Ever feel like you focus on improving one area of product adoption, only to find that another area isn’t up to snuff? Like you just finished making your feedback loops better, only to find that customers are dropping off during onboarding. Sigh. It’s easy to get sucked into an area that’s lagging the most, but a more holistic view of product adoption over the entire customer journey is worth striving for.
If you think of your product adoption strategy like a flywheel, you can understand how onboarding, customer support, and feedback provide momentum for improved user adoption. A flywheel model is a more holistic approach: it keeps your eyes on the various parts of the customer journey that impact product adoption.
Plus, who doesn't love a good flywheel? We sure do. This model can help your organization understand that product adoption is a continuous cycle—and that your strategy should reflect this.
Create an engaging onboarding experience
Your users sign up after a free trial or a demo, and... what comes next? Think of dropping your users in the middle of New York City and telling them that they need to take the subway to meet you at your apartment. Do you leave them to figure out the subway system on their own (hint: probably best if you don’t), or do you give them some guidance?
The onboarding experience is your product’s first impression and your first opportunity to improve product adoption. Almost two-thirds (63%) of customers say that onboarding is “an important consideration in whether they make a product decision in the first place.” From the beginning, your users are thinking, “Now, how am I going to get started?”
Yet, 90% of customers think that companies “could do better when it comes to onboarding new users/customers.” Ouch. It’s time to review your product adoption strategy and how your onboarding experience fits into a flywheel model.
Provide an onboarding tour
Hopefully, your product isn’t as complicated as the New York subway system. Regardless, you still want to provide step-by-step instructions to set users up for success. You can use a product onboarding tour to highlight different product features.
Great onboarding shortens your users’ time-to-value or the amount of time between their initial purchase and when they start receiving benefits from your product. Keep in mind that not every user is involved in the product-buying process: they may have no idea what your product can offer the first time they use it.
An onboarding tour also guides your users to their aha moment—that critical turning point when they realize your product’s value. (Picture the cartoon light bulb going off over their heads with a “ding!”)
Your onboarding tour can include any (or all) of the following:
- Tooltips that explain important features
- A checklist of tasks for users to complete
- A progress bar to let the user know how long onboarding is
- Hotspots to direct attention to product features
Don’t forget a welcome message! It’s an opportunity to connect new users with your brand.
Customize your onboarding flows
Your onboarding experience will be more personalized if you offer different onboarding flows for different types of users. It helps new users feel like the product is “meant for them”—especially if certain features are more useful to specific types of users.
To create unique onboarding flows, you can ask the user about their role within the organization.
You’ll then use that information to send users down different paths with the onboarding tour tactics mentioned before. For example, your checklist of onboarding tasks might be different for a designer versus a marketer. Rather than creating onboarding that shows your users all of the features available, focus on those that make the most sense for their roles. This helps them get through onboarding more quickly. It also empowers each type of user to learn the features most relevant to their role—which means they know exactly what they need for their day-to-day duties.
Arm your customers and support team with resources
Beyond onboarding, users may have questions. As they dig deeper into using your product, they may think, “But what about this?” or “How do I do this?”—stuff that requires more in-depth product knowledge.
This is good! You want them to think about how your product applies to their own use cases. And part of your product adoption strategy needs to include giving users the right resources to answer their questions. Otherwise, you risk losing that user who flew through onboarding but can’t get to that “next level.”
Collaborate with customer service to provide resources
Users learn in many different ways. Some may want to watch a video; others may want to read; others may want to talk to a human. You’ll want to work with your customer service team to provide resources in a variety of formats. Videos, help docs, and self-service FAQs allow users to learn at their own pace. And any representatives helping users via email, chat, or phone should have resources at their fingertips to answer product questions.
Customer support should be in constant collaboration with your product team to ensure that resources are up-to-date. No one likes to access a how-to guide only to find that it doesn’t match the current UI of the product. With each new release, make sure that the customer service team has all of the information they need to support additional product questions about new functionality and update any customer-facing resources.
Your support team can also track and identify where users are struggling or asking a lot of questions. This internal feedback indicates where additional resources might be needed from the product team to support the customers.
Provide in-app access to customer support
When users hit a point where they need help, they want access to customer support right away. In-app resources ensure that your customer never leaves your product and gets the help they need. Some things to consider:
- In-app chat with your customer support
- A “Help” menu that offers videos, FAQs, or links to guides
- Easily accessible contact information for your phone or email support (or a Contact Us form)
And, keeping product changes in mind, when you release new features, you can provide tooltips that link to release notes or a walkthrough of the changes. It’s like a mini-onboarding session.
Collect customer feedback
You’ve provided an exceptional onboarding experience, and you have awesome learning resources... but the last step of a product adoption strategy flywheel is to collect feedback from your users.
After all, users may have completed onboarding and used your resources—but still not be satisfied with the product. Without collecting feedback, you’re missing a critical component in your product adoption strategy: meeting user needs. Continuing to provide a product that users feel is a good fit for them is essential for customer retention.
Feedback will tell you a lot, not only about the depth of product adoption but also about which feature requests to prioritize.
Assess product adoption by asking questions
User satisfaction is often tied to product adoption. Those who have not fully adopted your product may not have reached their aha moment or consciously realized your product’s value. You’ll want to ask questions that determine your users’ overall satisfaction and identify why product adoption might be lacking.
While Net Promoter Score (NPS) doesn’t give you specific feedback, it tells you how happy your users are with the product. You can dig into the specifics with in-app microsurveys that request more details, such as asking users for feedback on planned features.
You can also use product analytics to look at how frequently customers are using your product and the depth of their usage. Are users hitting on all of the key features that you associate with product activation? Or are there some areas that are being neglected by users?
Remember, while product adoption is partially about overall usage, it’s also about return on investment. Your customers should feel that they are benefitting from the product. You can ask customers about ROI through a survey, but you might get customers to reveal more if you talk to them. A conversation between an account manager and key stakeholders could uncover far more than a survey ever could.
Review feature requests
Customers make feature requests for two reasons: they’re experiencing a pain point, or they want to see something new. Both are tied to product adoption, since either the product is not meeting their needs or they are expecting something different. If you don’t address feature requests from your customers, you risk losing them to competitors.
Think of feature requests as a way to improve product adoption by continuously offering customers what they need—a direct link to your overall product adoption strategy.
Feature requests can often be indirect, since users don’t know what they’re looking for. They only know that they’re not finding it within your product. Consult with your customer support team to identify frequently asked questions or issues that come up. These can become the basis for product changes.
And once you add the changes to meet your users’ needs, create an in-app feature announcement so that your customers are aware you’ve listened. Walking your customers through the new feature takes them all the way back to the beginning of the flywheel of product adoption.
Continuing the flywheel effect of your product adoption strategy
And thus, the flywheel continues to revolve. Your onboarding will lead to product questions, which will lead to collecting feedback, which will lead to product development that needs “onboarding” again. At every phase of the customer journey, you have an opportunity to improve product adoption.
A flywheel model implies that the more efficient you are at each stage, the faster the wheel will turn. By focusing on specific tactics for each stage of your product adoption strategy, you can decrease the time your customers spend in each stage and increase the value your product provides.