What is the “aha” moment, and why is it so important?
The “aha” moment is a moment of sudden insight or discovery. In software, it’s the pivotal moment when a new user feels the value of your product for the first time.
Aha moments are emotional and impactful. They create a powerful impression that keeps users coming back for more. The faster you get users to their aha moment, the sooner you can prove your product’s value proposition to them. This leads to happier users, who are more likely to pay for your product and stick around for a long time.
What’s an example of an aha moment?
Let’s take the example of an aha moment for a ride-sharing app, like Uber or Lyft. Imagine you live in a world where only traditional taxis exist. But suddenly, you discover an app that lets you order a ride. Then that ride arrives without having to hail a taxi, explain to the driver where you’re going, or even pay with cash when it’s over. That experience can be done seamlessly through a ride-sharing app. When a user experiences it for the first time, that’s their aha moment.
For more complex SaaS products, users might experience multiple aha moments. For example, when Alex tries out an SEO analytics tool for the first time, his journey might look like this:
In the example above, Alex experiences multiple aha moments as the value of the SEO analytics tool sinks in. Not only can he see detailed SEO results, but he’s also able to access bite-size, actionable tips to help rank his content higher on the search engine results page.
5 steps to find your product's aha moment
It can be hard to pinpoint the exact moment your new users will say “aha” if you don’t know where to start looking. In that case, you need to make use of the data you already have—starting with your user analytics and user feedback.
By doing so, you can find out which set of actions or behaviors correlate to value discovery. Once you find a high correlation, you can make calculated adjustments to nudge more users towards those aha-inducing behaviors.
Step 1: Map out your new user journey.
Begin by identifying the steps new users take from the moment they sign up or download your product until they become regular users.
During this journey, identify potential aha moments where users might realize the value of your product.
Step 2: Reverse-engineer the path of your power users.
Tip: if your product is new or you don’t have access to product data, you can skip this step!
Study the journey of your most engaged users. What actions did they take early on that turned them into power users?
Whether you use your own analytics platform or integrate a third-party tool—like Fullstory, Mixpanel, or Heap—reverse engineer the path of your best users and find out what they did differently than your other users.
Finish your onboarding experience?
Continue browsing your app after the product tour?
Interact with a core feature?
Connect with other users?
If you use Amplitude, you can use its Compass feature, which gives you a graph of all behavioral “events” in your app crossed by how well they correlate with second-week retention in-app.
Identify commonalities in the actions these users took. These could be specific features they used or a particular pattern of interaction. These actions might be closely linked to your product's aha moment.
Step 3: Supplement with user feedback.
Look at the feedback from users, especially praise or positive comments. When users say things like "this feature saved me so much time," they're likely putting a name to their aha moment.
Don't discount the small comments. Sometimes the aha moment isn't a grand revelation, but a small realization of value.
In another product playbook, we share how to do user research to improve your product-led experience.
Step 4: Talk to churned users.
Churned users are those who stopped using your product. Reach out to them and ask why they stopped. If they never experienced the aha moment, they can provide insights into what's missing or unclear in the user journey.
Be open to feedback and use it as an opportunity to improve your product. The aim is to make the aha moment clear and achievable for all users.
One way to get feedback from churned users: use exit surveys to catch users right before they leave your site. Then, ask them to share why your aha moment didn’t land.
Step 5: Form your aha moment hypothesis and test it out.
Once you’ve got the path to an aha moment mapped out in your product and some ideas for bringing more users to it, it’s time to test out some of those hypotheses.
Test your hypothesis by running an A/B test.
Let’s say you found users who connected their social accounts within the first few days of using your product tended to stick around longer. In that case, you might set up an experimental onboarding email designed to get more users connecting their social accounts.
How to set up your aha moment as a goal in Appcues:
Once you’ve identified your aha moment(s), you can set them up in Appcues as a goal. Here’s how to do that:
1. Track an event or user property
Goals work best when they're directly related to an event a user has taken within your application. Before creating the actual goal, you should be sending the event or user property to Appcues.
Knowing which actions or events in your product trigger aha moments allows you to create more tailored onboarding experiences. You’re no longer limited to blindly optimizing one experience for the entirety of your user base.