12 PLG Companies That Achieved Success and How Did They
Which are the most successful PLG companies? And what strategies do they use to drive growth?
These are the two main questions that we tackle in our guide to 12 PLG companies that have achieved success.
Let’s dive in!
- Product-led growth is a go-to-market strategy that prioritizes the product as the primary growth driver.
- PLG software companies focus on building products that satisfy user needs and enable users to experience them as quickly as possible. In this way, they turn customers into product advocates who drive customer acquisition without relying on the marketing or sales team.
- Dropbox reduces customer acquisition costs through referral programs.
- Calendly acquires customers through a viral loop, utilizing the freemium model.
- Miro simplifies the sign-up process with Single Sign-On (SSO) options to reduce friction.
- Canva personalizes user dashboards based on user responses to a welcome survey.
- Slack offers a frictionless onboarding experience with SSO and optional steps.
- Grammarly provides an interactive product tour and offers demo content to demonstrate the product’s value.
- Userpilot aids product adoption through in-app onboarding, a free trial, in-app guidance, and the resource center.
- Notion has achieved rapid growth through the freemium model, enticing users to subscribe to paid plans as their needs grow.
- Figma constantly innovates and engages customers through in-app feature announcements.
- Zapier showcases its value through integrations, allowing users to automate workflows.
- HubSpot follows a self-serve PLG strategy with self-service support and community forums.
- Loom achieves revenue growth through contextual upsell messages.
- Want to see how Userpilot can help your company become more product-led? Book the demo!
What is a PLG SaaS company?
Product-Led Growth (PLG) companies use their product as the main driver of customer acquisition, retention, and expansion.
The product-led business model is based on the idea that if the product satisfies genuine user needs and does it well, it doesn’t require expensive marketing campaigns, large customer success teams, and aggressive sales tactics.
That’s because users who experience the product value and are satisfied with the experience it offers will stick to the product and promote it in their social and professional circles.
What are the common traits of successful product-led growth companies?
Product-led companies often share a number of characteristics. These include:
- Value-first approach – allowing users to experience the product’s core benefits as soon as they sign up so that they understand its value.
- Freemium or free trial – to attract users and allow them to experience the product’s basic functionality without a financial commitment, hoping that they upgrade to paid plans as they see value.
- Frictionless sign-up process – so that users can start using the product as soon as possible.
- Personalized self-serve onboarding – to enable users to use the product effectively without assistance, normally through a combination of video tutorials, interactive in-app guides, and knowledge bases.
- Intuitive UI – to make it easy for users to navigate the product and accomplish their tasks efficiently.
- Product virality – to leverage the existing user base as product advocates, for example, through word-of-mouth marketing and referral schemes.
12 successful PLG companies that have achieved business growth
What exactly do successful product-led companies do in practice? Let’s look at 12 examples of SaaS companies that have nailed the PLG game!
1. Dropbox reduces customer acquisition costs through referral programs
Dropbox is a popular cloud-based file storage and sharing platform, enabling seamless collaboration and access to files from anywhere.
The company’s product-led growth strategy is built around a free plan that gives users access to 2GB of storage space. For more space, users can either upgrade to a higher plan or refer the product to their friends.
The referral program is a win-win situation. Dropbox increases its customer base and lowers CAC, and users expand the usage limits on their free plan.
2. Calendly acquires customers through its viral loop
Calendly is an intuitive tool that simplifies appointment and meeting scheduling.
Just like Dropbox, Calendly uses the freemium model and product virality to drive customer acquisition.
When someone receives a Calendly link for the first time, they immediately experience the product value – they can see how easy it makes scheduling.
What if they want to use it themselves? It’s pretty straightforward, it’s enough to click on the “powered by Calendly” invite, which takes you to the sign-up page.
3. Miro simplifies the sign-up process with SSO options
Miro is a digital whiteboard and collaboration tool that facilitates visual brainstorming, planning, and teamwork in real time.
One of Miro’s secrets to successful growth is in its sign-up process.
To remove unnecessary friction, it offers users the SSO, or single sign-on, option. Instead of creating the account from scratch, users can use their existing Google, Slack, Windows, Apple, or Facebook accounts.
This reduces the time they need to get inside Miro and start creating.
4. Canva aces the mixed model product-led strategy
Canva is a user-friendly graphic design platform that empowers individuals and teams to create professional visuals and marketing materials.
The company has truly mastered the PLG game. What levers does it pull to drive growth?
Canva personalizes the dashboard for their users based on their responses to the welcome survey. In this way, they get easy access to the most relevant templates and can easily achieve their goals.
Talking of templates, the selection is huge. Not all of them are available in the generous free plan, though. To get access to them, users need to upgrade to the premium plan. Canva prompts them to do so with contextual upsell messages.
5. Slack offers a frictionless onboarding experience
Slack is a messaging and collaboration app for teams, offering real-time communication, file sharing, and integrations to boost productivity.
It’s another product-led growth company that appreciates the importance of delivering frictionless experiences.
Its sign-up process is simple thanks to SSO and followed by a simple onboarding flow that helps users to start using the product.
As some steps may be potentially challenging, like inviting colleagues (without asking for permission first), they’re optional so as not to slow users down or put them off altogether.
6. Grammarly offers an interactive product tour to reduce TTV
Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant that helps users improve their writing by correcting grammar and spelling mistakes and enhancing clarity, style, and tone.
To allow users to discover the key features, Grammarly takes the users on a guided tour around the product, which shows them how to use it.
7. Userpilot aids product adoption through in-app onboarding and guidance
Userpilot is a product adoption platform that helps SaaS companies improve their user onboarding and engagement, so we know a thing or two about product-led growth.
What PLG strategies does Userpilot use?
There’s a free trial that allows users to experience the product value. The onboarding flow helps new users experience the key features, and they can access in-app guidance via the resource center.
However, as Userpilot is a fairly complex product and not all issues can be resolved through self-service support, a strong customer success team is also available to support customers. Does it make us less product-led? I don’t think so!
8. Notion achieved rapid growth through its freemium model
Notion is an all-in-one workspace that combines note-taking, project management, and collaboration tools…
… and another product-led company that has used the freemium model to grow its user base.
The free plan is enough for individual users and small teams. As they experience its functionality and usefulness, they’re very likely to subscribe to their paid plan when their needs increase.
9. Figma retains customers through feature announcements
Figma is a collaborative design tool that enables teams to create, prototype, and iterate on digital designs in a shared online workspace.
The company understands that to stay competitive and keep users engaged, they need to constantly innovate to better satisfy their needs.
To make sure users discover the new features and use them, Figma targets them with in-app announcements.
10. Zapier showcased its value through integrations
Zapier is like a bridge that allows users to create custom integrations between products that don’t offer such integration natively.
By connecting various apps and services, teams use Zapier to automate their workflows and save time on repetitive tasks.
As the integrations become an integral part of their processes, they become indispensable. I mean, you’re free to go back to doing everything manually or switch to a competing product and start building everything from scratch…
11. HubSpot follows the self-serve PLG strategy
The HubSpot team recognizes the trend that most users would prefer to resolve their problems without any interactions with the support team. To enable this, it offers self-service support through a resource center. Users can also access help through the community forum.
12. Loom achieves revenue growth via upsell messages
Loom is a video messaging platform that enables users to create and share video content to enhance communication and collaboration within teams and with clients.
Just like Canva (and dozens of other PLG companies), Loom drives account expansion with contextual upsell messages. For example, whenever you reach the 5-minute limit, a modal with an upgrade prompt pops out.
How can Userpilot help you become a PLG company?
Userpilot is a product growth platform that can help you implement the product-led growth model at your company.
- Userpilot’s analytics, including funnel analysis, allows you to analyze product usage inside the product so that you can optimize the user journey and increase trial-to-paid conversions.
- The survey functionality allows you to quickly assess user needs so that you can create personalized customer experiences inside the product.
- The surveys are also great for collecting user feedback so that you can better understand user pain points and needs.
- Designing and triggering upsell messages for specific user segments is dead easy, so you can scale up your account expansion efforts.
Unlike marketing and sales-led companies, successful PLG companies use a range of tactics and strategies that reduce their dependence on marketing teams and sales reps.
If you want to see how Userpilot can help your SaaS company become more product-led, book the demo!