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6 powerful customer activation examples to inspire your team

You’ve attracted an ideal customer and personalized connections with them across channels to get them to the point of conversion. But there’s still work to be done: it’s time to create delight by helping your customers experience the true value of your product.

To improve retention and prevent churn, businesses need to boost customer activation—nudging their users to move onto the next stage in their journey. Looking at examples of successful customer activation gives you the inspiration you need to do just that.

Last updated

16 Nov 2022

In this guide, we walk you through six brilliant customer activation examples—and give you tips to guide your customers toward engagement and success.

Activate new and existing customers with real insights

Use Hotjar’s tools to find out what customers need—and help them get to the next stage in their journey

6 customer activation examples and how to emulate them

Customer activation is the process of getting customers to experience ‘aha’ moments, or wins that let them see the value they’ll get from engaging with your product or website regularly.

Moments of customer activation, like when a customer creates their first email sequence on a marketing platform, and re-activation, like a customer making a to-do list on a productivity app after months away, are pivotal in the customer journey—and in ensuring the future success of your product and company. 

Alban Brooke, Head of Marketing at Buzzsprout, a podcast-hosting platform, puts it this way: 

Customer activation is the key to driving long-term retention and growth. It’s much more cost-effective to improve your activation metrics than to acquire new customers. And as you improve activation, you’ll improve customer lifetime value (LTV) and, in turn, be able to expand your cost per acquisition.

To boost customer activation, businesses need to learn more about their users’ needs and try new approaches to improving their product experience (PX). 

Here are six examples of customer activation in action—along with tips to help your customers successfully complete their jobs to be done (JTBD), or goals, with your product:

1. Ausmed: simplifying onboarding

Ausmed is an Australian company that provides digital learning resources to healthcare professionals. The team wanted to increase product usage, customer retention, and revenue—and knew that boosting customer activation rates was crucial to improve all three. 

Ausmed’s CMO Will Egan realized that only 15% of customers had activated by completing one learning task. To change that, he created a process to improve onboarding and increase customer activation rates.

Let’s take a look at Ausmed’s five-step customer activation process: 

  1. Launch surveys: the company used Hotjar’s Surveys (👋) to find out the primary benefit customers saw from their product. 

  2. Measure activation: using Intercom and Google Sheets, Ausmed kept track of quantitative activation data. They discovered a major bottleneck at an overly long intake form. Lightbulb moment 💡: the daunting number of fields on the form was preventing customers from documenting their first activity.

  3. Redesign workflow: Ausmed then created a flow that guided users to document their first task, gave each onboarding panel a single purpose, and removed extra fields from their form.

  4. Follow-up via email: next, Ausmed used event-based marketing tool Vero to email customers based on certain triggers in their onboarding journey. For example, if a customer didn’t fill out the documentation form, Ausmed emailed them to get feedback to understand why

  5. Reassess and re-evaluate: when troubleshooting obstacles for customer activation, Ausmed stayed aware of how implementing changes might have ripple effects elsewhere in the onboarding process. To maximize activation rates, they continually reassessed how things were going and tested new ideas.  

The result? Ausmed increased its activation rate from 15% to 75% over two years through a customer-first approach.

#Ausmed used Hotjar’s word cloud feature to show common responses to survey questions.
Ausmed used Hotjar’s word cloud feature to show common responses to survey questions.

Why it matters: onboarding processes present opportunities to personalize and highlight your product’s value early on. With the right onboarding steps in place, customers will feel valued: you’ve taken the time to get to know them and anticipate their needs.

How to implement Ausmed's customer activation techniques:

Collect and analyze data

Think strategically about what kind of data will best help you understand user onboarding needs. Use Hotjar Heatmaps to discover where customers are getting lost when interacting with your product. Then, analyze qualitative data like surveys, feedback, and interviews to understand customer sentiment—how they feel. 

Use A/B testing

After you analyze your data and have a working hypothesis about how to encourage activation, use A/B testing to see which version of your web page or product works best. For example, you can offer one group of customers a brief traditional explanatory video and the other a longer Loom tutorial. Then, compare how the two perform with customers.

Think simple

Customers are more likely to activate and move to the next stage in their journey if they understand exactly what to do. Try to make every process, explanation, and required action as clear and simple as possible. Use conversational language instead of complex jargon, and cut any unnecessary steps in your onboarding process that might cause confusion and churn.

The core of customer activation should happen in your application. This shouldn't be a routine checklist or a chatbot, but an understanding of what your customer is trying to accomplish and naturally directing them towards these wins.

Alban Brooke
Head of Marketing, Buzzsprout

2. Asana: personalization and segmentation

Work management tool Asana segments customers during onboarding to personalize their experience and nudge them to activate. 

When new customers sign up, Asana asks them questions about who they are, and how they’ll use the product. This lets the company divide them up into broad categories based on shared characteristics, like role and product usage, to provide personalized, streamlined information.

#Asana asks customers a series of questions, including one about their role, to segment them into groups. 
Asana asks customers a series of questions, including one about their role, to segment them into groups. 

Why does it matter? Customers come to Asana from many backgrounds with different use cases. Segmentation helps Asana deliver the most relevant product information for quick wins without all the noise of features that may not be helpful—moving customers along their journey toward activation. 

How to find success with segmentation:

Do your homework

Collect data on your customers by watching session recordings, launching surveys, or conducting interviews. This gives you user insight that becomes the basis for an empathetic approach: what knowledge and tools can you provide to help customers reach that ‘aha’ moment with your product?

Differentiate between customer segments 

Once you have data on your customers, decide how to group them based on their needs—and your goals—to boost activation. Make sure there’s a discernible difference between groups. If you sort customers by ‘managers’ and ‘executives’—and the two segments don’t have distinct customer activation needs—you’ll just be wasting time and resources.

Brainstorm effective techniques

Once you categorize your customers, you need to develop effective strategies to meet each group’s needs. Work together with team members to brainstorm customized customer activation strategies.

User insight allows you to segment your users to develop targeted strategies for each group. These might be different customer personas, or the same persona but at a different stage in their onboarding.

Alban Brooke
Head of Marketing, Buzzsprout

3. Loom: welcome emails

For Loom, a video messaging tool, activation occurs when a customer makes their first video. The company uses a welcome sequence to gradually prepare customers to create that video without stress. 

Once customers subscribe, they receive an email with the choice to watch an instructional Loom or sign up for a weekly live session. 

The subject line of Loom’s first email is: “Welcome to Loom, [Name]—we’re so glad you’re here!” While seemingly simple, each word conveys warmth, and the ‘we’ messaging emphasizes community, gently encouraging customers to stick around and make their first video to be part of a bigger community of Loom users.

The first email in Loom’s welcome sequence provides a personalized introduction to the product.

Why it matters: Loom knows that getting a customer to create a video is the key to customer activation and boosting user engagement. If the customer doesn’t see the value in the Loom or can’t figure out how to use it, the risk of churn increases.

Tips to create an effective welcome sequence:

Choose your words carefully

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Write copy that’s on brand and makes your target audience feel seen and understood. A warm welcome primes customers to start engaging with your product. 

Clarify the next steps

Use a call to action (CTA) clearly explaining what your customer needs to do next. For example, you can link to a video they need to watch or direct them to a tutorial to help them achieve their first small (or big!) win with your product. 

Test and test again

If the goal of your welcome sequence is activation, monitor metrics—like customer activation and time to activation—to see how it’s performing. You can also try split testing, and see which version of your welcome sequence performs better.

4. Evernote: interactive walkthroughs

Evernote, a note-taking and task-management app, uses interactive walkthroughs to introduce product features. These walkthroughs don’t just tell customers what each feature does—they actually prompt customers to engage with the product.

For example, if a certain step or feature is particularly confusing, a brief video pops up to provide customers with an additional explanation. By the end of the process, the customer has created their first note or to-do list: initial activation, check! ✅

#Evernote provides customers with an interactive walkthrough of useful product features.
Evernote provides customers with an interactive walkthrough of useful product features.

Why it matters: using a new product can be stressful. Interactive walkthroughs show that you’re empathizing with your customers, protecting them from being overwhelmed by breaking a seemingly large task into easy wins. In turn, you improve the overall customer experience (CX) and your customer activation rates.

💡Pro tip: before creating a walkthrough or demo, watch Hotjar Recordings to see how real customers use your product. Observe where they’re getting stuck to discover if they need more guidance. Then, create an action plan with ‘next steps’ to figure out how you can help them activate.

Hotjar’s Recordings tool shows how real customers interact with your product through clicks and scrolls.

How to create a successful interactive walkthrough:

Stay user-centric

Don’t just run through features you think are exciting. Instead, consider what the customer must learn to see value in your product.

Ask for feedback

If a walkthrough is long or a customer doesn’t feel it’s necessary, they might experience frustration—and drop off instead of activating. Add a Hotjar Feedback widget on your site to quickly get customer input and find out how to improve their experience.

Invest in tech

Customer activation tools like UserPilot or WalkMe make creating interactive walkthroughs and product tours easy. These tools also let you A/B test your processes, so you can see which version of your walkthrough works better.

5. Miro: new feature announcements

Miro is a virtual whiteboard company that continually adds new features to its platform—and it needs a way to introduce and communicate these releases to customers.

In addition to posting a monthly snapshot of all its updates, Miro tweets new feature announcements and offers live sessions to show customers how they work.

Miro tweets how-to videos and invitations to events showcasing new features.

Why it matters: new feature announcements help customers discover what your product can do, leading to more ‘aha’ moments where they find value and engage. Also, these announcements help reactivate customers who lapsed because a specific feature they needed didn’t exist.

How to emulate Miro’s customer activation techniques:

Get customer insights

Use surveys or interviews to ask customers what features they hope to see next. Adding top-requested features will increase customers’ motivation to use your product. 

Focus on customer journey touchpoints

Customer touchpoints are places where the customer and brand make contact—from your website to social media platforms. Depending on your target demographics, you might share announcements on Twitter and LinkedIn, or TikTok and Instagram. In addition to social media, post on your website on a dedicated updates page and via email. A feature can’t help increase activation if your customers don’t know it exists.

Include demo videos

Sometimes video is the best way to lead a customer to the magic moment where they see just how amazing your product is. When you share the news, your copy matters—but video is the scroll-stopper that makes your customer say, “Wait, that’s the feature I need.” 

6. SurferSEO: support and diverse learning options

SurferSEO, a search engine optimization (SEO) tool, helps businesses attract new organic traffic to their sites. But for the uninitiated, SEO can be a bit confusing or overwhelming. 

So, the company created Surfer Academy to teach customers how to easily navigate the product and give them a seamless user experience in the process. Surfer Academy offers weekly live classes, a collection of guides for self-service, a community FB group of over 15,000 people, and a live chat option.

SurferSEO’s home page prominently features a customer support section. 

Why it matters: SurferSEO meets the needs of diverse customers with varied learning styles by providing them with multiple support options. This level of support helps their customers overcome hurdles to achieve SEO wins with the product, leading to customer activation.

How to provide top-tier customer support:

Appeal to different learning styles

The path to an ‘aha’ moment that leads to activation is different for every customer. Provide diverse options for customers to get to know the product and drive adoption—like self-exploration, videos, live demos, and written how-to guides.

Remember that timing is everything

Use Hotjar Recordings to check for rage clicks, indicating moments of frustration, or Heatmaps to see what customers are missing while scrolling. Then, place pop-up tooltips or a live chat bubble right where customers can see it in their moment of need.

Start a group

Starting a community, like a Facebook group, provides a way for customers to connect. They'll answer each other's questions, which reduces pressure on your customer support team. Plus, they’ll share tips and excitement, motivating each other to the next level of engagement, like using more advanced product features.

The value of customer support

Alban Brooke agrees that excellent customer support boosts customer activation rates. He says, 

“Beyond tailoring the in-app experience, we've found great success with content marketing and improved customer service. We’ve reduced our average response time to under 20 minutes to make sure we’re helping our customers when they run into a roadblock.”

Effectively activate customers with user insights 

Improving customer activation can feel like a long and frustrating path—with bumps in the road like churn, low product usage, and low growth. 

But by collecting and analyzing user insights, you determine what your customers need—so you can implement more effective strategies to improve activation. 

Activate new and existing customers with real insights

Use Hotjar’s tools to find out what customers need—and help them to the next stage in their journey

FAQs about customer activation examples