Mesh Firm
Vesterbrogade 26
1620 Copenhagen V
Contact Us
[email protected]

The Ultimate Guide to Product-Led Growth

Product-Led Growth (PLG) is a business strategy where the product is the primary engine of customer acquisition, expansion, and retention. Unlike traditional methods that rely heavily on sales or marketing investments to motivate customers, the PLG framework prioritizes user experience and puts user needs at the heart of the customer journey. Customers expect seamless and intuitive interactions, and PLG dovetails with these requirements while fostering organic growth through user satisfaction and word-of-mouth referrals. PLG can also make scaling efficient because the product itself generates the expanding customer base and loyalty.

Why should you use Product Led Growth?

When businesses use PLG as a go-to-market strategy, the momentum of the product and the users’ enthusiasm push up sales while bringing down the high Customer Acquisition Costs (CaC) needed to make headway in a saturated market. User experiences speak for themselves and drive organic or even viral growth and customer loyalty. PLG reduces the pressure to maintain high customer lifetime values to ensure profitability and can also make scaling efficient. That’s why PLG businesses have seen rapid revenue growth, greater market shares and higher rewards from investors according to Bain & Company studies

PLG gained prominence in the digital age, especially in the software and SaaS (Software as a Service) industries and proved a perfect fit with evolving consumer behavior. Consumers favor products that offer instant value and quality user experiences over those that are simply well-marketed or sold. Thanks to the internet, they are informed and confident enough to explore a new product without a sales associate hovering over them. They prefer both to self-serve and to self-educate rather than sit through a course and sales pitch. Users can immediately start learning how the product can tackle their day-to-day challenges and rapidly and independently reach the “Aha” moment where they decide to pay for the service. This creates opportunities for the brand to up- or cross-sell, and continues the momentum that helps the product reach new clients.

What is Product Led Growth?

When growth is led by marketing, an organization’s focus is on helping marketing to win over customers by making the case for the product. When growth is led by sales, the focus is on helping the sales team close more deals with outreach, demos and negotiations.

When growth is led by the product, the customer starts using the product immediately and invests in it because it seamlessly solves an issue they are facing. The product speaks for itself, allowing customers to realize its value firsthand, often through free trials, freemium models, or interactive product demos. The momentum is bottom-up rather than top-down, as it is in sales- and marketing-led projects. This compelling user experience naturally encourages users to continue using and paying for the product, as well as recommending it to others.

Instead of pushing potential customers through a one-way funnel that ends with a purchase, a happy customer’s satisfaction fuels referrals and repeat sales, creating a self-sustaining flywheel of growth.

Product-Led Growth - Mesh Firm

How does Product Led Growth work?

You need effective SEO and digital advertising to create awareness of your product and generate initial sign-ups – then your user experience takes over. Here are the seven key action components to build into your PLG workflow.

1. Onboarding: strategies and best practices

Onboarding will make or break a user’s relationship with your PLG product. A well-crafted onboarding process should be intuitive, engaging, and most importantly, value-driven. You can teach users how to use your product but also demonstrate the immediate value it can bring to their lives or businesses. Best practices in onboarding include:

Simplicity and clarity: Keep onboarding as simple as possible. Avoid overwhelming users with information and options.

Personalization: Tailor the experience to the user’s specific needs and interests. Present use-case scenarios that fit your client segmentations.

Guided tours and tooltips: Use these features to gently guide users through the key functionalities.

Quick wins: Onboarding must help users rapidly achieve a meaningful outcome, reinforcing the value of your product.

Nudges: Help users understand the product’s value even with limited access.

2. Understanding user journeys and their implications

What path does your user take as they start to explore the product? The traditional sales funnel and the more contemporary flywheel model represent two different conceptions of user journeys and their potential. In the funnel model, the customer journey is a linear process from awareness to consideration, decision, and finally, purchase. That means the customer journey simply comes to a full stop after a payment is made. It does not serve a Product Led Growth (PLG) strategy. 

In contrast, the flywheel model is circular and driven by the momentum of customer engagement. Customer satisfaction leads to referrals and repeat sales in an ongoing cycle of growth. 

However, both the funnel and the flywheel assume that a customer’s journey is uninterrupted – whether linear or circular. That’s just not realistic. Users might discover features at different stages, return after a hiatus, or use the product in unexpected ways. Any successful PLG strategy should embrace this and find ways to make it work. Examples of non-linear user journeys include:

Exploratory usage: Users might start using certain features out of curiosity before finding they become integral to their work process.

Iterative learning: Users gradually discover and learn more complex features over time, increasing their engagement and reliance on the product.

3. User referrals: How users promote growth

In PLG, users are not just consumers, they are also promoters. Satisfied users can become powerful advocates for your product, referring new users and contributing to a virally growing user base. Here are three fundamental ways to transform your users into active participants in your product’s success story:

Incentivizing Referrals: Offer rewards or benefits for users who bring in new customers.

Making Referrals Easy: Simplify the referral process with easy-to-use sharing tools.

Leveraging Social Proof: Showcase success stories and testimonials to build trust and encourage referrals.

4. Feedback mechanisms and continuous improvement

Remember that data-driven decision making is vital to PLG. You need to build mechanisms not only to capture data from customers but also to activate that data in making over your product. That means your user experience and workflow should incorporate these elements:

Regular surveys and user interviews: Actively seek user feedback to understand customer needs and pain points.

Iterative development: This means continuously updating the product according to that user feedback to ensure it remains relevant and valuable.

Internal alignment: Successful PLG organizations have teams that cut across sectors. Marketing, customer success, analysts, and product creators should work together. The entire customer journey is part of the product experience. 

5. Effective monetization

An intensely customer-focussed strategy like PLG needs customer-focussed monetization. Here are two effective monetization practices:

Value-based pricing: Aligning pricing strategies with the value perceived by the users.

Flexible pricing models: Offering a range of pricing options to cater to different user segments, from free trials to premium features.

6. Analytics and performance tracking

User feedback should always be complimented and enhanced by detailed analytics that help give the fullest possible picture of how your product is being received and interacted with. This is how you ensure you’re creating a sustainable and scalable PLG business model:

Measure user engagement: Use tracking metrics like daily active users (DAUs) and monthly active users (MAUs) to gauge engagement levels.

Gather product usage analytics: Analyze how different features are used to inform future development priorities.

7. Understanding the Value Proposition in PLG Marketing

A value proposition is a clear statement that explains how your product solves customers’ problems or improves their situation, delivers specific benefits, and is better than the competition. Effective value propositions are clear and concise, and highlight the unique value of the product.

Time to Value (TTV): TTV is the amount of time it takes for a user to realize the value of your product after they start using it. PLG demands a shorter TTV as it directly impacts user satisfaction and the likelihood of conversion from free to paid versions. You must ensure that your product delivers value quickly.

Identifying the “Aha” moment: The “Aha” moment comes when users first realize the value of your product. Identifying and optimizing this moment is essential in PLG – it’s the turning point where users decide to continue using your product. This moment varies between products and can be pinpointed from user behavior and feedback. Once you’ve identified it, you can tailor the user experience to guide more customers towards this realization as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Benefits and challenges of Product Led Growth

If you’re considering adopting a PLG model you should also understand its limitations and drawbacks. Is it enough to trouble-shoot these challenges or should you adopt a different strategy altogether? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Benefits of PLG

  • Lower customer acquisition costs: When the product itself drives user acquisition and retention, businesses often see a reduction in traditional marketing and sales expenses.
  • Rapid scaling: PLG allows businesses to scale quickly as satisfied users advocate for the product through word-of-mouth and referrals, leading to organic or even viral growth.
  • Enhanced product quality: Continuous user feedback leads to regular product improvements that meet and adapt to evolving user needs.
  • Higher user engagement: A product-centric approach typically results in higher engagement rates, as users find genuine value in the product.
  • Better customer retention: Users who find a product organically and see its value are more likely to remain loyal, reducing churn rates. They’re happier because they get instant gratification and the feeling of having a product constantly tailored to their needs. 
  • Data-driven insights: PLG companies often have rich data on user behavior, allowing for more informed decision-making and product development.
  • Small and Midsize Businesses (SMBs): PLG is a cost-efficient way to target SMBs. The SMBs can sample the product before investing, and there’s no need to employ a large sales force to track them down.

Challenges of PLG

  • Dependency on product excellence: The success of a PLG strategy heavily relies on the product’s ability to sell itself, which can be a high bar to meet.
  • Challenges in monetization: Finding the right balance between free and paid features can be tricky. Can you guarantee you will convert enough free users to paying customers to balance the cost of scaling up?
  • Complex user needs: Catering to a broad user base with diverse needs can complicate product development and feature prioritization – a “too many cooks” issue. 
  • Potential overemphasis on product: There’s a risk of focusing too much on the product and neglecting other important aspects like customer service or brand building.
  • Initial momentum: Building the audience for your product could involve a substantial investment in marketing and publicity to break through in a saturated market.
  • Large corporations: PLG pairs well with SMB customers but it takes more than excellent UX to secure large corporate clients. 
  • Operating costs: While PLG organizations save on sales and marketing, they often invest more heavily in R&D and product design without necessarily making an overall economy.
  • Scaling: Your first clients may be satisfied with your basic product but the rest of the market may want to see more before they buy in.

Addressing the Challenges of Product Led Growth

How can you best navigate the challenges of PLG and both grow your business and keep your customer base happy? We’ll outline some tactics here.

  • Balancing product and marketing: Effective marketing and customer support will always be crucial. You need a holistic approach to ensure that the product reaches its target audience and that users have a positive overall experience.
  • Iterative development and testing: Regularly testing new features and making iterative improvements based on user feedback keeps the product aligned with user needs and the market beyond.
  • Segmentation and personalization: Understanding different user segments and offering personalized experiences will help address diverse needs.
  • Effective monetization strategies: Experimenting with different monetization models, such as freemium or tiered pricing, can help find the right balance that encourages conversion while providing value.
  • Hybrids: PLG is extremely effective when partnered with a Sales Led Growth strategy. Sales teams can reach executives at larger corporations and negotiate bigger deals.

Should our company become product-led?

Deciding whether to pivot towards a product-led growth (PLG) strategy is a significant consideration for any company. PLG is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s explore key factors that can help determine if transitioning to a PLG model is the right move for your company.

Time to Value (TTV)

The bulk of case studies and examples of PLG are for B2B and B2C software. Clients generally know fairly quickly if software is useful for them, which means it has rapid TTV. If you are creating another kind of product, you’ll have to research relevant examples and determine whether your product also has a short TTV. If a customer needs to invest more time before understanding how your product can benefit them, PLG may not work for you. Read here about PLG for physical products. (link out).

Understanding your audience

Product-led growth thrives on user-centricity. Does your target audience prefer a hands-on approach to discovering and adopting new solutions? Many of today’s users often favor self-service models that allow them to explore products at their own pace. Understanding your audience’s preferences is key to determining whether a PLG strategy will resonate with them.

Analyzing your current growth model

Evaluate your current growth model’s strengths and weaknesses. High customer acquisition costs (CaC), long sales cycles, and heavy reliance on marketing and sales efforts to drive growth might indicate the need for a shift. If your product has the potential to sell itself through superior user experience and value, PLG could be a more efficient path.

Readiness for organizational change

Adopting a PLG model often requires significant organizational shifts, including changes in team structures, processes, and mindsets. Your company must be ready to embrace data-driven decision-making, prioritize product development based on user feedback, and retrain marketing and sales personnel to engage in new, PLG strategies. Consider whether your organization is flexible and agile enough to undertake these changes.

Financial and operational implications

Consider the financial and operational implications of shifting to a PLG model. Initially, this might mean reallocating resources from sales and marketing to product development and customer experience improvements. Ensure your company is in a position to support this shift without jeopardizing operational stability.

Examples of Product Led Growth

Read about how Mesh Firm helped Recright, a video interview platform, pursue and optimize their PLG strategy.

Or read this article with 7 examples of companies relying on Product-Led Growth as their growth engine:

Getting Started with PLG: A Step-by-Step Checklist for Businesses

Adapting a PLG strategy means you’re embarking on a journey of understanding your product deeply, aligning it with your business goals, and continuously adapting to user needs and market dynamics. By following Mesh Firm’s comprehensive checklist, you can lay a solid foundation for a successful PLG strategy.

1. Building a Product That Sells Itself: How to Focus on User Experience (UX):

Design with the user in mind: Ensure your product is intuitive, easy to use, and solves a real problem for your target audience.

Test and iterate: Regularly collect user feedback and make necessary adjustments to improve the UX.

Emphasize Value from the Start: Make sure users have a clear value proposition and understand the value of your product from their first interaction. Your onboarding process should quickly demonstrate how your product can benefit the user and offer immediate value.

2. Determining if PLG Suits Your Product and Business Model

Be your product’s own worst critic and assess if it can naturally drive its own growth through user engagement and satisfaction.

Be realistic about the complexity of your product. Simpler, self-service products are a better fit for PLG.

Analyze your business model: Ask yourself whether a PLG approach aligns with your overall business goals and strategies. 

Consider market and customer dynamics: PLG works best in markets where users prefer to try before they buy and can easily make word-of-mouth endorsements.

3. Analyzing Different PLG Strategies

Freemium vs. Free Trial: Which approach aligns best with your product and market? 

Freemium models are effective at generating a wide base, while free trials are a better tool for more complex, high-value products.

Consider your target audience: Different PLG strategies may appeal to different user segments. Tailor your approach based on user preferences and behaviors.

Analyze market trends: Ensure the timing is right for a PLG strategy, considering market saturation, competition, and user readiness.

Be adaptive: Be prepared to evolve your strategy as the market and user needs change.

4. Balancing Effort vs. Impact

Prioritize: Make sure you focus on the features and updates that offer the highest value to users with the least effort on your part.

Use data to drive decisions: Concentrate on analytics to understand what features or improvements will have the most significant impact on user satisfaction and growth.

Measure Impact and Iterate: You must establish key performance indicators (KPIs) so that you know when your strategy is paying off or needs tweaking.

Be agile: You are gathering user feedback and performance data so that you can continuously improve  both your product and your PLG strategy.

Product Led Growth Metrics

Customers don’t only power expansion in a Product-Led Growth (PLG) strategy, they also motivate the refinement of a product. You need to harness the data they generate, find effective ways to analyze it, and then turn it into further strategy. How does that actually work? 

Data-Driven Strategies and Analytics

In the world of PLG, data is king. That means collecting and analyzing user data to understand behavior, preferences, and pain points. This will empower your business to:

  • Identify the features that are most and least used, guiding product development and improvement.
  • Understand user journeys and pinpoint where users encounter issues or drop out.
  • Tailor marketing and sales strategies to fit user behavior and preferences.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for PLG

You won’t know if your PLG strategy is having any effect if you don’t establish Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. Classic KPIs include:

  • User Activation Rate: Measures the percentage of users who take a desired action after signing up or starting a trial.
  • Conversion Rate: Tracks how many users convert from free to paid versions.
  • Churn Rate: Measures how many users stop using your product over a specific period.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Estimates the total revenue a business can expect from a single customer account.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Assesses customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Daily/Monthly Active Users (DAU/MAU): Indicates user engagement by measuring how many users interact with your product daily or monthly.

Utilizing Data Analytics to Track Progress and Make Informed Decisions

Once you have your KPIs and data strategies in place, you can refine your analysis to dive deeper by

  • Segmenting users for more targeted analysis.
  • Tracking user engagement and feature usage patterns.
  • Performing cohort analysis to see how changes in the product affect different user groups.

Continuous Improvement: Iterating Based on Performance Metrics

PLG is an iterative process: your product maintains and enhances its value through constant feedback and improvement. A regular overview of KPIs and user feedback enables you to:

  • Identify areas for product enhancement or new feature development.
  • Make informed decisions about resource allocation and prioritization.
  • Experiment with different strategies (e.g. pricing, onboarding processes) and measure their impact.

Addressing Churn: Strategies and Insights

Churn is the rate at which customers stop using your product. You can’t afford to ignore churn in your PLG strategy – understanding what’s powering churn in your unique situation is essential. We have six recommended responses to churn:

  • Analyze Churn Reasons: Why are users leaving? Are they missing features or facing user experience issues, or are there external factors?
  • Improve Onboarding Experience: The more rapidly users see what your product will do for them, the longer they will stay on board. A user-friendly onboarding process can significantly reduce churn.
  • Enhance Customer Support and Engagement: Your customer support channels need to be open, regularly checked, and able to offer rapid resolutions or else users will become frustrated and find faster solutions elsewhere.
  • Iterate Based on Feedback: Learn from your losses. Churned users offer some of the best feedback for improvements. 
  • Personalize User Experience: If individual user needs are met, customers will stay loyal. Personalization increases your product’s value to them.
  • Predictive Analysis: Catch users before they churn by using data analytics to identify those at risk and work to re-engage them.

PLG’s Relationship with Marketing, Sales and Customer Success

PLG may mean saving on marketing and sales, but it doesn’t mean you should get rid of them altogether. Marketing and sales are integrated into PLG strategy, providing further support. Customer Success is also a fundamental component of the PLG approach. Here’s what these integrations look like in practice:

Marketing Focus on Product Awareness and Education: Marketing teams in a PLG model focus on creating a strong brand and product narrative that resonates with the target audience. They also use content marketing and social media to drive user engagement and retention through targeted campaigns that highlight the product’s value and educate potential users on its benefits.

Sales as Facilitators: A PLG sales team moves from pushing products to facilitating the buying process. They function as consultants to users who are already engaged with the product, providing information and support to help them make informed decisions, find complex solutions or request accommodations. Sales also engage in upselling and cross-selling by building on existing users’ familiarity with the product. 

Customer Success Integration: In a PLG model, the customer success team plays a vital role in ensuring users realize the full value of the product. This team often works closely with both marketing and sales to provide a cohesive user experience.

Adapting PLG Strategies for Physical Products

Product-Led Growth (PLG) is generally associated with digital products but it can be adapted for physical goods. The key – as always in PLG – is to focus on creating products that deliver exceptional value and user experiences strong enough to drive growth. Here’s how:

User Experience as a Focal Point: The user experience for your physical product should be exceptional – from the product design, packaging, and ease of use to after-sales service.

Leveraging Digital Platforms: Your product may be physical but you can still prioritize digital platforms for customer engagement, feedback, and community building. Social media alone can be a powerful tool to create buzz and encourage word-of-mouth referrals.

Data-Driven Product Development: Keep collecting and analyzing customer feedback and  data usage with surveys, reviews, or even smart integrations in IoT-products. Use your findings to improve your product.

Creating a Community Around the Product: A community of passionate users will spur one another on to advocate for your product. When you engage with them you can gain valuable insights and further foster organic growth.

Bonus: The psychology behind buying decisions – Why people buy products and services

There are three main reasons why people buy products and services:

  1. They need them
  2. They want them
  3. They love them.

Need: If you are selling a product or service that solves a problem, then you should focus on making sure that your customers understand the benefits of using your product or service. You should also make sure that your product or service meets the needs of your customer.

People buy products because they need them. They need something to solve a problem, make life easier, or improve their quality of life. This is true whether they are buying a car, a house, a pair of shoes, or even a cup of coffee.

Want: People often purchase products because they want something. They might want a new car, a new pair of shoes, or even a new house. Whatever it is, they want it.

Love: This is probably the most common reason why people buy products and/or services. We love our cars, our houses, our clothes, etc. We love these items so much that we will spend money to keep them.


Product-Led Growth (PLG) represents a transformative approach to scaling businesses by leveraging the power of the product itself to drive acquisition, engagement, and retention. This strategy emphasizes creating exceptional product experiences that meet users’ needs intuitively, fostering organic growth through user satisfaction and advocacy. As companies navigate the complexities of implementing PLG, understanding its principles, benefits, and challenges is crucial.

By prioritizing user experience, collecting and acting on feedback, and employing a data-driven approach, businesses can effectively harness the potential of PLG to achieve sustainable growth. Embracing PLG requires a holistic view that integrates product, marketing, sales, and customer success efforts, underscoring the importance of cross-functional collaboration and a culture of experimentation. As the digital landscape evolves, PLG offers a robust framework for companies looking to thrive in a competitive market.

Need help with Product-Led Growth? Get in touch here.


What is product-led growth?

Product-led growth (PLG) is a business strategy where the product itself is the primary driver of customer acquisition, expansion, and retention. It focuses on providing a superior product experience that encourages users to advocate for and expand the use of the product organically.

What is a product-led growth strategy?

A product-led growth strategy is a go-to-market approach that relies on the product’s value and user experience to drive growth. It involves designing products that are inherently capable of attracting, engaging, and retaining users without heavy reliance on traditional sales or marketing efforts.

What is product-led growth vs sales growth?

Product-led growth (PLG) focuses on using the product itself to drive growth, while sales-led growth (SLG) relies on a sales team to actively sell the product. PLG capitalizes on user experience and organic growth mechanisms, whereas SLG emphasizes direct sales efforts and relationships to close deals.

What are the goals of product-led growth?

The goals of PLG include reducing customer acquisition costs, increasing user engagement and satisfaction, achieving faster scaling through organic growth, enhancing product quality through continuous feedback, and improving customer retention.

What is the difference between PLG and SLG?

The key difference between PLG and SLG is the primary growth driver: PLG leverages the product and user experience to generate growth, while SLG relies on a dedicated sales force to push the product into the market and close sales.

Is PLG the same as freemium?

No, PLG is not the same as freemium. While freemium — offering a basic version of the product for free with the option to upgrade to more advanced features — can be a tactic within a PLG strategy, PLG encompasses a broader approach to growth that prioritizes product quality, user experience, and organic growth mechanisms beyond just offering a free tier.

Is PLG B2B or B2C?

PLG can be applied to both B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) models. The strategy focuses on the product’s ability to drive growth, which is relevant for both types of markets, although the implementation and specific tactics may vary depending on the target audience.

Is PLG a go-to-market strategy?

Yes, PLG is considered a go-to-market strategy. It outlines how a company plans to achieve growth primarily through the strength of its product and the experience it provides to users, influencing all aspects of the business from product development to marketing and sales approaches.

Magnus Nøddegaard Hansen
Magnus Nøddegaard Hansen