Your product will always be your best way of acquiring new customers. If you treat it the same way as your other channels, you can use product-led acquisition to grow your app in a more cost-effective and resilient way.
Everyone understands that to grow a business, customers have to know you exist first. When you start to consider how you can acquire new customers, the temptation is to jump straight into the specific channels or sales and marketing tactics that are going to drive users to your app. But there’s a better place to start. Because even though these are essential parts of how you grow a product’s customer base and shouldn’t be ignored, the best customer acquisition channel you’ll ever have is your product.
Product-led acquisition is when your app or digital product is itself a main mechanism for driving new customers – right alongside your other acquisition channels. It leverages referrals, incentives, and built-in branding to turn your users into advocates for your app. But doing this demands the same care and attention as any channel does.
Product-Led Acquisition vs Product-Led Growth
While the two terms are close, there’s a difference between Product-Led Acquisition and Product-Led Growth. Think of Product-Led Growth as the overarching business strategy. Acquisition is concerned with the specific tactics and user stories designed to leverage the network effect and drive new customers to your app.
In most cases the more people that use your product, the more value everyone gets from it. The same principle applies whether it’s an internally-focused enterprise app with teams of employees or a consumer social app with groups of friends.
The Benefits of Product-Led Acquisition
Lower Your Costs
A product-led approach to acquisition will help to cut your costs in a number of different ways. Firstly, the focus on gathering useful feedback reduces your risk of spending money on the wrong features that aren’t going to add value for you or your customers. Instead of speculating over what might be useful, you’re able to deliver new iterations with more confidence and at a lower cost.
At the same time, when you put your product at the centre of your customer acquisition strategy, you prioritise the user experience and the invaluable data you can collect throughout your user journey. With these insights, you can feed actionable and informed suggestions to teams about how they can improve the wider customer experience.
Not only is this information useful to your product team, but it can help other teams like Sales or Marketing to tailor what they’re doing so it sets better expectations upfront. Building better alignment throughout the journey this way helps to attract qualified users that are more likely to convert to customers and less likely to drop off down the line. This offers a more cost-effective way of acquiring new customers which can complement other more expensive methods in your mix.
Reduce Your Risk
One of the major benefits of product-led acquisition is that it reduces your level of risk. It offers a safety net that other acquisition channels can’t compete with.
When you’re solely reliant on sales and marketing tactics to drive new users to your app, you increase the risk of building the wrong product that doesn’t deliver the results you want or help users achieve what they want to. At the same time, you also become dependent on algorithms of different advertising channels that can be unpredictable and change quickly.
Taking a product-led approach to your acquisition strategy means you’ll have your finger on the pulse of what your users want and how you can help them achieve it. It’s much more conducive to achieving product-market fit while also reducing your reliance on channels you don’t own, limiting your exposure to changes you can’t control or predict.
Examples of Product-Led Acquisition in Practice
To encourage your product spreading via word of mouth between users – whether that’s among organisations or social groups – you need a slick and seamless in-app invitation system.
The key to driving referrals is that it should be simple and straightforward for users to recommend your product to friends, family, or colleagues who could also benefit from it. If you’re generating invitation messages, then they should be personalised where possible – using names and photos of the inviters – to make them more authentic and engaging.
Catering to users’ preferences by letting them recommend through their chosen channel (e.g. social media, SMS, email, or direct messaging) makes it more convenient and in turn more likely for people to recommend your app.
On top of this, a strong incentive program can give users that extra push to invite others. Offering them the ability to unlock extra features, receive discounts or credits, or unlock rewards creates a lucrative loop of referrals based on users getting extra value from your app.
An In-App Billboard
In many cases, your product can act as free advertising to acquire new uses. How? By turning it into a living, breathing billboard. Think “Sent from iPhone” or, “Scheduled with Calendly.” It acts as a perfect example of how your app can help users to achieve their goals by showcasing its value in action. This hands-on experience acts as a live demonstration that attracts new users and converts customers.
If your product is suited to it, then embedding shareability into the content users create makes it easy for them to act as advocates as well as show off what people can create with your app. But knowing when to ask users to share their achievements or creations is just as important as how you ask them to share them.
You can use product analytics to identify key points throughout the user journey where you’ve delivered a delightful experience and users have a sense of accomplishment. Pairing this with an intuitive sharing system makes it easy for other users to see first-hand what they could achieve with your app and recreate it for themselves – all while creating a sense of reward and recognition for those sharing.
By putting your product at the centre of your acquisition strategy, you can drastically reduce how much it costs to acquire new customers for your product as well as deliver successful features that add real value. At the same time, you can mitigate your risk of building the wrong thing while reducing reliance on channels you don’t control.
If you’re interested in building a product that sells itself by helping your customers achieve what they want while also supporting your business goals, get in touch with us today.
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