Activation milestones – What are they?

What is an activation milestone?

Activation milestones are events that the user has to trigger in the process of adopting a product. They are supposed to act as a signal that lets you know if they are on the way to converting to an adopter.”

It’s critical to understand these signals in order to focus better on what converts and what doesn’t. These activation milestones can look quite different depending on the app but they should all paint a better picture of what product adoption looks like for them. If it’s easier to think about it this way if you piggyback them from the adoption phase they should lead all the way to the signup.

How do you set an activation milestone?

Traditionally, teams used to rely on events triggered by the development team in order to have these signals sent out. is a great tool to do just that. The only downside is that you’d have to code this yourself and rely on a (most likely) complicated deployment system which is not ideal in a fast-paced environment. offers a simple alternative. Instead of coding the events yourself, and relying on the willingness of your development team to push a deployment cycle for every update you might want to make, you can setup a custom hook that works with your favorite system, even if it is Segment, Hubspot,, or anything else out there to trigger these events once a user does something in the app. 

For example, when one signs in to the app for the first time, you can trigger a webhook that will send Hubspot the information to add them to a “signups” list.

What is the activation rate?

The activation rate measures the percentage of people who complete these milestones compared to the people that signed up. Besides calculating the rate at which people go through these activation milestones, you should consider looking at the speed as well. If there’s room to decrease the time it takes for a user to complete the activation, you should prioritize. 

The goal is to figure out how these early interactions with the app influence the user’s decision to adopt the product.

Why should you track activation milestones?

Tracking activation milestones is crucial in figuring out how people interact with your product. These initial interactions can tell you with a certain degree of certainty that a user might or might not adopt your product. Knocking this information helps you leverage your means of interacting with the user in order to show him the value of your product before it’s too late.

Contrary to popular belief, activation milestones it’s not just for product owners. Marketing managers should consider investing significant time and effort in order to understand these numbers as they might discover that their sales and marketing efforts are not attracting the right leads. 

Once you’ve dialed in on the issues you can decide which ones will require extra help for the user. If you have a complex setup that the user has to complete in order for them to extract the value you are delivering, create a couple of tooltips on the most important features. Don’t steal the “spotlight” by dropping a splash screen the first time he signs up. 

With Eyelet you create a tooltip that appears on hover. If they click on the tooltip, they can start the tour at that point. Otherwise, let them try and stay out of their way.

How to calculate activation milestone rates?

The formula is rather simple. You take the total number of signups in the past month and calculate the percentage of them that went through the activation milestone. If you have more than one milestone you will calculate individual activation milestone rates. More often than not, the first activation rate is going to be the most critical one to keep an eye on.

How to identify your activation milestones

This is your first step in improving adoption. Unfortunately, there is no secret sauce. No universal formula for this. 

Think of the main features your app does.

  • Does it require a credit card?
  • Can you invite a teammate?
  • Does it allow you to create something within the app?
  • Is there a save functionality or an embed functionality?

If you’ve answered yes, then those would be your activation milestones. That’s where you start.

Activation Milestones and Eyelet

I hope I painted a clear enough picture of why these milestones are crucial to getting people to adopt your product. 

Now comes the hard part, How do we actually create these milestones, track them and leverage this information to get a better adoption rate from our users?

Once you have identified your activation milestones, create a product tour explaining to your users how to extract value from that feature.

In the case of Eyelet, the first activation milestone we track is the creation of a product tour. Once that’s done, we trigger a bot to send a webhook to Hubspot to add that user to a particular list.

Once we’ve done that we make sure to not send him info on creating product tours as that would be counter-productive and wouldn’t necessarily help him adopt the product faster. 

Instead, we focus on the other key features of the app which will speed things along, things like creating a bot, checklist, or inviting a teammate.

The goal here is two-fold. 

One is to create a learning experience that’s short and sweet, to the point and I can’t stress this enough, “short”. Three to five steps, no more. If possible, only trigger the tour when the user initiated it.

The second part of it is to start tracking how many people actually complete these steps. The easiest way to do it is to look at the compilation rates for these tours. The next best thing is to have them done via a webhook and a third-party tracking tool.

End goal

As you might suspect, tracking these activation events are half the battle. After about 30 days of collecting data, you’ll start seeing some patterns. You’ll be able to follow the flow of your users from signup, through the different activation milestones to figure out which is the shortest way for your users to convert to paying customers and adopt the product. 

Once you’ve figured that out, you can center your onboarding process around that. Focus your efforts on speeding up the process of activation for those particular milestones to get a faster adoption. 

As a byproduct of this analysis, you can figure out what it takes for the user to stick with you. Once the user has adopted the product, measure how often they use it. How many times a week or month do they sign in and use the product? 

Having figured out how often your adopters are using the product you can then calculate the chances for any particular users to drop off and churn by looking at when was the last time they visited the website and what were they doing?

These are all very powerful information and if you manage to leverage them to your benefit you’ll be able to dramatically increase your customer LTV while lowering churn.

The first step does start by educating and monitoring, and both can be done with Eyelet so why don’t you give it a try and see for yourself at