When OpenView Partners, a venture capital firm, coined the term “product-led growth” around 2016, it was an up-and-coming trend for software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses. Now, only six years later, product-led growth itself has evolved to become a table-stakes sales and marketing strategy that warrants its own set of trends to watch. As we enter the heart of 2023, here are five areas to keep an eye on.
As digital tools and technologies become even more firmly rooted in our work environment, it will be critical to continue to connect colleagues with one another to facilitate creativity and collaboration. The power of product-led growth has already been illustrated in the forerunners of collaborative solutions such as Slack and Figma.
Now, automation and artificial intelligence is rapidly taking over the repetitive, low-level, individual tasks of the workplace. Human beings will need to step up their game, using uniquely human skills and talents to innovate and create the products and services of tomorrow. This will require tools that allow even more streamlined collaboration, virtual sharing, and efficient means to have targeted digital conversations, even within the SaaS products already in use.
Just about every industry is overloaded with data as an estimated 2.5 quintillion bytes of facts are created every day. Businesses are scrambling to find effective ways to turn all this data into actionable decisions. Companies employing product-led growth strategies are no different.
As potential customers engage with a SaaS business, they will likely sign up for a free account, purchase a self-service premium product, or request a demo or conversation with the sales team. To maximize the benefits of a product-led growth strategy, the organization must integrate product, marketing, and sales data simultaneously to track, direct and engage the right customer at the right moment in time.
Organizations that can effectively transition customers from a free trial to a paid plan before they exit, read signals that widespread adoption is peaking at a specific company and act accordingly, or arm the sales team with contextual information to deliver a personalized pitch will experience long-term success.
Remote and hybrid work are here to stay, which means end users are going to need sophisticated digital tools to perform their jobs just about anywhere they can connect. This will present an increasingly difficult challenge for SaaS companies that will need to keep pace not only with technological developments but the accelerating expectations and demands of the end customer.
Since product-led growth is driven by end-user success, ensuring that customers are happy wherever and whenever they choose to access a product must be a priority. Solutions must easily and transparently boost productivity without requiring workflow adaptations, regardless of time or place.
Digital tools and technology have become a core fiber of modern day work and life. As a result, even the most non-technical employees are closer than ever to understanding and using these tools at a sophisticated level. Many no-code and low-code applications allow individuals to create the solutions they need, easily use smart forms to guide user workflows, and even employ API connections to create seamless integrations of their own.
As product-led growth continues to introduce more solutions to in-the-trench employees, they will be able to expand their personal tech stacks to an even greater degree. Every individual will soon have the power to optimize and share their own set of favorite applications, software, and tools, regardless of employer.
As SaaS solutions continue to enter the market, it will not only be important to differentiate themselves from the competition, but to add value to the end user in multiple ways. First and foremost, the solution needs to solve a pressing problem without requiring much from the end user.
However, those organizations that can build a community around their solutions will help solidify these relationships, increase customer loyalty, and create a forum to solicit ideas and collect feedback from those most invested in the product itself. Creating that community connection fulfills more than a business need; it provides commonality among those who are believers in a specific solution and satisfies a human desire to work together on an evolving product that can keep benefitting all the users in the long run.
Product-led growth will continue to be a key sales and marketing strategy for a growing number of SaaS organizations in the near future, supporting and feeding the traditional sales cycle in a grassroots manner. Understanding these key trends that will surround product-led growth in the coming months can help organizations optimize their use of this strategy, maximize their return on investment, and engage their prospective clients at new levels.
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