In this guide, we’ll define product adoption, learn a little about the product adoption curve, and give you five steps to building a product adoption strategy that works. Let’s get started.
What is product adoption?
Product adoption, also known as user adoption, refers to the “aha moment” when users see the value of your product or feature and decide to become active users. When you launch a new product or feature, there are five stages of the product adoption curve – a model that illustrates how and when different users adopt your product.
The product adoption curve looks like this:
Let’s take a quick dive into each of the stages.
- Innovators – these are the first user segments to adopt your product. They represent about 2.5% of total sales and are filled with users who are excited about your product and willing to try it despite its flaws.
- Early adopters – These cohorts represent about 13.5% of the market, and they have a greater need to try new products and have more resources to spend on solutions. Their interest lies in innovation, so they expect the products to work effectively to solve their problems.
- Early majority – These users represent about 34% of the market and are interested in established products with a solid reputation. They are looking for long-term solutions and will ikey become loyal early adopters.
- Late majority – These users represent around 34% of the market and are more risk-averse and intolerant of technical issues.
- Laggards – This segment of users represents the remaining 16% of the market who adopt your product long after the initial wave of adoption.
Understanding these five product adoption phases in depth can help your SaaS business grow dramatically. Now let’s move on to the product adoption strategy.
What is a product adoption strategy?
Product adoption strategies are strategies to make your users aware of your product and its value and drive them to use it in various customer journey stages. Product adoption strategies generally answer the question, “What,” “Why”, and “How”.
- What are your goals?
- Why are you pursuing these goals?
- How do you achieve these goals, and how would you measure success?
By having a product adoption strategy in place, your team will better understand what needs to be done, why, and how to achieve success.
But how do you create an effective product adoption strategy?
Here are five steps to making an effective product adoption strategy:
Product adoption as an objective
The first step in a product adoption strategy is to make product adoption the north star of your objective. Make it clear that you are all in this together as a team.
Remember, product adoption happens at various points in the customer journey – from awareness to adoption to retention. So it is not something that a single team is responsible for achieving.
For instance, the marketing team is responsible for driving awareness, educating customers, and promoting the business. The sales team can take a shot at converting a new business opportunity into a deal and building it into a long-term relationship through upselling and cross-selling. The customer success team ensures that the users get the maximum value out of your product.
The key to making this work is setting expectations clearly, and communicating that throughout the team. Make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And be sure everyone understands how their contributions will make a difference for everyone else on the team.
Define the Customer Journey
Now that you’ve made product adoption your “north star” objective, the next step is to understand and map out the customer journey.
The customer journey is a series of steps a potential customer takes to become familiar with your products, services, and brand. It helps you understand what stage in the buying process your target audience is at and how you can make them aware of your offerings.
Remember, the customer journey is not a one-size-fits-all thing. They might vary based on your particular product or service, but here’s an example of what the customer journey typically includes:
- The awareness phase Awareness is the first stage in the customer journey. The awareness phase is where the user gets introduced to the idea of your brand. The user has become familiar with the name and logo and has learned about your products or services.
- The awareness phase is an opportunity to educate users on what you do and how you help them.
- The activation phase The activation phase is where you get your users to try out your product with a demo, free trial, or something similar. It’s essential to keep the user engaged and interested in the process. You can do this by offering them a free trial before they have to make any purchases or commitments.
- The activation phase is also an opportunity to gather valuable feedback from your users. You can use this information to improve your product and make it even better than before.
- The adoption phase Users enter the adoption stage when they reach their aha moment and realize the value a product brings to them. At this stage, your product is still not a part of their daily workflow, so they can still churn.
- In this stage, you need to find ways to encourage users to use your product often.
- The retention phase During this phase, your users use your product frequently, enjoy it, and want to renew their subscriptions.
Understand your current customer experience
A crucial step in building a product adoption strategy is understanding and improving your current customer experience. The goal of this exercise is to identify gaps in the current product and service offering that can create a stronger value proposition for your customers.
You need to understand what drives product adoption and retention and what makes customers churn. A lot of this data comes from customer feedback surveys and online forums, but it can also be gleaned from conversations with your customers directly. This will help you develop a vision for improving the customer experience by:
- Improving onboarding or making your product easy to use for new users.
- Improving documentation or making it easier for existing users to find answers to common questions or issues they have encountered.
- Adding new features or solving problems that have been on their wish list for years now.
- Providing more support options such as live chat, email support, phone support (if applicable), FAQ pages, etc.
When Does Onboarding End and Adoption Begin?
When does onboarding end and adoption begin?
This is a question that many people struggle with, and that is why most product adoption strategies fail. It’s easy to get bogged down by the onboarding process, and it can feel like you’re not doing enough at first. But there’s a good reason for this: onboarding is just the beginning of your customer’s journey.
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The idea of onboarding is to get customers into your product as quickly as possible. But the real purpose of this process is to ensure they’re using your product properly, making progress in achieving onboarding goals and milestones, and staying engaged with your brand.
When you’ve done all those things successfully, then you can start focusing on product adoption.
Design an outcome-based roadmap
Outcome-based roadmaps will change how you create product adoption strategies by shifting your focus to solving real issues instead of just tackling a feature to-do list.
Unlike the old-school way of creating feature- and time-based roadmaps, this type of roadmap focuses on aligning potential projects (initiatives) to objectives.
The objective should be a small step towards achieving the bigger goal. For example, an objective might be to “increase product adoption.” The initiative might be to “create welcome screens to improve customer onboarding.”
The key is ensuring each initiative is aligned with one or two objectives.
A perfect adoption strategy doesn’t exist
The perfect user adoption strategy doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create one. By creating goals, measuring results, asking questions, and testing new hypotheses, you’ll build a product adoption strategy that works for your product and users.