Taking a product-led approach to growth lets your software do the majority of the selling, rather than focusing on traditional sales and marketing tactics, such as calls and demos. Product-led growth relies on your product to do the majority of the selling, relying on a sales representative to provide product-related support or explain the benefits of upgrading.
By giving users easy access to your product, they can test it out before they commit to full implementation across the company. The aim is to show users how valuable and indispensable your product is without pushing them directly into attending a sales call.
And while a product-led growth strategy is mostly about having in-product hints and feature teases (e.g. “upgrade to unlock”), long-form product education and hands-on sandbox environments can also contribute to the broader success of your product-led growth strategy.
Show Me The Sandbox Environment
Your potential users need to decide (quickly!) if your product will solve their problem. Yes, some of them will read your marketing material — but most users won’t make their purchasing decision just from reading about your software’s benefits. Some of them are also reluctant to sit through a long-winded demo with your Account Executives. For some, it’s simply too much time and friction at such an early stage of their purchasing journey.
Instead, your users want a hands-on product experience — and they want it launched easily and quickly. Providing frictionless access to software sandboxes is worth significantly more than any marketing materials. These hands-on product sandboxes ensure that users get a learn-by-doing environment that lets them analyze your product to determine if it solves the problem they’re working on, or delights them enough to justify purchasing a license.
Using Sandbox Environments to Drive Developer Adoption
Developers and software engineers are influencing purchase decisions more than ever, and this trend is only likely to accelerate. According to research, 95% of developers have some role in purchasing while 60% of developers can approve or reject a technology purchase.
However, developers need to know if your product can solve the problem they’re working on. And the best way to do this is through a hands-on, software sandbox. In fact, 38% of developers must establish a proof of concept to compel their business to invest in technology, and 37% are required to provide specific business use cases for that tool. And guess what? They can’t build POCs with marketing material — but they can with a hands-on, software sandbox.
When developers have frictionless access to a product sandbox, they can analyze your product’s effectiveness and use it in real-life situations. This hands-on experience will help them understand how your product solves their unique problem (or not), provide them with the necessary information to demonstrate a POC to the C-suite, and give them confidence in your product. All of this will help developers and their stakeholders to reach a purchasing decision faster and instill trust in your product’s ability to deliver on core features and benefits.
The Secret to User Acquisition: Education
Potential users will often arrive at your product with a limited understanding of its features and how it works. And traditionally, you’d probably send them towards downloading marketing materials and brochures where they can learn about your products and solutions.
And while users can educate themselves by reading marketing materials, you can accelerate their purchasing decision by providing interactive educational materials and software sandboxes of your product (which we’ve already discussed above). So instead of sending users to marketing materials, think about providing them with the type of educational information that will help users feel fully educated on your product’s capabilities, potential, and limitations.
Your educational material needs to be practical and actionable; it needs to be something engaging, practical, and reinforced through:
- Community discussions
And this educational approach needs to continue long after a user has first started using your product. Instead of immediately selling and calling users after they’ve signed up to learn more about your product, offer a self-paced product training course to deepen their understanding of your product. Reach out with educational support resources and enlighten them in the other use cases that your product is used for.
Product-Led Marketing Is So Much More
Your product-led marketing approach needs to include so much more than just in-product hints and teases. A comprehensive product-led marketing strategy also gives your users access to educational content such as the ones we’ve described in this article, as well as sandbox environments. And it’s important to ensure that access to these environments is easy and frictionless (un-gated), otherwise, it defeats the entire purpose.
If you gate your software sandbox and educational content, you’re creating an unnecessary barrier between your users and your offerings. This will deter them from signing up (which is a key metric in determining your product-led marketing success) and will also give the impression that your product needs to hide behind a sanitized sales demo for it to perform well. And that’s not the impression you want to give.