How to Drive Feature Adoption in SaaS – 11 Strategies
After tirelessly working on a new release, the next step is to drive feature adoption and ensure the intended users enjoy using it.
This article shows you the right strategies to implement for feature adoption.
- Feature adoption happens when users integrate specific features of your tool into their workflows and become habitual users.
- Feature discovery focuses on making users aware of new or underused features. On the other hand, feature adoption ensures users start using the feature successfully to solve their problems.
- There are four feature adoption stages: exposed, activated, used, and used again.
- Key metrics to measure feature adoption: activation rate, feature adoption rate, breadth of adoption, depth of adoption, and time to adopt.
Strategies to drive better feature adoption:
- Use welcome screens to personalize the onboarding for new users.
- Encourage users to explore key features with onboarding checklists.
- Launch interactive walkthroughs to improve feature adoption.
- Increase the MAU of key features with in-app guidance.
- Provide self-service support to drive customer success.
- Invite users to one-on-one webinars when they fail to adopt a feature.
- Create an omnichannel strategy for announcing new features.
- Segment your users and target in-app communications about new features.
- Use modals to overcome feature blindness and drive new feature discovery.
- Announce new features to existing users with banners.
- Collect user feedback on a particular feature and improve it accordingly.
- Userpilot is a product growth platform that can help you improve feature adoption with contextual in-app experiences.
- Book a demo with our team to learn more about how Userpilot can help you.
What is feature adoption?
Feature adoption happens when users integrate specific features of your tool into their workflows and become habitual users.
Why does feature adoption matter? Adoption is critical to retention and overall SaaS growth. Only users that consistently derive value from your tool will stick around.
Feature adoption vs feature discovery
They may appear similar, but feature adoption and discovery require two different product adoption strategies.
Feature discovery focuses on making users aware of new or underused features. On the other hand, feature adoption is concerned with ensuring users start using a feature repeatedly to solve their problems.
Both tactics are complementary.
Prompt feature discovery to highlight your feature and sell users on its benefits. Then use feature adoption tactics to ensure users don’t stop at knowing the feature exists but repeatedly use and derive value from it.
What are the stages of the feature adoption funnel?
Users go through four primary stages before they fully adopt a feature. First, they get Exposed to the feature, then Activation happens, and they use the feature for the first time to see how it works. They use it again and again, fully adopting it.
Let’s explain that in more detail using the image below:
1. Exposed: The only thing that happens here is awareness. Users learn about the new or existing feature by stumbling on it or through in-app messaging — pop-ups, modals, etc.
2. Activated: This is the stage where users take some action to enable the feature. This could mean clicking a button, entering some information, or completing a tutorial.
3. Used: Here, users try out the feature to see how it works and the value they can derive.
It’s important to note the difference between activation and first usage can be blurred in some features. For example, imagine you newly introduced an A/B testing feature to your email marketing tool.
To prompt activation, you’ll ask users to create different email variations and click on the A/B testing button. As soon as the email campaign is activated, the system begins sending the variations to different audience segments, collecting data to determine the most effective version.
4. Used again: This is the final stage and where you know if your feature is sticky or if users don’t have a need for it.
Keep a record of the percentage of users that transition through all four stages. That way, you can look at the data at any point and know where drop-offs happen, then probe further to understand why.
Key feature adoption metrics to track
The right metrics will help you measure user behavior around your features. The data obtained can be used to increase adoption or understand why users may not be interested in the feature.
Below are key feature adoption metrics to track:
- Activation rate: This measures the percentage of users that have completed the key activation steps for the feature. For most features, this includes completing the onboarding steps and using the feature at least once.
- Feature adoption rate: This calculates the number of users that have been consistently using your feature over a specific period. It’s a broad metric that gives you a bird’s eye view of what’s happening. To get into the details, you need to track the breadth and depth of adoption.
- The breadth of adoption: This refers to the proportion of your entire user base that has adopted the feature. It helps you understand how widely the feature has been embraced across different segments of users. A broad adoption suggests that the feature is relevant to a wide audience and meets diverse needs.
- Depth of adoption: This metric goes deeper by measuring how extensively users are utilizing the feature. It looks at factors like the frequency of use, the range of actions taken within the feature, and the level of integration into users’ workflows.
- Time to adopt: This tracks how long it takes a user to start using the feature after discovering it. Tracking this metric can give you valuable insights into issues like relevance, effectiveness, UI/UX issues, onboarding mistakes, and the like.
11 Strategies to drive feature adoption for new and existing customers
In this section of the article, we will unpack strategies designed to help you drive feature adoption at every stage of the funnel.
Let’s dive in!
Use welcome screens to personalize the onboarding for new users
If you begin your onboarding by introducing random features, there’s a good chance some customers won’t engage because it’s not tailored to their needs.
Rather than second-guess it, use a welcome survey to collect JTBD data and trigger customized onboarding flows. This approach ensures you avoid overwhelming users and drive adoption for relevant features.
Encourage users to explore key features with onboarding checklists
Checklists help to drive quick activation and adoption.
This happens because they leverage the Zeigarnik effect—a psychological phenomenon where people tend to remember and feel a sense of discomfort about uncompleted or interrupted tasks.
Create a checklist of 3-4 relevant features and use a progress bar to further motivate action.
Launch interactive walkthroughs to improve feature adoption
You can pair your checklists with interactive walkthroughs to improve the user experience.
The checklist will remind them of the features to explore, while the interactive walkthrough gets triggered each time users click a feature for the first time.
Interactive walkthroughs work well for two reasons:
First is that they’re highly contextual. The user only receives further guidance after they’ve acted on the previous one.
The second reason is that they reduce friction in the onboarding process as users aren’t left to figure out the feature on their own.
Increase monthly active users of key features with in-app guidance
Never leave users stranded. Implement UI elements like tooltips, hotspots, modals, etc., to consistently provide guidance and help users derive maximum value from your features.
Grammarly’s interface is populated with hotspots for every feature.
Once clicked, a tooltip appears, explaining the feature. This promotes engagement and ensures users aren’t left wondering what a feature does.
Provide self-service support to drive customer success
Unless heavily invested, some users would rather ignore a feature they can’t figure out than contact support about it.
Even invested users don’t like to contact support, so how about making it easy for everyone by having a self-serve support center?
Fill this dedicated portal with FAQs regarding features (harnessed from customer support interactions), video tutorials users can play in-app, help docs, etc.
Implementing this strategy enables users to find quick answers to their feature-related questions. It eliminates friction and improves the customer experience.
Invite users to one-on-one webinars when they fail to adopt a feature
Regularly track product usage and note users that engage with a feature but don’t adopt it.
Segment these users and contextually invite them to on-demand webinars that explain the feature in question. You can use a slideout or modal for the invite.
Keep the webinar recordings on your website or resource center so users can access them anytime.
Create an omnichannel new feature announcement strategy
A quiet launch is one of the common reasons for low adoption.
Your customers will be more motivated to try out a new feature if they keep seeing it everywhere. That’s not to mention an omnichannel new feature announcement strategy will pull on potential customers.
Here’s a list of some channels to use:
Segment your users and target in-app communications about new features
Not all new features are relevant to all users and their use cases. To drive feature adoption, introduce users only to product features they need.
Use modals to overcome feature blindness and drive new feature discovery
Feature blindness happens when users form habits around your product and stick to them, not noticing when there are new features.
It’s your responsibility to help users realize new updates. You can do that through modals—they’re big and attention-grabbing.
However, don’t just tell users there’s a new feature; quickly highlight its benefits to make users want to check it out.
Announce new features to existing users with banners
A notification banner is a small bar that appears at the top of your website or app, used for quick announcements or to prompt surveys.
Banners are great for subtly driving new feature discovery. Unlike modals and slideouts, they don’t unnecessarily interrupt the user’s workflow.
To make it work well, keep your text short and in a single line. Also, ensure to add a CTA that leads the user to explore your new feature.
Lastly, make your banners dismissible.
Collect user feedback on a particular feature and improve it accordingly
After launching a new feature, conduct a quick feedback survey on usability and overall satisfaction.
Analyze the responses and gather insights to help you improve the user experience with that specific feature.
For example, you might notice that the UI is bad or there isn’t enough guidance. By working on the complaints, more users will be happy to continue using the feature.
You can reach out to the respondents to notify them of the new changes (do this with in-app messaging/email updates).
How to improve feature adoption rate with Userpilot
Userpilot is a no-code tool that SaaS companies like yours use to improve feature adoption and customer retention. Our platform has features to let you track engagement, send in-app messages, trigger and analyze surveys, etc.
Let’s see how it can help you improve adoption:
Track feature usage and engagement with heatmaps
Userpilot lets you tag as many features as you want and monitor how often different user segments engage with them.
This enables you to see whether customers have adopted a specific feature. It’s an essential step because, without this, you have no way of improving adoption.
A feature heatmap shows you at a glance the level of interaction for each feature.
Create UI patterns to drive contextual feature discovery
But that’s not the sweet part. Userpilot lets you trigger the patterns contextually—just when the user needs them. This ensures quick engagement.
Monitor how power users interact with key features and replicate the path for new users
With Userpilot, you can analyze the in-app behavior of successful users using your features. This allows you to note the features they interact with the most and any other traits they share in common.
After gathering these insights, you can replicate them on new users with similar goals and help them progress smoothly.
Feature adoption rates can change over time as user needs shift. So, the fact that you have high adoption today doesn’t mean it will remain the same always.
Regularly track your adoption rates and investigate further when you notice sudden changes in product usage.
Are you ready to start tracking product usage and building code-free experiences that drive feature adoption? Book a demo call with our team and get started!