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6 inspiring examples of product adoption and how to apply them to your business

You’ve read all the how-tos and you know you need to focus on driving product adoption to help your users realize value and increase revenue.

But what does a great product adoption experience actually look like? 

And with so many stages of the adoption journey and several adopter profiles, how can you possibly cater to all of them?

Last updated

3 Oct 2022
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This guide shows you what product adoption looks like in action, with a list of six product adoption examples from real companies. We walk you through each idea, why it works, and how to apply these companies' strategies to your business to successfully guide your users through each stage of adoption. 

Want to design a product adoption process others will want to copy?

Hotjar’s product experience (PX) insights tools put the customer at the heart of your decision-making.   

6 real-life examples of successful product adoption

We’ve put together a list of diverse product adoption examples relating to each user profile and adoption stage. Let’s first take a minute to recap the product adoption process

How do users adopt products? 

Users move through six stages of product adoption, though not necessarily in this order: 

  • Awareness: when potential customers become aware of their problem and your solution  

  • Interest: they look for more information about your product 

  • Evaluation: they dig deeper to see if your product meets their needs, and how it stacks up against your competition

  • Trial: they sign up for a trial or freemium account 

  • Activation: the ‘aha moment’ comes when users realize product value for the first time, usually by performing a key task 

  • Adoption: convinced of your product’s value, customers make it part of their everyday lives   

You can also group users into five user profiles

  • Innovators: tech-savvy users, able to self-serve and willing to experiment with new technologies 

  • Early adopters: these users are a little more cautious than innovators

  • Early majority: this group adopts new tools easily, but won’t onboard till they’re convinced your product can solve their problems

  • Late majority: not tech-savvy and very risk-averse, they want to see that others have gone first where they fear to tread 

  • Laggards: the least tech-savvy group, they’ll only sign up when their pain becomes so unbearable that the status quo is no longer an option    

Now, let’s see how our examples relate to these stages and profiles, and which product adoption strategies you can use for each to create customer delight

1. Uber  

B2C transportation platform and app Uber aced the awareness stage of product adoption with a killer marketing campaign that helped it disrupt the taxi industry. 

Uber first targeted innovators and early adopters in the San Francisco tech community who matched its ideal customer profile (ICP), focusing on tech-savvy risk-takers who were up for trying new solutions to improve their lifestyles. 

Uber started capturing customer attention by hosting tech events and offering free rides, which helped generate word of mouth. It also offered a referral program to encourage sign-ups among both riders and drivers. For example, riders and drivers can refer friends using a personal referral code. The referrer then gets free or discounted rides if new users sign up with their code. 

Once Uber generated a buzz around its product, it leveraged brand partnerships. Brands like Capital One and Starwood Hotels helped introduce their product to new audiences. Uber also lets Spotify users connect their playlists during rides.

#Uber’s ad campaigns made people aware of a problem they didn’t know they had
Uber’s ad campaigns made people aware of a problem they didn’t know they had

How to apply Uber's product adoption strategy to your business: 

Focus on achieving product-market fit and define your ICP and their jobs to be done (JTBD). Then, figure out who your innovators and early adopters are. Where and how do they live? Where do they hang out online? And what will motivate them to try your product or tell others about it? 

Next, design an omnichannel marketing campaign that speaks to your potential customers' desire to be the first to try your shiny new toy. You can also host exclusive VIP product launches and events, or offer early bird discounts and offers. 

In digital product development, we ask two key questions: which tasks frustrate people, and which are most frequent? Find those and you’ll have an initial target of people willing to try out your solution.

JD Rico
Editor & Venture Partner, Digitalist Hub

2. Hubspot 

B2B SaaS provider Hubspot uses a chatbot that automatically pops up when potential customers land on the website looking for information, providing its users with everything they need to make an informed decision at the interest stage of product adoption.

The chatbot simplifies users' research processes to learn about Hubspot’s different products and services, helping potential customers figure out which solution is right for them. It lets users self-serve and get answers fast, boosting customer satisfaction and reducing support tickets and costs. 

A chatbot has the added advantage of gathering insights into user needs and questions. Hubspot then uses this information to segment users—for example, when designing marketing copy, sales campaigns, and onboarding materials.  

#As well as helping users self-serve, Hubspot’s website chatbot makes it clear how their information is useful for sales and marketing teams
As well as helping users self-serve, Hubspot’s website chatbot makes it clear how their information is useful for sales and marketing teams

Tactics like this are useful for all adopter profiles, especially late majority and laggards, who will appreciate you simplifying and de-stressing the information-gathering process.  

How to apply Hubspot's product adoption strategy to your business: 

First, install a chatbot on your website and use Hotjar Heatmaps to understand which parts of your site get the most attention. Then, combine this data with insights from Surveys and Feedback, where users tell you what they want to know in their own words. 

Use this information to create marketing and help center content to answer user questions and address their pain points. For example, offer your users a downloadable guide on common industry issues or a helpful webinar on how to apply possible solutions. 

#Hotjar’s question bank lets you create drag-and-drop product adoption Surveys
Hotjar’s question bank lets you create drag-and-drop product adoption Surveys

3. Basecamp 

B2B SaaS project management platform Basecamp has a great ‘before-and-after’ page on its website to help convince visitors to use its product solution at the evaluation stage of adoption. 

The page starts by listing some of the software customers tried before Basecamp and the pain they suffered with those tools.

#Basecamp knows potential customers are evaluating it against its competitors, so it addresses this on its website
Basecamp knows potential customers are evaluating it against its competitors, so it addresses this on its website

Then comes a second section packed with customer testimonials, which detail exactly how switching to Basecamp solved users’ problems. This lets potential customers understand the value of Basecamp and provides compelling arguments for choosing it over other tools. The testimonials focus on the benefits, making it clear that Basecamp excels at what it does and delivers results for its users. 

#Basecamp’s testimonial section provides compelling social proof for users evaluating its product
Basecamp’s testimonial section provides compelling social proof for users evaluating its product

This strategy helps convince early and late majority users, who need to see that the value of your product outweighs the effort of learning it, to switch from a competitor or adopt your solution. Knowing that others have boldly and successfully achieved results before them helps these more cautious groups adopt your product faster. 

How to apply Basecamp's product adoption strategy to your business: 

Once you’ve achieved a minimum customer base, talk to your sales and customer success teams. Try to identify a) what pains your customers had before onboarding and b) what they’ve achieved with your product. Then, reach out to your ideal customers and ask for testimonials. If you land a big-name client, ask if you can use their logo on your website.

Also, develop case studies and product demos to help potential customers visualize business outcomes with your product.  

4. Toggl 

B2B/B2C time-tracking software Toggl nails the trial stage of product adoption with an interactive onboarding guide. 

On sign-up, new Toggl users can choose to launch the interactive guide or explore on their own. 

If users choose to go with the guide, they get a walkthrough of key features and product functionality. At all times, the guide shows how many steps the user has completed and how many remain. If users choose not to take the tour, they can still launch the guide at any time during onboarding—and pause it anytime. 

#Toggl’s onboarding guide is optional, so users can self-serve if they prefer
Toggl’s onboarding guide is optional, so users can self-serve if they prefer

During the walkthrough, pop-ups nudge new and existing users to explore more features, helping them realize value by solving their unique problems.

#Toggl’s features nudge new users to features that could solve their problems
Toggl’s features nudge new users to features that could solve their problems

Letting users choose their own path is crucial to driving adoption for different profiles. More tech-savvy users may want to explore on their own, so they could get frustrated with a one-size-fits-all onboarding experience. By contrast, a walkthrough is exactly what less-confident later adopters need. 

Either way, they can both change their minds at any time. 

How to apply Toggl's product adoption strategy to your business:

Leverage insights from product experience (PX) tools to understand your user profiles and what they need help with. Then, use product adoption software like Appcues or Userpilot to design an adaptive onboarding flow that caters to all users. 

Pro tip: install a feedback widget on your site to let users rate parts of your product and onboarding. They can also tell you in their own words what they love or hate about your user experience. For example, if a pop-up is annoying users, you can retire it or launch it at another point in the customer journey. 

A Hotjar Feedback Widget

A Hotjar Feedback widget

5. Notion 

B2B productivity tool Notion helps new users activate by gathering information about them, like their job role and goals, as they take their first steps with the product. 

Notion uses this information to dynamically tailor its onboarding experience and guide users to its most relevant features for their needs. These help users realize value by achieving their role-specific goals.

#Notion’s pop-up surveys let customers self-identify and provide information to tailor onboarding
Notion’s pop-up surveys let customers self-identify and provide information to tailor onboarding

After answering some initial questions, users get a personalized onboarding checklist to help them identify and start using key features.

#Dynamically created to-do lists guide users to learn features and realize value with Notion
Dynamically created to-do lists guide users to learn features and realize value with Notion

Notion also provides its users with demo templates to help them quickly reach their ‘aha moment,’ when they realize how the application streamlines their workflow.  

#Providing demo features makes it easier for new users to visualize how to apply it to their tasks
Providing demo features makes it easier for new users to visualize how to apply it to their tasks

Notion makes it easy for users to onboard and see only what’s relevant to them, speeding up time-to-value and activation. And, like Toggl, it caters to all adopter profiles. 

How to apply Toggl's product adoption strategy to your business:

Gather user information at all stages of the adoption journey to design segmented onboarding flows. Use Hotjar Session Recordings to see how users navigate your onboarding experience. Then, filter your results by 'User Attributes' to get a deeper understanding of each user’s adopter profile, role, and needs. This lets you tailor your onboarding process to each user segment and identify where their aha moments occur.  

#Hotjar Session Recordings let you watch how your users experience your product
Hotjar Session Recordings let you watch how your users experience your product

6. Zalando 

B2C ecommerce retailer Zalando knows exactly how to drive adoption among its customer base. 

New customers use their email to create an account and make their first purchase, which then triggers an adoption email campaign. This starts with a welcome email that includes a limited-time discount on your next purchase. It also lists the benefits of getting the Zalando newsletter, like exclusive offers, news, and discounts. If you don’t use your voucher within a certain period, Zalando also sends a helpful reminder.  

This adoption strategy gets Zalando users to return to the app, so it becomes their go-to for online fashion shopping. It’s a great strategy for all adopter profiles, however, ‘exclusive’ content will particularly appeal to early adopters, who love to be ahead of the curve with new trends.

#Zalando knows the first few days after sign-up are critical for adoption, so its welcome sequence tempts users back to the app soon after sign-up
Zalando knows the first few days after sign-up are critical for adoption, so its welcome sequence tempts users back to the app soon after sign-up

How to apply Zalando's product adoption strategy to your business: 

Use email marketing software to automatically collect user emails when they sign up and add them to your mailing lists. Also, use surveys to gather information about each new customer to segment your lists and target them with the right messaging at the right time. 

Product adoption examples: your roadmap to creating customer delight  

You need to understand the five adopter profiles and their needs at each of the six stages of the product adoption journey to get users to embrace your product. Gather information about user needs, pain points, and goals to create tailored content, marketing campaigns, and onboarding flows that speak to individual users, helping them realize value with your product by achieving their personal goals. 

Get it right by implementing the ideas and examples above that fit into your business and customer goals—and put users at the heart of your decision-making to keep them coming back to your product.

Want to design a product adoption process others will want to copy?

Hotjar’s product experience (PX) insights tools put the customer at the heart of your decision-making.   

Frequently asked questions about product adoption examples