The Importance of Product Led Growth for Dev Tools

The Importance of Product Led Growth for Dev Tools

Product led growth (PLG) is a fairly simple concept. It’s the idea that your product should be the driving force of your company’s growth. Your product should be good enough that it can stand on its own merits. Your customers will recommend it to others and advocate for it.

Ok, sounds obvious, right? Why wouldn’t you want to build the best product?

In addition to building a great product, PLG is also about highlighting that you have the best product and lowering the barrier for potential customers to figure that out. For example, imagine you are evaluating two similar products:

  • Product A lets you sign up, test out the product for free, and make sure it’s a good fit for you.
  • Product B has no sign up page and, instead, just has a “Request a demo” form that asks for your name, email, and phone number.

Even if Product B is the better product, as long as Product A meets your needs, it has a significant advantage of getting your business. Why would you want to be sold to for 30 minutes to decide if B is a good fit when you know right now that A works. You’ve probably already put some effort into integrating with Product A. And because Product A provided a simple onboarding experience, you're more likely to become an advocate for them too.

Why is this particularly important for dev tools? Put simply, developers don’t like BS or dark patterns. We prefer to test things out ourselves to decide if it’s a good fit. We don’t want to be surprised at the last minute to find that the price is 10x what we were expecting or be told that if we want that one extra critical feature, we need to switch to the enterprise plan and deal with custom pricing.

If you look at a product like GitHub, you can see a lot of these characteristics. You can sign up, commit your code, create a whole build system, publish libraries, and way more before you are even asked about payment. Notably, if you like the product, you can invite other developers at your company to join which creates an even stronger pull towards GitHub over possible competitors.

PLG is something we frequently talk about internally at PropelAuth, both because we think it’s important for our company and because we want to help our customers grow their business using PLG.

As an example, we host UIs for our customers and allow them to configure the UIs to match their product’s style. We recently rolled out so that potential customers can directly explore the types of customizations and UIs we provide without needing to sign up.

And when developing our product, we wanted to enable our customers to get that same organic growth that GitHub and other top products have. This is why we provide invitation flows, defining organizations by email domain, and self-service role/organization management out of the box.

In short, product led growth is about building a great product, reducing the friction to your customers learning that you have the product, and enabling your customers to become advocates for you as quickly as possible.

What strategies do you use for product led growth? Feel free to reach out with anything, we love to hear any and all feedback and ideas.