Product Adoption: Your One-Stop Guide to Understanding the Process From Start to Finish
Here’s a situation.
You just launched your first product, followed by a fantastic marketing campaign, and, from what Google tells you, the traffic on your website is quite high.
There are even new user sign-ups. Everything feels great. The work you and your team put into building and marketing the product seems to pay off.
But how can you make sure there’s a high chance those users will choose your product over something else, become loyal customers, and possibly your very own brand advocates?
You need to create and optimize the product so that it will benefit the users in their daily lives. This leads to product adoption, which effectively is the goal for sustaining your business.
Needless to say that ensuring the product or even feature adoption is the key to growing your business.
In this article, we will cover everything from what product adoption is, the product adoption curve, how to measure product adoption, and other essential aspects related to the topic.
Let’s dive right in.
- What is Product Adoption?
Product adoption refers to the steps a user takes from the interest or awareness stage to actively using that product or “adopting” it. The process is completed when the user moves from the trialing period to the point where they see your product as the solution they needed all along, with a precise intention to return for more.
Product adoption in marketing is the opposite of churn.
This means you have to take all the necessary measures to invest in product adoption and product growth to prevent people from leaving.
It’s also different from acquisition, which refers to bringing people to your website.
Ultimately, product adoption takes effect when users realize the value they can get out of what you offer and turns using it into a habit.
But it doesn’t happen all of a sudden. There are a few steps to take to convert a potential user into a happy customer. And now that we defined what product adoption is, we can talk about market adoption and its five steps.
- The 5 Steps Towards Product Adoption
So you have a great product. Now what? It’s not enough to just wait for things to happen. There are steps to take to help people understand the true value of your brand.
The product adoption model can be traced in five steps.
As the name suggests, this stage is about brand awareness, or in other words, the phase in which your future customers learn about the existence of your brand.
And while first impressions may or may not count as much as we think, in a world where brands compete with each other, the first encounter between a user and your product may be crucial.
You can make them acquainted with your product through promotion strategies that work best for your product, industry, and target audience. We’re talking about channel promotions such as social media, video marketing, content marketing, and other popular marketing tactics.
Distribute only high-quality content.
Make them go:
But don’t stop there.
Once customers know about your brand, they move to the next stage: interest. If they become responsive to what you have to offer, they will look for more information.
So, it’s your job to provide as many materials as possible to convince them about the quality of your product.
A popular format for offering information regarding all the specific features is landing pages. You can get creative here, using well-written copy and branded visuals to sustain your ideas.
The potential customers that know about you and started browsing for more begin to think about how your product will meet their needs.
It’s also the stage in which they will compare your brand to your competition. And obviously, we mean prices too.
They may want to know more and see the product in action for in-depth analysis, so if you don’t have a demo video already on your homepage, they may request a personal tour.
If you already have customers that use your product or service regularly, ask them for testimonials and include them on your homepage. This will strengthen the people’s trust in what you have to offer.
If your potential customer asks for a trial, it means you have convinced them, and they want to test your product.
But the product adoption process is not over yet. This is the place that makes or breaks a deal.
You have to make sure you deliver on your promises made in the previous steps. This means a qualitative product and top-notch customer service.
In this final stage, the customer that saw your product as something that would bring them benefits decided to make the purchase and become a regular user.
This is the typical adoption process for a SasS platform, but it works with everything in life.
Let me give you a clear and real product adoption process example.
- I became aware of the Dr. Martens brand quite late in life (shame on me?), but I was impressed by their style.
- I was interested, so I started looking for more information regarding their products.
- I entered the consideration stage, so I compared their prices, materials, and soles with other products.
- Because I was not 100% convinced they were worth the money, I said I would allow myself a trial period and buy one pair.
- I’m in love.
- The Product Adoption Curve
Some people are open to changes and adapt to them much faster than others, who may be a bit reticent when faced with something new.
This is something Everett M. Rogers, a professor and chair of the Department of Communication & Journalism at the University of New Mexico, studied to help us understand how people adopt new products.
This theory is called the diffusion of innovations, and it segments people into five groups that need to be approached differently when it comes to new ideas.
This is called the product adoption curve.
- The Innovators (2.5%)
The first group that will adopt a product consists of innovators. These are the people excited about something new being released on the market, and they want to try it right away.
Because of this, they are also the ones that won’t commit to a product for too long. But even so, their contribution is essential in the product adoption process because, being the first ones to try out your brand, they can give you valuable input about what’s working, what’s lacking, what needs improvement, and so on.
- The Early Adopters (13.5%)
The early adopters are still excited about new technology, like the innovators, but they expect your product to help them with their needs more than the previous group did.
Because they are interested more in the quality of the product rather than its novelty, this segment of people will adopt your product once you have dealt with all the possible complications a new product may have.
This means you’ll have to offer them great customer support services because they can turn into loyal clients.
- The Early Majority (34%)
The largest group of the product adoption curve is called the early majority. This segment of people will adopt your product only after it becomes reliable, trustworthy, or in other words, has moved from a good reputation to a sturdy one.
Due to this group’s unwillingness to adopt a product unless it proved to fit their needs in the long run, there’s a chasm between the second and third groups from the product adoption curve. This means you’ll have to work on a strong product that proves to be what the early majority was looking for.
- The Late Majority (34%)
If you thought convincing the early majority to stick with you was difficult, think again. The late majority segment will adopt your product only if it’s completely risk-free.
To get to this group, you’ll have to fix (ideally) all the bugs your product has to give people a sense of security and reliability.
- The Laggards (16%)
This final segment is tougher to reach, as they switch to a new product only if they have to. Otherwise, they will stick with the brand they’re comfortable with.
So, if you want to get to them, you’ll have to wrap your product like a necessity that can significantly improve their workflow, even better than the product they’re already using.
I’m looking at you, boomers. 👀
- Why Product Adoption Matters
Considering the definition of product adoption in marketing, things seem pretty clear by now.
But let’s dig deeper into the subject.
Besides the short and sweet version that says a high product adoption rate signifies that people love your product, there are more technical growth metrics, such as customer lifetime value (CLV), average MRR, time to value (TTV) and others. But more on these in a minute.
Adoption is the most important step in the marketing funnel because even with thousands of successful sign-ups, that doesn’t mean you’ve reached your goals. Your profit will increase only after product adoption.
Once a user gets a hands-on experience of your product for the first time, you need to pay attention to how they use it because you can make recommendations based on behavior.
For example, if you see someone using a feature more than another, you can upsell to your existing customers something you know will improve their work process. This method is easier and much more profitable for you in the long run.
Any increase in the product adoption rate means more value to your brand.
Moreover, with a high rate of product adoption, you’ll spend less and less money on new customer acquisition, which can be pretty expensive.
- Types of Product Adoption Metrics
You can start analyzing the product adoption metrics once you notice a customer using your product to solve the demands it was made for.
This means you can’t really talk about user adoption metrics when referring to pageviews or traffic because it’s not a clear retention indicator.
So, if you wonder what the adoption rate in business is, you should think about it as something that shows you clearly the actions users apply to solve their specific needs.
Now, let’s see exactly how to measure the adoption rate according to a few precise metrics applied to a SaaS product.
- Time-to-value (TTV)
This is a highly important product adoption metric because it shows the time it takes for a customer to realize the value your product offers.
In other words, TTV is the time it takes someone to complete a task. The more you manage to reduce that time, the more value customers will see in what you offer.
Time-to-value is a necessary step in the user adoption metrics because if people overlook the benefits your product can bring them, users will churn.
- Product-qualified leads (PQLs)
Product-qualified leads are users that liked your product through a free trial or freemium model and are very close to purchasing it.
You can increase the new product adoption rate with a significant number of product-qualified leads and a strong sales team that can nudge them in the right direction.
- Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Customer lifetime value is the profit (or value) a user gives you during their subscription. A high rate of customer lifetime value shows their willingness to keep using your product. This also leads to less churn.
If you have a subscription-based product, it’s vital to maintain user subscriptions activated as much as possible. This is related to your customer lifetime value and monthly recurring revenue (MMR).
- Frequency of use
Another relevant user adoption metric is how frequently customers use your product. This is a clear indicator of which features are used the most and which ones are not used at their full potential.
It can also show you the need for feature improvements.
- Daily and weekly active users (DAU and WAU)
If you want to better understand the frequency of use metrics, you can also check out your daily and weekly active users.
These will give you insights into how many clients use your product at certain intervals and provide a deeper understanding of their level of engagement and usage patterns.
- Onboarding completion rate
The onboarding completion rate shows you how many users completed the entire onboarding process.
If you notice a low rate even from the beginning of their customer journey in relation to your product, you need to improve the onboarding process to increase the product adoption rate.
- Customer engagement score
The only way to get a high rate of customer lifetime value is to get users to interact with your product.
The customer engagement score shows you which features people engage with the most. You can use this score to add features that will improve the already existing process.
On the other hand, if you notice users with low engagement scores, you can try nudging them in the right direction by suggesting ways of using your product or maybe even other features they’re not tapping into.
- Feature adoption rate
The feature adoption rate indicates how much customers use your features. This is connected to the time to value metric because your product is, after all, about its features. Since your customers use them, they recognize the value they give.
The feature adoption rate can show you when a user is ready to move to a plan that has more features. Because of this, you need to make sure you integrate feature discovery processes on your platform or send your clients nurturing emails and updates about some other features they didn’t know about or that are brand new.
F. How to Measure Product Adoption
You can use the previous metrics to get insights into how your customers use the product or specific features. It can also show you actions that can be interpreted as predictions, so you’ll know when a customer is about to churn. You can take all the necessary steps to keep as many customers as possible.
If you want a simplified formula on how to measure product adoption and get precise numbers on the adoption rate, here’s what you can do:
G. 6 Tips to Improve Your Product Adoption Rate
The best way to get a flawless reputation, become a trustworthy brand, and ultimately have a high product adoption rate for your business is to improve your processes from the moment a client enters your website to the overall product value. This means excellent UI and UX, reliable customer support, and features delivered as promised.
Let’s go through a few essential tips that will help you improve the product adoption rate.
- Create a smooth onboarding process
Imagine for a moment that the onboarding for a SaaS product is like going into a new bookstore. You look around for a while, but then you’re waiting for the librarian to come and help you. You know what you usually read, you know what you want, but you wait for them to recommend some similar titles and guide you through their hundreds of books.
If they do their job right, you can walk out with a bag full of books. If not, well… you probably won’t.
Onboarding is your chance to show potential clients the true value of your product while helping them understand exactly how the product works. If they comprehend all the features and capabilities, the chances of them linking your product are higher.
It’s a win-win situation.
If you feel like this process is not optimized enough, you should definitely invest more in it because with excellent onboarding comes a high product adoption rate.
There are two types of onboarding processes: contextual and personalized. But even if we can make a distinction between them, they go hand in hand.
- Contextual onboarding
This kind of onboarding gives users guidance once they start exploring your product and features for the first time.
Contextual onboarding also means creating triggers. A trigger is a message that explains what a button can do, for example.
With Eyelet, you can make a smooth onboarding process with step-by-step walkthroughs, contextual support guides, and on-screen guides. You can also create feature spotlights on features that are rarely used or on features that you just launched.
A contextual onboarding done right means 3x faster feature and product adoption, customer service cost, and many others.
- Personalized user onboarding
As I said earlier, this type of onboarding is strongly connected with contextual onboarding. The only difference is that with this, you can personalize the onboarding process according to each user.
- Use in-app messaging
In-app messages can be used to improve the onboarding process, and every time you want to introduce a new feature to your existing customers.
These messages can come in handy when you notice a feature is not used enough and you want to suggest it to your users while providing continuous on-demand support.
- Create user journey maps
Journey maps help you understand how users navigate your product and their behavior, showing you ways of improving your brand to increase the rate of the adoption process.
You can also conduct in-depth research based on how people use your product to see where users have issues or other UX or UI shortcomings.
- Listen to users’ feedback
Sometimes you may think that you have the best product or features addressing all the users’ pain points, but you’re still not satisfied with the product adoption rate.
A possible cause could be that you misperceived your audience’s needs.
But this situation can be greatly improved once you start addressing targeted questions to your clients, then improve your product’s features based on their feedback.
Don’t ask general questions because you’ll be overwhelmed by their responses, and they won’t be helpful either.
Instead, create surveys with a few precise questions related to a single feature.
This should be a continuous process because each product needs continuous improvements.
- Have a great in-app support
So we talked about the onboarding process and in-app messaging, but some people skip that part only to find themselves not knowing how a certain feature works.
Provide in-app customer support so that users can reach your team whenever they encounter difficulties or simply want to ask you questions.
- Engage with users outside the app
If you notice users who discovered your product but haven’t tried it much yet, which means they didn’t reach the true meaning of the product adoption phase, you can use a tool for sending nurturing emails to remind them to stop by again.
These emails happen after the welcome email, and they can make a huge difference in your product adoption rate. You can schedule a series of automated emails to support users in getting started with product features.
But these emails are not just automated but related to and triggered by users’ actions, which makes them relevant, contextual emails that make sense in the user journey.
Getting users in the product adoption phase may be difficult, but if you have a powerful product, you’re halfway there.
Improve the adoption process, starting with a great customer onboarding (which is absolutely crucial), and you’ll see improvements in all the areas of your business.
And don’t forget. Eyelet is here as your ally in creating a solid user onboarding.