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Mastering Product Launch with Product-Led Growth Strategy

By Sankalpa Sarkar – Global Product Lead at Walmart Global Tech India

Recently, how products are introduced and adopted has changed significantly. Successful companies are using Product-Led Growth (PLG) to launch products that quickly attract users, enhance their experience, and sustainably increase their customer base.

Imagine how Zoom, Canva, and Dropbox became so popular. Zoom’s easy-to-use video conferencing service exploded in popularity when remote work became common. Canva’s free design tools attracted millions of users, while Dropbox’s referral program helped it gain many new customers. Recent studies show that businesses using product-led growth are growing up to 50% faster than those without. This shows how important it is to use a strong product-led growth strategy for launching products that focus on users and encourage organic growth.

Let’s explore how to use product-led growth strategy effectively for a successful product launch in this blog.

Key Takeaways:

  • Product-led growth emphasizes delivering immediate value and exceptional experiences to users, prioritizing user needs and preferences throughout the product journey.
  • Product-led growth strategies rely heavily on analyzing user behavior and engagement metrics to optimize product experiences, drive adoption, and inform iterative improvements.
  • Successful Product-led growth requires seamless collaboration across departments (tech, design, customer service, finance) to ensure product initiatives align with business goals and deliver cohesive user experiences.
  • Product-led growth often adopts the freemium model, allowing users to access basic features for free, and leverages outcome-based pricing to align pricing with the value users derive from the product.
  • Companies like Spotify, Uber, Dropbox, and Zoom have effectively utilized Product-led growth tactics such as organic word-of-mouth, incentivized referrals, embedded loops, and external collaboration to drive rapid user adoption and expansion.
In this article
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    Why Product-Led Growth Works

    Product-led growth is more than a strategy—it’s a proven approach that uses specific tactics to drive substantial business outcomes. Let’s explore the reasons behind why Product-led growth is so effective:

    1. Exceptional User Experience

    At the core of PLG is a relentless focus on delivering exceptional user experiences. Research indicates that a remarkable 88% of users are drawn to a product because of its outstanding experience. This statistic underscores the critical importance of user-centric design and functionality in capturing and retaining user interest.

    2. Empowering Self-Service Capabilities

    Product-led growth aligns perfectly with the increasing demand for self-service solutions. Approximately 80% of users prefer platforms that allow them to manage their interactions independently. By enabling users to take control and make decisions on their terms, Product-led growth fosters a sense of empowerment and customer loyalty.

    3. Facilitating Easy Trials

    One of the key drivers of Product-led growth success is the ability to offer easy and accessible trial experiences. A compelling 83% of users are willing to engage in an easy trial if they find the initial experience appealing. This emphasis on frictionless onboarding and trial processes accelerates user adoption and conversion rates.

    4. Using the Power of Referrals

    Referrals play a big role in product-led growth strategies. Personal recommendations from friends or family members significantly influence purchasing decisions, with studies indicating up to a 3X increase in conversion rates through referrals. This organic growth engine not only drives acquisition but also enhances brand credibility and trust.

    5. Driving Profitability and Revenue

    Beyond user acquisition, product-led growth directly impacts profitability and revenue growth. Companies that prioritize PLG experience a substantial increase in conversion rates, leading to improved revenue streams and sustained profitability over time.

    6. Optimizing Conversion Rates

    Product-led growth is synonymous with optimizing conversion rates. By focusing on user needs and preferences, product-led growth strategies consistently deliver higher conversion rates compared to traditional sales-driven approaches. This approach not only boosts top-line growth but also enhances overall business efficiency.

    Mastering Product Leadership in Product-Led Growth

    Successful product leaders excel in leveraging multi-functional expertise, fostering alignment, measuring outcomes, and implementing adaptive strategies. Let’s explore how these pillars drive effective product-led growth leadership:

    1. Multi-Functional Expertise

    Product-led growth thrives on diverse skill sets beyond traditional product management. Product leaders must assemble teams comprising individuals skilled in marketing, analytics, user experience, and strategic planning. This multi-functional approach ensures comprehensive coverage across all facets essential for product success.

    By nurturing a team with varied expertise, product leaders foster innovation, holistic problem-solving, and seamless execution of product-led growth initiatives. Each team member contributes a unique perspective, collectively driving the product towards user-centric excellence.

    2. Alignment in Vision

    A cornerstone of product-led growth leadership is aligning the entire team around a unified vision. Just like in sports, where a team’s success hinges on coordination, product-led growth initiatives require everyone to move towards the same goal. Without alignment, efforts become disjointed, hindering progress and impacting overall success.

    Product leaders play a pivotal role in driving alignment by communicating vision, fostering collaboration, and ensuring every team member understands their role in achieving shared objectives. This alignment fuels collective momentum toward product excellence and user satisfaction.

    3. Measured Outcomes

    Effective product-led growth leadership hinges on data-driven decision-making and measurable outcomes. Product leaders must establish clear metrics to track progress, such as customer acquisition rates, revenue growth, or user engagement levels. These metrics provide invaluable insights into the effectiveness of product-led growth strategies and inform iterative improvements.

    By consistently measuring outcomes, product leaders gain actionable intelligence to optimize strategies, allocate resources efficiently, and drive sustainable growth. This disciplined approach to measurement ensures accountability and empowers teams to make informed decisions aligned with overarching business objectives.

    4. Adaptive Strategies

    The dynamic nature of the market demands adaptive strategies in product-led growth leadership. External factors like market trends, competitive landscape shifts, or evolving user preferences require nimble adjustments in strategy. Product leaders must anticipate changes and proactively adapt their approaches to capitalize on emerging opportunities.


    Adaptability is very important for effective product-led growth leadership, enabling teams to navigate uncertainties and capitalize on changing market dynamics. By embracing flexibility and agility, product leaders steer product-led growth initiatives toward continued success and resilience.

    Product Leader’s Role in Product-Led Growth

    Product-led growth is a complex approach that requires strategic acumen from product leaders to drive success. Let’s explore the important roles and responsibilities of product leaders within the framework of product-led growth, focusing on strategy, product, and business aspects.

    1. Strategy

    Effective product-led growth strategies depend on strategic clarity and alignment. Product leaders play a crucial role in defining and aligning organizational structures to support product-led growth initiatives. This involves structuring teams into product-led growth pods—cross-functional groups dedicated to driving product success. By placing the right individuals in strategic roles, product leaders ensure optimal collaboration and swift progress toward shared objectives.

    Also, product leaders must build a user-centric vision that guides product development and expansion efforts. This vision should empower and simplify user experiences, reflecting a deep understanding of user needs and aspirations. Clear expansion and retention strategies are vital components of product-led growth strategy, requiring informed decisions backed by data and market insights.

    2. Product

    Product leaders orchestrate cross-functional collaboration across departments—from tech and design to customer service and finance. This collaboration ensures that product initiatives align with strategic goals and deliver smooth user experiences. Product leaders drive value proposition consistency, ensuring that marketing messages resonate with the product’s core features and benefits.

    Additionally, product leaders cultivate customer excitement through strategic launches and engagement strategies. Building anticipation among users fosters enthusiasm and drives adoption—a key component of sustained product-led growth success.

    3. Business

    From a business standpoint, product leaders must emphasize data-driven decision-making and adaptability to market dynamics. Measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average revenue per employee (ARPE) provides insights into organizational health and alignment with product-led growth goals.

    Adapting strategies based on market fluctuations and user feedback is essential for sustained growth. Product leaders must navigate value proposition consistency across marketing and product functions, ensuring a cohesive brand message that resonates with users.

    The Core Principles of Product-Led Growth

    Product-led growth involves a set of fundamental principles that drive successful adoption, engagement, and expansion of products. Let’s explore these core principles and understand:

    1. User-Centric Focus

    At the heart of product-led growth is a relentless focus on the user. Successful product-led growth companies like Zoom, Figma, or Canva prioritize delivering immediate value to users. From the first interaction on their websites to ongoing product engagement, these companies emphasize showcasing the utility and benefits of their products. 

    2. Data-driven decisions

    Data is the lifeblood of product-led growth strategies. Effective PLG depends on analyzing user behavior, conversion metrics, and engagement patterns. For instance, if a significant number of users engage with a product but fail to convert, data-driven insights can uncover bottlenecks and opportunities for improvement. 

    3. Cross-Functional Collaboration

    Product-led growth success requires smooth collaboration across departments. Product leaders orchestrate cross-functional teams comprising tech, design, customer service, finance, and legal experts. This collaboration ensures that product initiatives align with business goals and deliver cohesive user experiences. Cross-functional collaboration accelerates innovation and enhances product-market fit.

    4. Self-Onboarding

    Product-led growth products excel in self-service onboarding. Users can sign up, explore, and experience the product autonomously. Companies like Zoho and Canva empower users to onboard effortlessly, reducing barriers to adoption and accelerating user activation. Self-onboarding enhances user engagement and fosters a sense of ownership among users.

    5. Freemium Model

    The freemium model is a highlight of product-led growth strategies. It allows users to access basic features for free, enticing them to explore and experience the product. This model showcases the product’s value proposition upfront, encouraging users to upgrade for premium features. Brands like Netflix and Dropbox have leveraged freemium models to drive widespread adoption and conversion.

    6. Outcome-Based Pricing

    Product-led growth companies often adopt outcome-based pricing strategies. Instead of charging a flat fee, they align pricing with the outcomes users achieve. For instance, productivity tools may charge based on usage or outcomes achieved, incentivizing users to pay for tangible value. Outcome-based pricing fosters transparency and ensures that users pay for the value they derive from the product.

    7. Viral Loops

    Viral loops are mechanisms that encourage users to share products with others, driving organic growth. Incentivized viral loops offer rewards for referrals, while non-incentivized loops leverage product utility to encourage sharing. Companies like Google Pay and Dropbox have employed viral loops effectively to expand their user base organically.

    8. User Education

    Product-led growth companies invest in educating users about product benefits and features. User education enhances product understanding and motivates users to explore advanced functionalities. By demonstrating value and showcasing use cases, companies like Kindle and Google Drive educate users to maximize product value and adoption.

    9. User-Centric Metrics

    Measuring success in product-led growth revolves around user-centric metrics. Metrics like activation rate, time to value, and net promoter score (NPS) gauge user satisfaction and retention. These metrics guide product improvements and strategic decisions, ensuring continuous alignment with user needs and expectations.

    Frameworks for Product-Led Growth

    1. Fogg Behaviour Model

    This model is graphically represented with three key components:

    (i) Ability vs. Motivation Axis

    The x-axis signifies the user’s ability to perform a task—whether it’s easy or challenging.

    The y-axis represents the user’s motivation level—high or low.

    If a task is easy to execute and the user is highly motivated, there’s a higher likelihood of action. Conversely, if a task is challenging and the motivation is low, users are more likely to disengage or abandon the task.

    (ii) Action Line

    The Action Line delineates the threshold where users are most likely to act based on their ability and motivation levels.

    For instance, if a user is highly motivated but faces a significant hurdle (low ability), crossing this line requires reducing the task’s complexity or providing additional support.

    (iii) Prompts

    Prompts play a pivotal role in stimulating user action.

    By strategically targeting users with prompts—be it notifications, reminders, or tailored marketing—companies can effectively influence user behavior.

    Behavioral Quadrants

    By applying this model, users can be segmented into four distinct quadrants:

    (i) Top-Right Quadrant (High Ability, High Motivation)

    Users in this quadrant are poised to take action. They possess both the ability and motivation to engage with a product or service efficiently.

    (ii) Bottom-Right Quadrant (High Ability, Low Motivation)

    Users here have the capability but lack the motivation. Encouraging prompts can convert their ability into action by boosting motivation.

    (iii) Top-Left Quadrant (Low Ability, High Motivation)

    Users in this quadrant are motivated but face obstacles. Simplifying tasks or providing support can elevate their ability to act.

    (iv) Bottom-Left Quadrant (Low Ability, Low Motivation)

    This quadrant represents significant challenges. Companies must enhance both user ability and motivation through targeted interventions.

    Applying Behavioral Science in an Indian Context

    In the context of India’s diverse consumer base, several key learnings emerge:

    (i) Simplicity Drives Behavior Change

    Simplifying user interactions and experiences can catalyze behavior change. Products like scooters revolutionized transportation by making riding accessible to all.

    (ii) Timing of Prompts Matters

    The strategic timing of prompts is crucial. Avoiding incongruous prompts during festivals, downtime, or personal moments maximizes user receptiveness.

    (iii) Starting Small Facilitates Adoption

    Introducing products or services in manageable steps boosts user motivation and engagement. Initial success paves the way for broader adoption.

    (iv) Referrals Fuel Behavioral Change

    Leveraging referrals from trusted sources amplifies user motivation and instills confidence, leading to sustained engagement and adoption.

    2. Growth Loop and Hook Framework

    Understanding the Growth Loop

    The Growth Loop operates on a fundamental premise—each user action triggers a series of outcomes that drive engagement and retention:

    (i) Desired Action to Outcome

    Users are drawn to a product or service because they anticipate a desired outcome.

    Engaging with the product leads to achieving this desired outcome, thus reinforcing user engagement.

    (ii) Achievement and Reward

    Upon achieving the desired outcome, users are rewarded.

    This reward acts as a powerful incentive, encouraging users to invest more time and effort into the product.

    Continuous Engagement and Viral Impact

    As users continue to engage, the product experience becomes ingrained.

    Users become advocates, triggering viral loops through referrals and organic promotion.

    Notable examples like Zoom, Figma, Canva, and Notion epitomize the success of this model. The exceptional user experiences offered by these platforms fuel sustained usage and organic growth.

    Understanding the Hook Model

    The Hook Model complements the Growth Loop by captivating new users and embedding them within the product ecosystem:

    (i) User Interaction Touchpoints

    Each user interaction serves as an entry point into the brand’s ecosystem.

    The initial interaction is pivotal in forming a lasting impression and initiating user engagement.

    (ii) Driving Engagement through Rewards

    Seamless user experiences coupled with rewards create a compelling engagement cycle.

    Users are motivated to return and invest more time in the product, fostering habit formation.

    (iii) Leveraging Viral Mechanics

    The presence of branding within shared content amplifies brand visibility and recognition.

    Each interaction triggers a ripple effect, expanding the user base and reinforcing product value.

    Uber’s Success Story

    Uber’s growth story exemplifies the application of these frameworks:

    (i) Balancing Supply and Demand

    Uber’s platform hinges on balancing supply (drivers) and demand (riders) to ensure optimal service availability.

    (ii) Proposition of Value

    Uber promises faster pickups at competitive prices, driving user demand and incentivizing driver participation.

    (iii) Geographical Expansion and Viral Loops

    Successful adoption in select cities led to geographical expansion, augmenting service coverage, and reinforcing demand.

    The growth phase of this cycle entails scaling demand while expanding service coverage—a synergy achieved through effective value proposition and user engagement strategies.

    Using the Growth Loop and Hook Model in Product-Led Growth

    In the context of building and scaling a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product, leveraging these frameworks is instrumental:

    (i) User Acquisition and Retention:

    PLG necessitates continually attracting new users and retaining them through compelling user experiences and rewards.

    (ii) Facilitating User-driven Growth:

    By fostering seamless onboarding and user engagement, SaaS platforms can catalyze organic growth through user referrals and advocacy.

    (iii) Building Sustainable Growth Drivers:

    Embedding these frameworks into the product’s DNA ensures sustainable growth by aligning user actions with desired outcomes and reinforcing engagement loops.

    Metrics of Product-Led Growth

    Before diving into the details of Product-Led Growth, let’s first understand what it involves with an engaging story. Picture yourself as a key member of the team behind the rapid expansion of UPI (Unified Payments Interface), tasked with identifying the most relevant metrics—a familiar situation in the ever-evolving realm of PLG. To simplify this complexity, we break down metrics into essential parts that cover product, business, and user experience.

    1. Experience Metrics

    Experience metrics are foundational indicators that assess the quality of user interaction and satisfaction with a product or service. These metrics emphasize the user-centric approach and align with strategic business goals. By measuring experience metrics, businesses gain valuable insights into user engagement, adoption rates, and overall customer satisfaction, enabling informed decision-making and continuous improvement of the user experience. There are two main types of experience metrics:

    (i) Product Qualified Leads (PQL)

    PQLs are activated users who’ve experienced the “aha” moment, like designing a layout on Canva or hosting a webinar on Zoom.

    The goal? Enhance PQL conversion—transform all PQLs into converted users.

    (ii) Time to Value (TTV)

    TTV signifies the time from user interaction to experiencing the “aha” moment, e.g., joining a Zoom meeting seamlessly.

    Optimal TTV is essential for user conversion—different products may have varying TTV dynamics based on user maturity.

    (iii) Sentiment Metrics

    Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) gauge user sentiment.

    These metrics reflect user loyalty, ease of use, and overall satisfaction.

    2. Engagement Metrics

    Engagement metrics quantify the level of interaction and involvement users have with a product or service. These metrics provide a deeper understanding of user behavior, feature adoption rates, and product usage patterns. By analyzing engagement metrics, businesses can optimize product experiences, enhance user retention, and drive organic growth through increased user satisfaction and loyalty. There are two main types of engagement metrics:

    (i) Feature Adoption Rate

    Measures the adoption of key features within the product.

    High adoption rates signify core features driving user engagement and satisfaction.

    (ii) Virality Coefficient (K)

    K estimates the average number of new users acquired through existing users over a defined period.

    A vital indicator of product virality and organic growth potential.

    3. Business Metrics

    Business metrics encompass key performance indicators (KPIs) that focus on revenue generation, customer retention, and operational efficiency. These metrics provide actionable insights into business growth, profitability, and scalability. By tracking and optimizing business metrics, organizations can maximize revenue, improve customer lifetime value (CLTV), and optimize resource allocation to achieve sustainable growth and competitive advantage in the market. There are 4 common types of business metrics:

    (i) Expansion Metrics

    Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) growth from existing customers through cross-sells and upsells.

    Essential for optimizing return on ad spend (ROAS) and reducing customer acquisition cost (CAC).

    (ii) Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

    ARPU evaluates revenue generated per user.

    Detects shifts in customer base and guides strategic adjustments.

    (iii) Retention Metrics

    Net Revenue Retention (NRR) and Net Revenue Churn quantify revenue retained from existing customers versus lost revenue due to downgrades or churn.

    These metrics reveal customer retention health and inform corrective actions.

    (iv) Efficiency Metrics:

    Productivity metrics like Average Revenue Per Employee (ARPE) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) highlight operational efficiency.

    ARPE indicates revenue generated per employee, while CAC calculates the cost of acquiring a customer.

    Examples of Product-Led Growth Strategy

    Let’s delve into some compelling examples of Product-Led Growth strategies that have driven significant user adoption and expansion for various companies.

    1. Organic Word of Mouth: Spotify and TikTok

    Spotify and TikTok are prime examples of platforms that have harnessed the power of organic word-of-mouth marketing. Both apps offer engaging experiences that users naturally want to share with friends and followers. As users discover new music on Spotify or create entertaining videos on TikTok, they often share their favorite finds with others, driving new user acquisition without the need for explicit incentives.

    2. Incentivized Word of Mouth: Dropbox and Uber

    Companies like Dropbox and Uber have successfully employed incentivized word-of-mouth strategies to accelerate their growth. Dropbox famously offered additional storage space to users who referred friends to the platform. Similarly, Uber provided monetary rewards, such as credits or discounts, to users who referred new riders or drivers. These incentives motivated existing users to actively promote the services to others, fueling rapid expansion through word of mouth.

    3. Powered by Links: Driving Virality

    An effective product-led growth strategy involves incorporating “powered by” links within a product experience. This approach leverages the network effect by encouraging users to share their experiences with others. For example, platforms like Calendly and Intercom prominently display “powered by” messages when users share their scheduling links or use their messaging services, indirectly promoting the service to new audiences through existing users.

    4. Removing Watermarks: Encouraging Upgrades

    Another notable product-led growth tactic involves using watermarks or branding on content created with free versions of software. By offering users the option to remove these watermarks through premium subscriptions, companies like TikTok and Pitch drive conversions. The removal of watermarks not only enhances user experience but also serves as a compelling incentive for users to upgrade to paid plans, thus fueling revenue growth.

    5. Embedded Loops: Zoom and Miro

    Embedded loops within products like Zoom and Miro encourage ongoing engagement and adoption. Zoom’s embedded loop is evident in its seamless meeting experience, prompting users to invite non-users to join meetings effortlessly. Similarly, Miro’s collaborative features encourage users to share boards with external collaborators, extending the platform’s reach organically.

    6. External Collaboration: Zoom’s Meeting Invitations

    Zoom’s success is partly attributed to its external collaboration features, allowing users to invite non-Zoom users to meetings effortlessly. This capability expands Zoom’s user base as participants join meetings without needing to sign up for the platform, making it a powerful driver of growth through external interactions.

    Product Led Growth Tips

    Let’s delve into the five essential principles that drive successful product-led growth strategies.

    1. Leverage Each Other’s Strengths

    One fundamental aspect of successful PLG is leveraging the strengths of your team. Cross-functional collaboration thrives when team members respect and support each other’s abilities. Avoid backbiting or undermining colleagues; instead, help them develop and excel. By empowering your team, you pave the way for user success—because a successful team delivers successful products.

    2. Embrace Diversity of Thought

    Diverse perspectives are a cornerstone of innovation. Embrace the different viewpoints within your team. It might seem counterintuitive to listen to everyone, but this diversity breeds quality in your product. Take the time to hear varying opinions; it often leads to creative solutions and broader appeal.

    3. Be Data-Driven and User-Centric

    To drive your product’s success, rely on data and prioritize user needs. Being data-driven ensures that your decisions are grounded in insights while staying user-centric ensures your product remains valuable and relevant. Showcase this value to your users, and your product adoption will naturally follow.

    4. Showcase Value

    Value is at the core of any successful product-led growth strategy. Ensure your users understand and appreciate the value your product offers. When users see the benefits clearly, they become advocates, driving organic growth and adoption.

    5. Learn, Do, and Scale

    Finally, adopt a mindset of continuous learning, action, and scalability. Learn from experiences, put your insights into practice swiftly, and scale your successes efficiently. This iterative approach is key to evolving your product and its impact.

    Mastering product launch with a Product-Led Growth strategy requires a holistic approach that revolves around delivering immediate value, optimizing user experiences, and fostering organic growth through innovative tactics. By prioritizing user-centricity, embracing data-driven decision-making, and leveraging viral mechanisms, businesses can maximize the impact of their product launches and pave the way for sustained growth and success.

    About the Author

    Sankalpa Sarkar – Global Product Lead at Walmart Global Tech India

    Frequently Asked Questions

    These are the steps involved in product-led growth strategy- Understanding Your users, focusing on delivering value, optimizing user onboarding, implementing viral features, offering a freemium model, analyzing data, and iterating.

    Product-led growth is a business strategy where the product itself drives user acquisition, conversion, and retention through its inherent value, user experience, and viral mechanisms, reducing reliance on traditional sales and marketing tactics.

    The main benefit of product-led growth is its ability to drive user adoption and business growth by focusing on delivering immediate value and exceptional user experiences, leading to higher customer satisfaction, organic growth through word-of-mouth referrals, and reduced customer acquisition costs.

    The three pillars of product-led growth are:

    • User-Centricity: Placing the user’s needs and preferences at the forefront of product development and design.
    • Seamless Onboarding: Ensuring a smooth and intuitive onboarding process that allows users to quickly experience the value of the product.
    • Viral Adoption: Incorporating viral features like referrals or sharing mechanisms to drive organic growth and user acquisition.

    The adoption of product-led growth strategies has been increasing rapidly across various industries. While it’s challenging to pinpoint an exact number, a significant number of modern software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies and technology startups are embracing PLG principles to drive user adoption, retention, and growth. This trend reflects the effectiveness and appeal of PLG in today’s competitive market landscape.