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How to build an effective customer activation strategy: tips and techniques

So much focus is placed on customer acquisition that customer activation often gets kicked to the curb.

After that initial conversion, if you don’t guide customers toward discovering the value your product offers, you end up with disengaged users, low trial-to-subscription rates, and high churn. That’s why you need to have customer activation strategies you regularly implement in place.

Last updated

5 Aug 2022

Reading time

6 min


Implement the following customer activation techniques to turn sporadic users into active product champions who get real value from your solutions—and engage your new users from the get-go.

Get the insights you need to increase customer activation

Hotjar's Observe and Ask tools help you understand your users—so you can help them get real value from your product.

7 key techniques for increasing customer activation 

Customer activation is all about engaging new or returning customers to give them the full value of your product or service. Without the right techniques, getting your customers to adopt your product solution can seem like a complicated task. But when you know which steps to follow, it’s much easier to motivate customers to use your product or return to your site.

Use these seven customer activation strategies to enhance the user journey, improve customer motivation, and see customer lifetime value (CLV) increase. 

1. Understand your customers 

You can’t expect your customers to engage with your product if you don’t know what they want from it. Prioritize understanding your customers by building user personas and engaging in direct user discovery. 

Firstly, creating user personas should be an integral part of your customer journey mapping process. Use initial customer discovery research and a tool like UXPressia to get a clear view of who your different types of users are and what they need from your product. 

Since different user profiles have different goals and pain points, mapping each user segment is key to creating a product that fulfills each persona’s needs and marketing it effectively. 

But the best way to get to know your users is by speaking directly to them. With Hotjar Surveys, hear from your users in their own words and learn what’s holding them back from activating or what they’d like to see more of in your product.

Use survey templates to quickly create surveys on topics like customer satisfaction, product feedback, feature prioritization, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge how your customers feel about your product and identify potential features and modifications that will give them value. 

2. Know how your users behave

Once you know your users, it’s time to get familiar with their behavior to understand how best to activate them. Start by mapping out the customer journey. If you look at examples of customer journey maps, you’ll see something in common: they all use data to anticipate how buyers will behave and enhance their user journey. 

When carrying out customer journey mapping, pay close attention to possible ‘Aha’ moments when your customers realize the value of your product or service. That way, you’ll know where to focus your customer activation efforts. 

The ‘Aha’ moment for a B2B SaaS messaging tool could be 2,000 messages sent between a team—in fact, that is Slack’s ‘Aha’ moment, according to the brand’s co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield. For a subscription-based ecommerce company like Birchbox, it could look like a customer’s first subscription renewal. 

🔥 Pro tip: use Hotjar's Observe tools to track your users' behavior in context: Heatmaps show you which parts of your website draw users in and which don’t seem to capture their attention. You may discover that a feature adoption button is being skimmed over by users or a key call to action (CTA) isn’t resonating with your buyers, affecting your activation rates. 

Recordings give you a true representation of how your users interact with your website. Maybe you discover that the user flow isn’t optimized, meaning your customers are jumping from one page to another and missing key actions and features. After you've discovered what's going wrong, use this information to make your website more user-friendly and increase customer activation.

#Use Hotjar Session Recordings to determine where your users are getting stuck

Hotjar Recordings show you how users really experience the customer journey on different devices

3. Consider your customer’s stage in their journey

Not all your users are at the same place in their journey, so it’s important to consider different customer stages when trying to improve customer activation. A customer new to your brand needs different activation tactics than an older customer that needs to be re-engaged. 

With new customers, focus on making the sign-up and onboarding processes seamless, providing support where needed, and demonstrating your product value from the get-go. 

An ecommerce company, for example, might focus on providing new website visitors with clear, compelling CTAs and social proof to encourage a first purchase, while their interactions with returning customers may be more focused on personalized, targeted offers informed by past purchases.

Marc Linneweber, a product manager at Hotjar, reminds us that “the work doesn’t stop by getting users to the first moment of value. Understanding what drives users to come back is just as crucial.” He recommends analyzing how current loyal customers use your product to identify common usage patterns and designing a ‘golden path’ that leads users to get the most value from your product.  

Don’t forget to check in regularly with your existing users to identify any issues they may be having. Try the Hotjar Feedback tool, which gives you insights into the difficulties your users are facing and why customer activation isn’t as high as you’d like.

For existing customers, the main priority is checking in with their current satisfaction level and seeing where the holes might be. From there, you can offer solutions to make their overall experience even more personalized.

Anthony Martin
Founder and CEO, Choice Mutual

4. Optimize the user experience (UX)

Your customers will naturally take the path of least resistance. The easier it is for users to engage with your site or product, the more smoothly they’ll move through the customer lifecycle. 

A key step here is to analyze where your customers tend to drop off to identify areas where they’re getting blocked on their journey. Do they sign up and then not subscribe? Do they disappear after their free trial? Do they add an item to their cart and subsequently vanish? 

Whatever the case, you need to address product roadblocks that prevent users from moving into the next stage of their journey

This is especially important when rolling out new features: change can create friction, which is why you need to validate new features with your users before launching, and make them easy to adopt. 

This could mean launching an email campaign explaining a new feature and laying out how it can enhance your customers’ lives, or tooltips and pop-up notifications right on your website that show customers how to use a new feature.

Pro tip: use Hotjar to get user opinions about new features before you even roll them out by running A/B tests with Surveys and Feedback on different feature options to validate your product ideas and give your customers exactly what they want. 

5. Design a frictionless onboarding process

Since customer activation is all about giving customers value and guiding them along their journey, it’s essential to give them a first-rate onboarding experience.

Marta Pardo, associate project manager at Hotjar, says: “The actions users take during onboarding will lead them to recognize the value of your product for the first time.

Design a customer onboarding process that moves trial users or first-time customers through their first steps efficiently, but doesn’t overwhelm them. But how do you do this? Christina Pankiv of Whatagraph shares some actionable tips on how to design a successful onboarding process for customer activation: 

Make sure that your onboarding process is simple and straightforward and that it clearly shows the customer how to use your product or service. Don’t try to cram too much information into the onboarding process—keep it focused and to the point.

6. Listen to your customers 

What’s the best way to find out why your customers aren’t activating? Asking them, of course. Regularly seek feedback from your customers to understand what’s holding them back from taking the next step and having a valuable product experience (PX).

Hotjar Feedback tool lets you source ongoing customer feedback directly on your website, right when users are interacting with your product and it’s front of mind. 

With these insights, change whatever part of the customer journey is causing them to stall and get your customers activating quicker and more efficiently.

#Hotjar's Feedback widgets let you gather valuable user feedback throughout the onboarding process.

Source: Hotjar
Hotjar's Feedback widgets let you gather valuable user feedback throughout the onboarding process. Source: Hotjar

7. Give your users quick solutions to common problems

No product or service is perfect. The key to overcoming customer activation obstacles is to be proactive and give your users a solution before they even have to ask by creating resources like knowledge bases, FAQs, and in-product tooltips. 

And when your customers do need to reach out, make sure they get a speedy response that resolves their issues. Chatbots are a great way to provide quick responses to customers’ most common frustrations, but be sure your customer service team is big enough to handle tickets in a timely manner as well.

Pro tip: empower your users to tell you when they experience blockers. By using Hotjar's Feedback tools that let users quickly highlight page elements they’re unhappy with, you give customers the opportunity to alert you about roadblocks that are holding them back, so you can work to fix them

Create loyal customers by building your activation strategy

Use these tips to get your new customers to activate and your existing customers to re-engage. With data-driven techniques, give your users a frictionless, value-filled experience that gets them interacting with your product. 

And when you help them discover the value in your product, even your most passive customers will become active, long-term users.

Get the insights you need to increase customer activation

Hotjar Observe and Ask tools help you understand your users—so you can help them get real value from your product

FAQs about customer activation strategies