For a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, product adoption is everything. A high adoption rate impacts not only revenue but also reputation and customer satisfaction. A low adoption rate may mean something is wrong with your customer onboarding process — or worse, your product.
In order to increase product adoption, it’s important to understand not only the strategies you should use but also how they apply to some of the major user adoption roadblocks. For instance, what can you do about a steep learning curve? How can you address customer concerns about budget or issues with usability?
Before we get into answering those questions, let’s start with the basics of product adoption.
Who you should target with your product adoption strategies depends on where you are in your software’s lifecycle.
Recently launched products tend to attract innovators. These individuals tend to be incredibly tech-savvy and attuned to market trends. Give them a chance to be part of a community and guide early development through customer feedback.
Early adopters pick up a product shortly after innovators. They tend to be influencers, making them critical to shaping early perception of your software. Advocacy marketing and customer outreach are crucial to getting them on board.
After early adopters comes the early majority. This is your largest and arguably most important market segment. They’re usually heavily influenced by the opinions of early adopters, but it’s also important to create a positive customer experience from top of funnel through to final sale.
The late majority represents the remainder of your target audience. They’re usually slower to adopt and a bit more difficult to convince than your other segments. High-quality product demos and a strong sales enablement strategy can help overcome their hesitation.
Finally, laggards tend not to respond to your marketing efforts. If they adopt your software, they’ll usually only do so when it’s near the end of its lifecycle.
There’s no such thing as a perfect product adoption strategy. However, there are a few best practices you can apply.
Segment your audience based on behavior, challenges, and needs. Each audience segment should be associated with a unique onboarding flow. You should also optimize your customer onboarding process by implementing one or more of the following:
Lastly, leverage NPS surveys and other feedback mechanisms to help you improve both your onboarding and your software’s overall design and user experience.
Product adoption metrics help you gain a better understanding of how people engage with your software and identify possible usability bottlenecks. While you may not necessarily measure every single one, key metrics include:
There is no such thing as perfection. No matter how good you believe your software to be, it can always be better. The most successful SaaS companies have internalized this mindset, subjecting their software to regular A/B testing with the goal of improving long-term adoption.
Give your website the same treatment. A poorly-designed site can and will drive away prospective customers.
There are many different external factors that may influence adoption rate for your software either directly or indirectly. Some of them are obvious, such as the entry of a new competitor into the market, a major feature update from an existing competitor, or the emergence of a disruptive innovation like serverless technology. Others are less so, such as the potential for an impending recession to impact B2B spending.
If you’ve noticed your adoption rate seems to be falling and you can’t identify any external factors, it’s worth looking outward.
Provide customers with multiple self-service support options, but ensure your customer success team is available as frequently as possible to assist with any technical issues. Make sure you also give that team an edge by equipping them with the right product adoption tools. Some of your top options include:
While every software product’s journey is unique, most companies tend to encounter one or more of the following challenges at some point in their life cycle.
Product adoption is simultaneously one of your most important metrics and one of your greatest challenges as a SaaS company. Securing a high adoption rate for your software requires an understanding of both your audience’s needs, pain points, and deal-breakers. It requires an understanding of your market, and of all the external factors which might drive adoption down.
Perhaps most importantly, it requires a strategic, data-driven approach enabled by the right platforms and tools — one that re-conceptualizes how you think about your software and has you view it as an experience rather than simply a product.