A Guide to Product Adoption: Everything you need to know

What’s your purpose when creating a product?

A) creating the most beautiful product that solves users’ every problem,

or B) creating a product that users actually use in their daily lives.

I think we both know your answer, and I think you are here because you want to achieve B.

Product adoption refers to the process that results in (if successful) a loyal user that loves and uses your product regularly.

Interested? You are in the right place!

In this in-depth guide, I’ll try to cover everything related to product adoption by answering these questions:

Sounds good?

Let’s start with the definition of product adoption:

What is product adoption?

Product adoption, by definition, is a process by which customers hear about a new product or a service and become recurring users of it.

It is a crucial aspect of customer health and plays a primary role in customer success.

Why should it be important to you?

Because increasing product adoption encourages your customers to detect new items and elements.

And also, your customers can discover new features of an existing product.

Plus, it enables them to become long-term users.

For the most successful companies, higher adoption is indispensable for higher revenue.

Especially, SaaS start-ups are highly familiar with the term of product adoption. Because they continue to struggle with low retention rates, users not coming back after signing up and always looking for a solution to keep their users for a long time to increase customer lifetime value.

A SaaS business has to sell the same product to the same user every-month. It sounds like a curse, doesn’t it?

But product adoption is the best friend of a SaaS business.

Any effort made to improve product adoption can increase the average lifetime value and the conversion rate of the trial to the subscribed user and free to paying users.

Amazing, like a swiss knife for product teams, isn’t it?

But you can’t improve what you can’t measure, so how can you understand how good your product adoption is?

how to measure product adoption

How to measure product adoption

How well is product adoption working in your company?

Great?

Pretty bad?

You have no idea?

Most software people don’t have an idea too, and it’s okay.

Because measuring product adoption is not that easy. You can’t even calculate it directly.

You will need to track various metrics to get an understanding of your product adoption. It’s a complicated and difficult journey, but it has a great pay-off.

Let’s see the metrics you need for getting a hold of your product adoption:

Product Adoption Metrics

There are 3 metrics that will help you know where you are with the product adoption situation.

Here are the user adoption metrics you need to calculate your adoption rate:

1- Adoption Rate:

It is the percentage of new users to all users, whether it is for a product or a specific feature.

number of new users x 100 / number of total users

For example, if you have 22 new users this month and the number of total users is 200: Your adoption rate is 22/200 x 100 = % 11. It can be calculated on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

2- Time-to-first key action:

The average time it takes a new customer to use an existing feature, or an existing customer to use a new feature for the first time.

3- Percentage of users who performed the core action for the first time:

The name of this metric clearly reveals its definition. It is the percentage of customers who have performed a core feature for the first time in a given period of time.

This core action can be your “Aha!” moment(read more).

To monitor and measure these metrics, you can employ tools which are able to review the new user onboarding funnel to analyze the steps in which users are having trouble with.

Analytics tools such as Mixpanel, Amplitude, Woopra, etc are great tools to measure product adoption with customizable funnels and lots of helpful resources.

Here’s more on Product Analytics.

Product Adoption Stages

Every user respectively goes through the 5 stages of product adoption no matter what kind of product it is.

Let’s see what each stage is about and some tips to improve them.

1 – Awareness (Introduction Stage): 

In the first stage of the new product adoption process, potential customers enter your website to know about a product but they don’t have sufficient knowledge about it yet.

Teaching Customers can be helpful: Prospects may not be aware of the existence or importance of a certain problem. On the other hand, customers may realize the problem but don’t know the solution. Educating customers about either the problem or the solution can help provide a strong awareness.

An important step is making a product more recognizable and making customers be aware of it. Bringing new and differentiated features, low price, sales, proposed quality into the forefront with a smooth onboarding process can be very helpful in this stage.

 2 – Interest (Information-gathering Stage):                                       

It is the stage that customers get attracted to the product and try to have more information about it.

Follow the steps of your customers instantaneously and make sure you have strong customer support. Sending segmented emails will increase product adoption at this stage as well.

3 – Evaluation (Consideration Stage):

At this stage, customers determine whether a product is worth trying or not.

Help your prospects evaluate your product objectively. Make them see the aspects that differentiate from alternatives to it.

4 – Trial (Sampling Stage):

Users try your product to see how efficient the product is for compensating customers’ needs. It can be either the first purchase or free trial period.

Give free trials and a money-back guarantee to ensure your product is worth employing.

5- Adoption / Rejection (Buy or not Buy Stage):

Prospects determine if your SaaS product has the value and decide to adopt it or not. In the last stage of the new product adoption process, customers proceed from a cognitive state (being aware and informed) to the emotional state (liking and preference) and finally to the behavioral or conative state (deciding and purchasing).

An Example of the New Product Adoption Process from Real Life:

Let’s assume that you are walking home from a long day at work:

  1. You saw a billboard that says a new local pizza place named DeliciousPizza has opened. (Awareness)
  2. When you went home, you looked for some information on the web to know more about DeliciousPizza’s menu and prices. (Interest)
  3. You considered whether you want to try it or not. (Evaluation)
  4. You said what the hell and tried a small pizza(just to be safe). (Trial)
  5. It arrived quickly and was de-li-ci-ous so you’ve concluded that DeliciousPizza is your new go-to pizza place. (Adoption)
product adoption stages

What factors influence the adoption process of a new product?

According to Everett M. Rogers, there are 5 factors that influence the adoption of a product.

  1. Relative Advantage: Does your product offer better value than your competitor’s? If a user is already using your competitor, they will be more likely to switch if what you offer is better.
  2. Compatibility: Does your product fall in line with the characteristics of your audience? Your product should be compatible with the lifestyle of your potential users.
  3. Complexity: Is your product simple to use? Users should not have a hard time using your product.
  4. Triability: To what extent can users try your product? If not much, you might try to expand your freemium plan or free-trial period.
  5. Observability: How visible is your product to your audience? You must be present where your audience is present.

The Product Adoption Curve (diffusion of innovations theory)

Have you ever noticed that some people adopt new products or behaviors sooner than others?

In 1962, Everett M. Rogers, a professor of rural psychology developed a theory called diffusion of innovations to explain the product adoption curve.

Rogers found that individuals within any society fall into one of five different adopter groups based on how early or how late they adopt an innovation.

While explaining the product adoption curve, Rogers’ theory tells us that if you want to promote the widespread adoption of a new product, you need to market to each adopter group differently using distinct communication channels and messages.

product adoption curve

The Innovators (2.5%)

Innovators are a small but very important group because they are always the first learn about and adopt an innovation.

The Early Adopters (13.5%)

The early adopters are also a small forward-thinking group and are often highly respected as opinion leaders.

The Early Majority (34%) 

The early majority takes time to make decisions. They will observe others’ experiences and will only adopt a product once they are convinced it has real benefits and that it is the new status quo.

The Late Majority (34%)

The late majority is more resistant to change but they are very responsive to peer pressure. They want innovations to be very well tested.

Laggards (16%)

Laggards are highly unwilling to change and they also can be hard to reach with marketing campaigns. Because they often have very minimal exposure to media.

How to Increase Product Adoption

Seeing an improvement in the product adoption metrics is every product person’s dream.

If you be a nice product person, one day you can see the product adoption fairies and wish for the improvement.

Kidding.

Oh but Mert, I’m sure there is a simple tip that will skyrocket my product adoption.

No there isn’t unfortunately.

You just have to work for it! Here are 5 ways to grind for a better product adoption:

ways to improve product adoption

1- Improve your product

This is a no-brainer.

If your product is better and it offers more value, your product adoption will be improved.

Don’t know where to improve? Just ask your users.

Here’s how you can collect feedback and utilize it effectively.

Offering something better or new can be more helpful in convincing users to try and adopt your product.

2- Make your support more supportive

There will always be pain points no matter how much you fix your product.

And some of them will be a reason for churn.

Unless you are there for users everytime they experience something bad or need assistance.

Make sure that reaching out to support is easy and even easier to find on your UI. And I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you that your support representatives are friendly and knowledgeable 😉

3- Invest in a better user onboarding experience

Maybe the problem is your user onboarding.

For most low product adoption rate cases, it’s the user onboarding. It’s simple, if you can’t teach your product effectively, users can’t use it.

Therefore, you’ll need to take a thorough look at your user onboarding to see if there are any pain points, and fix them.

But how effective can you make changes in your onboarding if you’re not the one creating them, if you are dependant on the developers?

Create no-code user onboarding experiences with UserGuiding, fix your Product Adoption problems

UserGuiding is one of the easiest user onboarding tools to use, especially for those who don’t know how to code.

You can use the digital adoption platform to create interactive product tours, in-app messages, user onboarding checklists, NPS surveys, and many other UX elements.

Having the ability to easily create, maintain, and update your user onboarding experience will help you improve your product adoption yourself!

Here’s UserGuiding in action on LinkedIn (I’ve created this in 2 minutes!):

product adoption tool userguiding

4- Engage with users inside the product

Sometimes users might need a little help or a push.

Emphasis on the little, so tutorials or onboarding checklists are too much.

Whereas in-app messages are the perfect elements for the job. You can call users to a certain action, give valuable information, or gather feedback with in-app messages.

But I won’t go into more detail, because you can read all about in-app messages here.

5- Engage with users outside the product

Users might also be leaving your app and not returning to it for like, forever.

This time they might need a little push outside the product.

That is what emails are for!

And email onboarding for better product adoption is not a new concept too, there are great guidelines and examples out there.

Here’s our email onboarding article to get you started.

Conclusion

Product adoption is important, might even be the most important concept that concerns product teams.

And if you are not trying to learn about it and find ways to improve it, you are behind in the competition.

Join 2,000+ teams creating better experiences.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What are the five stages of the new product adoption curve?

The Innovators – The Early Adopters – The Early Majority – The Late Majority – Laggards. All stages are explained in our article.


What is the most efficient way to increase product adoption?

A product adoption software saves your developers’ time and your budget and permits your team to follow the product adoption process stages.


What metrics should I follow to measure the success of product adoption?

The adoption rate of the product, time-to-first key action, percentage of the users that have reached the “aha!” moment.

Mert Aktas

Mert is the Marketing Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.