7 Curated Strategies For Increasing Feature Engagement For SaaS Products In 2022

7 Curated Strategies For Increasing Feature Engagement For SaaS Products In 2021

Wondering why your shiny new features are not getting enough user engagement? After spending months building a new feature, it is such a bummer to see users not adopting it as much as you thought they would.

A product is only as good as its features.

The more features users interact with, the more value they get from the app. This leads to an increased customer retention rate. When you increase feature engagement for your SaaS, you automatically increase user engagement and feature adoption for the app in general.

In this article, we shall discuss what feature engagement is for SaaS companies, how to measure it, and the best strategies that help you to improve feature engagement for your SaaS.

Let’s begin!

TL;DR

  • Feature engagement in SaaS refers to observing user engagement and interactions with your product features to know what brings value to them. This insight helps you to make data-based decisions to improve product adoption and user experience.
  • You can measure feature engagement by tracking feature usage using a tool like Userpilot. Additionally, product usage analytics can show you how many users know the existence of a feature, how many have tested it, how many users have used the feature once, and how many used it again repeatedly. Tracking feature engagement gives you data on which features need more user engagement.
  • When you know which features need more user engagement, you can use these 7 strategies to increase feature engagement and SaaS customer engagement:
  1. Personalize your user onboarding process to showcase relevant features for each user persona.
  2. Gradually expose users to relevant secondary features in your product after primary onboarding. This is once they are engaged with the core features.
  3. Replace one-size-fits-all product tours with contextual interactive walkthroughs. They are practical, step-by-step guides that help users learn how to use a feature.
  4. Announce new features and improvements in-app focusing on relevant and contextual in-app messaging.
  5. Improve user engagement with in-app gamification to make your features more fun to use and develop more active users.
  6. Always use audience segmentation and test which in-app experience drives more feature engagement. Users don’t react to the same messaging the same way. Some will do better with a feature video while others might prefer a tooltip.
  7. Collect and act on customer feedback to improve product features and user engagement. Use micro surveys to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback. Act on the feedback to show users that you are listening to them and want to improve their product experience.

What is feature engagement in SaaS?

Feature engagement in SaaS involves observing how users engage and interact with your product’s features. This helps you understand what brings value to them and allows you to make data-driven decisions when it comes to improving product adoption and user experience.

When studying the engagement trends for your product, feature engagement gives you a deep dive into your user engagement data. It helps you zero in on the issues that affect the overall product adoption of your SaaS.

Now that we know what feature engagement means for SaaS, how do you measure it?

How to measure feature engagement in SaaS?

You cannot measure engagement if you are not tracking it. This is why the first step towards measuring feature engagement is tracking.

If you are not tracking feature engagement, you won’t know which strategies to apply to increase engagement.

The core reason for increasing user engagement for any SaaS is to increase feature adoption. Users need to go through the following 4 stages of the feature adoption funnel:

  • Exposed – Users come into contact with a feature. They know it exists even though they might not have used it.
  • Activated – Users actually test the feature.
  • Used – After testing the feature, users now go on to use the feature.
  • Used again – They have used the feature more than once, and keep using it repeatedly.
Feature adoption funnel

Product usage analytics will help you to track and measure active users at each of the steps in the feature adoption funnel as customers move toward becoming active users. There are many tools that you can use to get usage analytics including Amplitude and Heap.

As for tracking feature engagement and launching in-app experiences to increase user engagement with features, Userpilot is a robust tool for this. It lets you tag any UI element and track user engagement, all without coding.

feature tagging in Userpilot to measure user engagement
User engagement tracking with Userpilot

We now know how to measure product usage and feature adoption and how to track feature engagement. Once you measure the data and are determined to increase feature engagement for your SaaS, the following 7 strategies will provide great results:

7 of the best strategies that actually help improve feature engagement for SaaS in 2022:

#1 – Personalize your onboarding process to showcase relevant features for each user persona

The first encounter you have with a new user is right when they sign up for a free trial. In the same breath, it is also your first chance to make a good impression by welcoming the user to your app. The welcome screen is crucial for this purpose and you can use it to:

  • Welcome the new user
  • Set the right expectations on what they can do and achieve with your product
  • Get relevant information about their role and job to be done using a short micro-survey

Results from the micro-survey are the most valuable feedback the user will give you initially. This data can help you personalize their onboarding process to only show features relevant to them based on their persona and use case.

Userpilot welcome screen to increase user engagement
Userpilot welcome screen for new signups

As you personalize the onboarding process for the user, your goal is to get them to activate as quickly as possible. But you will only get active users if you can prove that the user will get their desired value from your app.

You guessed it. This is where the features come in.

For each use case and persona, showcase only the features that are relevant for users to engage so that you can speed up their time to value. This means you create interactive walkthroughs and checklists to help them achieve value and increase engagement.

Improving SaaS customer engagement in this way can help users engage with your product as they learn by doing: they learn how to use a feature by going through your checklist and taking action to make the feature do what it is supposed to do.

For example, Postfity uses this checklist below to boost user engagement as they quickly get started in the app.

Postfity checklist
Postfity checklist built in Userpilot helps to increase feature engagement for the SaaS app

By personalizing the onboarding process and using checklists to guide users through the product features, you increase feature engagement, leading to faster adoption, greater user engagement, and more active users.

#2 – Gradually expose users to relevant secondary features in your product

At the initial primary onboarding for new users, don’t bombard them with all the features or functionalities of your app. This doesn’t support customer success as it will be overwhelming for them and not every feature is going to be relevant depending on where the customer is on the user journey. For example, if you run a product analytics tool, it would not be beneficial to show a user how to download a report before showing them how they can build it.

Instead, gradually onboard users and show them relevant features in secondary, tertiary, and further onboarding. Once they pass the personalized primary onboarding, increase user engagement by showing them advanced features as they become more relevant to them in advanced onboarding.

secondary onboarding helps increase feature engagement in saas
The more features a user adopts, the more value they get and the more engaged they become.

By keeping relevance at the top of your mind while setting up the primary and secondary onboarding, you enhance customer success by showing users features that they need to use just when they need to use them. This helps to increase user engagement for these features. Consequently, feature adoption is enhanced because the user only focuses on the feature they need to get value at any point in time.

#3 – Replace one size fits all product tours with contextual interactive walkthroughs

People have a hate-hate relationship with product tours. Luckily, they don’t hide it as evidenced in these comments below.

product tours don't increase user engagement
Most people do not like product tours and instead prefer interactive walkthroughs which you can set up code-free in Userpilot by booking a demo today.

Why are product tours disliked by most people? Because they are long, boring, and not relevant to the user in any way. They dump a lot of information about the app onto the user from the moment they sign up, making it very annoying and overwhelming. Because they do not help the user to experience value, users hate them.

Fortunately, interactive walkthroughs are a better solution to increase feature engagement and get more users engaged in your SaaS.

An interactive walkthrough is a step-by-step product guide leading to users fully adopting a feature. By guiding users on how to use features to achieve their jobs and goals, you shorten the learning curve for them, getting them to the value fast. This leads to repeated usage and creates active users.

Kommunicate interactive walkthrough to increase user engagement with product features
Interactive walkthroughs help guide the user to complete actions step by step and experience the value from features

Unlike product tours, the point of interactive walkthroughs is to make sure users not only know about a feature but engage with your product to get value from it. If they can’t see the value, they won’t engage with the feature again.

In summary, interactive walkthroughs help to increase feature engagement because they:

  • Focus on the value a specific feature provides.
  • Are contextually tied to what is important and familiar to the user at that moment in the app.
  • Have clear next steps that need to be taken to use a feature to its full potential.
  • Put the user in control of their own experience, taking them one step at a time. A user finishing step 1 triggers step 2 and so forth.
  • Are optimized for usability since they are sticky, memorable, and user-friendly.

#4 – Announce new features and improvements in-app

Do not expect users to magically stumble on new features and improvements in the app. To increase user engagement with features, you have to make announcements in the app about the new features you just released. However, it is important to still remember that the feature announcements have to be relevant for the user at their particular stage in the customer journey.

To increase user engagement they also need to highlight the benefits that the user gets if they adopt the new feature.

For example, Asana highlights new product features and improvements in their UI as shown below:

New features or improvements in Asana UI highlighted to increase feature engagement SaaS
The “New!” section on Asana helps announce new features and product improvements in-app

In addition to that “New!” reporting element, Asana also uses in-app messaging to explain the benefits of the features and prompt users to try them as shown below:

Asana in-app messaging to increase feature engagement SaaS
A modal in Asana announces a new feature, explains why is important, and prompts users to try it

The “Get started” button then launches an interactive walkthrough meant to educate users on how to use the feature. At the end of the walkthroughs, the user has experienced the value of the feature. This helps to increase feature and product engagement for your SaaS.

Another example is Slack, which proves that you do not need to use big modals every time to make feature announcements in-app. In this case, Slack makes sure that the user knows about the new feature with a clear messaging that accompanies the UI element and explains what the feature does.

Slack uses in-app messaging and UI elements
A UI element in Slacks announcing a new feature and explaining why it is useful

The main lesson from the two examples above is that feature announcements made in-app and connected to the product experience with great UI/UX help users discover features faster and more contextually. This leads to better feature engagement and helps improve user engagement.

#5 – Improve feature engagement with in-app gamification

Gamification increases user engagement by adding a more playful and fun character to your app. If applied to the in-app experience, it will have a positive impact on feature engagement by using fun elements to engage users and give an incentive for them to interact with your product features.

Here are some ways you can integrate gamification in your feature adoption strategy and increase user engagement:

  • Celebrate milestones and cheer users on when they successfully complete a user onboarding flow, checklist, or interactive walkthrough.
  • Award points to users when they complete steps or actions in the app and use a leaderboard to incentivize repeated feature usage.
  • Give badges for important accomplishments (beginner, expert user, etc) in the app. For example, if someone completes their profile, they can go from the beginner to the junior pro badge.
  • Use in-app progress bars for checklists and interactive walkthroughs to motivate users to finish the steps and get to 100%.
  • Rewards users with discounts or extensions on their subscriptions if they take certain steps or perform particular actions in the app.

Asana uses gamification to celebrate a user’s task completion by displaying the flying unicorn when you complete a task. Here it is:

Asana flying unicorn when you complete a task
The flying unicorn in Asana is a gamification example that motivates users to finish more tasks.

This celebration helps boost the user’s mood and makes them want to keep using Asana and complete more tasks. By using this as a motivation, Asana makes the user stay for longer, increasing user engagement with the task features that are Asana’s core business.

#6 – Always use audience segmentation and test which in-app experience drives more feature engagement

As mentioned before, deploying random messages in the app to random users only comes off as confusing and frustrating because the messaging is not relevant or contextual. For instance, you have no business in-app messaging a user about secondary features if they are not already engaged with the core features. This only leads to less user engagement.

In-app messaging involves using UI elements and patterns like modals, tooltips, and checklists to communicate in the app. However, the success of your in-app marketing is not proportional to how many UI patterns you use but is based on the relevance of your in-app messaging.

Segmenting users helps a lot in reaching the relevant audience with the right message at the right time.

Userpilot segmentation features

For the best results, pair segmentation with A/B testing. Test different types of in-app communication and messages to see which drives the best user engagement for which audience.

Not all users react to the same type of content in the same way. For some, a short message is enough to make them want to try a new feature; for others, a micro-video might do the trick.

Without conducting an experiment, you will not know which type of messaging will drive customer engagement best for which segment of users.

Userpilot lets you easily test in-app experiences and analyze which has the highest impact on user engagement for specific features.

Test user experiences using Userpilot experiments

#7 – Collect and act on user feedback to improve product features

The best way to collect feedback in order to improve product features and user engagement is by using a micro-survey. This is a short survey you can show to customers who use your app.

In fact, you can show a micro-survey just when a user interacts with a specific feature to collect feedback about that feature only.

For example, Miro uses the micro-survey below to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback about a feature called Feed. You can see that aside from the emoji faces the user clicks to rate the feature, Miro asks them to share more thoughts on why they left a particular rating.

Miro collecting feedback to help increase feature engagement saas
Miro collecting feedback to help increase feature engagement in the SaaS app

Once the customer satisfaction survey feedback is collected, it is important to close the feedback loop by acting on the customer feedback received. For example, if a user rating for the feature was low and they stated the reason for the low rating, you can reach out to them and help them use the feature better to achieve their goals.

If you want to build surveys, adopting Userpilot as your customer engagement solution will allow you to tag the survey responses towards a common problem. For example, in the image below, 5 users were unhappy with a product because it was missing a certain feature.

tagging response in Userpilot

In order to close the feedback loop, you would message the 5 unhappy users above to let them know if the product feature is in your roadmap. If the feature is already in your product but they have not discovered its existence, you can reach out to let them know and even guide them to use it. This will lead to increased user engagement with the feature.

Conclusion

Increasing feature engagement is at the core of increased feature adoption. As a SaaS company, the number of features shipped is not important if there’s no user engagement with those features. Tracking and monitoring feature engagement provides you with insight to continue improving and releasing features that serve the needs of your users and keep customers satisfied.

Implementing the 7 strategies we have discussed above will help you increase user engagement, helping your customers to get repeated value from your features to drive feature adoption.

Would you like to start tracking and measuring feature engagement in your SaaS app today? Book a demo call with our team and get started!

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