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Softr's social viral acquisition loops leading to 70k in user growth

Why did the no-code developer's computer crash?

Because it needed a code injection.

🐐 Welcome to PLG Teardown of TheProductLed 🐐

PLG Teardown is a special edition once or twice a month where I deep dive into the specifics of a growth tactic, motion, and lever of a company.

Today's edition: Softr.

The PLG Teardown menu and ingredients:

plg softr growth teardown

Company: Who is Softr?

Softr is one of the world's leading ecosystems for building no-code web apps. From marketplaces, and client portals, to directories and websites. You can build almost anything with Softr. For example, my website drewteller.com is hosted and built using Softr.

Motion x Lever: Product-led Acquisition

There are 3 motions: Product-led, marketing-led, and sales-led. There are 3 levers: acquisition, retention, and monetization. (Source)

Softr is absolutely crushing product-led acquisition (PLA). Superstar SaaS companies who unlock a strong PLA tactic will help improve sustainable, defensible, and repeatable growth!

People use Softr's no-code website platform to build incredible, full-scale web apps. It's these actions within the product that drive acquisition. 

Let's get into the tactic.

Tactic & How it works

The tactic in play here is a social viral growth loop fueled by the template core engagement loop. Let me break it down with the visual below.

Starting with the loop on the left, the Core Engagement Loop. You can imagine many core engagement loops, but Softr's strongest is its template adoption flow:

  1. A new user browses templates

  2. User selects template

  3. User builds out website

  4. User publishes website

Softr core growth PM focus here is the accelerate the flow of the core engagement loop. There are ways they are currently doing this right before our eyes such as removing friction in the onboarding process by showing you complete, live, and fully running web apps from their template marketplace. (this is also a product-led marketing tactic).

softr templates

The magic happens when more users publish their websites. After websites and web apps are published, they are treated as products that can be shared, collaborated on, and distributed in any way their "jobs need to be done".

Let's look at the acquisition loop on the right.

  1. User publishes website

  2. User shares site on social

  3. New user sees website and Softr branding

  4. New user signs up

After users publish their site, they share it on social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. You can easily find people sharing their websites by searching "Softr website" on LinkedIn or Twitter.

New potential users then click on the fresh website. They are fascinated that something like this can be built so fast, so simple, and so seamlessly. They even see tiny little branding: "Made with Softr" in the bottom corner of their website. So what happens? A new user says: "Let me try!" And you have a new sign-up!

This core engagement template flow fuels the engine of publishing a website. The quicker the time-to-value (TTV) for the average user, the stronger the connection between these two loops becomes and therefore, strengthening product-led acquisition.

These are tactics. In my opinion, the best PLG products that we see do these kinds of tactics behind the scenes. The product-led acquisition is a gold mine, it should be reverse-engineered and then re-engineered.

I find it useful to draw out the loops and stress test the nodes of connection. Any weakness is a great opportunity to improve for growth but also competitively as well!

Bonus:

Softr is strengthening its engagement loop through community-led growth tactics here. You can interact with other users but also hire Softr Experts who are their ambassadors. Amplifying their community is a fantastic approach to increase the rigidity of product-led acquisition.

Why is this successful?

The core reason why this tactic is so successful is its ability to feed on natural user psychology. User psychology is at the root of all virality consisting of emotion, logic, motivation, and reward (ELMR framework)

Without going into the entire framework, the one part of user psychology that can be used to understand the overview of growth is the types of rewards.

I took Reforge's reward table and expanded it to include a few more such as fulfillment and autonomy. I also added learning, satisfaction and praise.

In Softr's product experience, users are motivated (intrinsic reward triggers) by learning/mastery and autonomy. In my experience, building on Softr gave me a sense of gratification knowing that I learned how to build my no-code website in 45 minutes. So fast!

The combination of these motivations with the social rewards of recognition and confirmation helps accelerate the virality of Sotr's product-led acquisition engine. Case in point is seeing a lot of the LinkedIn posts of folks sharing their websites (hence the loop above!)

The icing on the cake is how Softr evangelizes its users in a community-led motion by sharing their work, commenting, and engaging with it all over social channels. My colleagues that validate my work provide an extrinsic reward but when the CEO or leaders within the company engages with your work, you will feel seen! When this happened to me, I naturally wanted to share more about Softr!

Softr takes this growing community and treats it like a product. A product in which is defined as the users that take action to share Softr websites. Then they nurture this product all rooted in the community's intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.

I am excited about what's next in Softr's growth journey!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by today.

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See you next time on TheProductLed PLG Teardown.

-Drew

drew teller

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