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8 ways to improve feature adoption in mid-market companies (with strategies and metrics for success)

Each new feature has an overarching goal: to enhance the value that customers get from your product. However, if you can’t show them the benefits and get them to adopt a feature, that value goes to waste.

Last updated

4 Jun 2024

Reading time

8 min


Learn how to launch features users love, ensuring they become an integral part of their experience. Refining your feature adoption strategy starts right here, with these eight easy-to-apply methods that will help you unlock your product’s full potential. 👇


How to launch a new feature and improve adoption rates in eight steps:

  1. Prioritize user opinions and feedback: ask users directly about their needs, preferences, and pain points

  2. Set a clear goal for your product feature: set clear and measurable goals using the SMART framework

  3. Identify the most valuable metrics: identify each metric that contributes to your feature adoption, product adoption, and business goals

  4. Map out the ‘Aha!’ moment for users: help users to find value in your brand-new feature—fast

  5. Kick off an omnichannel feature launch campaign: treat your feature release as a mini product launch campaign

  6. Offer in-app guidance on the new feature: walk users step by step through the new feature

  7. Test and iterate: fine-tune your feature adoption strategy with testing and experimentation

  8. Use the HEART framework for long-term feature adoption: track broader 360-degree signals for your features’ long-term success

1. Prioritize user opinions and feedback

Begin with the end in mind: launching features that bring customer delight. There's no more effective way to achieve this feat than asking users directly about what they need and want.

Here are quick ways to uncover the most valuable features for your users: 

  • Gather insights with surveys: ask users to rank frequently requested features according to their preferences and pain points. In Hotjar, you can instantly run a survey with a pre-built feature prioritization template. Alternatively, generate a goal-based survey using our artificial intelligence (AI) assistant or start from scratch with a blank canvas.

  • Get immediate feedback with heatmaps and session recordings: understand how users respond to a prototype before moving it to development. Fire up a heatmap in Hotjar to view Engagement Zones, and watch related recordings to learn why some users engage, and others ignore a feature.     

2. Set a clear goal for your feature

Set clear goals using the SMART framework. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. One way to apply it is to break down broader business goals (specific and relevant). Then, gauge success across multiple metrics (measurable and attainable) within a time period.

Here's an example of a clear target for a new feature—a mobile wallet that allows users to store and manage payment methods within the app:

  • Business goal: increase customer lifetime value (CLTV) by 10%

  • Feature goal: get 30% of users to activate their mobile wallets within two months of launch

🔥 Pro tip: all set? Create a custom dashboard in Hotjar in line with your feature launch.

Go to Hotjar Dashboards and click on 'New release'. You'll need to enter some details, like the URL of the newly launched feature. Based on your responses, Hotjar will create a dashboard—a 'command center', if you will—combining quantitative and qualitative data. It's where you can glean new insights that will help you achieve your feature adoption goals.

Use Hotjar Dashboards to monitor the performance and measure the conversions of your new feature

3. Identify the most valuable metrics

Identify the key metrics that matter across the feature adoption funnel. Instead of focusing on a single interaction, track a combination of these metrics to see the full picture.

Here are the feature adoption funnel’s main stages:

  • Exposed: users find out about a feature through pop-ups and tooltips

  • Activated: users recognize the feature’s value, aka the Aha! moment (more on this later 💡) 

  • Used: users try out a feature for the first time

  • Used again: users return to and use the feature more regularly 

And here is a series of the most crucial metrics to track and analyze:


  • Time-to-adopt (or time-to-value): how long does it take users to start using a feature from the moment of first exposure? A shorter time to adopt indicates ease of discoverability and onboarding experience.

👉 Time-to-adopt = date of feature adoption – date of first interaction


  • Breadth of adoption: how widely has your user base or specific segments adopted the feature? A higher percentage tells you about a feature’s appeal across your entire user base.

👉 Breadth of adoption = (number of users interacting with a feature in a given timeframe / total users in a given timeframe) x 100* 


  • Feature adoption rate: how quickly do users incorporate the new feature into their workflow? A rapid feature adoption rate shows that the feature aligns well with user needs and pain points.

👉 Feature adoption rate = (number of monthly active users (MAU) / total monthly users) x 100* 

  • Time-to-adopt (or time-to-value): see definition under ‘Exposed’ 👆

Used again

  • Depth of adoption: how often do key user groups use a feature, and how much do they explore and depend on it? A high depth of adoption highlights feature stickiness, relevance, and usefulness.

👉 Depth of adoption = (number of users) × (frequency of use) × (intensity of use) × (breadth of features used)

* Breadth of adoption and feature adoption rate share the same formula. However, their timeframes and interpretations differ. For instance, a 70% breadth of adoption over time showcases a feature’s wide reach. A 30% feature adoption rate in the first month quantifies a feature’s added value among users and to your product.  

🔥 Pro tip: track and visualize your feature adoption metrics in real time. Look at your usage over time and conversion rate—plus, add a custom widget representing more quantitative data to complete the picture. 

Spot an error or a frustrated rage click? Your dashboard also includes relevant visual data, such as recordings. Dive deep into them to understand the behavior behind the issue. See if it’s not just an isolated case but happening on a wider scale.

4. Map out the Aha! moment for users

Ensure users reach the Aha! moment as quickly as possible. Aha! is an emotional state in which users realize the full value or potential of a feature. Ideally, it should occur in the activation stage.

This one-off experience comes after a series of events that lead to users' activation (also called the 'Setup' moment) and before users establish repeated behaviors (aptly called the 'Habit' loop). 

For instance, an Aha! moment for Grammarly users would be realizing that the AI-powered writing tool offers more than grammar and spelling checks. The 'Setup' would include enticing basic-plan users to experience its advanced writing insights for a month for free. 

An example of Grammarly’s advanced writing feature

Then, creating a ‘Habit’ loop would mean monitoring this key user group’s behavior: are they consistently using the feature—and if yes or no, why?

We follow the activation journey, which entails understanding the Setup > Aha > Habit of a feature. Once we understand that, we can define flows that facilitate the setup so users can have the Aha! moment sooner. If it's an enjoyable experience and users get value out of it, they will be more likely to repeat the actions and create a habit out of it.

Ilana de Andrade
Senior Product Designer, Hotjar

Use Hotjar to drive users to their Aha! moment in no time, unlocking faster feature adoption.

5. Kick off an omnichannel feature launch campaign

Think about your feature announcement as a mini product launch. Go all out with an omnichannel campaign. Reach out to new and existing users across multiple channels and platforms, ensuring you target all user types where they feel comfortable. 

Here are the channels and actions to include in your feature launch plan:

  • In-app messages: introduce the feature, alongside benefits and use cases, within your app

  • Website banners: announce your new feature in a less intrusive manner on your website

  • Email campaigns: craft a segment-specific email sequence comprising release notes, feature usage instructions, and reminder alerts for those who haven’t engaged with your feature yet

  • Organic social media posts: share the good news with your existing followers

  • Sponsorships: tap into influencers with subscribers, networks, and communities that align with your brand, e.g. ecommerce SaaS enthusiasts

Apple wastes no time introducing new features that come with its major software updates, such as this iPhone Contact Poster in iOS 17

6. Offer in-app guidance on the new feature

Improve onboarding by offering feature tutorials within your product’s user interface (UI). Design interactive walkthroughs to guide users step by step through the feature. Use tooltips, pop-ups, or overlays to highlight key actions and elements.

Additionally, integrate videos on the site or in-app page dedicated to the brand-new feature. Install a feedback widget for users to ask questions or provide input on the tutorial.

Use the Hotjar Feedback widget to know how users feel about your feature

7. Test and iterate

Refine your feature adoption strategy with testing and experimentation if it’s not driving your desired results. Use data to understand what went wrong—and why. Combine qualitative and quantitative data to identify the issue correctly, develop a solution accordingly, and implement the change confidently.

Here's what you can do to uncover the reason behind low feature adoption rates:

  • Monitor user clicks: go to your feature dashboard in Hotjar and check if there’s a decline in user clicks

  • Dive into visual data: watch related session replays in Recordings to get a first-hand view of what users go through while using the feature

  • Run a test: formulate a hypothesis based on the patterns or trends you discover. Conduct a usability test if it’s a functionality problem or an A/B test if it’s a messaging issue.

  • Follow up with a survey: add nuance to the test results by directly asking users about their feature adoption experience 

  • Implement changes: tweak the feature, in-app guidance copy, or another element based on the combined user insights

Find the most relevant session recordings in seconds using filters, e.g. ‘Error occurred’

8. Use the HEART framework for long-term feature adoption

Apply Google’s HEART framework whether you’re rolling out a new release or ensuring existing features gain new users. This framework allows you to track a series of broader 360-degree signals, which can play a part in your product features’ long-term success.

Here are the categories that make up this framework, including tools for tracking them:

  • Happiness: gauge how happy users are with your feature through surveys, feedback widgets, and Net Promoter Score®

  • Engagement: fire up a heatmap and view the latest Engagement Zones to zero in on user activity and interaction with your feature

  • Adoption: go to Funnels to find out how many users are trying out your feature for the first time 

  • Retention: compare returning users’ behaviors across different user segments over time (customer retention) with Trends

  • Task success: check out recordings or launch a survey to assess how effectively users can accomplish tasks with the feature

Empower users to fall in love with a new feature instantly

Each new feature is a chance to enhance product value. But without effective feature adoption strategies, that chance goes to waste. By employing the eight strategies outlined here, you can ensure your features not only instantly gain attention but also seamlessly integrate into the user experience.

Refine your approach today to unlock the full potential of your product features, leading to long-term success and user satisfaction.

Use Hotjar to launch a feature that people love

Unlock faster feature adoption with our powerful suite of tools and features. Uncover actionable insights that drive users to their Aha! moment in no time.

FAQs about feature adoption