Decoding Product-Led Growth: Top Tactics To Master the User’s Product Journey from GitLab, Figma & Airtable

Oct 5, 2021
Decoding Product-Led Growth: Top Tactics To Master the User’s Product Journey from GitLab, Figma & Airtable
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Fall has officially arrived and we kicked off the season with an NY Enterprise Tech Meetup talking about a go-to-market motion making more noise in the enterprise sales world than ever before: Product-Led Growth (PLG).

We hosted a lineup of trailblazing women in Product, including Sarah Waldner (Group Manager, Product at GitLab), Katie Szeto (Product Manager at Figma), and Kelly O’Shaughnessy (Product Lead at Airtable), moderated by our very own Jessica Lin.

With so much hype around PLG today, we decided to break down our conversation into the user journey: from onboarding new users to becoming a successful user to ultimately becoming a paid user. See the full webinar recording here and the top takeaways from our panelists below.

Hooking & Onboarding Users

It’s clear that with PLG, even software companies need to build a consumer-like product that’s easy for anyone to get started with rather than requiring lengthy configurations or training. Excellent products and Product Managers will sweat the details with no word or button too small to iterate with an improvement.

At Airtable, Kelly’s team gut checks each product before shipping by answering, “Does this feel Airtable-y?” Aka is this product intuitive and magical?

To actually execute this, you need to determine the needs of both the end user and the buyer. While this may sound like a simple two-pronged approach, remember to take into account all of the many user and buyer personas that are using your product currently or may be in the future.

Converting Successful, Paid Users

In order to determine if a user is successful with your product and then convert them from a free user to a paying user, it’s important to first understand their specific signals. Here, hypothesis testing is a huge part of the product journey to help with the classic prioritization balancing act of whether to focus on improving the core product with better functionalities or adding new features to drive future growth.

Tactic: If you’re starting with the first iteration of a product, always work on improving functionality. At this point in the product’s roadmap, instead of adding any new, large features, just work on making the product easier to use and more intuitive to understand until you can collect enough user feedback to make a more intuitive decision on what to iterate next.

Tactic: Use your free and priced tiers to test certain user behavior hypotheses. Add a new, paid feature and see how it performs. If it performs poorly, drop it down for free tier. If it performs well, it was a misalignment on what paid users were willing to dish out money for. It still performs poorly, the feature is likely unneeded or not easy to use.

Similarly, Airtable offers a free trial of their “Pro” tier, combining seat and usage-based pricing. If both metrics show growth, it’s a clear indication pricing aligned well with the progression of deeper usage.

Tactic: Use data to determine your users “magic moment” aka the moment your user lights up upon discovering your product’s true value. Use a combination of data analytics tools (Snowflake, Mode, Segment, to name a few as well as home grown tools) and data scientists embedded in your Product team to understand the vast amount of data in your systems. In Figma’s case, their data uncovered that their “magic moment” occurs when you have multiple users collaborating in one file together.

  • With Activation: You want to ensure your users experience that “magic moment” as fast as possible upon landing on your homepage. For Figma, this meant investing in better sharing features. They solved the problem, “how do I get a user to share a file with someone else so they are collaborating together?” by readjusting their gated vs. ungated features. Originally, they gave users two editors and unlimited files, which promoted little collaboration. But upon inverting those gates with unlimited editors and two files, they experienced rapid growth.
  • With Conversion: The “magic moment” for your free and paid users should be the same. That’s because you want your free users to realize the value of the product on their own, prior to converting to a paid user. In any other order, you’ll be pushing them to an upsell prematurely.

Collaboration Lessons Within Product, Sales & Marketing

According to all three of our panelists, while data is vital to the success of any product, it can only take you so far. Instead, you need to focus on a holistic approach to your product’s success, plotting out detailed growth loops with data, and then also researching qualitative blockers at each step through customer conversations.

The Product and Sales team need to collaborate closely. Your Product Managers should be periodically popping in on pre-sales and sales calls to check in on what customers are actually looking for. This provides a strong and direct line from the customer to the Product team, making it easier and quicker to receive feedback and iterate on the product as needed.

For Sarah, she likes the mantra “Active check-ins, repetitive reminders.”

To get a more concrete idea on how to better collaborate with teams across different departments, check out some these tactics:

  • Monthly Meeting with Product and Sales teams (note: if your sales team is just too large to maintain a monthly meeting, try meeting with just the Sales Managers. This role should have a great pulse on what is happening within the broader sales team)
  • Monthly Meeting with Product and Customer Experience teams to discuss top 10 product opportunities
  • Slack Channel with Product, Sales, and Marketing teams (really anyone in the company) to ask questions and provide customer feedback
  • Private Slack Channel for each strategic account including the Product and the Account Manager to quickly resolve customer issues that may arise
  • Enablement Content that allows different departments to create, maintain, and easily access content from one another
  • Product Marketer is embedded in the Product team
  • Bi-Weekly Meetings between Product team and a Solutions Architect
  • Bi-Weekly Meetings between Product team and a handful of Strategic reps
  • Head of Sales attends product reviews