Building a product-led enterprise: 7 examples from leading companies

Written by Tom Relihan  | 

8 min


Many of the world’s largest enterprises have settled on product-led strategies as a best practice for driving product adoption, user retention, and growth. They know that their customers’ primary touchpoint with their organization is their product, and they recognize the potential for harnessing every interaction with it as a potential catalyst for growth.

A lot of these companies have been around for awhile and have historically relied on sales-led, marketing-led, or other growth strategies. Going product led represents a major paradigm shift for such organizations, but many have figured out that having the right tool for the job can make the transition much easier.

For many of them, that tool is Pendo’s product adoption platform. Here’s how some of our large enterprise customers are using Pendo to power their product-led strategies.

Okta’s analytics-led product strategy

Okta’s product team uses Pendo analytics to figure out where users drop out of workflows and understand exactly how users are navigating their platform. This way, they’re able to let product data lead them in the right direction when making tactical decisions about where to take the product next.

Since Pendo’s analytics are retroactive, the team has been able to benefit from these deep usage insights from day one, without having to divert engineering and development resources from other important initiatives.

Okta is also using Pendo data to inform their product adoption strategies and drive engagement on the platform. By segmenting users into groups based on their role or how they use the product, the team has been able to target in-app messages to these cohorts and steer them towards useful features, automatically and entirely inside the product.

“We can segment, target, and re-target users across channels based on the data that we have at our disposal so that we can effectively coach them, guide them, or nudge them through critical core pieces of configuring Okta,” said Okta’s Tom Witczak. This strategy helped drive up product adoption by 25%.

Boomi’s lightning-fast time to sale

Who doesn’t like to try something out before they commit to buying it? That’s the theory underpinning freemium and free trial offerings that have become a staple of product-led growth strategies, and a well-designed trial experience can reap major dividends.

Boomi wanted to make sure their free trial offered a seamless, intuitive, and friction-free experience. First, they used Pendo’s analytics to examine how trial users were interacting with the product to identify any areas where they were running into issues. Then, they used Pendo in-app guides to design multi-step walkthroughs to help those users get back on track, or proactively connected them with customer support staff for more assistance.

These tactics shortened Boomi’s sales cycle by 66%, and all of it was done right inside the product, without any help from engineering or dev—saving the team months of time.

Verizon optimizes their free trial experience

Verizon’s fleet management solution, Verizon Connect, also uses Pendo to deliver free trial experiences and automate their product demos. They built an automated, hands-on demo experience that allows people to experience the platform for themselves with 24 hours-worth of mock data. This gets the product in front of users without requiring them to speak with a sales rep. Links to pricing and plans are always available during the experience, so when the prospective customer is ready to buy, it just takes a single click to start the process.

“We’re using Pendo across multiple pages to tell the story and it allows the user to follow a guided tour or deviate at any time and consume each component of the functionality at their own pace,” said Zoe Stringer, a senior product designer at Verizon Connect.

Similar to Boomi, Verizon Connect is also using product data in Pendo to design onboarding flows for new free trial users with multi-step walkthrough guides. This has reduced the company’s reliance on manual, hands-on training methods. All of the training is delivered in-app, in the context of whatever a given user is doing at the moment.

Nelnet’s full-spectrum approach to product adoption

Nelnet knows busy teachers, students, and parents don’t have time to read pages of documentation and release notes to learn how to use their education technology platform, and manual training is difficult to scale. So, they decided to let their product take the lead in getting users up to speed on new features and clearing up points of confusion.

Each time they release a new feature or roll out a major user interface change, the Nelnet team uses Pendo guides to design step-by-step tutorials that show users the value and walk them through first-use. These tours are made accessible on demand through the Pendo Resource Center

“That has been really effective not only in communicating, but also in reducing support calls about how a screen changed, and the user can’t find things. Now, they can take a tour anytime they want to refresh their memory,” said Liz Feller, the team’s Pendo administrator.

In one instance, this method was used to help students’ parents find and access financial documents during peak tax season, a time that usually leads to an influx of support tickets. A simple guide pointed users to the spot where they could locate their information, intercepting the support tickets and driving usage of that feature up 200%.

In another, renaming one of Nelnet’s products led to customer confusion. They were used to calling it by the previous name, and had trouble finding it after the change. In-app guides were used to educate users of the change, explain the reasoning behind it, and lead them to its new location.

Coursera scales onboarding in a crisis

One of the hallmarks of a true product-led strategy is delivering your new user onboarding process entirely in-app. This approach lets you automate and easily scale the experience, and personalize it to your users’ most unique needs.

Coursera used Pendo’s analytics and in-app guides to quickly scale up their historically manual onboarding processes when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed most in-person education online, leading to a massive influx of new usage by both students and professors. Usage data allowed the team to segment users and offer automated, personalized onboarding from the first login.

The team also used Pendo data to examine behavior on the platform and correlate specific actions to positive or negative user outcomes. Using those insights, they built and deployed in-app guides to encourage users to complete behaviors that led to positive outcomes and help them get through spots where they were getting stuck.

Essity’s employee training and productivity hack

Product-led onboarding isn’t solely limited to consumer-facing apps, either. These techniques are just as effective for employee-facing software, whether you’ve built it yourself or purchased and implemented it. 

Essity, the largest global provider of hygiene products, proved this by using Pendo to design an automated onboarding process on their internal Tork Vision Cleaning Service platform. First, they examined how technicians were interacting with the platform, then used in-app guides to provide customized support in the areas that were causing friction.

This process helped teach over 1,000 employees across 38 different countries how to use the platform.

“We needed to be able to reach our users at scale, wherever they were working, whenever they were working, not only to support them, but to proactively drive them to do the right thing,” said Debbie Wiggins, Essity’s business systems director.

IHS Markit refines their platform with product data

Pendo’s analytics and guides are also being used to inform product planning and development strategies.

When the team working on IHS Markit’s iLEVEL platform was redesigning the user interface, they used Pendo usage data and in-app guides to gather intelligence and feedback from their user base. They were able to tell which features saw the most usage and should be prioritized for inclusion in the new UI, and which saw the least usage and were potential candidates for sunsetting. This helped the team move forward with more confidence that they were making the right decisions every step of the way.

IHS Markit also uses Pendo’s Product Engagement Score to get a more data-informed view of product health, then report it as a single, holistic metric. This helps product teams make better roadmap decisions, and it helps sales reps and customer success managers quickly gauge how healthy a customer is and proactively take measures to prevent churn where necessary.

Interested in learning more about how you can take your own organization down the path to becoming product led? Head over to our Product-Led Resource Hub for tons of tips, tricks, inspiration, and best practices.