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The 4 principles of onboarding for product-driven growth platforms

by Ana Lopez
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As the product-driven growth movement (PLG) becomes more popular, the process will mature, as will the strategic process of acquiring customers. The stages of customer acquisition are increasingly aligned with the flywheels of both the PLG process and the inbound marketing strategy.

The PLG flywheel has four stages; activate, adopt, worship and advocate. The incoming flywheel has three; attract, engage and delight. Each of these spins faster the more you learn, test and iterate for long-term success. But none of these, in my mind, reflect the principles of product-driven onboarding.

Related: How Customer Enablement Drives Product-Driven Growth

The stages of onboarding for B2B PLG organizations

To set the tone, onboarding doesn’t start the moment someone signs a contract or enters their credit card information. Onboarding is generally accepted to start with the first point of contact in every channel your organization owns. For example, this could be an advertisement, a social media post, an event or a speculative email, and each should set the tone or trend for the following activities and actions. So, what are the four principles?

  • Marketing onboarding: make the unknown familiar

  • Platform onboarding: known to the freemium user

  • Value onboarding: freemium to paid user

  • Peer-led onboarding: paid user to product champion

For each principle, there are corresponding tactics and strategies – some of which can be applied in silos, and others that perform best when used in a cumulative or combined strategic approach. Let’s discuss these in more detail.

Marketing Onboarding Principles for PLG Companies

The very first stage of onboarding for product-driven companies is marketing. From here there is a natural flow to bring strangers to champions. But what does that look like and what is the best strategy for B2B SaaS? For me it’s the inbound marketing strategy, but let’s look at some of the channels you can use:

You can only dominate a single channel, but that may not be beneficial to your long-term goals. For many, content marketing is the price of entry to the table, but for content to succeed in today’s crowded online world, you need email marketing to back it up, paid advertising to promote it, and social media marketing (both organic and as paid). to spread it.

Therefore, a multi-channel personal inbound marketing strategy is the only choice. Unless, of course, your PLG platform also sells to the enterprise, in which case you need both an inbound and account-based marketing strategy for continued success. In addition, you need a strong messaging strategy on your website copy that entices your new interested parties to try your platform.

Related: Inbound Marketing — What is it and why is it important?

Platform Onboarding Principles for PLG Companies

Once you’ve fully optimized your marketing strategy (which can only happen over time as you collect and use your data), you want to fully optimize your onboarding process. To do this, you must use a recognized framework or combination frameworks such as:

Make sure you master this stage of the onboarding process and it will heat up your customer acquisition program. Not only have I given you the PLG onboarding playbook here, but I’ve also given you the tools to do it – and I’m not done yet.

Valuable onboarding for product-driven SaaS

The articles I’ve shared with you in the hyperlinks will certainly provide you and your team with more valuable guidance and context, but there’s another stage in optimizing onboarding and tools are needed for that. These tools come in the form of:

  • Pendo

  • User flow

  • Chameleon

  • Heap

  • Amplitude

  • Mix panel

  • Full story

There’s also a whole host of other resources to help you understand whether your product is delivering the value you wanted it to deliver, where the bottlenecks are and how to deal with them. Optimizing your PLG platform for value minimizes the time it takes for your freemium users to recognize the true value of your product.

Continue to optimize to deliver lasting value and to understand how to build and focus on future product and/or feature releases.

Peer-led or peer-to-peer onboarding for product-driven organizations

The final principle of onboarding is optimizing your platform’s ability for your champions or cheerleaders to invite their friends and colleagues. While incentives are always good, ultimately you want to build a product so good, so valuable, and so necessary that your best users can’t help but talk about you and hype you.

You want these users to tell their story and have your platform as the hero in the story. So, how do you do that? Chances are if you nail the first three, it will take care of itself. However, your job isn’t to get complacent, but to treat this onboarding phase as a collaborative channel – one driven by a user community, not a sales team.

You can add the ability to invite and share from their account, which is pretty much standard these days, but ask your team this question: how do we enable our best users, the champions and cheerleaders, to easily invite new users on our behalf? invite and get on board ? Find that out through a championship committee or something similar, and you’ve made it through the four stages of PLG onboarding.

Related: How to turn strangers into loyal customers with user onboarding

I hope you enjoyed this look at the four main stages of onboarding for product-driven growth platforms and that I’ve given you enough to go back to your teams and refocus your efforts. By using this framework, your organization can become more embedded and multi-functional, which can only be beneficial for the entire go-to-market movement.

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