Original Data

Product Led Growth Research

Overview & Scope

Product Led Growth Research: Scope

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

The goal of our effort is to map, through real-world examples, Product-Led techniques used and estimate how they affect critical aspects of the customer journey. We believe that our massive data sample and thorough analysis will enable SaaS organizations to align their internal teams and optimize product delivery. Our commitment is to help reshape the SaaS growth mindset via the lens of Product Led practices. The survey’s results directly guide those efforts, and this extensive report will highly reflect on them.

Participants
Product Led Challenge

Τhe emerging Product-Led GTM 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.

Before we get there it would be wise to mention what a Product Led GTM strategy entails:

A Product-Led GTM strategy is an approach to running a business that puts the product at the center of the organization. Those organizations deliver a product that anticipates and answers customers evolving needs by delivering stellar, customer-centric product experiences. In this instance, the product is not just a part of the customer experience. In a Product-Led GTM strategy the product is the experience. An experience so strong and optimized that converts accounts, in a matter of minutes, and is delivered on a consistent cadence in order to retain and expand them.

Product-Led organizations have their departments consider the product as the main growth lever, while they reorganize the GTM practices around its mission and vision and improve collaboration across the board.

So, which are the challenges SaaS businesses need to overcome when making the transition?

Product Led Challenge 1: The Dominance of IT Consumerization

The surge to deliver flawless product experiences in B2B is rising from the major challenge IT consumerization brings on the table. The frictionless, seamless experience B2C solutions provide is now expected in B2B too. This shift in the customer acquisition process elevates the product as the primary growth driver and disrupts the ever-changing SaaS landscape again.

Is not enough anymore for a product to deliver. Product features, should onboard users seamlessly and sustain engagement levels. Even beyond that first experience, product Led organizations retain and expand their clientele, based on products’ features and by 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 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 twelve buying decisions within a year. If we add on that, the reduced switching costs, the surge of competition 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 from having a solution that can barely meet their needs to one that will allow them to grow while offering a stellar experience at the same time. An experience so strong and optimized that will make a prospect convert to paid in a matter of minutes and will be delivered on a consistent cadence to retain and expand him.

Digital products’ complexity and their delivery across an array of devices are only making things worse. Context, of usage, is no longer optional. On the contrary, it is the one ingredient that should follow product experience. 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 Challenge 3: The Abandonment of Silos

Getting rid of silos’ domination is the first step forward an organization should take when providing an exceptional customer experience. Sales and Customer Success, the direct or indirect surrogates of customer onboarding so far, along with Product Management need to establish a standard set of metrics when evaluating product experience.

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

Product Led 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. Product leaders, have to evolve into data-driven experimenters relying on qualitative and quantitative results.

This mindset shift will enable them to get easier the internal buy-in from internal stakeholders and come closer to customers’ needs. The continuous monitoring of passive feedback, the ongoing conduction of user research, followed by investment in data help product leaders get a better understanding of the context behind day-to-day usage.

Continuous Investment in a customer-centric approach will enable product leaders to deliver optimized experiences and build features compatible with products’ vision and customers’ evolving needs.

Product Led Growth Research: Key Points of Analysis

Product Led Onboarding

Introduction of a remodeled onboarding definition – direct outcome of Product Led practices.

Product Led Onboarding Metrics

Introduction of product metrics, SaaS organizations can consider when assessing  onboarding effectiveness.

Product Led KPIs Analysis

Extensive analysis of onboarding key performance indicators & data

Product Led Growth Research: Overview

Human-Assisted Onboarding

44%

Self Serve Onboarding

56%

40 SaaS Onboarding Strategies

In total 40 strategies were examined divided between Self Serve (55%) and Human Assisted (44%) onboarding

Product Managers

48%

CSMs

24%

Growth Managers

24%

Founders

20%

50 Interviewees

Most executives surveyed (48%) were Product Managers, followed by an equal percent of Customer Success Managers and Growth Managers (24%) and SaaS Founders (20%). All participants were interviewed on their responsibilities, effectiveness, organizational structure, and the current array of Product Led techniques employed.

Small Medium Businesses

52%

Mid Market

48%

Enterprise

11%

All three main industry segments were surveyed

The industry segments examined were 52% Small-Medium businesses, 48% Mid Market and 11% Enterprise.

Teams & Sole Users- Human Assisted

66%

Teams & Sole Users- Self Serve

47%

Teams- Human Assisted

33%

Teams- Self Serve

11%

Sole Users

16%

Only 22% (mean ratio) across participants focus solely on Team Onboarding

  • 16% of Self Serve adopters onboard only sole users.
  • The majority of organizations onboard both teams and sole users, with 66% and 47% preference on Human Assisted and Self Serve onboarding respectively.
  • 33% and 11% of Human Assisted and Self Serve adopters focus on Team Onboarding.

Multiple

68%

Two

20%

One

15%

68% of the participants onboard multiple personas.

While most participants onboard most personas (68%), a limited 20% onboards two and 16% only one

Product Delivery Method

Free Trial

70%

Freemium

11%

Gated

13%

Hybrid

11%

Key Takeaways

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

Customer Success

68%

Sales

40%

Product Management

81%

Marketing

77%

UX

9%

Customer Success

76%

Sales

69%

Product Management

38%

Marketing

23%

Key Analysis & Takeaways

  1. On Self-Serve the role is dispersed across Product Management (81%), Marketing (77%), Customer Success (68%) while Sales (40%) come last.
  2. On Human Assisted, Customer Success (76%) and Sales (69%) take ownership. At the same time, Product Management (38%) and Marketing (23%) come last.
  3. From the human resources’ allocation, it resonates that the KPIs following the two strategies vary.

Those results are not surpising since:

  • GTM Transition: The industry’s transition towards Product Led practices and discrepancies on GTM practices execution are expected.
  • Multiple KPIs: A main product led challenge for organizations is that internal teams consider different metrics when evaluating product experience.
  • Buyer-Seller Dynamic: Increased involvement of customer-facing teams on Human Assisted onboarding is inevitable since strategic decisions need to be taken both by both sides.
  • High Touch vs. High Tech: The argument implying Self Serve onboarding practices do not apply to Human Assisted still exists. Thus, the minimum involvement of Product Management.

Up next: Product-Led Onboarding

The State of Product Led Experience

The most extensive research on Product-Led Growth practices to date.

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