It’s a minor miracle that ancient people didn’t immediately extinguish fire when they first saw it—afraid of this unknown phenomenon and what it could mean for their highly regimented caveman workflow. This is what makes new product adoption so hard: many people are reluctant to try and embrace new things. The goal of product adoption is to make the effort of adopting a new product worth someone’s while, making it as easy and as beneficial as possible for them to make that switch and fight back against their caveman instincts.
Luckily, we now know a bit more about how to get people to adjust to change. Companies are employing innovative strategies to help ease even the most stubborn holdouts into adopting their new products. You just need to learn from what they’re already doing.
To save you valuable time, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve put together a list of 5 companies that have learned a thing or 2 about product adoption, and by following their lead, you can improve your own product adoption strategies (hopefully without some of the messy trial and error). With these strategies, you’ll be ready to welcome new users and keep them coming back.
1. Evernote: Keep users in the loop
At its heart, Evernote is a note-taking app, but it also has several other features to help with note-taking that new users might not know about or be ready to use. To keep people up to date, Evernote uses a “What’s new” checklist to show users what they can do with Evernote and how it can be customized to fit their needs.
For instance, a new user might not know that you can also use Evernote to make sketches. For college students jotting down a formula for math class or a map for history class, this could be an unexpected feature that makes Evernote more valuable than other note-taking apps.
By highlighting this feature in their “What’s new” checklist, Evernote:
- Makes new users aware that they can sketch with this app
- Creates a central place users can start the sketching onboarding flow
- Keeps the general onboarding flow decluttered so people can access it at their convenience
This kind of organized but out-of-the-way UX helps customers learn about your product without putting them through unwieldy (and boring) tutorials that might scare them off.
Takeaway: Use a checklist feature in your onboarding to help users find and access new features that will enrich their user experience.
2. Reclaim: Make recommendations
Reclaim is a smart calendar planner that helps users adopt its platform by giving new users suggestions to make the most out of their day.
Many new users might not be familiar with a calendar like Reclaim. Unlike a traditional calendar, Reclaim adjusts your calendar around your busy, ever-changing schedule to make sure you have time to scarf a cheeseburger in between your 1 pm sales forecast and your afternoon yoga. If something comes up, Reclaim will juggle your schedule, so your new meeting will slot in, and afternoon yoga will become after-dinner yoga, all without you lifting a greasy cheeseburger finger.
To help new signups adjust to this idea, Reclaim uses an onboarding flow that asks you questions and suggests time blocks you might not have thought about, like habits you’d like to make time for throughout the day.
By using their onboarding flow as a teaching opportunity, Reclaim encourages new users to recognize their product’s full potential as a flexible, smart calendar (not a digital equivalent to the scratchpad checklist you’ve been using since high school). Teaching folks how to block time early on increases the likelihood that those users will see the benefits of this fancy calendar and fully adopt the product.
Takeaway: Use your onboarding flow to set up users for success with your product so they can see the benefits as soon as possible.
3. Feedly: Use targeted tooltips
Feedly is a feed aggregator tool for collecting all the news stories and blog posts you want to stay on top of throughout your day. To help new users adopt their product, Feedly uses tooltips to educate and inspire, anticipating potential problems users might have and addressing them as soon as they can.
If you’re new to feed aggregators, one issue you might encounter is losing articles in your feed. If you follow several dozen sites, something you saw last week will get buried quickly, making it a pain to go back and find manually. Feedly uses tooltips to show users how to save stories to find them more quickly and get around this pain point.
Feedly does a great job of keeping their tooltips functional and sparing. Instead of blocking parts of their product, potentially annoying new users who want to just get something done, they nudge users with hotspots. Users can then click to generate a tooltip with a feature explanation if they want it.
Takeaway: If you’re using tooltips with your product, be like Feedly and keep them helpful, not obtrusive. Learn how with some tooltips best practices.
4. Ahrefs: Educate with content
Ahrefs is an SEO tool suite that often rolls out new features or updated UIs that require user education. Instead of endless tooltips or tutorials to get across complicated ideas and changes, they create blog posts that showcase the features and teach people how to use them.
In this example, Ahrefs is introducing users to an update of their anchor tools report. On the left, there are 6 sections, all of which explain what changes they have made, how this will affect user data, and how users will get value out of this redesign.
Given how much information there is here, it would be too hard to put it all in a series of tooltips. And depending on who you are and how you use Ahrefs, it might not be necessary for you to learn all of it (or any of it!). For this use case, a blog post just makes sense, giving Ahrefs the room it needs to get into detail and giving users the flexibility to learn only what they need.
As a bonus, this kind of content helps convince people that this is the right SEO product for them. Anyone on the web can read these blog posts, so people on the fence about whether Ahrefs is right for them can see exactly what it does and how it works even before they sign up for a free trial.
Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to use long-form content to educate readers about how to get the most out of your new features or products.
5. LastPass: Shout about uses for your product
LastPass is a password manager that’s smart about promoting new ways to get even more value out of its product. This is especially important for a company like LastPass, because there are plenty of other free password managers it competes with.
LastPass does this with full-screen takeover modals that announce new or existing features.
LastPass puts up modals like this one when users log in, prompting them to “Turn on Dark web monitoring” to check whether their information has been leaked without their knowledge. New users may not have known this was a feature at all. By displaying this modal as users log in, LastPass makes it easy for new users to adopt this feature and make it a part of their LastPass experience.
When you have features that are easy to implement and will help improve user experience, a modal can be a great way to increase user adoption. If users don’t know it’s an option, they won’t use it and won’t get a full picture view of why your product is worth the effort of adopting.
Takeaway: Be bold and tell users about how awesome your product is with modals.
Keep an eye on your users
What works for others may need some tweaking before it works for you. When adapting other companies’ tactics, monitor your analytics to see how your users react to changes, so you can optimize for the needs of your specific users. This way, you can take advantage of lessons learned by others while still giving your users an experience worth their time and effort.