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10 product adoption strategies to boost user adoption

You’ve spent ages developing your new product and got good results from your sign-up campaign. 

So you’re expecting great things from your product launch! 

But, after the initial buzz wears off, for some reason people aren’t using it as much as you hoped.

What went wrong? 

Last updated

9 Sep 2022

Sadly, it’s a common story for many companies. They put lots of thought into product design, but not how to drive adoption. 

To avoid this, you need product adoption strategies. And you need to apply them right through from product design to launch and beyond.   We’ve put together a list of product adoption techniques to help you boost customer satisfaction and adoption—and keep them coming back for more. 

Want your product to be a triumph?

Hotjar’s product experience (PX) insights tools tell you exactly what you can improve to drive adoption. 

10 product adoption techniques 

Product adoption strategies are plans you can use to drive product adoption at every stage of the customer journey. From initial awareness through to adoption and advocacy. 

We’ve put together a list of 10 product adoption techniques that put the customer at the heart of everything you do. From the product design process to ongoing features discovery. This boosts the chances of more users making your product part of their everyday lives and workflows. 

Let’s take a look at our 10 product adoption strategies. And how you can apply them to your business. 

1. Know your users  

Knowing your users lets you design products that meet their needs. And create copy, marketing campaigns, and onboarding flows to guide them through the stages of product adoption. To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Conduct market research to define your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas. If you're a B2B SaaS business, create buyer personas to match different roles in the companies you want to target. When you understand their individual pain points, challenges, and goals, you can tailor your marketing and sales campaigns to address their needs.

Be sure to gather insights from all your customer-facing teams, and monitor your help center as you do this.

  • Implement a solid user research process and build continuous discovery into everything you do. Identifying real user problems lets your teams work on solutions driven by research, not guesswork, helping you achieve product-market fit and maximizing ROI.

  • Segment users and go deep into the needs of targeted groups rather than a general audience. Use sign-up forms and surveys to gather insights on user profiles, goals, product feedback, etc. This lets you prioritize product and feature development based on the voice of the customer.

  • Use product experience (PX) insights tools like heatmaps and session recordings to reveal which areas of your website users gravitate to and how they navigate it. This lets you make small changes to improve the customer experience, like adjusting onboarding flows to guide users to activation sooner.

  • Identify different users’ activation criteria, and where their ‘aha moment’ comes during onboarding. This is when they first realize value, usually when they complete a key task. 

  • Measure the performance of your website and marketing campaigns using website and email marketing analytics tools, and track product adoption metrics and KPIs.

#Hotjar Trends show you the most important website metrics and let you identify user behavior trends
Hotjar Trends show you the most important website metrics and let you identify user behavior trends

2. Create personalized experiences 

Users tend to fall into five categories—innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. They may share a common pain, but their challenges and what they want to know will vary. Usually, this is dictated by how risk-averse and tech-savvy they are.  

So one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns or onboarding flows only confuse some and frustrate others.  

Creating personalized experiences, therefore, lets you create customer delight and encourage more people to start using your product.

To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Leverage insights from customer interviews and PX tools to find out what questions each user profile has at each stage of adoption and what they struggle with. If you’re using Hotjar, you can filter PX insights by User Attributes to go deep into specific users’ problems. 

Then, create tailored content and campaigns that cater to each profile. For early adopters, try piquing their interest by getting influencers to endorse you on social media. For late majority adopters, create case studies and provide social proof like testimonials.

  • Design personalized onboarding flows and support to guide each user to realize value sooner according to their role-specific goals. We’ll go into how in the next section. 

  • Identify the behaviors that differentiate occasional from power users. For example, whether they completed onboarding steps, or regularly use a key feature. Then, you can target power users with ongoing feature discovery and new releases. Also, rework your onboarding flows to remove barriers to adoption for certain users.

  • Offer tailored subscription plans so different user profiles can access the features that are most relevant to them. For example, risk-averse adopters usually prefer to sign up for a freemium or starter plan first. By contrast, early-bird discounts will appeal to earlier adopters.

  • Tailor your support to different user profiles. Install a chatbot on your website for visitors to self-serve and quickly get answers to simple questions during the interest stage of adoption. For less tech-savvy users, you’ll still need to provide helpline support. 

#Email marketing platform Mailchimp uses a chatbot to answer the questions most site visitors have
Email marketing platform Mailchimp uses a chatbot to answer the questions most site visitors have
  • Think about how different types of companies or roles will use your product. And how you can tailor demos and content to match. For example, SaaS end users will want to explore features. By contrast, admins will prioritize learning how to set your product up.

  • Target early adopters with exclusive offers, new releases, and copy that speaks to their desire to be among the first to try things out. Their feedback will also let you improve your product before rolling it out to more cautious later adopters.

  • As well as website and marketing campaign metrics, measure success by tracking adoption metrics like conversion rates, time-to-value, etc.  

3. Make product adoption everyone’s business 

Product adoption should be at the heart of everything you do—from product design to launch and beyond. 

That means you need to make it everyone’s business.

To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Align cross-functional teams around product adoption and make it part of their strategy, from design to UX, to marketing, sales, and customer support. Cross-functional collaboration is vital to understanding all stages of the user journey, and all user profiles. You need data and opinions from diverse teams to get a holistic view of how you can bring even more value to users.

  • Build adoption and retention into the commission/bonuses structure for your customer success and support teams.

  • Include adoption metrics and successes in reports to stakeholders.

Pro tip: Use Hotjar’s flexible Workspaces so diverse teams can cut through the noise and focus only on the insights that are important to them. 

4. Design a great onboarding process  

Most SaaS user interactions with your brand take place in the app. This is where they onboard, learn about features, and realize value. 

You only have a short window to impress them, so it’s important to get onboarding right. To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Use surveys to gather information on your users before and during onboarding. This lets you design personalized onboarding flows using product adoption software like Appcues or Userpilot. Creating a personalized experience means you won’t confuse less tech-savvy users while frustrating others. 

  • Based on the information you gather about roles and goals, use personalized onboarding checklists, demo features, and templates to guide each user to their aha moment. Providing templates or ‘empty states’ (example elements with no content) also lets them see how certain features work, helping them realize value sooner 

See our piece on product adoption examples for more on how productivity tool Notion excels at this. 

  • Offer optional product guides so users can opt in or out. Tech-savvy early adopters are likely to want to explore alone. However, hesitant laggards will need more hand-holding with a product walkthrough. Take a look at how Toggl aces this. 

Remember to also offer multimedia content that caters to different learning styles during onboarding. 

  • Provide positive reinforcement by spotlighting aha moments. For example, a pop-up ‘congratulations’ message when users reach a milestone.

  • Give users contextual support through a chatbot or pop-up forms, so they don’t have to leave the app to get the support they need.

Pro tip: Use Hotjar Session Recordings to see how users navigate onboarding. Then, you can adjust user flows to improve the experience. For example, if they’re scrolling past key features, you can provide helpful nudges to draw their attention to them. 

The Feedback widget also sits unobtrusively at the side of your app so users can rate parts of onboarding. Then, you can filter Session Recordings by which users told you they were satisfied/dissatisfied to combine the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’ 

#Hotjar Session Recordings can help you spot bugs in a new version of your product.

Source: Hotjar

Hotjar Session Recordings let you visualize how users navigate your website and digital product 

5. Drive feature adoption 

Feature adoption is key to helping users realize value and see how your product can solve their problems. Their aha moment comes when they understand how specific features can help them complete key tasks. 

But it doesn’t stop there. You also need to drive ongoing feature adoption among power users to boost retention.

To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Use in-app messaging like features nudges to highlight key features. And be sure to send these messages at the right time, rather than bombarding new users. In-context nudges at the time when that feature would be valuable to them are most effective.

  • Use post-onboarding email campaigns with helpful tips on how specific roles can get the most out of particular features. This gets new users coming back to the app, and helps drive ongoing adoption among regular users and teams.

  • Based on insights from session recordings, you can change your UI to make new features more prominent, driving ongoing feature adoption among regular and power users.

  • Measure the success of feature adoption by tracking metrics like key events and feature adoption rates.

  • Add ‘entry points’’ on your website to make users aware of new features. For example, a clickable button with the name of a key feature like your knowledge base or help center.

Use heatmaps to see whether users click on these buttons. If not, you can move them to a more prominent position.

#Heatmaps show you which parts of your site attract the most attention, and which ones go unnoticed
Heatmaps show you which parts of your site attract the most attention, and which ones go unnoticed

6. Drive retention 

Adoption doesn’t end when new users complete onboarding and realize value. It costs a lot to land each new customer, so driving retention and repeat purchases maximizes ROI on acquisition.   

To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Be proactive and keep reminding users of the value of your product (your competitors certainly will). Share content via email or in-app pop-ups that encourage customers to think about your product in new ways. 

Segment new users from existing ones, and occasional users from power users and create content accordingly. If you’re a B2B SaaS business, you’ll also want to create content to drive adoption across organizations by making users aware of features that bring value to their roles.

  • Track logins to detect when users log in less often. This can be an early warning sign that they’re less engaged and at risk of churning. 

Pro tip: Use Hotjar’s Slack integration to share PX insights with your teams on the fly. This lets your product team make changes to improve the user experience. Or your customer success team can reach out at the right time to resolve issues.  

#Hotjar integrations make it easy to keep all your teams in the loop in real time

Hotjar integrations let you share product experience insights in real-time.

Remember, customer journeys aren’t always linear. If you upsell to an existing customer (i.e. they upgrade to a new plan) they may need to learn new features. So think about how to help them learn those features and realize value without repeating what they already know.  

7. Remove barriers to adoption 

There’s nothing worse than signing up for a new product only to run into problems when you try to use it for the first time. 

Whatever industry you’re in, the competition is stiff. So you don’t want to give customers any reason to abandon you in favor of a rival. 

Removing barriers to adoption is key to this. 

To apply this product adoption strategy: 

  • Watch session recordings to see where users get blocked or drop off. For example, if you see they’re rage-clicking on what they think is a button, you can tweak the design to make it clearer so it doesn’t look like a clickable element.

  • Address users ‘conceptual’ barriers by providing targeted content and support at the right time. For example, hesitant later adopters need to see that others have vetted your product before they’ll sign up. And they’ll appreciate you removing the element of risk by offering free trials and a money-back guarantee.

  • Make it easy for users to self-serve and find answers. But ensure your customer support team is always on hand and easily reachable if they can’t.

  • Make your product available on all browsers and devices, and make sure it performs well on mobile devices. You should also be mindful of accessibility criteria for disabled users. 

#Ok, this may be going too far. But you do want to make sure late adopters using older devices aren’t left out in the cold
Ok, this may be going too far. But you do want to make sure late adopters using older devices aren’t left out in the cold

8. Incentivize adoption 

As well as nailing the product experience, you can incentivize customers to use your product and spread the word to others. Turning users into product advocates is a powerful, cost-effective way to drive product adoption.

To apply this product adoption strategy: 

  • B2B SaaS providers should build adoption into their pricing structure. For example, by offering a bonus or discount when a certain number of end-users have onboarded to your product. 

  • Offer bonuses and discounts, to users who reach certain adoption milestones or who share your product with others.

  • Make it easy for existing customers to share their success with your product via testimonials, reviews, and social media.

  • Provide free samples or perks to industry influencers to incentivize promoting your product 

#Influencer marketing is usually associated with fashion and beauty, but it can work wonders for tech too
Influencer marketing is usually associated with fashion and beauty, but it can work wonders for tech too

9. Never stop learning 

Driving ongoing adoption means never being satisfied. You need to make continuous discovery and delivery part of your strategy. This lets you continually improve your product and the customer experience to boost satisfaction and revenue.

To apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Use PX tools and customer research processes to continually gather user insights. For example, install a feedback widget so users can rate features and tell you in their own words what they love and hate about them.

  • Send out surveys when customers churn. This lets you improve your product and retain existing users. 

#Nobody likes to lose a customer, but you can still gain valuable insights from them to keep the rest happier
Nobody likes to lose a customer, but you can still gain valuable insights from them to keep the rest happier

10. Test, test, test  

When you’re dealing with different user profiles, you need to know what works best for each of them. 

And to do that, you need to continually validate your assumptions through testing.

To apply this product adoption strategy: 

  • Run A/B tests on your website to see which variations on your copy, lead magnets, or CTAs convert best.

  • After sign-up, use session recordings and heatmaps to see how users move around your app. This lets you make small adjustments—like making a feature more prominent or tweaking button text—to drive activation and adoption.  

  • Keep gathering data even after launching a new feature. Analyze user experiences and features use. Then, experiment to see how you can optimize them.

#Side-by-side testing of different versions of your website lets you compare conversion rates to see what works best
Side-by-side testing of different versions of your website lets you compare conversion rates to see what works best

User adoption strategies: the key to driving product adoption for all your users 

Product adoption strategies let you take a structured approach to drive product adoption and cater to different users wherever they are in their journey.

Continuous learning should be at the heart of all your product adoption processes. Use PX tools and customer research to go deep into your users’ profiles, roles, and goals. This lets you design personalized content, onboarding, and user experiences that meet individuals’ needs. And helps remove the barriers that could stop them from adopting. 

You also need to drive feature adoption using the right tools. And focus on customer retention and incentivizing adoption. 

Do all that and you’ll create a user experience they’ll be falling over themselves to share with others.

Want your product to be a triumph?

Hotjar’s product experience (PX) insights tools tell you exactly how you can improve it and drive adoption.      

Frequently asked questions about product adoption strategies