Product-led content is easier to recognise than it is to define. A basic definition for product-led content is “content that strategically weaves the product into the narrative and uses it to illustrate a point, solve a problem, and/or help the audience accomplish a goal”—but you often spot a product-led content piece just by looking at it.
Let’s take a look some examples of what it looks like.
Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool, and virtually every article published on the Ahrefs blog is an excellent example of product-led content marketing:
- The angle of each piece is in some way connected to the product
- The product is presented as the go-to solution
- Annotated screenshots showcase the product in action
For example: this article about 25 marketing metrics worth tracking weaves the product into the piece at six different points, showcasing different features with annotated screenshots. Occasionally, the writer even includes step-by-step instructions for how the tool might help measure or calculate a specific marketing metric:
Likewise, this piece about mobile-first indexing directs the reader to a free Ahrefs tool they can use to accomplish their goal (i.e. reviewing technical elements on their mobile site). Here, too, annotated screenshots showcase the product in action, and the writer offers quick advice about the best way to use it.
Whether it’s broader marketing topic like in the first example or SEO-specific ones like in the second, all articles on the Ahrefs blog follow the same principle. The same is true for their video content: if you’re watching a video from Ahrefs’ YouTube channel, you know at some point the product will show up and the host will explain how to use it to perform a specific action or solve a problem.
Hotjar’s blog and resources are heavily inspired by Ahrefs’ product-led approach. The reason is simple: I served as Hotjar’s Senior Editor until the end of 2020 and was intent on replicating Ahref’s model 😉
Most of the content that went live at Hotjar between 2018 and 2020 took a clear product-led approach:
- Each piece would hinge around the product (or plant the seed of how it could be used)
- We aimed to showcase Hotjar in action as frequently as possible
- Most pieces could work for both acquisition (i.e. potential customers) and retention (i.e. existing customers who may be unaware of specific use cases)
For example: The easiest way to find out what people need, right on your website covers the benefits of on-site surveys while using more than 15 different visualisation of the product in action:
Similarly, this Guide to open-ended questions covers the topic thoroughly both in writing and visually, using annotated screenshots and examples of the product in use on real websites (which builds an additional layer of social proof):
In addition to individual blog posts, Hotjar also uses a product-led approach in its multi-chapter guides. This Complete guide to website heatmaps is a good example of how an entire narrative can be written around a specific tool: by the time someone is done reading it, they will have a thorough understanding of the topic while also being extremely familiar with the look & feel of Hotjar’s heatmapping tool. They could probably find their way around the product dashboard very easily after seeing it in action several times across multiple pages.
Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting provider, and some of their blog posts are a perfect example of product-led content:
- The product is presented as a solution to a WordPress-related problem
- The audience can see the Kinsta dashboard throughout
For example, this blog post about How to back up a WordPress site easily (4 methods) illustrates different methods of performing an action and fully acknowledges the existence of competing services–but it also keeps showcasing Kinsta’s dashboard throughout the page, framing it as the most comprehensive solution for the reader.