Feature adoption is critical to the success of any SaaS product. As a PM, the last thing you want is for your users to completely ignore the features you’ve been slaving over the past few months.
But it’s actually even more important than that. You see, a lot of SaaS companies have fairly limited resources. When it comes to product development, you need to spend those resources wisely.
That means building features that your users actually use. If you can’t nail feature adoption, your product will never develop, and the company will never grow.
Why? Because improving feature adoption leads to improved customer retention, user engagement, and ultimately increases your MRR/ARR. Essentially, improving feature adoption will make your product more successful.
With that in mind, we thought we’d share 3 quick wins that you can implement right away to improve feature adoption.
Each of these will help drive users to features, both old and new, and encourage them to engage with your product.
Of course, you also need to make sure you’re measuring feature adoption accurately. This guide by Tomer Sharon has some great pointers.
If you get feature adoption right, your users will become regular active users, perhaps logging in and using your product every single day. That’s the sign of a successful SaaS product, and that’s exactly what you should be aiming for.
Let’s get started…
1 — Give Your Users A Quick Win
The first time a user logs into your product, you need to blow them away. This first impression of your product will set the standard for future interactions.
A great first impression will guarantee that your users stick around. A bad one might just be enough to make them churn. That’s how important your users’ first interaction is.
You need to offer value to your users right away if you want them to come back for more.
In other words, can you provide them with something that makes them go “Wow!”? That’s the thing that will drive engagement and ensure they stick around.
It’s often referred to as “The Aha Moment” and it describes the moment where something clicks and your users realize your product is one they couldn’t possibly do without.
If you can provide that aha moment right away, then your users will stick around. If your users stick around, then they’ll check out other areas of your product, and this will improve your feature adoption.
An Example Of A Quick Win
When you first visit Airbnb’s site, you’re greeted with a simple form. You can enter a location, choose a date, select the number of guests, and then you’re off.
As soon as you click “Search”, you’re provided with a list of relevant places for you to stay. That’s the aha moment for Airbnb.
A user sees those listings and immediately understands why it’s such a great product. All of that value is there for them to see.
Now, Airbnb could’ve taken a different route. They could’ve asked users to sign in before searching for a location.
They could’ve used an even more irritating (though still often used for some reason) tactic and only showed a handful of listings before making the user sign up.
In fact, that makes a lot of sense, right?
Ask for your users’ details right away to make sure you’ve got them for your records? That works, doesn’t it?
Airbnb didn’t do that. They realized that they could provide a quick win for their users. They could provide inherent value within minutes of the user’s first interaction.
That’s far more likely to make those users stick around. Not only that, but it drives those users to other features, like Airbnb Experiences. It might even prompt some users to list their own accommodation.
Essentially, in providing a quick win for their users, Airbnb are able to improve feature adoption.
How To Improve Feature Adoption With A Great First Impression
To provide your users with that aha moment, with that instant value, you really need to figure out exactly what it should be.
Why is your product so valuable? What is the one thing that your users should achieve?
So, how do you do that?
Speak to your most loyal customers, and figure out what makes them keep coming back to your product. What is it that brings them back every day?
Even better, use tracking software to monitor your users’ behavior. Some good products for this include Mixpanel and Innertrends. Tracking software enables you to identify what your successful users do first. Knowing that is key to understanding your aha moment and driving feature adoption.
Once you know exactly what that instant value entails, make it the first interaction your users have with your product. When they log in, direct them to it immediately.
If possible, let prospective users try it out before they even sign up.
The easier it is for your users to complete the quick win and actually gain something worthwhile from your product, the more likely they are to stick around.
You can also give users a nudge in the right direction with the right onboarding.
Which brings us nicely to…
2 — Onboard Your Users Effectively
We’ve seen first-hand the powerful impact that great onboarding can have on a SaaS product.
So much so, we started Userpilot to help other SaaS companies use onboarding to drive feature adoption, increase user retention, and improve their product experience.
When done right, onboarding naturally guides your users and helps them make the most of your product. It should be non-intrusive and focus on what your users want to achieve. Most of all, it should be contextual.
In other words, you need to show the right message to the right user at the right moment.
Whereas traditional onboarding involved set walkthroughs and product guides, contextual onboarding utilizes triggers and adapts the onboarding to the user.
This level of personalization tailors the product experience to each individual user, making them more likely to engage with your product.
This means it’s an invaluable way of driving users to certain parts of your product, and therefore improving feature adoption.
An Example Of Onboarding
Instagram understands that a lot of its users will create an account and then simply browse through photos that other people have posted.
While that’s a major part of their product offering, it isn’t necessarily going to keep users coming back. Plus, if every user only wanted to look at photos, then there’d be no photos to look at in the first place, right?
So, for Instagram, it’s really important that they entice their users to post a photo of their own. This is the feature that they want users to adopt as soon as possible.
The aha moment for Instagram is when you post a photo and start receiving feedback in the form of likes and comments. You think, “Woah, people like my photo! This is great!” That’s what keeps you engaged with Instagram.
Instagram uses a clever form of onboarding to encourage feature adoption. When you first log in to the app, you see this empty state screen:
It’s your profile, empty and dull.
There’s a box that tells you to get started and post your first content, with a link that enables you to post your first photo or video.
This onboarding is contextual. The user is looking at their blank profile and is hopefully wondering how to make it less dull. Instagram simply points you in the right direction with a subtle, but effective, call to action.
This helps improve feature adoption and leads users to experiencing their aha moment.
How To Improve Feature Adoption With Contextual Onboarding
Contextual onboarding requires you to understand what your users are trying to achieve with your product.
Generally, products will have a couple of major solutions to pain points. These are the reasons why your users are there in the first place.
Your onboarding needs to do two things.
First, it needs to guide your user to the relevant feature. This helps improve feature discovery. It’s what prompts your user to take the first step towards feature adoption.
To do this, you need to show your users how to access the feature.
A common method is to draw attention to the link in some way. In the example below, ProfitWell place a red marker on the feature they want you to try out. This catches your eye and entices you to click through.
In this next example, Google show you a brief animation, explaining exactly what you should do. This grabs your attention, and teaches you how to use it.
The second thing your onboarding should do is educate the user. It’s no good drawing your user to a feature only for them to stop using it because they don’t know how.
You can teach them using tooltips, product walkthroughs, or checklists. The best way to teach the user is by making them do it themselves, in a guided walkthrough. This way they learn at the same time as they gain value from your product.
Your onboarding should also aim to sell the benefits of the feature you want your users to adopt. If you have a CTA pointing them in a certain direction, then tell them why they should click it.
Of course, you can also sell the benefits outside of the product too…
3 — Market Your New Features
At Userpilot, we’re huge proponents of Product-Led Growth (PLG). PLG essentially means taking a product-centric approach to everything you do. Ultimately, it leads to your product marketing and selling itself.
A huge part of PLG is product marketing. This is a subsection of marketing in which you advertise particular features of your product. Commonly, this is part of an overall marketing strategy to drive sign-ups and to turn prospects into customers.
It can, however, also be used to drive feature adoption.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. One is to have a changelog in your product. Whenever you add a new feature or update, you mention it in your changelog.
This way you can draw your users’ attention to your changelog. They can browse through any new features and see if any would be useful to them.
Another way is through more traditional marketing approaches, such as landing pages, blog posts, and emails.
In reality, a mix of these different methods will yield the best results and improve feature adoption.
An Example Of Product Marketing
When it comes to product marketing, the folks at Drift know their stuff. Like us, they’re all about PLG, and this shines through in their marketing material.
For starters, they utilize their sign-in pages to show off some of their features.
Here, the sign-in form only takes up about a quarter of the screen. The rest is devoted to an advert for their “Calendar Seats” feature.
It explains what the feature does, shows some screenshots, and explains why you should care. It then provides a CTA for you to learn more if you’re interested.
By showing you this feature right as you’re about to sign in, they’re prompting you to go and check it out.
Once you’re in the product, Drift’s changelog offers a great way of educating users about new features.
They use images and gifs of their features to show users exactly how they work. They also provide brief descriptions to explain the benefits of using the feature.
Both of these examples show how Drift use great product marketing to drive feature adoption.
How To Improve Feature Adoption With Product Marketing
Chances are, you already do some product marketing to a certain extent. After all, it’s a super effective way of introducing prospects to your product.
What you might not be doing is using product marketing on your existing users. That’s only natural. They’re your customers now, so why would you market to them?
But, as you’ve seen, product marketing isn’t just about marketing your overall product. It’s also about highlighting particular features of your product. This makes it a great tool for improving feature adoption.
The first thing you should do is think about where your users go. In the example I showed you, Drift realized that their users always go to the sign-up page. So they marketed to them there.
If you have a sign-up page, then consider creating adverts for the features you want to drive your users to. Remember to sell the benefits of the feature if you really want your users to pay attention.
Inside your product, you should consider creating a changelog. Every time you release a new feature that you want your users to try out, you can post it in your changelog.
If you want to make sure your users actually see the changelog, you could consider drawing their attention to it.
Slack offers a great example of this, showing a little gift icon whenever a new feature is added to the changelog. This catches your eye and entices you to click through and see what the update is.
If you do decide to implement a changelog, the key thing is to keep updating it. Otherwise it looks like you aren’t developing your product at all, and that will turn users away.
Feature adoption is really important for the longevity of your SaaS product. If your users don’t use the features you build, then overall engagement drops. Eventually, those users will go elsewhere. You need to give them a reason to stick around.
There are a few quick wins that you can implement right now to start improving feature adoption.
Giving your users a quick win. — Providing them with value right away means they’ll experience that aha moment and stick around. Focus on the first interaction your users have with your product, and make it incredible.
Onboarding your users effectively. — Contextual onboarding means you help your user achieve what they want to achieve. You can improve feature adoption by highlighting particular features inside your product, or even using animation to show users what to do.
Marketing your product’s features. — Product marketing is crucial for any SaaS business, but it shouldn’t stop when your prospects convert. Market new features to your users on your sign-up page, and by creating a changelog in your product. Focus on the benefits.
We hope this helps you understand how you can implement a few changes and start improving feature adoption right away.
Userpilot can help you use contextual onboarding to drive feature adoption in your SaaS product. Why not book a demo and get started today?
About the Author
Joe is a UX and content writer, with several years of experience working with SaaS startups. He’s been working with SaaS startups that are focused towards product management and customer success for the past couple of years.