show that Sales rely on data enrichment services, data storage & lead scoring tools. This is how they identify where an account is assigned along with its industry and size.
  • Additional segmentation tactics concern capitalization on CRM (80%), Email (82%), Live Chat (55%) or the use of a Custom Scoring System (49%).
  • Only 20% of organizations in favor of a Customer Success onboarding, segment users based on product usage.
  • Since PLQ Scoring evaluations are considered by 35% of the participants, we can conclude that some of the Custom Scoring Systems may assess usage as well.

User Segmentation: The Toolset

<img src="onboarding-user-segmentation-tools.png" alt="onboarding user segmentation tools chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – User Segmentation Toolset Chart

Data Analysis

  • Top user segmentation solutions are CRM (80%) and Customer Engagement software (69%).
  • Email Platforms and Marketing Automation software follow with 65% and 51% mean preference.
  • Product management services are those least preferred:
  • Product Guidance services are adopted by 26% and 21% on Customer Success and Self Serve onboarding respectively.
  • Product Experience Platforms are used by 20% on Customer Success onboarding and 5% on Self Serve.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • Custom Scoring Techniques. Increased preference for Custom Scoring techniques (50%) show reliance on engineering resources to extract the necessary data. This realization is reimbursed by the user segmentation services participants use. The exploitation of engineering resources is a secure way to derive necessary insights but not a scalable one in the long term. Organizations have tradeoffs as to where they should allocate their engineering resources. The continuous product releases lean the scale many times towards product development.  For internal teams to effectively map user’s actions though, it is imperative for them to have timely access to product data. For this to happen, the existing product experience toolstack needs to be reconsidered.  
  • Sales & Product Team Alignment. For Sales to establish PQL segmentation patterns, it is imperative to work in conjunction with the product team. This feedback loop will enable both teams to optimize the customer journey. They can achieve that by discovering trends following usage,  dormant accounts or where users need more guidance. Acknowledging the reason behind the various drop-offs gives a competitive advantage to Sales reps. They are now able to proactively reach out to prospects with a solution at hand. In the long term, the exploitation of historical data will show specific trends based on behavioral insights.  
  • Segmentation Tactics. The majority of segmentation tactics offer high-level data for prospects’ nature and behavior notions but don’t provide feedback as to where the customer journey’s delights or bottlenecks stand. To balance its involvement in the customer journey, the Sales organization should set standards following PQLs behavior. Capitalization on product data enables adoption of in-app segmentation criteria, and acknowledgment of the route users follow. Usage segmentation draws better results in regards to which features yield more revenue.

Product-Led Growth Use Case Gainsight PX

Gainsight PX, segments users’ behavior, and usage both during the first-time activation and on new feature release. On first time activation, milestones track if PQLs complete setup by using key features during trial. When prospects use features more than the freemium version allows them to, internal teams measure conversion rates and revenue generated from the trial source. On new product release, success is measured in terms of adoption. 

The product team releases targeted in-app guides to users based on historical product usage. The Query Builder feature, for example, is presented to users who have shown interest in other analytics areas the past 30 days. If the released feature is a paid-only module, the revenue is measured by attaching a rate on it.

Product-Led Activation Part Three: Key Performance Indicators

<img src="product-led-growth-activation-KPIs.png" alt="product-led growth activation KPIs chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Activation KPIs Chart

Data Analysis

  • Sign-Ups (Marketing metric) has 66% and 94% preference on Customer Success and Self Serve onboarding, respectively.
  • Free Trials prevail among both strategies with 66% preference on Customer Success and 84% on Self Serve onboarding.
  • Activation serves as onboarding KPI both for Customer Success (42%) and Self Serve (61%).
  • Team Activation ranks higher on Customer Success onboarding (25%), while on Self Serve is limited to 10%. These stats complement those showing a tendency to onboard both teams and sole users*. Only 11% and 33%, of Self Serve and Human, Assisted adopters respectively, focus on Team Onboarding (Breadth of use). 
  • Feature adoption (Depth of Use) and User Engagement are considered an activation criterion by 13% of organizations delivering a customer success onboarding strategy.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • SIGN UP RATIO: Sign up ratio is a critical measurement. But when standing alone acts as a trailing indicator, emphasizing on acquisition and not activation. Sing up ratio should be considered in conjunction with feature adoption and user engagement. This is how internal teams can estimate if users qualify as PQLs.
  • FREE TRIALS RATIO: Increased preference for Free Trials Ratio (66%), when targeting high trajectory customers, shows an inclination to abandon traditional sales practices.
  • TEAM ACTIVATION: Paramount to retention, Team Activation (Breadth of use) should become the North Star Metric for every onboarding strategy.
  • TEAM ACTIVATION (BREADTH OF USE) ANALYSIS: To justify the importance of monitoring Breadth of use (Team activation) in the early stages of the customer journey, a joint analysis of its importance and POE’s execution during the activation stage will follow: 
  • HIGH TRAJECTORY CUSTOMERS: For Mid Market and Enterprise customer segments, internal buy-in from end-users is discouraging onboarding deployment. Heterogeneity on skill levels and complicated workflows decrease end-users’ willingness to adopt a new solution. Focus on Team Onboarding (Breadth of Use), historical usage and use case particularities, is an optimal way forward, internal teams can take to overcome this barrier.  
  • SELF SERVE CUSTOMERS Having Self Serve customers inviting team members during trial embrace activation rates. In the absence of Sales and Customer Success guidance, in-app flows can double down on inviting team members and emphasize on how their involvement increases perceived value. Product teams should define which roles may cause various drop-offs on their first-week activation cohorts and iterate flows accordingly. Last, training procedures need an equally concerted focus on the training of each user separately and team training.

Product Onboarding Efficiency (POE) – Activation stage (Indicative) 

<img src="product-onboarding-efficiency.png" alt="product onboarding efficiency on activation"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Product Onboarding Efficiency Analysis on Activation Stage

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  • PRODUCT MANAGEMENT: The product team should be highly involved in the activation process, no matter the onboarding strategy at hand.
  • SALES ORGANIZATION: The sooner Sales’ decode the messages withheld into product data the better the conclusions drawn, in regards to the harmonization of human-product acquisition activations.  
  • DEPTH OF USE: Depth of use has some variables to consider:
  1. Whether or not during activation period users can realize initial and true value. This is most likely to occur on high-velocity customers where onboarding in many departments takes place post-purchase.
  2. Users’ skill levels need to be defined early on. An advanced user may explore more key features during trial. But this factor is also reliant to products’ complexity.
  3. On Self Serve onboarding, Retention initiation point varies. Thus Depth of Use may not be measured on Activation (during trial) but only post-purchase. 

Product-Led Activation Part Four: Email Practices

<img src="onboarding-emails-kpis.png" alt="onboarding emails KPIs chart"/>

Product-Led Growth Research – Onboarding Flow Emails KPIs Chart

Data Analysis

  • Activation is also subject to email practices (out of the product activations).
  • Email activations are a top reactivation tactic with 100% and 87% preference on Self Serve and Customer Success onboarding.
  • Organizations segment prospects based on characteristics following their email campaigns. This reflects on both strategies with 90% preference on Self Serve and 73% on Customer Success onboarding.

Product-Led Key Takeaways

  1. SCALABILITY: Email activations rank as top automation tactic. With 84% on Self Serve and 73% on Customer Success onboarding.
  2. PERSONALIZATION TACTIC:The multivariate email campaigns introduce features, connect prospects with Support, Sales or Customer Success. They are a personalization tactic both for Self Serve (84%) and Customer Success (60%) onboarding. 
  3. A/B CONSTITUENT: Email practices are under the microscope, in an effort to make prospects activate efficiently. This is mostly true on Self Serve adopters (47%) and not for Customer Success (25%).

Qualitative Data Analysis

  • Emphasis on behavioral notions by capitalizing the JTBD framework
  • Making users commit, by providing WOW moments
  • Use of email data to personalize flows, realize upsells and onboard users in a touchless way.
  • Campaigns used in conjunction with product engagement practices, to track and increase adoption rates
  • Time-based drip campaigns centered around targeted activation goals indicative of product stickiness.
  • Use of dynamic email content.
  • Customer Success onboarding (44%), relies on CSMs intervention if email campaigns don’t yield the desired results.
  • Being the only standardized way to set up and reactivate users without increasing CAC, Self Serve adopters rely on email flows’ effectiveness. Copy, timing, and extensive segmentation are the main characteristics of any flow.
  • Users’ distraction or lack of investment to exploit a solution’s capabilities is the No1 hassle following email flows.

Product-Led Recommendations

The first volume of this research discussed fundamental KPIs on product experience assessment. The Product-Led route organizations have to take, alter their internal and customer-facing procedures. Although Product-Led transformation is here to stay, the industry has still miles to walk to get there.  The following recommendations can help internal teams align towards a Product-Led growth agenda. 

Consider Onboarding Prevalence

Product-Led Growth practices redefine Onboarding. Instead of being a set of random engagements causing friction, it becomes a data-driven force. Its practices consider four main pillars. Users’ behavioral notions and skillset, historical data along with contextual guidance.

Onboarding can now assess the customer journey and abandon the traditional sales model. Its prevalence goes way beyond activation. This shift forces organizations’ to track onboarding ROI from Activation until Expansion.

Adopt a Product-Led Unified Agenda

Silos abandonment, will be in effect when internal teams adopt a unified agenda. Product-Led growth practices and data analysis bring Product Management at the forefront. They make its role imperative throughout the customer journey.

But product insights are not limited to Product Management practices. Customer-facing teams also need to access them. This is how they will get insights about users’ in product behavior aside their business evaluations. Try to remember.  Internal alignment is subject to whether a feedback loop with common Product-Led Growth KPIs is established.

Redefine the Product-Led Experience Metrics

Onboarding is continuous, and its measurements should follow the same logic. Product-Led organizations already capitalize on POEs metrics to estimate Onboarding ROI. Those metrics enable teams segment users in-app and derive insights via onboarding activations. That makes them able to measure features that yield revenue or underperform.

Following that logic, onboarding metrics and evaluations can: 

  • Develop a common language across internal teams
  • Pinpoint what needs to go in the roadmap (when they assess customer feedback next to their results)
  • Provide feedback on which features yield embrace adoption and why.

A) Customer Success Onboarding

1) Sales and Customer Success interactions with buyers should focus on strategic decisions. In application, onboarding should effectively complement them. To achieve that organizations need to invest in product engagements at scale and consider context of usage along with users’ role.

2) Disposal of human resources should become proactive and not reactive to customers’ needs. For that to be achieved every team should consider where product engagements can replace their involvement. 

And where their activations are imperative for accounts’ activation, retention or expansion. 

B) Self-Serve Onboarding

1) Self Serve activations should double down on Team Onboarding from the beginning. Internal teams should follow these notions to predict retention and get the internal buy-in. 

2) Time to implement should be considered in conjunction with the learning curve period. The latter can be optimized by having product engagements laser-focused on users’ goals, type, and skillset. 

Product data analysis and historic usage should show where and why product engagements should take place.

Establish User Behavior Metrics

Product metrics may redefine customer satisfaction, but business and marketing metrics still prevail. Organizations should consider product activations effectiveness when striving to assess user behavior. Only, product performance and customer feedback in conjunction with product data can deliver insights on user experience.

Revisit the Onboarding Toolset

Organizations need to revisit their toolset. They need to reassure if it enables them to capitalize on product data and customer feedback. Mostly because the existing toolsets may measure feature or account/user-level measurements. 

But in the end, they don’t derive the necessary insights in regards to in-product behavior.In addition, exploitation of engineering teams deliver insights on past user behavior. Product teams need to acknowledge in real-time the bottlenecks discouraging adoption. This is the only way to optimize onboarding flows and evaluate accounts’ status.

Capitalize on Product Engagement Experimentation

The evolution of users’ skillset makes imperative the establishment of an experimentation framework. Continuous iterations should follow onboarding activations, to their very extent.

This is how they will keep on delivering value that aligns with users’ needs and workflow. 

1) In regards to Customer Success onboarding, it will guarantee the internal buy-in from thousands of end-users. At the same time, data capitalization, assess in-app education activations end to end.

2) Tailored experiences are also critical to Self Serve activations’ success. Since they replicate Sales and Customer Success interactions. Iterating email activations, to bring users back in-app is not enough. Experimentation levers should consider product engagement activations too.

Conclusion

These are only indicative suggestions to consider. The micro view of any onboarding strategy may be the optimization of every touchpoint.  But the big picture is far greater. It interrelates with successful synchronization within and across departments upon product delivery. It abandons vanity metrics and focuses on the value products’ derive. 

The investment in product analytics and the development of associated metrics is only the beginning. In a few years, data analysts will deliver many growth scenarios having as a sole criterion historic usage.

The SaaS industry has disrupted the digital economy by capitalizing on a business model every organization will step on.  But in the end, it will introduce something far greater. A way to deliver a better service paramount to the monitoring of customer behavior.