What is Feature Adoption and How to Increase It

Up until recently, I had a very disturbing problem of losing my keys. 

There were so many times that I got locked out that I started to blame myself for not being careful enough. 

It had been one of those problems that made me think that it was actually abdication of reason not being able to solve this simple problem.

I realized that I often dropped my keys when taking stuff out of my pockets or my bags.

As I was searching through the internet for a solution, I came across suggestions such as putting your keys in a spot in your bag that you do not often open for taking stuff out or simply fastening it with a string to your bag.

But what made me have my “Aha!” moment was simply this:

product feature adoption example

Did you know that the hooks inside the pockets of jackets are there for a purpose?

These hooks are specifically designed to be attached to items that have the possibility of falling out of your pocket when you take stuff out?

And here was my moment of discovery and adoption of a feature.

Let’s elaborate more on this:

What is Feature Adoption?

Feature adoption basically means your target audience “adopting” a feature of your product or app by simply using it. When people find a feature of your product useful for themselves, they will start to use it and adopt it. When users begin to use a feature of your product regularly, this means that they’ve adopted that feature.

If you were asking “what is feature adoption”, I hope the example that I gave from my experience also gave you an insight into it. 

You can think of feature adoption as me finding the hook inside of the pockets of jackets and starting to use them as a solution to my problem.

If a feature is useful to your users, all you need to do is have them know about the feature.

what is feature adoption exactly

Getting your users to their “Aha!” moment for features is the key to success. 

Evaluating your feature adoption rates actually tells you a lot about your success.

That is to say, feature adoption is directly related to the success of your business.

Then, what is feature discovery?

Feature discovery is your users discovering a feature of your product. This is the first moment that your users find that there is a feature that they can use to make it easier for their work. Feature discovery can be through feature announcements, random discovery, or suggestions.

You can again think of it me discovering the hook.

What is crucial here is that we cannot talk about feature adoption unless your users discover a feature of your product.

Obviously, this is common sense but it is often disregarded.

You have to know that it is your responsibility to get your users to discover a feature of your product.

I bet there are a lot of product features out there that if people knew about them, they would drastically increase the success rate of businesses. 

Why is Feature Adoption Important?

Only 12% of a product’s features are the attraction points of the majority of clicks on apps.

We can’t talk about success if a feature of your product is not being used, can we?

The adoption rate of a feature shows how successful your product is in providing solutions or convenience to your users.

The more people adopt a feature the more likely they are to stay as your users.

The higher rate of adoption will increase your customer retention rate and decrease churn and attract new users. 

why is feature adoption important

How do you improve Feature Adoption

Since increasing the feature adoption rates is crucial in having your product achieve success, you need to skyrocket these rates.

So, let’s elaborate on how you can improve your feature adoption rates.

#1 Increase the value of features 

feature value illustration
Khaby helped me a lot to demonstrate what some features of products feel like

Let’s be honest, 

It all starts with a useful feature.

When launching a new feature, you may think that it is truly a great feature that everybody should make use of. 

However, you should know your target audience, and decide how useful the feature will be to them.

The needs of your users drive feature adoption rates.

It is for this reason that you should focus on the needs of your users and decide how you can provide them with the best features that make their lives easier.

Taking feedback is among the best methods to learn about the needs and desires of your users.

So, you should constantly take feedback from users not only before launching a new feature but also after launching one.

Try to adjust features in line with the needs and desires of your users and you will see an increase in adoption rates.

#2 Announce features the right way

Have you ever thought that the reason behind your low feature adoption could be your users not being aware of them?

Believe me! Once you get this part right, you’ll solve a big part of your feature adoption problems.

And you’ll only keep announcing your feature the right way.

If you don’t let users know that a feature exists, they won’t probably use it. 

So, you need to announce this new feature both to existing and new users.

To start with, you should decide in what part of the user journey you will let your users know about the feature.

I suggest introducing the feature right when a user needs it most.

This way they will be more tempted to try it out.

For example, imagine you’ve designed a food delivery app that also offers a feature called “live-tracking” that lets you see your food delivery on a map. 

Introducing this feature before users order something just doesn’t make any sense.

Simply because they have no reason to use it.

It would be much more appropriate if the feature was introduced after the user placed an order, or even sometime after the order placement so that they can see if it is arriving on time or not.

And the second part is how you’re introducing this feature.

The golden rule of announcing features the right way: DO NOT annoy your users!

Would you think a pop-up that covers the whole screen saying “HELLO, CHECK OUT OUR NEW FEATURE!” would harm your UX?

Definitely.

So don’t do that, or anything similar. Instead, I’ll recommend using in-app messages which are proven to increase feature adoption.

Let’s work it on an example:

Plandisc is a circular yearly planning tool that gives you an overview of your entire year at one glance. Sounds cool, right?

They didn’t have much problem with getting the core features used, since they’ve introduced this in their onboarding.

But they had a hard time getting the users to try out a new feature, let alone getting it adopted by them.

So they’ve created a flashy hotspot that displayed an in-app message. 

When hovered over with UserGuiding (a no-code tool for creating and rolling out in-app messages), 

they’ve experienced a 15% increase in the adoption of this new feature, in just 1 week.

We actually have an article where we analyze how they’ve pulled this off and managed to increase their retention with UserGuiding:

Read the full story.

In-app marketing is really crucial in many aspects. 

Reading our “How to announce Product Updates (emails and in-app announcement)” and “How to promote discounts in-app” articles, you will have a much better understanding of the right way of announcing features.

#3 Analyze your feature adoption rates

This is the gold mine where you extract all the valuables to increase your feature adoption rates.

Unlike what you may hope, it is quite likely that you see some of your features don’t get ever used. 

Many features of products get lost before even reaching any users. 

Besides, some features may not even be reaching the target users, and therefore not being adopted by them.

The data from the analysis of feature adoption rates can be an excellent way for you to comprehend the interaction between your users and your product’s features.

 I recommend you do regular checks of the adoption rates to see the changes to make a trustworthy design plan. 

#4 Expectations vs. Reality

With the help of all the data that you collect on users’ responses to your features, you should check your initial expectations and the outcome of the data.

Do you see that you are on the right path?

The incompatibility between your initial expectations and proven reality can show how much you know your audience and their habits.  

Considering your initial target of users and who uses your product is a perfect opportunity to go through some of your features and make adjustments accordingly. 

Some features may appeal to only a specific group of users and some may not. 

Alter or build upon your expectations to develop more efficient strategies for increasing feature adoption rates.

#5 Provide a better UX

It is for sure that simplicity and practicality attract people; this is definitely what they expect from many businesses.

On their way to your new feature, users should not be encountering any difficulties or confusion.  

Quality visual designs provide them with a quick introduction of the feature and a good decision process for whether to use it or not. 

You should also definitely consider putting a ‘feature demo’ in your app’s main menu.

#6 Be accessible when your users need you 

Every feedback point can improve your product’s usage.

If your users know that they can reach you any time during their journey with your product, you will see that your adoption rates will increase and users feel more related to your business.

As is the case with any other feature, feedback points must be in the foreground.

Although it is not easy to reach every user for feedback, any data you can get is a treasure for you. 

You should make your users sure that those comments written by them are not ignored in any ways.  

#7 Improve yourself continuously

Launching a new feature is not near the end of the efforts.

You are expected to improve and optimize a feature taking the analysis of feature adoption rates and feedbacks into regard. 

Make sure that you know about the expectation and behavior of your users and serve to their needs and desires accordingly.

With the help of a quality feedback system, you can improve UX, and also analyze the difference between what your users expect and what your product’s features offer. 

This is also an excellent way to know your target audience and reflect the knowledge on your product.

Even the worst comments or feedback are a great opportunity for you to be able to improve yourself.

Best Feature Adoption Strategies in 2021

In order to build the best feature adoption strategy, you need to focus on these three key points:

  • Usability 
  • Accessibility
  • Feasibility

Taking these three key points into consideration, you realize that,

feature adoption starts with a good user onboarding process and goes on with a good user onboarding process.

best feature adoption strategies

I mean that onboarding is not a process that you only educate users on how to use your product and leave them on their own afterward.

You need to constantly engage with users during their journey.

Engaging with your users, you aim to educate your users about a feature of your product and encourage them to make use of it,

And in return, you aim to collect data and feedback so that you can increase the usability, accessibility, and feasibility of a feature of your product.

How can you constantly engage with your users?

1- Interactive guides

interactive guide example from UserGuiding

Interactive guides help you engage with your users at any desired moment of their journey. 

Interactive guides are much better than other methods to help users adopt features.

They are time-saving and they can educate users on point and help them learn by actually going through the processes instead of watching or reading.

The fact that you can use these guides time-sensitively helps you educate your users most efficiently. 

Also,

By personalizing these guides, you will be better able to connect with your users and help them better relate to your product.

2- Tooltips

tooltip example from UserGuiding

Tooltips help you highlight elements that you think will be most useful to your users.

Your users will not have to worry about finding their way through your products.

Thanks to tooltips, your guide will be the helping hand of your users.

3- Hotspots

plandisc hotspot example

Hotspots are crucial for providing information about the elements of your product. 

When your users demand information about the elements of your product, they shouldn’t go somewhere else.

You should provide the necessary information right at where users would need it, namely, right next to that specific element of your product.

3- Banners

banner example

Banners help increase the visibility of the features of your products and updates. 

They are the perfect way to engage with your users.

Since they are targeted, you can engage with any desired user during the most relevant points of their journeys.

A well-designed banner is effectively attractive for users, and what is attractive will accordingly encourage users to take action to adopt the features of your product.

4- Walkthrough/Announcement Videos

video guide for product features
https://www.wyzowl.com/onboarding-users-with-video/

Walkthrough videos are vital in helping your users better visualize and understand the processes. 

Reading texts can be time-consuming and demotivating for some users.

Thanks to walkthrough videos, you do not only help users better understand processes by helping them visualize but also help them save time.

Via walkthrough/announcement videos, you can help users adopt a feature much easier by walking them through the process of feature adoption step by step.

5- Emails

feature announcement via email

The key to engage with your users via email is that you need to present brief and clear information. 

Emails can have an undesired effect once you bombard users with unnecessary information.

You should bundle up the information with respect to its relevance and explain features clearly and briefly. 

When your users find the necessary information in your emails, they will begin to take them into consideration and realize that you are trying to present useful information.

This way they will be encouraged to take a look at your emails, unlike many other emails that they get from hundreds of other businesses.

Once you shine among all the unnecessary emails, you will see that emails will turn into one of the best mediums to engage with your users.

What is the takeaway from what I’ve tried to explain?

The easier you make it for your users to make use of your product, the more likely you will provide a good onboarding experience and increase feature adoption rates.

It is not always easy to constantly engage with your users and it can be a huge cost for your customer’s support.

What you need in this case is a tool that turns into your human touch and helps you constantly engage with your users during each and every step of their journey.

Well, UserGuiding is that tool that you are looking for.

And I will talk about the reason why later in the article.

Feature Adoption Metrics and KPIs to Measure Success

feature adoption metrics and kpis

Let’s begin with distinguishing engagement rates from adoption rates.

Engagement rates show how much your users are involved with your product

Whereas, 

Adoption rates show how much new usage takes place. 

It either shows the rate of new features that are used by your existing users or the rate of new users who begin to use your existing features.

Here are some feature adoption metrics:

1- Adoption rate

Adoption rate is the percentage of new users that use a feature. 

Formula: Adoption rate= number of new users / total number of users.

For example, let’s say you have 100 users in total and 15 of those are new users. 

In this case, by dividing the number of your total users by your new users (100/15), your adoption rate is 15%.

2- Time-to-first key action

This metric is one of the most important ones that you should take into consideration. 

Keep in mind that the more time your users spend on adopting a feature, the harder it is to adopt.

The time-to-first key action metric shows how fast your users adopt a feature.

In other words, it tells you how much time your users spend without adopting a feature.

3- Percentage of daily/monthly active users

This is a very good metric as it shows you success in a time frame. 

This way, you will know what you have done better or what has changed in that specific time frame.

Formula: Total number of users / daily/monthly active users.

4- Average time spent using the feature

This metric, also known as the breadth of use, helps you better understand how much your users are utilizing a feature and how different adoption levels look like.

Looking at this metric, and looking at the less used feature, you can see how long it takes for users to quit trying to adopt a feature.

This way, you can also learn about the moment when your users stop trying to adopt a feature.

It will help you focus on making changes and fixing what is discouraging your users at that specific moment of adopting a feature.

5- Feedback

I know it’s common sense, yet I believe that I should be the one to remind you that you need to constantly collect feedback from users.

Feedback is among the top indicators of the success or failure of product adoption.

Collecting feedback will help you understand the needs and problems of your users and accordingly make adjustments to satisfy the needs and fix the problems.

The better you do this, the more your will increase your adoption rates.

Best Tools to Drive Your Feature Adoption

1- UserGuiding – Tooltips, Hotspots, Interactive Guides without coding

UserGuiding feature adoption tool

UserGuiding is a no-code digital adoption product that helps you provide better in-app experiences.

I said earlier in the article that UserGuiding is the tool that you are looking for to be able to constantly engage with your users in the most effective way. The reason why I said this is that UserGuiding is among the top quality tools that can help you achieve increasing product adoption rates.

Apart from its quality, UserGuiding is:

  • Much more affordable compared to its alternatives
  • An easy to use no-code user onboarding software
  • Providing an excellent customer experience and support

With UserGuiding, you can create:

  • interactive product walkthroughs,
  • onboarding checklists,
  • hotspots,
  • feature highlights,
  • NPS surveys,
  • and interactive help centers easily.

This allows you to train your users in an automated fashion. Also, whenever there is a new feature or an update, you can change your onboarding elements with a few clicks.

Earlier in the article, I put forward that increasing adoption rates is about user onboarding and user onboarding is about accompanying your users through each and every step of their journey.

UserGuiding will help you with the best abilities to engage with your users through each and every step of the onboarding process.

With personalized onboarding experiences, your users will much more easily understand and be educated about your tools and features.

If you also want to increase feature adoption in the most efficient way, you should start using UserGuiding!

2- Intercom – Feature Adoption through Email Announcement

Intercom feature adoption tool

Intercom is among the most widely used customer support and service tools.

I explained the importance of emails in engaging with your users throughout the article.

In accordance with my explanations, I can suggest that Intercom is a perfect tool to engage with your users via email.

When used in the right way, Intercom is also among the tools that can help you increase your adoption rates.

Intercom can assist you to achieve a lot by making it possible for you to offer support solutions, automate onboarding emails in the most engaging way.

3- Wyzowl – Feature Announcement Videos

wyzowl feature adoption

Wyzowl, as an animated video agency, also specializes in explainer videos that illustrate your product and your features.

If your features need more showing than doing, you can opt for Wyzowl’s explainer videos instead of interactive elements.

You can also combine Wyzowl’s explainer videos and interactive elements to create a more complete feature adoption journey.

4- Shepherd.js – Open Source Product Tours and Feature Highlights

Shepherd feature adoption tool

Shepherd is a free way of improving your feature adoption rates.

It is a Javascript library that helps you guide your users through your product.

Thanks to Shepherd, you are able to collaborate with developers and designers to create your own interactive guides.

You can customize your guides in the most desired way through Shepherd.

Unlike third-party tools, Shepherd requires additional design and development input.

In this regard, Shepherd can be a good solution for small businesses without a solid budget.

Conclusion

Throughout the whole article, I wanted to explain what feature adoption is but most importantly how you can increase feature adoption. 

When you know that feature adoption is highly related to a good onboarding experience, you will also realize that feature adoption can be increased by walking with the user hand by hand through their experiences. 

If I am to summarize shortly,

  • Increase the value of features.
  • Engage with your users in the best way possible and announce features in the most attractive and comprehensible way.
  • Explain the benefits of the feature.
  • Guide your users through their journey and help them adopt the feature step by step.
  • Analyze data such as adoption rates, percentage of daily/monthly active users, and average time spent using the feature.
  • Constantly collect feedback from users.
  • Be ready to make adjustments any time.

When you follow these steps, it is highly likely that you will achieve success in product adoption.

Don’t forget! 

Going through each of these steps successfully is as important as having a quality product

Frequently Asked Questions


How do you drive feature adoption?

Start with announcing features the right way. Then, explain the benefits of the feature and how users can make use of it. Guide your users through the feature and help them make use of it. Provide better UX. Finally, constantly analyze feature adoption rates and take user feedback into consideration so that you can make adjustments when needed.


How do you measure the success of a feature?

There are a couple of metrics that you can use to measure the success of a feature. Some of those metrics are “adoption rate, product adoption rate, time-to-first key action, percentage of daily/monthly active users”. Also, keep in mind that postive feedback is one of the strongest indicators of the success of a feature. So, you should put some more emphasis on user feedback.


What is the quickest way to improve feature adoption?

It all starts with coming up with a useful feature. When you believe that you have a useful feature that the users will like to benefit from, you should focus on how you announce that feature to the users. After announcing the feature in the right way, you should guide your users through their way to adopt the feature. In other words, explain and guide your users how they can benefit from the feature.

what is feature adoption

Serhat Erdem

Serhat is the Creative Content Writer of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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