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4 product growth strategy examples (and how to implement them)
The goal is simple: you want your product and business to grow. But (unfortunately) you can't wave a magic wand, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all product growth strategy that you can apply to every organization or industry. So how do you decide which initiatives to prioritize to meet your growth goals?
Last updated10 Aug 2022
This guide covers four unique product growth strategies you can follow, with tips on how to decide which is right for your users and business. We’ll also share how to turn your plan into an actionable product growth strategy framework.
Transform decision-making from ‘ugh’ to ‘aha!’
Hotjar’s product experience insights add valuable context to your product growth strategy.
What is a product growth strategy? (And how to tell when you need one)
A product growth strategy is an actionable plan and framework that businesses use to increase revenue and product usage. If you want to expand your product's reach in your market and among your users, a product growth strategy helps guide your product and positioning.
Typically, there are two signs that it’s time to explore a product growth strategy:
You can’t articulate how you’ll grow. If you have a company- or team-wide goal to ‘grow’ or ‘increase revenue’ but you don't have an actionable plan for how to accomplish it, you need a strategy.
Your current growth is stalling. If you’ve been following one growth strategy and it’s making less of an impact these days, you may have tapped out that strategy and need a new one.
A product growth strategy serves multiple goals and stakeholders
Before you can understand how a product growth strategy serves your team, it helps to understand the two core benefits of product growth:
More revenue: the more customers and market share you have, the more money the company sees
More insights: when you have more customers, you have a greater opportunity to learn from them to influence your strategies.
With these benefits in mind, a product growth strategy has to accommodate multiple stakeholders and meet everyone’s needs efficiently. Some stakeholders who'll be invested or affected by your product growth strategy are:
Leadership: product growth supports revenue
Product managers: growth strategies help structure and prioritize their work
Product designers: will implement changes to serve product growth
Users: will be impacted by product changes
Doing the upfront strategy work to understand each perspective before you jump into tactics keeps you from straying down an unproductive path. A clear product growth strategy also leads to more focused, organized work that enables multiple stakeholders to move with (not against) each other.
4 product growth strategies to choose from
Driving product growth involves many cross-team product and business decisions (pricing! features! positioning!), but there are four overarching strategies to guide you, based on your objectives:
1. More users
If you want to expand your reach in your current market, aim to add more users. You can increase your user base by targeting new user segments in the same market, or by gaining more of the types of users you already have.
Adding more users is a practical strategy if you have a solid product-market fit and want to increase acquisition in your current market. You can also use this method if evidence suggests an adjacent user segment could be a good fit.
For example, a project management app that typically targets agile development teams in the B2B SaaS industry could also target finance departments that work for SaaS companies.
2. New customers
Another way to grow your product is to seek customers in new markets. Rather than increasing acquisition within the same market (like in the previous tactic), the ‘more customers’ strategy targets a new type of buyer.
Let’s use the same B2B project management app to explore this idea. In addition to their usual SaaS users—agile development or finance teams—they could expand their reach to schools—the end users being teachers who need a tool to manage lesson plans and deadlines.
There’s a caveat, though. You’ll need to do research and learn which industries, personas, and use cases are tangential to your current market, and be prepared to work in minor, agile updates. Agile product management is iterative, so you can slowly expand into new markets and avoid a big investment that doesn’t pay off.
3. More product usage
You can also grow your product by encouraging customers to use it more often. Boosting product usage is a quickly-accessible growth strategy since you don’t need a new product or new customers. Instead, you can adjust the pricing or bundled features, work to increase engagement, or upsell current accounts.
The project management app in our examples above could create in-app guides to increase feature adoption, leading to the next pricing tier.
4. New products
When you align your work with user needs, you can grow by creating new products that solve new problems. Leveraging the jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework with product experience insights helps you ideate and prioritize new features and product launches.
For example, a project management app could do this by surveying current users about how they use the product, what they'd like to see next, or any problems they can't solve with current features. The team could then use survey responses to build a backlog of new product or feature ideas.
Bonus: when you delight customers through data-informed updates, you create advocates that help you grow your customer base. Win-win!
Ask yourself these questions to choose the right product growth strategy
Implementing a product growth strategy takes time and cross-team collaboration, so it's not a decision you’ll jump into on a whim. Ask yourself these questions before you choose one of the product growth strategies above.
Are there user insights to back it up?
You don’t create markets and users for your products; you create products for your market and users—which means you need customer insights to make impactful decisions. Let users show you what they’re missing and what they want more of.
How to gauge user interest in a new product growth strategy
Use exit intent surveys to learn why you weren't a fit for a particular user
Talk to users with high and low Net Promoter Scores® (NPS) to understand what they like and don't like
Create growth loops by finding the moments of customer delight where they would be most likely to champion or recommend your product to someone else
Measure product-market fit by using one-on-one interviews and surveys to learn about your customers, and compare themes in their responses to your product roadmap
Create a culture of continuous discovery
Does it align with other company goals?
You’ll have to manage and weigh users' wishes and business requirements—what’s great for the user doesn’t always work for the company. For example, if your company focuses on customer retention, it doesn’t make sense to invest time in entering a new market segment before hitting retention goals (unless the strategy is to pivot into a new market entirely).
Your product growth strategy should also align with your company values. For example, if ‘simplicity’ is a guiding principle for your organization, you'll need to carefully choose new initiatives, and prioritize quick wins that require minimal effort.
How to align product growth with company goals
Review your product goals and initiatives
Talk to other teams and departments about their goals and upcoming projects
Review your company’s product roadmap
Is it attainable?
After you’ve dreamt big, compare your ideas with reality. While your product growth strategy could be the right fit for current and prospective users, it might not fit into your product backlog or be attainable with your current resources.
How to measure the feasibility of a new product growth strategy
Run a competitor analysis before developing new products or moving into new market segments to determine if there’s room for you to compete
Use a product prioritization framework to decide if these are the changes you should work on now
Review your product planning tools to understand resource availability
Will you be able to get buy-in?
Organizational awareness helps you gauge how likely your product growth strategy is to get the go-ahead and support from your peers and leaders. You’ll need to gauge whether your organization is ready for significant change, and build the business case for your ideas.
How to get buy-in for a new product growth strategy
Identify the stakeholders of your product growth strategy
Adjust to stakeholder communication preferences
Share the qualitative and quantitative data driving your ideas
🔑 The cheat code for stakeholder buy-in
Competing for attention and buy-in within an organization is tough, but John Gilmore, the Sales Operation Manager at ClassHero, has something powerful on his side: data.
"I knew my role was limited to one area, and seeing that Hotjar allowed me to convince the entire company to my priorities made me feel almost like I was cheating! I mean, surely others had to pass on other high-priority issues because they couldn't explain their own problems as well. They weren't yet using Hotjar."
The more product experience insights you collect, the stronger business case you can build for your product growth strategy. Learn more about how John and the ClassHero team used Hotjar to reverse a dramatic drop in conversions overnight.
How to build your product growth framework
You know that gap between "we’re so excited about this new direction" and "let’s dive into our product backlog"? It’s time to fill it.
Whichever strategy you choose, there are a few details to address before you can turn it into an actionable product growth strategy framework. Here’s what you need to plan for:
Figuring out who is involved in a project will help you plan all subsequent steps, since their availability and roles determine the work you’ll do and when. You need to know:
Who will be involved?
What is each person's role?
What time or resource restrictions does each person have?
What’s the best way to collaborate?
The heart of your product growth framework are the tactics you’ll use to drive growth—and your tactics will heavily depend on the strategy you choose. For example, if you want to upsell accounts, you need to learn how your top users use your product to replicate it across other customers.
Organizing your tactics based on the design-thinking process helps you plan tasks. The five steps in the process are:
Empathize with your users
Prototype the solution
Test with users
Once you know who will do what, you need to establish when you’ll work on product growth. Your timeline should include:
When you’ll start the project
How long you anticipate each tactic or phase to take
How often you’ll check in with other teams
When you’d like to hit your goals
Tracking growth metrics for your framework shows you what is and isn’t working. You can also share metrics with stakeholders to keep everyone on the same page.
Some of the product growth metrics you might track include:
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Customer lifetime value (LTV)
Free trial conversion rate
Churn is the enemy of product growth… or is it?
Customer churn actively works against your product growth framework, and if it’s on the rise, it might be worth pausing your growth efforts to investigate. If you’re proactive about churn, though, you can use it as a lever for growth.
Hussle is an online marketplace for gyms and spas that used Hotjar to survey over 1,000 churning users. Then, they used what they learned to make improvements that guided their product priorities and strategy.
Luke, a Product Lead at Hussle, shared,
“We know there are users who land on our site who might not need a MultiGym pass. Our hypothesis is that we get a lot of visits from users who are looking for a Gym Membership. So these churn reasons helped inform a brand new product offering. We ask users a few questions on-site, and based on their answers, we recommend them a personalized pass.”
Product teams are the link between users and businesses
Product teams play an essential role in advocating for user needs while serving business goals. To do both well, it helps to have data on your side and a process for sharing insights between teams. Keeping everyone on the same page leads to fast decision-making and seamless collaboration.
Remember: the best things you can do to meet user and company needs are to stay curious, be empathetic, and always be open to change.
Not sure how to start sharing user insights across teams? Try a Hotjar watch party. 🍿Bringing everyone together to review session recordings can lead to new perspectives and ideas.
Find share-worthy ideas
Hotjar’s Heatmaps, Recordings, Surveys, and Feedback give you a front-row seat to your user experience. Review and share actionable insights, and make product improvements to create customer delight.