Blog Icon
Upollo Blog
← Back to Blog

The Power Duo: Product Led Growth and Customer Success

Maximize user acquisition and expansion by aligning Product-Led Growth with Customer Success strategies

Josh Pindjak
Josh Pindjak
Senior Product Designer
The Power Duo: Product Led Growth and Customer Success

PLG and how Customer Success plays a role

Product-led growth (PLG) has gained massive momentum as a powerful go-to-market model for SaaS companies. By making the product itself the main catalyst for user acquisition, activation, and conversion, PLG allows companies to scale rapidly with efficient spend on traditional sales and marketing. Users can experience value through features like freemium plans, self-serve signups, and in-product messaging.

While an exceptional product experience is the core driver of PLG, it's a team effort to fully capitalize on that momentum. After a free or trial user has been successfully converted to a paid user, customer success teams find themselves charged with maintaining and nurturing these users. Recent data from Openview highlights that in PLG companies, customer success teams typically own the critical metrics of customer retention and expansion.

Only focusing on the acquisition and conversion of your customers can lead to a “leaky bucket” syndrome. Losing a few customers per month doesn’t sound that bad, until it does. If you start with 1,000 customers, and lose 4% of them each month, you’ll be left with less than half of that after just 18 months. Getting these customers to stick around for the long haul is where customer success comes in.

The Product ‘Stickiness’ Imperative

Getting users in the door is one thing, but long-term revenue growth requires those users to stick around, adopt deeper functionality, and ultimately expand into becoming larger customer accounts over time. This is where customer success teams are indispensable.

Users may discover a product and experience initial value through delightful UX and frictionless onboarding. But it's customer success that ensures they realize the full transformative value, make the product a "sticky" part of their workflow, and continually find enough value to increase usage and spend.

To drive product stickiness at scale, customer success responsibilities have evolved into:

  • Proactively monitoring usage signals and behavioral cues that indicate churn/expansion risk
  • Delivering education and enablement that drives deeper adoption
  • Mapping the product's capabilities to each customer's unique desired outcomes
  • Identifying upsell/cross-sell opportunities aligned with customer needs
  • Becoming the "voice” of the customer to inform product roadmaps
  • Turning their best accounts into testimonials and case studies, which greatly aid in the sales and marketing process

The PLG-Customer Success Flywheel

When PLG and customer success efforts are combined, it creates a powerful ‘flywheel’ effect:

  1. An exceptional product experience (fueled by PLG) drives new user acquisition.
  2. Customer success motions focus on adoption, retention, and expansion within those acquired users. A well-equipped CSM will know which expansion or retention signals to look for, while flagging accounts which might churn soon, or small accounts ripe for expansion.
  3. Increased expansion efforts and reduced churn grows revenue over time, which enables further investment back into the product experience.
  4. The improved product experience attracts more new users through PLG, continuing the flywheel.

This self-perpetuating cycle keeps user acquisition high through an amazing product experience, while customer success efforts maximize the value of those users over time. Having a truly great product experience can significantly lower customer acquisition costs (CAC) as well as increase sales team close rates.

Product-Led Growth Examples

Leading PLG companies have cracked the code of making customer success a force-multiplier on their growth:

Calendly - While bottling up new users through their freemium model, their customer success team drives account expansion into teams and enterprise with:

  • Customer health scoring to identify expansion opportunities and churn risks
  • Automated nurture campaigns based on product usage
  • Dedicated upsell motions for additional product lines

Atlassian - Famous for developer-driven adoption of JIRA and Confluence, Atlassian supports product stickiness through:

  • Atlassian University and product certification programs
  • Premier enterprise support and services offerings
  • Directly using their products for customer onboarding/education

Canva - Capitalizing on their wildly popular free design tool, Canva's customer success approach includes:

  • Design tutorial libraries and public community for continued education
  • In-app messaging and user feedback loops to shape their product roadmap
  • Free-to-paid upsell motions for premium assets and functionality

Operationalizing Your PLG-Customer Success Flywheel (aka “The Way Forward”)

As shown through these examples, world-class PLG companies are not just relying on their products to work magic alone. They strategically invest in customer success efforts as a force multiplier on PLG's rapid acquisition engine. Customer success drives the stickiness, adoption, satisfaction and expansion required to compound PLG's benefits into long-term, sustainable revenue streams.

So as you evaluate and optimize your own PLG motions, ensure customer success has an equally prominent seat at the table. Let your products be the initial user acquisition vehicle, but equip a team to maximize value realization and continued growth from those users over time. It's this harmonious combination that will truly unlock PLG's full potential.

Apps like Upollo are here to help you fully operationalize this complementary approach by:

  • Utilizing AI to identify conversion, churn, and expansion signals and converting them into prioritized opportunities. 
  • Providing a full 360° view of your users, including the reasons why
  • Aligning product, marketing, sales, and success teams around unified customer data

Rather than siloed initiatives, Upollo allows PLG and customer success to fuel each other as an integrated, repeatable growth engine. The product attracts users, while Upollo guides their journey toward becoming highly engaged, happy customers. 

Read the Report: Upollo SOC 2 Type 1
PDF • 2.4mb

Join the Wave

Ready to revolutionize how you recognize opportunities? Sign up for the waitlist below and be among the first to experience its transformative power when it launches.

Thanks! We'll let you know when you're off the waitlist.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
About the Author
Josh Pindjak
Josh Pindjak
Senior Product Designer

You Might Like:

All Posts
How to Convert Account Sharers without Alienating your Users
Effective strategies to convert account sharers into paying customers without pushing away the people who love your app the most
Reactivating Churned Customers: How to Win Back Subscription-Based Customers
Discover effective strategies to win back churned customers and boost your subscription-based business's revenue and growth.
B2B Businesses are Applying Netflix and Disney’s Tactics and it is Paying Off
How B2B companies are harnessing the account sharing challenge to fuel revenue and user base growth

Get Started for Free

Start understanding and upselling your customers today.