3 Product-led Development Frameworks: A Comparability

In recent times, the tech business has seen a paradigm shift in the way in which folks purchase and use software program. Right now’s prospects desire a hands-on encounter with a product earlier than they make a purchase order, they usually count on an incredible expertise. In consequence, consumer-grade UX, personalization, self-learning, and instantaneous worth have change into the norm. Corporations catering to those buyer behaviors are often called “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 applied many development fashions and techniques. 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, so as to choose the one that may work finest on your firm.

Gross sales-led Development vs. Product-led Development

In conventional sales-led fashions, corporations usually 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 workforce, which then nurtures the prospect right into a sales-qualified lead and attracts them by means of the gross sales course of. Solely after making the acquisition can the shopper expertise any worth. As soon as they purchase, nevertheless, they might not be proud of the acquisition, through which case you’ve seemingly misplaced them as a gift and future buyer.

With a product-led mannequin, prospects expertise the product early within the journey, normally by way of a trial or freemium. Then they make an knowledgeable determination about whether or not or to not buy based mostly on their precise use of the product. An important consumer expertise will, subsequently, typically result in larger activation, engagement, retention, and referrals, leading to a better charge of natural development.

Briefly, product-led development has two foundational pillars:

  • The whole lot revolves across the consumer expertise.
  • The product should ship worth earlier than it will possibly seize worth.

The Most Efficient Product-led Development Frameworks

Corporations 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, in my view, the best. The very best framework on your firm will finally depend upon the character of your product.

1. The Product-led Development Flywheel

The flywheel framework allows companies to develop by investing in a superior consumer expertise designed to generate excessive consumer satisfaction and improve word-of-mouth referrals, thus driving new consumer 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 reveals the shopper journey with the product and the way it corresponds to buyer actions.

On this framework, 4 sequential consumer segments (evaluators, rookies, regulars, and champions) correlate to the important thing actions (activate, undertake, adore, and advocate) that the shopper must take in an effort to graduate to the following stage of engagement. The main target is on optimizing the consumer expertise in order that they’ll progress by means of the phases. Because the variety of customers finishing every motion will increase, the flywheel spins sooner, additional growing the speed of referrals. This creates a optimistic suggestions loop: As extra customers change into champions, they drive extra acquisition—in addition to exponential development.

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

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

2. Product-led Development 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 robotically reinvested as enter in one other stage. Calendly, a gathering scheduling software, 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 improve buyer sign-ups.

Let’s say Participant A needs to schedule a gathering and sends a Calendly invite to Participant B by way of the platform. Participant B receives the invitation by way of e mail and clicks by means 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 robotically selling the product, beginning a viral loop. Every Calendly buyer brings in new prospects, with little effort wanted from the corporate. These prospects convey extra prospects, and so forth.

3. The Hook Mannequin

This framework was popularized by author and investor Nir Eyal in his ebook Hooked: Tips on how to Construct Behavior-Forming Merchandise. Because the title 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 reveals the shopper journey by means 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 sorts of triggers: exterior and inner. An exterior set off is likely to be a social advert, billboard, and even the climate (e.g., seeing rain clouds and shopping for an umbrella). An inner set off is tougher to pinpoint. It’s an emotion or feeling that the consumer 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 consumer executes in anticipation of some reward.

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

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

Research shows 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 components of the mind related to wanting and want. As Eyal describes, these reward types embody:

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

4. Funding: An motion that may enhance the services or products sooner or later.

Customers are requested to put money into the product itself, normally by means of a mix 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 may very well be an inner set off, whereas looking out on Google and discovering an fascinating govt profile on the platform is likely to be an exterior set off. Finishing the sign-up course of is the motion. After that, the consumer receives suggestions for folks to attach with, job recommendations, and posts which may be of curiosity, to allow them to expertise the product’s worth. Their variable rewards are the flexibility to develop their community, details about jobs they’ll apply for, and useful content material they’ll learn. A consumer invests within the platform by finishing their profile and publishing posts, which in flip garner views, likes, feedback, and direct messages—successfully partaking with different customers. Contributing in these methods helps customers resolve their set off drawback, and even obtain different targets, they usually hold logging on.

Tips on how to Measure Product-led Development

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

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

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

  • Growth income: The income generated from current prospects by way of upselling, cross-selling, or add-ons

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

By using considered one of these three frameworks, you’ll be able to reap the rewards that product-led development gives. Because the examples of profitable implementation that I’ve shared recommend, one framework gained’t match all corporations. The one which’s proper on your group will fluctuate relying on your online business context and the sorts 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 determine to observe the flywheel framework, development loops, or the hook mannequin, making a seamless expertise on your prospects must be your objective. All the time hold their wants and behaviors in thoughts as you propose for the long run.