If you work in SaaS, you feel the belt-tightening and the pressure to sustain growth heading into a tough economy. Gone are the days when you can solely rely on your Product-led Growth (PLG) strategy. You need more a durable growth strategy and that starts with making your customers, and your community, happy.
Enter, Community-led Growth (CLG). Just like PLG, CLG is a flywheel. Rather than placing your product at the center of the buyer’s journey, this strategy leverages community support, engagement, and product feedback to drive growth.
By utilizing both of these strategies, you’ll be able to simultaneously build a product that sells itself by way of listening to what your customers and community want. It’s a match made in SaaS-heaven.
We see both strategies work exceptionally well with companies where end-users choose which tool to adopt. Usually, that applies to freemium or low-cost products with a huge customer base; think of companies like Miro, Slack, Airtable, and Postman. But it can also be combined with traditional marketing and sales methods. Companies that are, for example, more enterprise-focused can use a hybrid approach of PLG and CLG motions based on their own needs to deliver more value, product adoption, and engagement.
How PLG and CLG strategies complement each other
|Product-led Growth||Community-led Growth|
|Building a great product experience that customers love||Customers that turn into fans and like to engage, learn and share about their experiences|
|A product that is self-explanatory and doesn’t need high touch onboarding.||Community hub that unifies all customer success-related content, making it easier for the end user to find answers, educate themselves, and find new inspiration.|
|Removing friction in the product to help customers reach the “aha moment.”||Provide scalable support and guidance by offering self-service and peer sourced answers.|
|The more customers use the product, the more likely they will experience value.||Customers will enhance the product by sharing best practices, templates or contribute to the code.|
|Optimize the product to deliver more value and convert users to paid customers/seats.||Use community feedback to influence further product development.|
How to ignite the Community-led growth flywheel
Although many businesses start a customer community for one main use case or goal, the majority of the time, companies discover that it impacts growth from a variety of factors. This is why oftentimes, CLG is viewed as a flywheel. Here are six examples.
Having great content will help customers to organically find, discover and test the product before purchasing. The content should drive experience and provide value. If a company delivers empty, non-authentic messages, this will backfire. Using user-generated content and customer stories from your community will help bring valuable and authentic content.
Even the best products need support, for example for industry-specific use cases, inspiration for exploring new features, and more. The content to help with that, like user manuals, docs, courses, and videos is often siloed and hard to find. Bring all those sources together and extend that with community Q&A and with that deliver successful self-service. Community support will help in the full cycle, but especially for trial products, it can be a cost-efficient way to provide support.
A community can help to connect customers with like-minded people from their industry, role, or region. This will create a sense of belonging and strengthens the relationship between members. The community provides value beyond the product, is always there as part of your offering, and can become a competitive advantage.
A community will help to create and promote your loyal customers and brand advocates. Showing how they will get value from your product, is a good way to make your customers more confident about their buying decision. Community members are more likely to refer your brand to others, and when they feel part of your community it won’t drive them to the competition.
For most product-led growth companies it’s impossible to speak to all of your customers and users to understand their product needs and pains. The community offers instant product feedback in a structured way.
Keep your customers in the loop by sharing product updates, feature releases, and roadmap changes in one centralized place. Keep them engaged by giving credit to community contributions.
A community is something that grows and changes over time. It attracts new people, that start to engage, it retains and grows customers long after the buying phase, and those customers can become advocates and attract new customers.
CLG and PLG Results in Durable Growth
As we continue to navigate the market downturn, efficient and durable growth will be a necessity. Teams will need to utilize their customer-base and leverage their product to scale. A product-led strategy will help gain efficiencies by offering self-serve trials and onboarding as well as driving product adoption using contextual omni-channel experience. A community-led strategy will help gain efficiencies user-generated content, allowing customers to be involved in your roadmap and creating a network of brand advocates.
If you combine this with building a great frictionless product experience that customers love, you are building a virtuous circle for efficient and durable growth, putting your community at the center of it. Product-led Growth and Community-led Growth are the strategies you’ll continue to see in successful SaaS orgs in the future.