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12 essential tools to measure and optimize for product-led growth

Product-led growth (PLG) is about optimizing your product so it can drive self-service sales, deliver quick value to users, and convince them to convert from freemium or trial users into paying customers. 

To succeed, your PLG tech stack should make it easy to collect quantitative and qualitative product usage data, so you and your teams always know what’s happening in the product and where the best growth opportunities are.

Last updated

30 Jun 2022

We've made a list of twelve of the top tools product-led teams (including us at Hotjar 👋) use to power growth. But first:

What are product-led growth tools?

While product-led teams can (and do) use many of the same tools as SaaS companies with other go-to-market strategies, companies with a PLG focus need tools that can:

  • Monitor and analyze quantitative product-led growth metrics 

  • Collect qualitative product experience insights to see how people really use the product, and what they think about it 

  • Optimize the product experience to increase customer engagement, retention, and satisfaction

  • Share product insights, get buy-in, and collaborate across the company (product, marketing, customer success, engineering, and C-suite)

Tools to power product-led growth

Hotjar Heatmaps, Recordings, Feedback, and Surveys help you fuel product-led growth by putting users first.

We’ve broken our list of PLG tools into two parts:

  1. Product-led tools to track product metrics

  2. Product-led tools to improve the product experience

There’s no need to use every tool we cover. Pick a few from each section, and you’ll have a well-rounded tech stack to support your product-led growth strategy.

Product-led growth tools to track product metrics 

These five tools collect and display quantitative product metrics in clear, shareable dashboards, so everyone involved with the product can track growth and identify areas for optimization

1. Mixpanel

#A demo Mixpanel dashboard showing product click activity
A demo Mixpanel dashboard showing product click activity

What it is: Mixpanel is a freemium (yes, they’re product-led, too!) product analytics platform for tracking the performance of mobile and web applications. 

Ways to use Mixpanel for PLG: 

  • Track key quantitative metrics like LTV (customer lifetime value) and churn rate

  • Measure user click activity across the product to see what’s getting ignored

  • Build funnels to visualize how free users convert into paid users

  • Segment data to spot what drives retention

The product team at Hotjar uses Mixpanel to monitor user actions and behaviors; conversion rates and funnels; and core engagement, retention, and revenue metrics like MRR (monthly recurring revenue). 

By integrating Mixpanel with Hotjar (via Zapier), teams can send events to Mixpanel when a new Recording is created or Feedback is received, and add context and qualitative product insights to Mixpanel’s standard SaaS metrics.

 2. Tableau

#A demo Tableau dashboard showing sales metrics
A demo Tableau dashboard showing sales metrics

What it is: Tableau, part of Salesforce, is an enterprise business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform for visualizing and analyzing data. Tableau Cloud is the self-serve, cloud-based version used by distributed teams. 

How to use Tableau for PLG: 

  • Import and connect product data from multiple sources

  • Build and share interactive dashboards, charts, and graphs to spot trends

  • Perform statistical analyses and forecast summaries

The Hotjar product team uses Tableau to visualize and share key product insights company-wide.  

To make good product and design decisions, I look to data from all different sources. Tableau helps glue it all together.

Dorottya Molnár
Senior UX Researcher @ Hotjar

 3. ChartMogul

#An example ChartMogul dashboard showing core SaaS metrics
An example ChartMogul dashboard showing core SaaS metrics

What it is: ChartMogul is a freemium subscription analytics platform for SaaS companies. It’s designed to be simple to use and free for new companies (payment starts once you hit $10K MRR).

How to use ChartMogul for PLG: 

  • Track SaaS metrics like MRR, ARPA (average revenue per account), and trial-to-paid conversion rate

  • Pull data from Stripe, PayPal, and other payment processors

  • Segment data to find likely-to-convert user profiles and profitable pricing plans

ChartMogul is used by the product-led team at Buffer; Hotjar also used ChartMogul during the early years of growth to track product metrics like CAC (customer acquisition cost) and LTV (customer lifetime value).

We love ChartMogul here at Hotjar. A super simple to setup tool that is critical to any SaaS business.

David Darmanin
Co-founder and former CEO @ Hotjar

4. Baremetrics

#ConvertKit’s Baremetrics dashboard
ConvertKit’s Baremetrics dashboard

What it is: Baremetrics is a premium subscription analytics tool for SaaS companies.

How to use Baremetrics for PLG: 

  • Track SaaS metrics like MRR growth rate, expansion revenue, and reactivations

  • Forecast cash flow, MRR, and customer numbers based on current data

  • Benchmark your progress against similar companies

  • Collect cancellation insights to learn why users churn

Pro tip: use Hotjar to collect cancellation insights by setting up a churn survey on a confirmation page to ask users why they're leaving or downgrading. 

The Hotjar product team used this strategy in-house to ask “what are the main reasons you stopped paying for Hotjar?” when users downgraded. Learning the most common reasons (projects ending, data overload, and usability bugs) for churn helped the team optimize the product experience to improve retention. 

A question from Hotjar’s product-market fit survey template

5. Segment

#An example Segment dashboard pulling in data from Zendesk
An example Segment dashboard pulling in data from Zendesk

What it is: Segment, part of Twilio, is a freemium customer data platform that brings together product event data from different web and mobile apps.

How to use Segment for PLG: 

  • Collect and combine product data from all PLG tools in one place (for example, Hotjar, Mixpanel, and Optimizely)

  • Share data from multiple sources with product, marketing, and engineering teams

  • Make holistic, data-driven product decisions

Hotjar’s product team uses Segment to collect qualitative and quantitative data from various sources, and share it with teams and stakeholders across the company. 

Hotjar’s tools integrate directly with Segment via API, meaning data from Heatmaps, Recordings, Surveys, and Feedback can be accessed via Segment and combined with other tools. 

💡 Quick tip: combine Mixpanel and Hotjar Surveys in Segment, and trigger surveys to users with lower-than-average LTV to find out what’s holding them back from upgrading.

Segment allows us to have a more complete overview of a broader spectrum of data types, a better understanding of what’s driving different user behavior, and what impacts user engagement and retention.

Andrei Beno
Growth Product Manager at Hotjar

Product-led growth tools to improve the product experience

These six tools will help you collect qualitative product experience insights, improve UX, design better onboarding flows, and deliver excellent self-serve support so users can find product value fast—and stop churning. 

6. Hotjar Recordings

#A snapshot of a Hotjar Recording
A snapshot of a Hotjar Recording

What it is: Hotjar Recordings is a freemium session recording tool from Hotjar (yes, that’s us!) that collects a replayable version of an individual user's browsing behavior (including mouse movements) across multiple pages.

How to use Hotjar Recordings for PLG: 

  • Spot problems, bugs, and user pain points

  • View browsing behavior from key cohorts (e.g. churning customers or free trial users)

  • Combine session replays with other PLG tools to see what’s behind the numbers

  • Share key recordings to get buy-in for product updates from stakeholders

We might be a bit biased with this recommendation (😉), but we also have plenty of experience using Hotjar Recordings in-house to connect the dots between what’s happening (e.g. “expansion revenue is down 10%”), and why it’s happening (e.g. “we can see the upgrade button is not working because users are rage clicking on it”). 

Using session recordings insight, our product team can:

  • Identify user behavior that correlates with desired product outcomes like retention and free trial-to-paid conversion, then optimize our products to increase PLG metrics

  • Find and fix the bugs and issues that stop users from completing their JTBD (jobs-to-be-done, i.e. what users need from Hotjar products).

We use Recordings to understand the behavior of our users, identify issues or bugs in our product flows, assess the UX of new product or feature launches, and compare different versions of a page or product area whenever we run any A/B tests.

Andrei Beno
Growth Product Manager at Hotjar

 7. Hotjar Surveys

A question from Hotjar’s product-market fit survey template

What it is: Hotjar Surveys is a freemium on-site and stand-alone survey tool to collect product feedback from users. 

How to use Hotjar Surveys for PLG: 

  • Collect voice-of-the-customer (VOC) feedback to learn what users love (and hate) about your product

  • Target surveys to specific user cohorts to get insight that impacts key metrics (e.g. a churn survey to learn why customers leave)

  • Track how likely users are to recommend your product and fuel word-of-mouth-growth with an NPS® (Net Promoter Score) survey

The product team at Hotjar uses Hotjar Surveys a lot. If you’ve visited the Hotjar website or logged into the product, you’ve probably seen a little pop-up inviting you to share your comments, like this:

#A Hotjar Survey about Hotjar surveys
A Hotjar Survey about Hotjar surveys

You can do the same by placing a survey on any relevant page and asking your customers to share their thoughts and needs while they browse your app.

We use Surveys to proactively ask users questions that can help us better understand their needs and behavior (such as why they drop off), to validate our hypotheses and de-risk product launches, and to recruit users for research sessions.

Andrei Beno
Growth Product Manager at Hotjar

8. Google Optimize

#Creating a new experiment in Google Optimize
Creating a new experiment in Google Optimize

What it is: Google Optimize is a freemium experimentation platform for creating A/B, multivariate, and redirect tests, user personalization, and custom banners. 

How to use Google Optimize for PLG: 

  • Test UI changes to see their impact on user behavior

  • Target users by demographic or behavior to test changes on user segments

  • Permanently serve personalized content to a specific group of users

Pro tip: get more from your Google Optimize tests by using Hotjar to collect qualitative session recording and survey data during experiments. Filter user insights by Google Optimize ID and you’ll learn why a test wins (or loses) so you can make iterative improvements.

9. Beamer 

#Hotjar’s product updates feed, powered by Beamer
Hotjar’s product updates feed, powered by Beamer

What it is: Beamer is a product marketing platform for sending product updates, messages, and notifications to users. 

How to use Beamer for PLG: 

  • Announce product updates to logged-in users to increase engagement

  • Send notifications to offline users to reduce churn

  • Send targeted messages to segmented users to nudge behavior

The Hotjar team uses Beamer to power the “What’s new in Hotjar'' feed, notifying logged-in users of the latest product updates and showcasing the product’s growing value—which in turn helps drive engagement, upgrades, free trial-to-paid conversions, and retention.

10. Appcues

#Hotjar’s heatmap tutorial, served to new users using Appcues
Hotjar’s heatmap tutorial, served to new users using Appcues

What it is: Appcues is a premium user onboarding and product adoption tool for building in-app product tours and onboarding flows. 

How to use Appcues for PLG: 

  • Build customer onboarding flows to reduce TTV (time to value) for new users

  • Notify users of new or relevant features to increase adoption

  • Collect user feedback and NPS to monitor user sentiment

The Hotjar team uses Appcues to guide users through new or updated features in the platform, so they can find value quickly. Appcues helps us move faster—it doesn't require developer resources, and complements our hard-coded onboarding.

11. Zendesk

Hotjar’s help documentation, powered by Zendesk

What it is: Zendesk is customer service software for managing and monitoring the customer experience.

How to use Zendesk for PLG: 

  • Create self-service help documentation so users can find answers on their own

  • Create answer bots and live support chats to solve user issues

  • Collect CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores to measure customer success

The product team at Hotjar uses Zendesk to manage customer support documentation and tickets. The customer success team doubled the self-service score (the ratio of customers who self-serve issues compared to those who open support requests) by using Hotjar’s tools alongside Zendesk to give users the documentation they need to troubleshoot problems without contacting support. 

Teams can connect Hotjar with Zendesk (using Zapier) to automatically create a new ticket every time a user requests to be contacted when leaving a comment through Hotjar’s Feedback widget

By combining Zendesk Guides and Hotjar, we reduced the need for our customers to reach out and provided a better user experience by serving our documentation directly to the user as soon as they needed it. No more time was wasted searching for information in a difficult-to-navigate help center; we optimized the self-service experience for the user.

Karissa Van Baulen
Customer Education Lead at Hotjar

12. Iterable

3Segmenting users in Iterable

What it is: Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform for measuring, creating, and optimizing interactions across the customer journey.

How to use Iterable for PLG: 

  • Design and send lifecycle email campaigns relevant to each user

  • Use data points like user engagement, geolocation, and purchase history to personalize in-app content

  • Measure customer sentiment (loyal, positive, neutral or negative) automatically using AI

Hotjar uses Iterable as a marketing automation tool, which helps us automatically communicate with our users via multiple channels and guide them through the different stages of their user journey.

Connect Hotjar with Iterable (using Zapier) to automatically track events when a new Recording is created, a user responds to a Survey, or someone leaves Feedback

Iterable's flexibility to target a well-defined set of users and in-built experimentation tools makes it an ideal tool for PLG. Sending timely emails to our customers is one way we ensure they're aware of changes to our platform and can get the most out of it.

Mark Jack
Product Marketer at Hotjar

Put PLG tools into action

Knowing some of the best tools for product-led growth isn’t going to improve your product: you need to actually use them. 

But you don’t have to build the perfect stack to get results. Start with one or two tools that fit your budget and growth stage—for example, a simple combination of ChartMogul and Hotjar, both freemium tools that scale as you grow, will give you the quantitative and qualitative product data needed to drive product-led growth.

Tools to power product-led growth

Hotjar Heatmaps, Recordings, Feedback, and Surveys help you fuel product-led growth by putting users first.

FAQs about product-led growth tools