SaaS product managers need to craft a solid onboarding story when moving to Product-led Growth. More importantly, they need systems to continually improve it.
Some onboarding tips:
While a PLG model does put the product front & center, it doesn't mean you completely take people out of the equation. Offer users a chance to connect with customer support reps via live chat or attend a training webinar. Put a name & face behind the in-app messages. This goes a long way towards establishing a relationship.
Take Mailchimp for example. People use it to send email but the same platform enables you to schedule paid ads & setup landing pages. The primary purpose might vary from person to person. So, if someone is looking to setup a conversion page, pushing a checklist to serve their first email campaign will come off as a disconnect.
Ask the user what they're looking for. Switch the train tracks & lead them on that path to help them find value quickly.
Tools like Mixpanel can help you chart out the funnel of users that moved to a paid subscription after their trial period. Compare this with the journey of those who didn't take the plunge. Attempt to identify what's absent on the latter.
Were there trigger points in the paid journey that tipped them over? (e.g. perhaps they watched a certain video tutorial OR used the reporting feature). Then, think how you can setup guardrails to ensure all users follow a similar path.
Activation isn't a binary attribute. It's a spectrum.
Define the list of actions that a user needs to perform to be deemed as fully activated (e.g. for HR software, it could be post a job, search applications, setup an interview). Now, any user that completes a few of the those areas is partially activated.
Try out different activation thresholds on when to classify such a user as a product-qualified lead & summon the sales team to assist in a conversion.
Looking at the copy of your onboarding flow & email sequences is often left as an afterthought. However, writing compelling, succinct copy can be make or break for adoption. Favor conversational language (e.g. "Post a job in 3 easy steps" vs. "Streamline your HR Process") & review success/error messages.
Use your onboarding flow at least once a month. Think of a specific persona & walk through the experience with their needs in mind. You're bound to find several areas of improvement. Moreover, ask your support teams to do the same.
You cannot onboard someone in a day. It needs to be done over time. Lead users to a couple of primary goals in their initial sessions. Once they climb those rungs, push for contextually relevant, advanced features. Play the long game.
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