Feature adoption metrics for SaaS – How to measure and improve the feature adoption rate

Feature adoption metrics for SaaS - How to measure and improve the feature adoption rate

Want to improve your feature adoption metrics but don’t know where to start?

Improving feature adoption for your SaaS product needs to be contextual. In other words, your product needs to encourage users to engage with relevant features at the right time. Tracking the right metrics will help you create a well-informed feature adoption strategy.

In this post, we’ll see what feature adoption metrics you should track and what tactics you can use to optimize your feature adoption rate.


  • Feature adoption takes place when your customers adopt your product’s features into use to gain value from them.
  • To measure feature adoption, you should use a feature adoption funnel with four stages: Exposed, Activated, Used, and Used Again.
  • The more high-valued features customers adopt, the better your product adoption and the higher your customer retention rate will be.
  • While product adoption tells you how well customers interact with your product, feature adoption provides a breakdown of what features are the most successful and what you need to improve or remove.
  • Feature adoption rate is the percentage of users who have adopted a feature to become its monthly active users.
  • Feature engagement rate measures how frequently users access a given feature.
  • Time to adapt is the time it takes for a customer to start using a feature.
  • In-app feature announcements are a great way of highlighting the benefits of new features, especially the less obvious ones.
  • Interactive walkthroughs guide the users toward making the best use of your product’s features.
  • Secondary onboarding elements like tooltips help users adopt secondary features so they can become loyal advocates.
  • Collect customer feedback to know how satisfied users are with a certain feature and act accordingly.
  • Do A/B testing in-app announcements to see what in-app experiences result in faster and higher feature adoption.

What is feature adoption in SaaS?

Feature adoption is the moment your users adopt your product’s feature(s) into use to achieve their desired goals. It happens when users find the feature(s) helpful, so they start using it regularly.

How to measure feature adoption?

Justin Butlion, the founder of Feedio and ProjectBL, developed the feature adoption funnel to help you optimize your product and boost your feature adoption rates. Here are 4 stages a customer needs to go through to adopt a specific feature.

Feature Adoption Funnel

Step 1 is “Exposed”, where we track the number of customers who know that a particular feature exists. This is because you can’t measure feature adoption without knowing how many users know that the feature exists.

This means that eventually, you’ll need to calculate your feature discovery rate:

(Number of users who came across a feature/total number of users)*100

Next comes step 2, which is “Activated”. Here, you’ll see the number of exposed customers who tried out and activated the feature.

For example, when you first joined Instagram, you might have been exposed to the “Close Friends” feature by hearing it from friends or noticing the green rings around people’s profile pictures.

Then, if you created your own “Close Friends” list, you activated. So, the activated rate for this feature is the percentage of customers who know about it and have created a list.

“Used” is step 3, where you calculate the percentage of activated customers who used this feature by posting a private story exclusively for their close friends.

When the activated rate is higher than the used rate, it suggests that you either set incorrect expectations or customers find the feature difficult to use.

Keep in mind that the activated and used stages may overlap for your product. For example, one of your product’s features could be bookmarking blog articles for later use.

So, a customer who bookmarks an article would be activating and using the feature simultaneously.

The final step in the feature adoption funnel is “Used Again”. This is where customers keep using the feature because they find value in it.

Thus, the formula for this step gives you the stickiness of a feature. It’s equal to the number of repeat users divided by the total number of users multiplied by 100.

Low repeated usage may indicate a risk of churn by showing you how dissatisfied users are with the particular feature.

Why is feature adoption important?

Feature adoption clearly indicates how much value users find in your product’s features.

If customers don’t use a certain feature, it may mean they aren’t benefiting from it or haven’t even found it yet. When customers have to pay for unused features, it lowers the perceived value of your product.

Thus, they are less likely to be inclined towards renewing their subscription next month.

The feature adoption metrics help you identify the features that customers value most. The more they value the features, the higher your user adoption is.

Users will stick around longer and might even become your brand advocates. Thus, improved feature adoption translates into improved retention and lower churn.

Product adoption vs. feature adoption

Both product adoption and feature adoption are crucial metrics for your SaaS business since they help you improve user retention.

Product adoption tells you how well customers interact with your product. On the other hand, feature adoption provides a breakdown of what features are the most successful and what you need to improve or remove.

What are feature adoption metrics?

Let’s look at the feature adoption metrics you need to track and optimize to improve your feature adoption.

  • Feature adoption rate
  • Feature engagement rate
  • Time to adapt

Feature adoption rate

Measuring feature adoption rate is key to knowing how much your existing users benefit from your product’s features. Much of your product’s value is tied to its features, making this metric an important indicator for feature utilization.

To calculate the feature adoption rate, divide the number of a feature’s monthly active users (MAU) by the number of users who logged in during a specific period and multiply the result by 100.

Feature adoption rate calculation

Feature engagement rate

This engagement metric measures how frequently your key user segments access a given feature and utilize it.

It helps you understand whether users have exhibited a particular behavior that indicates stickiness or acted in an unusual manner. Therefore, you should measure this metric regularly to discover customer needs, pain points and avoid the difficulty of feature use.

Time to adapt

This metric measures the time it takes for a customer to start using a new feature. The faster they adopt a feature, the more likely it helps them reach their goals or solve their problems.

5 effective strategies to increase the feature adoption rate

Measuring the key metrics alone is not sufficient to increase your feature adoption rate. You have to fit these metrics into your feature adoption strategy to see results. For this, you’ll need to

  • Use in-app announcements to introduce new features
  • Build interactive walkthroughs to showcase new features
  • Offer secondary onboarding to drive feature adoption
  • Collect customer feedback on features and act on it
  • Do A/B testing in-app announcements to analyze feature adoption.

Use in-app announcements to expose new features

Promoting new feature adoption relies on:

  • Making customers aware of the new feature
  • Making sure they realize the value it has to offer
  • Encouraging them to try it out and adopt it.

In-app feature announcements are very useful to introduce customers to a new feature. As opposed to emails that can be left unopened or easily missed, in-app announcements are more contextual.

You can use in-app modals to make feature announcements and explain how they can help your customers. But be sure not to overuse the full-screen modals, i.e., do not force users to engage. This can backfire, if not used wisely.

For instance, when you want to introduce a core feature for the first time, you can use full-screen pop-up modals to provide only all the relevant information to users. Here is Asana’s example.

Slack: New feature announcement

Your customers will use each feature in varying ways, and all of them will not have use for every feature. Therefore, to make your features more relevant to every customer, you need to segment them based on user personas. This will allow you to personalize your in-app message to specific customer needs.

Userpilot offers robust segmentation capability that includes NPS score, demographics, user activity, and even in-app behavior via feature tags and custom events.

Want to build in-app feature announcements and show them to the relevant segment of users? Get a Userpilot demo and see how easy it is to do it without any coding.

Build interactive walkthroughs to showcase new features

Interactive walkthroughs are guides that walk customers through different features of your product. They help new users who have just signed up get value faster so that they don’t stop engaging with it.

However, your initial onboarding isn’t enough to drive feature adoption. You need onboarding at different stages of the user journey to do that.

They are perfect for secondary onboarding to help users move forward in their journey to become loyal advocates. Here, interactive walkthroughs help drive new or secondary feature adoption.

To ensure your customers discover and engage with the most relevant features, segment your users and create personalized walkthroughs based on their use cases.

Moreover, when a feature needs a good learning process, you can even use a combination of checklists and walkthroughs to educate your customers.

For example, Rocketbots used a checklist that directed customers to find relevant features and walkthroughs to demonstrate their uses. This doubled the company’s activation rate from 15% to 30%.

Below is an example of an interactive walkthrough by Kommunicate to guide users to chat widget styling.

Source: Kommunicate

Offer secondary onboarding to drive feature adoption

As mentioned before, secondary onboarding is critical to driving users forward in their journey to becoming brand advocates.

Some common secondary onboarding tools are welcome screens, signup flows, tooltips, onboarding emails, interactive walkthroughs, checklists, and webinars.

Here’s an example of a tooltip by Loom.

Source: Loom

Tooltips are short descriptions linked to an element of your product. They explain to customers how a specific feature works, especially when those features may be hard to use or unfamiliar.

You can use tooltips to build an onboarding flow to make sure customers progress through your walkthroughs in the smoothest way possible. Such tooltips become visible based on the customers’ in-app activities over time.

These in-app actions are called custom events. Your development team needs to define these events before passing them to the onboarding platform as needed.

Userpilot allows you to build tooltips in two ways:

  • as a standalone tooltip
  • as part of an experience flow
Native tooltips feature in Userpilot

The standalone tooltip is also called a native tooltip since it becomes a part of the native UI. Customers don’t have to cross any complicated experience flow before it’s displayed. Thus, you can use them to showcase elements that are quite straightforward to use and even those that are less obvious.

Collect customer feedback on features and act on it

It’s critical that you collect user feedback after launching a new feature. To this end, in-app micro surveys will help you mitigate the gap between customer expectations and what the features deliver.

These micro surveys allow you to collect detailed qualitative feedback on certain aspects of features. This provides relevant insights into what you can improve and what aspects you can promote.

In-app feature feedback micro survey, built with Userpilot. Get a demo to build it for yourself.

Moreover, along with being relevant, your features must be convenient to use and adopt.

So, you can collect user feedback from customer satisfaction surveys (CSAT) to see how customers rate their experiences with certain features. Trigger CSAT surveys when users interact with a feature and see how much value they get from it.

Do A/B testing in-app announcements to analyze feature adoption

Customer feedback lets you know how happy users are with your product’s features. Together with feedback, A/B testing will help you understand your customers better so you can develop new features accordingly.

Because different customer segments engage with a feature in different ways, you must A/B test in-app announcements to check what brings about faster and greater feature adoption rates.

A/B testing

You should always track how in-app experiences affect your feature adoption rates. When you create a tooltip or checklist, you can then A/B test various types of content such as gifs and micro-videos to check what boosts engagement more.

Goal tracking feature in Userpilot

Wrapping it up

Without feature adoption, your users won’t be able to adopt your product completely to their advantage and will churn at some point along the way.

The feature adoption metrics, together with the five strategies we’ve discussed, will help you improve user engagement with features relevant to them.

Want to enhance user experiences with your product’s features? Get a Userpilot demo and see how you can improve feature adoption.

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