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How to create an effective user adoption strategy in 3 steps

Struggling to get new users to commit? Create a user adoption strategy to help educate and retain those newbies in 3 easy steps.
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Getting users to migrate to a new product can be like herding cats. Your product might be better with more features and an improved design, but people love what they know. Comfort with the status quo can be the hardest hurdle to overcome with new product launches.

That’s why you need a user adoption strategy ASAP.

Source

A user adoption strategy is your plan for getting people hooked on your product from Day 1. The key is understanding what makes your individual users unique. Users are not a monolith: they are fearless feature testers, curmudgeonly habit-followers, aloof executives, and everyone in between. A good user adoption strategy finds a way to reach all of these people, educating them on your product and convincing them that they need it in their lives.

Put in place a user adoption strategy that's based on trackable goals so every team member—no matter who they are—can see the value of your product and learn how to use it from the get-go.

1. Determine your user adoption end goal

A good strategy starts with a clear idea of what success means to you. This objective isn't a feel-good, everyone-gets-a-participation-medal sort of thing. You need to nail down a robust, trackable goal for your adoption strategy, so you can gauge how well your strategy is working.  

For example, your goal could be:

  1. x% of users still use the product regularly after 2 months
  2. x% of users try out 3 of the 5 main features after onboarding
  3. x% of users complete the onboarding and setup process

The goal you choose should tie into getting your users to their aha moment—the point where the light bulb turns on in their head, and they understand what this product can help them achieve.

So if you believe that users will have their aha moment after they use your program for a few months and start to see results, a goal like our first example might be the one for you. On the other hand, if you know your product will click for them right away, then your focus needs to be on getting users through product onboarding. Goal #3 is likely more your speed.

It’s important to remember that you might be wrong about your end goal (shocking, we know), but you can always come back and realign on your objective. Your user adoption strategy will forever be a work in progress. The important thing, for now, is getting started.

2. Understand how you’ll track your goal

Track progress toward your objective by measuring individual metrics and using analytics tools. In terms of metrics, choose ones that capture the activity that drives your goal.

Consider the examples from Step 1:


Goal

  1. x% of users still use the product regularly after 2 months
  2. x% of users try out 3 of the 5 main features after onboarding
  3. x% of users complete the onboarding and setup process

Metric

  1. The average number of logins a week after 2 months
  2. Percentage of users who trigger 3 events tied to your five main features
  3. Onboarding and setup completion rate

Other metrics that you might track include time on page, conversion rate, clicks, signups, and downloads.

Source

Once you’ve identified the metrics you’ll track, you’ll need a platform for measuring these KPIs, so you can draw conclusions from the data. Some of the most useful tools to track your metrics and pull insights from are event analytics, flow analytics, and segmentation platforms.

  • Event analytics tools can help you understand what leads to a predefined event being triggered on your app or program. For instance, you could use event triggering to tell you how often users click on the “contact customer service” button on your platform. The data you collect could then be used to understand what pages, features, or circumstances are most likely to lead to people needing help. These insights could direct you to problematic areas in your UX that could be fixed in future updates.
  • Flow analytics tools monitor how well your onboarding process works for users—whether that’s a series of tooltips or a video—so you can smooth out friction points, and users can easily start using your product.
  • Segmentation tools help you divide up your user base into different chunks based on demographics. Segmentation will complement your event and flow analytics because you’ll get insights into how different groups are adapting to your platform. If you’re only looking at data as an average across all users, you might not see how one group is being left behind.

With these tools at your disposal, you can collect more than just surface-level data about your chosen KPIs. This way, when it comes time to analyze how well you’ve done with your goal, you’ll be able to do more than just tell if you’ve passed or failed. The more you can know about your users and how they interact with your product, the more you can understand why you did or didn’t reach your goals—making it easier to tweak your adoption strategy for maximum results.

3. Learn from the results

So after patiently waiting for enough data to roll in so you can draw meaningful conclusions from your goals, it’s time to see how you did.

Start by looking at your goal at the most basic level. Did you achieve it or not? If yes, then great, let’s figure out why, so we can improve even more. If no, why not? What can we learn from our mistakes to improve user adoption now?

That brings us to the next step: digging into the details. Regardless of whether you hit your goal, you’re going to want to understand the whys behind the result more than the result itself. Be on the lookout for friction points—places where users are struggling—so you know where to direct your optimizing efforts.

Digging deeper into the data can be easier said than done. So, let’s take a look at some hypotheticals based on our previous examples to see how you can find the questions you need to ask if you want to supercharge your user adoption strategy.

Potential friction point 1: User frequency drop off

Your goal was to have 50% of new users still using your product at least 3 times a week after 2 months. Your events analytics tool shows that login rates begin to drop after Week 2 for 70% of people, and only 40% of users stabilize to 3 times a week by the end of the 2 months. You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Why do login rates drop after Week 2?
  • Who makes up the 40% who stabilize? What makes them stay?
  • Who makes up the 60% who don’t reach an average of 3 logins? What features bring them back when they do log on?

Potential friction point 2: Some features are being underused

Your goal was to have 80% of users using 3 out of your 5 main features at least once in the month after onboarding. You completed your goal, but when you look closer, you see that 90% of people aren’t using one of the features. You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Could the onboarding flow do more to showcase this feature?
  • How many people try to use the feature and give up partway? Why?
  • Who is using this feature? Could it be promoted to other people in their segment?

Potential friction point 3: Low onboarding completion rate

Your goal was to have 50% of your users complete the onboarding process, but the completion rate was only 40%. You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Where did people drop off?
  • Could the onboarding process be streamlined or more explanatory?
  • Are there certain segments more likely to take longer or who are more likely to drop off altogether?

It might seem silly to sit there asking yourself questions (it helps to not do it aloud in the office), but these questions will be the basis for continuing to improve your user adoption strategy. Take your questions and then do your best to answer them based on your data. Once you have a reasonable, data-supported hypothesis, use A/B testing to see if you’re right.

So if the data shows a significant number of users give up partway through using one of your awesome features, you could presume the problem lies in your training. You could then go back, revamp that section’s training flow, and A/B test the changes. If you see improvement, then you’re on the right track to improving user adoption of your product; if not, then head back to the drawing board to try again.

A user adoption strategy is never perfect

The perfect user adoption strategy doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't shoot for one. By continually creating goals, measuring results, asking questions, and testing new hypotheses, you'll build a user adoption strategy that works for your product and your user base. The trick is to accept that there's always more work to be done. So keep on pluggin’ away—and enjoy seeing your users learn to love your product the way you do.

Build it Better

Reduce friction. Boost product adoption. Drop the mic.

  • Easily identify points of friction
  • Track and segment your users
  • Integrate easily with other analytics tools
Charts and graphs


Author's picture
Eric Keating
VP, Marketing at Appcues
Eric heads up Marketing at Appcues. When he isn't helping companies become more product-led, he’s likely to be found keeping up with his wife and two children, exploring the White Mountains, or fermenting things at home.
Skip to section:

Skip to section:

Getting users to migrate to a new product can be like herding cats. Your product might be better with more features and an improved design, but people love what they know. Comfort with the status quo can be the hardest hurdle to overcome with new product launches.

That’s why you need a user adoption strategy ASAP.

Source

A user adoption strategy is your plan for getting people hooked on your product from Day 1. The key is understanding what makes your individual users unique. Users are not a monolith: they are fearless feature testers, curmudgeonly habit-followers, aloof executives, and everyone in between. A good user adoption strategy finds a way to reach all of these people, educating them on your product and convincing them that they need it in their lives.

Put in place a user adoption strategy that's based on trackable goals so every team member—no matter who they are—can see the value of your product and learn how to use it from the get-go.

1. Determine your user adoption end goal

A good strategy starts with a clear idea of what success means to you. This objective isn't a feel-good, everyone-gets-a-participation-medal sort of thing. You need to nail down a robust, trackable goal for your adoption strategy, so you can gauge how well your strategy is working.  

For example, your goal could be:

  1. x% of users still use the product regularly after 2 months
  2. x% of users try out 3 of the 5 main features after onboarding
  3. x% of users complete the onboarding and setup process

The goal you choose should tie into getting your users to their aha moment—the point where the light bulb turns on in their head, and they understand what this product can help them achieve.

So if you believe that users will have their aha moment after they use your program for a few months and start to see results, a goal like our first example might be the one for you. On the other hand, if you know your product will click for them right away, then your focus needs to be on getting users through product onboarding. Goal #3 is likely more your speed.

It’s important to remember that you might be wrong about your end goal (shocking, we know), but you can always come back and realign on your objective. Your user adoption strategy will forever be a work in progress. The important thing, for now, is getting started.

2. Understand how you’ll track your goal

Track progress toward your objective by measuring individual metrics and using analytics tools. In terms of metrics, choose ones that capture the activity that drives your goal.

Consider the examples from Step 1:


Goal

  1. x% of users still use the product regularly after 2 months
  2. x% of users try out 3 of the 5 main features after onboarding
  3. x% of users complete the onboarding and setup process

Metric

  1. The average number of logins a week after 2 months
  2. Percentage of users who trigger 3 events tied to your five main features
  3. Onboarding and setup completion rate

Other metrics that you might track include time on page, conversion rate, clicks, signups, and downloads.

Source

Once you’ve identified the metrics you’ll track, you’ll need a platform for measuring these KPIs, so you can draw conclusions from the data. Some of the most useful tools to track your metrics and pull insights from are event analytics, flow analytics, and segmentation platforms.

  • Event analytics tools can help you understand what leads to a predefined event being triggered on your app or program. For instance, you could use event triggering to tell you how often users click on the “contact customer service” button on your platform. The data you collect could then be used to understand what pages, features, or circumstances are most likely to lead to people needing help. These insights could direct you to problematic areas in your UX that could be fixed in future updates.
  • Flow analytics tools monitor how well your onboarding process works for users—whether that’s a series of tooltips or a video—so you can smooth out friction points, and users can easily start using your product.
  • Segmentation tools help you divide up your user base into different chunks based on demographics. Segmentation will complement your event and flow analytics because you’ll get insights into how different groups are adapting to your platform. If you’re only looking at data as an average across all users, you might not see how one group is being left behind.

With these tools at your disposal, you can collect more than just surface-level data about your chosen KPIs. This way, when it comes time to analyze how well you’ve done with your goal, you’ll be able to do more than just tell if you’ve passed or failed. The more you can know about your users and how they interact with your product, the more you can understand why you did or didn’t reach your goals—making it easier to tweak your adoption strategy for maximum results.

3. Learn from the results

So after patiently waiting for enough data to roll in so you can draw meaningful conclusions from your goals, it’s time to see how you did.

Start by looking at your goal at the most basic level. Did you achieve it or not? If yes, then great, let’s figure out why, so we can improve even more. If no, why not? What can we learn from our mistakes to improve user adoption now?

That brings us to the next step: digging into the details. Regardless of whether you hit your goal, you’re going to want to understand the whys behind the result more than the result itself. Be on the lookout for friction points—places where users are struggling—so you know where to direct your optimizing efforts.

Digging deeper into the data can be easier said than done. So, let’s take a look at some hypotheticals based on our previous examples to see how you can find the questions you need to ask if you want to supercharge your user adoption strategy.

Potential friction point 1: User frequency drop off

Your goal was to have 50% of new users still using your product at least 3 times a week after 2 months. Your events analytics tool shows that login rates begin to drop after Week 2 for 70% of people, and only 40% of users stabilize to 3 times a week by the end of the 2 months. You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Why do login rates drop after Week 2?
  • Who makes up the 40% who stabilize? What makes them stay?
  • Who makes up the 60% who don’t reach an average of 3 logins? What features bring them back when they do log on?

Potential friction point 2: Some features are being underused

Your goal was to have 80% of users using 3 out of your 5 main features at least once in the month after onboarding. You completed your goal, but when you look closer, you see that 90% of people aren’t using one of the features. You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Could the onboarding flow do more to showcase this feature?
  • How many people try to use the feature and give up partway? Why?
  • Who is using this feature? Could it be promoted to other people in their segment?

Potential friction point 3: Low onboarding completion rate

Your goal was to have 50% of your users complete the onboarding process, but the completion rate was only 40%. You’ll want to ask yourself:

  • Where did people drop off?
  • Could the onboarding process be streamlined or more explanatory?
  • Are there certain segments more likely to take longer or who are more likely to drop off altogether?

It might seem silly to sit there asking yourself questions (it helps to not do it aloud in the office), but these questions will be the basis for continuing to improve your user adoption strategy. Take your questions and then do your best to answer them based on your data. Once you have a reasonable, data-supported hypothesis, use A/B testing to see if you’re right.

So if the data shows a significant number of users give up partway through using one of your awesome features, you could presume the problem lies in your training. You could then go back, revamp that section’s training flow, and A/B test the changes. If you see improvement, then you’re on the right track to improving user adoption of your product; if not, then head back to the drawing board to try again.

A user adoption strategy is never perfect

The perfect user adoption strategy doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't shoot for one. By continually creating goals, measuring results, asking questions, and testing new hypotheses, you'll build a user adoption strategy that works for your product and your user base. The trick is to accept that there's always more work to be done. So keep on pluggin’ away—and enjoy seeing your users learn to love your product the way you do.

Build it Better

Reduce friction. Boost product adoption. Drop the mic.

  • Easily identify points of friction
  • Track and segment your users
  • Integrate easily with other analytics tools
Charts and graphs


Author's picture
Eric Keating
VP, Marketing at Appcues
Eric heads up Marketing at Appcues. When he isn't helping companies become more product-led, he’s likely to be found keeping up with his wife and two children, exploring the White Mountains, or fermenting things at home.
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