The Ultimate Aha Moment Guide for Product Onboarding

aha moment for user activation

Are your users struggling to find value in your product ?

Simply abandoning your product even after you’ve poured endless hours into your onboarding?

It sounds like you need to find your product’s Aha! moment.

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Aha! moment in regards to product management.

You’ve probably heard it before, and you might even know what it is. If you can help your users reach that aha moment of sudden insight, then you could well end up with customers for life.

It really is that important.


  • The Aha! moment is an emotional reaction in your user, where they have a ‘sudden’ awareness of the true value of your product.
  • To find your Aha! moment, you should speak to your paying customers and find out what led them to continue using your product.
  • When it comes to guiding your users towards your Aha! moment, it’s important to personalize their user journey.
  • Use a variety of techniques, such as tooltips, checklists, and videos, to point users towards your Aha! moment.
  • You need to consistently provide your users with Aha! moments throughout their lifecycle, to ensure they stick around for good.
  • A lot of successful SaaS companies are using their product’s Aha! moment to drive product adoption.

What is an Aha! Moment?


The Story

When the Ancient Greek scholar, Archimedes, once stepped into his bath, he was amazed to see the level of the water rise.

It’s a phenomenon that we don’t even notice today, but back then it was a revelation. Archimedes realized that the displacement of water was equal to the volume of his submerged body.

Legend has it that upon discovering the water displacement, Archimedes jumped out of the bath and cried, “Eureka!”.

“Eureka!” can be roughly translated as “I found it!”. Archimedes had found the solution to something which had troubled him for a while.

Arguably, this could be one of the first, and most notable, examples of an Aha! moment.

The SaaS world’s version of “Eureka!” is the Aha! moment. It’s a moment of sudden insight that your user experiences.

Something clicks, and they immediately grasp the true value of your product.

Humans often base their judgments on emotion, and purchasing a product is no different. By eliciting a strong emotion, you’re increasing the chances of a user sticking around.

Our Definition of Aha! moment for Product Management:

“The initial Aha! moment is the moment a user realizes value in the product, or is convinced that it will be a solution for a specific pain they have.

Therefore, a good onboarding experience focuses on driving the initial Aha! by driving valuable actions related to one or two key features.

This will ultimately demonstrate the required value to the user and give them enough motivation to continue the journey of activation.

Aha! moments can be a little difficult to grasp at first, so it’s best to illustrate this with an example.


In the early days of Facebook, the Growth Team discovered something amazing.

Users who added 7 friends in their first 10 days after signing up were significantly more likely to stick around for the long-term.

They soon realized that this was Facebook’s Aha! moment. Facebook is a platform designed for sharing things with friends. Without friends, there’s no value.

This insight was instrumental to Facebook’s eventual success. They were able to focus on guiding new users towards it, by displaying prominent CTAs about adding more friends or inviting them to the platform.

As you can see from Facebook’s example, finding your Aha! moment, and then doubling-down on it, is a surefire way of growing your SaaS product.

So how exactly do you find it?

How to Find your Product Aha! Moment


Generally speaking, there are two Aha! moments for your product. One is what you think your Aha! moment is. The other is what your users think your Aha! moment is.

Sometimes these can be exactly the same. Most of the time, however, they aren’t. And it’s important to understand the differences.

Your Aha! Moment

Ultimately, you know your product better than anyone else.

As you designed your product you had an idea of the value that you were providing, and the problems you were solving.

You may have even designed your product with that in mind.

Essentially, you had an Aha! moment in your head. You had a hunch that this specific action is what would ensure success for your users.

Let’s imagine that your product is a drag-and-drop email newsletter platform. It makes it super easy to create emails in just a few clicks.

You thought about your differentiator and what made your product unique. Easy, right? It’s that you can quickly and easily make great-looking emails.

So your Aha! moment is when a user first designs an email using your innovative drag-and-drop editor.

They’ll instantly see the value, and they’ll become a life-long advocate.

However, you are not your users. If anything, you’re in too deep. You have such a thorough understanding of your product that you can’t always see the bigger picture or the psychological science behind your users’ actions.

That means you run the risk of choosing the wrong Aha! moment.

Your Users’ Aha! Moment

Your users are the reason for your product’s existence. You’re building it for them.

At the same time, they’re using it because they have a problem that needs solving.

Unless you’re way ahead of the curve, you’ve probably got a fair number of competitors. That’s just SaaS life unfortunately.

That’s why your users may not stick around if they don’t find value quickly. Though your users might not know it, they have an Aha! moment of their own.

From the point of view of psychological science, it will be a moment where users realize, “Yeah, I’m going to use this product!”

Let’s return to our drag-and-drop email builder.

If you remember, your Aha! moment was when a user first started building an email.

Here’s the thing: It turns out your users don’t care too much about the building part. Sure, it’s important, but the real reason your users tried out your product was because they wanted to send emails.

You see the difference? You focused on building, they focused on sending.

Their Aha! moment comes a little later than you expected. It comes when they send their first email through your platform.

How to Figure out Your Users’ Aha! Moment? Talk to Them


When it comes to figuring out your users’ Aha! moment, you do not need to turn to complicated behavior research methods. The most effective method is talking to them.

Now, depending on who your users are, a lot of them might not even know what an Aha! moment is, let alone what it is for your product.

Instead, you should use utilize analytical problem solving skills to gather more insights and understand how new users get that ‘sudden’ realization.

Firstly, choose your successful users. These are people who have been using your product for a while, who engage with it all the time. You need to speak to these users because they’ve clearly experienced the Aha! moment at some point. That’s why they’re still here.

You then need to get as many details as you can from them. Talk about their experience of signing up, the features they used first, at what point they decided to adopt the product.

After speaking to a number of different users, you’ll start to see a pattern emerge.

Chances are, they all had a similar moment early on where they decided they were going to keep on using your product.

That’s their Aha! moment.

Guiding users to the Aha Moment in your Product

Of course, identifying your Aha! moment is only one half of the battle.

You now need to guide your users towards your Aha! moment. The more users that experience it, the more users that stick around for a long time.

Personalize the Journey

It’s likely that you’ll have a number of different user personas. Each of these user segments will have their own user journey to product adoption. As a result, they’ll also have their own Aha! moments.

That’s why it doesn’t make sense to funnel every user down the same path. If it’s only relevant to 20% of your users, then the other customers will become churned users.

There are two ways you can segment your users to create a personalized user experience.

The first way is to have detailed analytics set up. You can use tools such as Mixpanel or Clearbit to get more insights. This will enable you to group users together based on different characteristics, such as job title or location.

The other way is to have your user select which path they want to take. This puts them in control, and means you don’t have to worry about collecting the information yourself.

How Canva Does It

In this example from Canva, new users must choose one of three options that best describes them.


Their choice will determine which templates are shown to them.

If they select “Personal”, for example, they’ll be shown templates for birthday or wedding invitations. Those who select “Work” will be shown more relevant templates, like annual reports or presentations.

Both methods have their pros and cons.

Analytics is more technical and can take time to set up, but you do end up with more data, and it’s all collected automatically.

Letting your users choose means you might end up with less data. However, it also means your users will be more heavily invested, as they’re making the decisions.

Either way, personalizing the journey for each user is crucial to them finding your Aha! moment.

Skip to the Good Bits

The more friction there is between your users and their Eureka moment, the less likely they are to ever reach it.

Friction is the word used to describe anything that might impede your user’s progress. For instance, asking a new user to fill out all their details before the pivotal moment where they see value, would count as friction. Chances are you don’t need those details until later on.

How AirBnB Does It

AirBnb realized that their sign-up form was adding unnecessary friction to the user journey. Now, you can see all of their listings before you enter any details.


Seeing all of those listings is AirBnb’s Aha! moment. By moving the sign-up process to the end, they skip to the good bit. This means more users experience the Aha! moment, get a smoother user onboarding, and hence, stick around.

How Buzzsumo Does It

Here’s another example from Buzzsumo, who are so confident about users experiencing multiple Aha! moments that they let users try out a feature directly from the home page.


You need to make it as easy as possible for your users to experience their Eureka moment.

Teach users with Tooltips

When your users first start using your product, they may be a little overwhelmed with the options open to them. This is especially likely if your users take a self-serve approach.

One of the most common ways of doing this is through tooltips. Tooltips are great because they enable you to guide your users step-by-step to the Aha! moment.

You can use tooltips to point your users in the right direction, so that they reach the Aha! moment faster.

How Feedly Does It


Feedly’s Aha! moment is when a user saves an article to their feed for the first time.

They use two tooltips to draw attention to their two core features, one of which is their Aha! moment.

The tooltips are simple and clear, and so users are likely to try out what they suggest.

The golden rule with tooltips is to keep them relevant to what you want the user to do, and don’t bombard users with too many of them.

Use Empty States as an Example

A lot of products require the user to amass data over time before they start seeing any tangible benefits. Analytics tools are a good example of this.

That means when a user first logs in, they’ll be confronted with an empty state. In other words, there’s nothing there for them to interact with.

Instead of leaving your empty state empty, you could consider filling it with sample data. Your users can then play around with this data and experience the Aha! moment as soon as possible.

How Trello Does It


They provide new users with a sample board. The cards on the board provide more information about what the product does.

The first card on the left-hand side even includes an instruction, suggesting that users move it to a new column.

When the user does that, they immediately grasp the value of using Trello to organize projects.

If Trello had simply provided an empty board, users wouldn’t know where to start.

Your product’s empty state is often the first interaction new users have. That makes it a great opportunity to guide them towards the Aha! moment.

Make a List and Check it Twice

If getting to your Aha! moment takes quite a few steps, then you need to make sure your users know what they’re working towards.

Tooltips are great in small doses, but for more complex user journeys they become tiresome and your users might not reach the end.

The alternative is to use a checklist. The checklist will contain a series of steps that new users must work through.

A checklist works well for complex journeys because your users can see a complete list of tasks that need completing.

You can also include a progress bar so that users know how long is left. This makes them more likely to carry on to the end.

How Evernote Does It


Evernote use checklists to great effect.

Their Aha! moment is being able to sync up your notes across different devices.

The checklist lays out a straightforward way of getting there. They even include a progress bar so that users know how long they have left.

For products that have a slightly more complex route to the Aha! moment, checklists are an effective way of guiding users in the right direction.

Related: 6 Tips To Create The Perfect User Onboarding Checklist

Show off your Product with Videos and GIFs

One of the most recent trends in user onboarding is to showcase aspects of your product by embedding videos and GIFs.

These graphics are far more eye-catching that your average tooltip, and they enable you to show a lot more of your product.

You can use them to show how certain functionality works, and what users need to do to replicate it.

How Webflow Does It


Webflow uses videos and GIFs to show users a glimpse of what’s to come.

These offer far more information than copy or still images, and are more likely to engage the user and guide them to the Aha! moment.

Using Consistent Aha Moments to Drive Product Adoption


Guiding your users to that first Aha! moment is key to ensuring you don’t end up with churned users.

But for a product manager, the work doesn’t end there.

The ultimate goal is to increase overall product adoption. That extends to any new features you roll out, or some of your more advanced features.

That means you have to consistently create multiple Aha! moments for your users.

These moments reinforce the value of your product, and introduce users to more features.

The more features your users adopt, the more they’re intrinsically connected to your product, and the longer they stay around.

You can use the techniques we covered above to guide your users to these new Aha! moments.

But the psychological science behind these moments suggests that timing is key.

If you introduce advanced features too early in the user onboarding process, your users won’t be ready for them, and it may distract them from the value they’re already getting.

Alternatively, you don’t want to leave it too long. Users may grow bored of your product without motivational cues, and start looking for an exciting alternative.

The best approach is to define adoption of a specific feature as being a long-term usage.

If a user continuously uses a certain feature for 3 months in a row, then it’s probably safe to say they know it inside-out.

That then presents you with the perfect opportunity to introduce a new Aha! moment , and keep them engaged with your product.

Real-Life Examples of Aha Moments

We’ve now covered everything you need to know about finding your Aha! moment, and guiding new users towards it.

Here’s a round-up of SaaS businesses using the social psychology of Aha! moments to improve user onboarding experiences and reduce the possibility of churned users.

Aha Moment Example #1: ContentKing

1) What’s your product?

“ContentKing is a Real-time SEO Auditing and Content Change Tracking platform, meaning we’re monitoring sites 24/7 for SEO issues and changes. In case of high-impact issues of changes, we send proactive alerts.”

2) What’s your Aha! moment?

“The first time we detect a change, we send an email to the user with the change. That works great, because it helps explain our added value in a scalable way.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment?

“We learned people that were trying out our service sometimes missed some of our important features, so this is one way to prevent that from happening.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“During the entirety of a user’s trial they’re receiving alerts about high-impact issues and changes. We send them through email, but also through Slack notifications. You gotta adapt to your users’ work-flow, so that’s what we did.”

— Steven van Vessum, VP of Community – ContentKing

Aha Moment Example #2: Hyperise

1) What’s your product?

“Personalization isn’t a new strategy, we’ve all been segmenting users and personalizing outreach for sometime. The concept of Hyperise was to take that to the next level, allowing images to be personalized to each prospect, in the fly and at scale.”

2) What’s your Aha! moment?

“When a user first improves their CTR by personalising the images in their emails.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment?

“Before committing to building Hyperise, we realised the power of the product and had our own aha! moment, when getting 20% click rates from cold emails (4x our usual CTR) when including a personalized product image for our other SaaS AppInstitute.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“Once we’d build and launched Hyperise, we wanted to our new trial customers to experience the same aha! moment. To do this we dog fooded and used Hyperise in the whole onboarding process.

So for example on signing up, the initial welcome page within platform uses a welcoming personalised image banner. In addition to that we weave various examples within the onboarding emails and engagement of the product. For example if a trial customer doesn’t revisit within x days, we send a sad clown image, wearing a badge that has the prospects logo on it.

Dogfooding our own product in our onboarding allows our customers to achieve their own aha! moment of the product in a really authentic and natural way…

We knew we had that right, when we started receiving email responses like this:

“Hi Becky,

Firstly, I just wanted to congratulate you on an awesome email. I’ve been in a lot of digital marketing funnels and can honestly say that’s the cleverest, most clickable email I’ve received from a marketer. Great offer, great use of your own product and it didn’t feel spammy either. If there are email awards somewhere, I’ll happily nominate you!””

— Ian Naylor, CEO – Hyperise

Aha Moment Example #3: HelpCrunch

1) What’s your product?

“Customer communication platform for Support, Marketing & Sales”

2) What’s your Aha! moment?

“HelpCrunch offers a lot of use cases, and thus there are many different Aha! moments. But the first main Aha! moment comes when a user sees their live chat widget on their own website after installing the code snippet.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment?

“We realized that without installing the live chat widget on their website, our users can not talk to their customers in real-time and thus use HelpCrunch to the fullest potential.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“We set up an installation wizard which our users see right after signing up. With easy-to-follow instructions, users can install the live chat widget on their website in seconds and use HelpCrunch to its full potential.

Not all users can complete the chat widget installation right away, so we do the following to increase the conversion rate:

  • Set up an auto message right on the installation page that offers a Customer success manager’s help with chat widget installation.
  • Set up an email marketing campaign + facebook retargeting that nurtures users which haven’t installed the chat widget yet and offering them assistance via chat/email and help docs from our knowledge base.

But the first main Aha! moment comes when a user sees their live chat widget on their own website after installing the code snippet.”

— Daniil Kopilevych, Growth Marketing Manager – HelpCrunch

Aha Moment Example #4: Poptin

1) What’s your product?

“Poptin – a lead capture platform that helps website owners and digital agencies to convert more visitors into leads, subscribers, and sales with behavioral-based popups and forms.”

2) What’s your Aha! moment? 

“When the users see the popup they created live on their site for the first time.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment? 

“We saw the excitement and the positive feedback we got in our live chat support.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“We offer them to create an A/B test to optimize the results, or to create another popup for a different segment of visitors or purpose.

When they get their first leads and say something good about our interface and support, we sometimes ask for an online review as well.”

— Tomer Aharon, Co-founder – Poptin

Aha Moment Example #5: ContentStudio

1) What’s your product?

“ContentStudio is a content marketing and social media platform, designed to help you schedule and share your content.”

2) What’s your Aha! moment?

“The Aha! moment is when the user schedules or publishes a post from ContentStudio after going through all the getting started steps.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment?

“By looking at the data, we found out that the users who went through the account setup setups and then shared their first post continued to use the tool more than those who didn’t reach the Aha! moment.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“We are continuously working on the UX side of the tool to make user-onboarding easy and seamless. And this employs multiple ways such as getting started email sequence, in-app messages, guided tours and even online meetings.”

— Waqar Azeem, CEO – ContentStudio

Aha Moment Example #6: Chanty

1) What’s your product?

“Our software is Chanty – simple AI-powered team chat.”

2) What’s your Aha! moment?

“The Aha! moment came when we realized we can turn messages in our app into tasks. It was really simple but it made Chanty that much more efficient as a collaboration app.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment?

“We found this Aha! moment in our demo calls and from the feedback we got from our users.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“This functionality is now available in all the versions of Chanty, including mobile. We want to improve it further with drag and drop functionality – so that you can drag a message to a certain location and it turns into a task.”

— Olga Mykhoparkhna, Marketing Head –

Aha Moment Example #7: Aeroleads

1) What’s your product?

“AeroLeads is a business email and phone finder software. You can start your sales with AeroLeads by building your prospecting list in minutes and contact them.”

2) What’s your Aha! moment?

“We were working on another marketing product and we realised that it is easier to build but difficult to sell, or at least more time consuming and resource-intensive. Since we were figuring out how to do it, we ended up building AeroLeads. The initial first few versions were something else and over a few months, we built AeroLeads after various iterations.”

3) How did you find your Aha! moment?

“We stumbled on it by chance trying to solve our own problem. We were working on another marketing product and we realised that it is easier to build but difficult to sell, or at least more time consuming and resource-intensive. So we decided to build AeroLeads which can help us and others to start their prospecting and sales. We did try multiple iterations and spend a few months to fix things and based on user feedback, we came up with the current version.”

4) How did you harness it further?

“We started focussing on it instead of focusing on our other software and put all resources to it. It got decent traction in coming months and being a bootstrapped startup, was profitable immediately. We also listened to our users and built features which they wanted as many of them knew about sales and prospecting more than us.”

— Pushkar Gaikwad, CEO – Aeroleads

Userpilot Helps Get your Users to your Aha! Moment Faster

Userpilot can provide you with all the tools you need to guide your users towards your Aha! moment.

  • Choose from a wide range of UI patterns, including checklists and tooltips.
  • Customize the UI with no code required whatsoever.
  • Quickly try out different techniques to see which ones have the most impact across the customer lifecycle.

Why not get started today, and build exceptional user onboarding experiences. Book a free demo below!

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, product marketing and customer success for the past couple of years.

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