What is Product Adoption?
Product adoption is the process by which people learn about your product or app and start using it to accomplish their goals. Product adoption is usually distinguished from acquisition—while acquisition is about bringing people to your site, adoption is all about turning those visitors into users.
Product adoption, aka user adoption, is:
The “aha moment” when users start using your product or site for what you built it to do.
The percentage of first-time users performing a certain set of behaviors
Your task—identify these behaviors!
What actions do people take that prove they’re getting value?
What’s the difference between Adoption and Acquisition?
Acquisition is about bringing people to your site.
It’s all of the ways people learn about the value of your product or app and start using it to accomplish their goals.
Adoption is about turning those visitors into users.
It’s a better predictor of long-term product metrics (like LTV, ARR, or retention) than acquisition rate, because it spans the period of time for which the user is activated and retained.
You can acquire thousands of customers, but if they never use the product, you’ll never meet your long-term goals.
Questions to help improve adoption rates for your product or feature:
How sticky is your product to new users?
Does it appeal to innovators and early adopters?
Which behaviors correlate with engagement and retention...and do users perform them?
Which pre-adoption behaviors by potential customers best predict adoption?
Which acquisition channels have the highest adoption rates?
How does the speed of adoption impact your retention rate?
Are users finding and engaging with new features?
Which appeals work best for the early majority, late majority, and the laggards?
How much do existing customers spend on your product throughout their lifecycle—and how often?
To break down the many behaviors that drive adoption, and measure product adoption metrics properly, you need a tech stack that can:
track user behavior
unite qualitative data with quantitative data
pipe that data to supporting systems
empower your product team to build improvements
test these improvements for effectiveness
turn insights into actions
This stack should include a product analytics solution that makes it possible to understand exactly which behaviors correlate with adoption.
The elements of product adoption success metrics
What exactly counts as adoption anyway?
Figuring this out can be tricky.
The “adoption event” should be the action in your product that best indicates a new customer is getting value from the product
Adoption = doing something your website or app was designed to help them do.
Pageviews are easy to track and simple to measure—but rarely indicate the value anyone is receiving.
Measure the number of people who take actions that matter in your product.
HelloSign is a product that lets users sign documents digitally.
Upon signup, a user might:
Upload a document,
Request a signature
Add a team member
Turn on an integration
Upgrade to a paid plan
Each of these actions may count as adoption.
How many times did X happen?
How often did Y occur?
Which best correlates to retention or LTV?
A team can also combine metrics from different events to see which mix best represents getting value from the product.
Useful things to track:
Conversion rate from signup to first key action taken
Time to value (TTV), or the time it takes to reach a major activation event
Whether users complete an user onboarding flow or tutorial
How closely doing so correlates with frequency of use and feature adoption
Frequency of user purchases
By comparing these patterns to cohorts with the highest retention, the product team can clearly see which adoption behaviors best predict retention.
Why increasing product adoption is critical to your business
Higher adoption rate = Larger user base
Product adoption impacts nearly every key growth metric:
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
Cost per lead
Cost per customer (CPC)
Average user MRR
This influence only grows over time!
Once you know what counts as “adoption” in your product, you can measure the gains when you increase product adoption rate.
Adoption is the key criteria for success in product & feature launches.
This makes it a top priority for product managers—even more so than retention.
Adoption is all about the first few experiences with the product.
Figure out which actions provide new users value
Get new users to repeat them soon after acquisition
Marketing success does not equal adoption success.
Simply bringing in thousands of new users doesn’t count.
They need to be doing the right things!
A slight increase in product adoption makes a big difference.
When users are successful from the start, their value begins increasing earlier.
Their value also accumulates over longer periods of time.
Strong product adoption rates means people who discover your product:
Tend to stay around longer
Spend more money
Drive predictable revenue
In order to realize adoption benefits, companies must invest in technology that drives key improvements.
How product analytics can be used to measure and improve adoption
Identify the behaviors that best predict long-term value
Launch and test improvements that encourage those behaviors
Measure the effectiveness of each change in the customer journey
Get a clear definition of what “drive product adoption” means to your team
Understand the pain points that motivate high-value customers
Uncover insights that will power your entire product adoption strategy
Product analytics is what makes all this possible!
Key areas for product improvement:
Customer onboarding Get new users oriented and finding value quickly
Product design Help active new users find key features and complete actions that drive adoption
In-product messaging and tutorials Provide clear guidance to your product for people as they start using it
Customer success workflows Make sure any roadblocks to adoption are quickly addressed and solved
Behavioral data also helps product teams learn from their customers:
plan updates to their website or platform
enhance popular features
sunset unpopular features
improve the overall user experience
Freshworks is a customer engagement platform that supports over 150,000 organizations. Here’s how they used Heap to diagnose a situation and quickly fix it!
Issue: Low feature adoption.
Data was incomplete and hard to understand without a technical background.
Access was limited to those who could write complex queries
Engineering team was overloaded with ad hoc requests.
After adopting Heap:
Teams are able to see user behavior in real time without the help of engineering.
Heap revealed that adoption and usage of the Ticket Templates feature was low.
Introducing an in-app message that explains the feature solved the problem
Heap funnels tracked which users created and applied templates after viewing the tour.
Adoption increased by 20%!
This kind of improvement can be made across every feature, having a profound impact on overall adoption rate and stickiness.
While a product analytics platform is essential to product adoption, the ideal stack includes several other solutions that help you roll out changes driven by user behavior.
The importance of tracking all events automatically
To understand exactly which behaviors drive adoption, you must be able to track them all.
Some product analytics platforms:
only allow you to manually track events and behaviors
require selecting them all in advance
need engineers to write code during implementation.
See the problem? You won’t know which actions and behaviors drive adoption before you can analyze all of them in a single place.
Heap autocapture solves this dilemma!
You install a single snippet of code, just once.
No engineering help is necessary
Heap captures 100% of your user data from the beginning
It tracks every user interaction in your site or product
You can examine anything, anytime you want.
Heap makes it easy for product teams to see the big picture and quickly start iterating on new features and functionality likely to drive adoption.
The ideal stack for increasing product adoption
Heap integrates easily with other business applications. Now every tool in your stack can help to affect user behavior and increase adoption. You’ll need to combine marketing, sales, testing, and customer success team data with product analytics to see the full picture.
Heap’s approach to product adoption is built upon:
Exploring data and testing hypotheses
Information flowing seamlessly from system to system
APIs and pre-built integrations that make it easy to share normalized data
Compatibility with apps like Marketo, Intercom, Fullstory, and more.
Heap’s three pillars of analytics are:
1. Automatic Data Capture for a complete and trustworthy dataset
Manual tracking requires advance planning and uses valuable engineering time. Autocapture is a must for getting the most use out of any product analytics tool.
2. Fully Integrated Session Replays to understand the “why” behind the “what.”
Session replays are precise recreations of what specific users did within your digital experiences, so you can add qualitative context to your quantitative data. Replays are indispensable for
Investigating important moments of friction
And most important—when the replays are available within your analytics platform, there’s no need for the added complexity of exporting data to third-party applications. With Heap your session recordings are cued to the exact moments you want to know more about.
3. A powerful data science layer that helps find insights for you.
Heap Illuminate searches your dataset to automatically spotlight the insights that lead to the biggest business results—even on untracked events.
Top Events displays how well paths with different events convert to the next step
Journey Maps compare multiple goal paths as well as the impact of optional steps in a funnel
Step Suggestions automatically surface untracked events that exhibit significant dropoff
Effort Analysis helps quantify the difficulty of steps in the journey.
Group Suggestions identify user cohorts that correlate best with outcomes
With a full understanding of your customers’ digital journeys, you can quickly improve conversion, retention, and customer delight.
And for companies who combine data from across the company in a data warehouse, Heap Connect is a managed ETL that lets teams easily pipe data into Redshift, BigQuery, or Snowflake.
Key SaaS solutions to include in your adoption stack
As you build your stack to increase adoption, here are some of the key types of tools you'll want to adopt:
Marketing automation software
timely tips on using your solution
When users read and act on the messaging in these campaigns, they are likely to find value more quickly which improves both product and feature adoption rates.
Product-led growth platforms
show notifications and customer feedback right in your product
offer guides and tours of your product that help people learn how to use it quickly.
continuously collect feedback from people already using your product
incorporate feedback from your most valuable customer segments into your roadmap
ensure users aren’t missing the features you’ve launched for them.
Testing and experimentation platforms
conduct efficient, regular testing
quickly gauge the impact of new products, features, and website changes
make it possible to focus only on tasks likely to increase adoption rate
Customer feedback tools
survey people who have already adopted your product
understand user satisfaction and take action on it easily
get the data you need to make maximum-value updates to your website or app
quickly survey many customers simultaneously, wherever they’re most likely to reply
act on responses from your most engaged customer base
Customer support solutions
segment and triage customers to reduce churn
learn from users who have already adopted your product
make changes to your roadmap that are likely to increase adoption in the future.
When all your tools work together seamlessly, you can quickly implement new features and campaigns and see their impact on product adoption.
What are the main steps for increasing product adoption?
Just getting users to sign up isn’t enough to fuel the long-term success of your company.
For consistently strong growth and customer retention, you need to:
Understand your product adoption rate
Know all of the behavioral factors contributing to it
Take action based on those insights.
Let us show you more about how Heap enables greater product adoption!
Interested in a demo of Heap’s Product Analytics platform? We’d love to chat with you!