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10 tried-and-tested strategies to boost product adoption

You’ve spent ages developing your new product and achieved good results from your sign-up campaign. Now, you’re expecting great things from your product launch. But, after the initial buzz wears off, for some reason people just aren’t using your product or service as much as you hoped.

So, what went wrong? Many businesses put tons of thought into product design, but not the strategies they're going to use to actually drive product adoption.

Last updated

7 Nov 2022

This article gives you a list of proven and actionable product adoption techniques to help you boost customer satisfaction and adoption—and keep your users coming back for more!

Want your product to be a hit with users?

Hotjar’s tools show you how your users experience your product, so you can make improvements to drive adoption. 

10 powerful techniques to drive product adoption

Product adoption strategies are techniques to make users aware of your product and drive them to start using it at every stage of the customer journey—from initial awareness, to adoption, and advocacy. 

From the product design process to ongoing features discovery, this list of 10 product adoption techniques puts the customer at the heart of everything you do, encouraging more users to make 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 and understanding your users ensures you design products that meet their needs—and create copy, marketing campaigns, and onboarding flows to guide them through the different stages of product adoption.

How 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. Understanding users' individual pain points, challenges, and goals helps you 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., to 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, so you can make small changes to improve the customer experience (CX)—like adjusting onboarding flows to guide users to activation sooner

  • Identify different users' activation criteria and where their 'aha moment' happens—when they first realize value, usually when completing a key task—during onboarding

  • 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 shows you the most important website metrics and lets you identify user behavior trends
Hotjar Trends shows you the most important website metrics and lets you identify user behavior trends

2. Create personalized experiences 

Users fall into one of five adoption categories—innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. They may have common pain points, but their challenges and what they want to know will vary. The category users fall into is usually dictated by how risk-averse and tech-savvy they are.  

The variety of adopter profiles is why one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns or onboarding flows only confuse some users while they frustrate others—creating personalized experiences helps you boost customer delight and encourage more people to start using your product.

How to apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Leverage insights from customer interviews and PX tools to determine what questions each user profile has at each stage of the adoption journey and the issues they struggle with. If you're using Hotjar (that's us👋), you can filter Recordings and Heatmaps by 'User Attributes' to investigate 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 users 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.

  • Offer tailored subscription plans so different user profiles can access the features 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
  • Consider how different types of companies or users with diverse roles will use your product—and how you can tailor your demos and content to match. For example, admins will prioritize learning how to set up your product, while SaaS end users will want to explore features.

  • 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 also lets 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—so you need to align all your teams around your adoption strategy.

How to apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Align cross-functional teams around product adoption and make it part of their strategy, from UX design to marketing, sales, and customer support. Cross-functional collaboration is vital to understanding all your users and each stage of their user journey. Collect 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 product adoption metrics and successes in reports to stakeholders

4. Design an excellent onboarding process  

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

You only have a short window to impress your users, so getting onboarding right is vital. How to apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Use surveys to gather information about your users before and during onboarding to design personalized flows using product adoption software like Appcues or Userpilot. Creating a customized onboarding experience means you won't confuse less tech-savvy users and frustrate 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) lets your users 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 onboarding users to drive adoption. 

  • Offer optional product guides so users can opt in or out of your onboarding process. Tech-savvy early adopters are likely to want to explore alone, while hesitant laggards will need more hand-holding with a product walkthrough. Also, offer your users multimedia content that caters to different learning styles during onboarding. 

  • Provide positive reinforcement by spotlighting aha moments: for example, send users a pop-up 'congratulations' message when they 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: watch Hotjar Session Recordings to see how users navigate your onboarding process. Then, adjust user flows to improve the experience. For example, if you notice your users are scrolling past crucial features, you can provide helpful nudges to draw their attention to them. 

The Hotjar Feedback widget also sits unobtrusively at the side of your app or website so users can rate certain sections of their onboarding experience. Then, you can filter Session Recordings by which users told you they were satisfied or dissatisfied to find out the 'why' behind their actions.

#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 understand how your product can solve their problems. Users' aha moment occurs when they understand how specific features can help them complete their jobs to be done (JTBD)—but it doesn’t stop there. You also need to drive ongoing feature adoption among power users to boost retention.

How to apply this product adoption strategy:

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

  • Use post-onboarding email campaigns with helpful tips on how specific roles can get the most out of particular features to draw new users back to your website or app, and drive ongoing adoption among regular users and teams

  • Based on insights from session recordings, update your user interface 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'—like a clickable button—on your website to make users aware of new features. Then, use Hotjar Heatmaps to see whether users click on these buttons. If not, move them to a more prominent position.

#Hotjar Heatmaps show you which parts of your site attract the most user attention, and which ones go unnoticed
Hotjar Heatmaps show you which parts of your site attract the most user 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 return on investment (ROI) on acquisition.   

How 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, create content to drive adoption across organizations by making users aware of features that bring value to their roles.

  • Track logins to detect if users are logging in less often. This can be an early warning sign that engagement is plummeting and users are at risk of churning. 

🔥Pro tip: use Hotjar’s Slack integration to share PX insights with your teams on the fly, so you can make changes to improve the user experience. Or your customer success team can reach out to users at the right time to resolve their 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 here. 

How to apply this product adoption strategy: 

  • Watch session recordings to see where users get blocked or drop off. For example, if you see users rage-clicking on an image they think is a button, tweak your design to make it clearer.

  • 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 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 by providing them with product guides, but ensure your customer support team is always on hand and easily reachable if they can’t find what they're looking for or need clarification

  • Ensure your product is available on all browsers and devices, and that it performs particularly well on mobile devices. Also, be mindful of accessibility criteria for users with disabilities. 

#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 

Turning users into product advocates is a powerful, cost-effective way to drive product adoption, so you need to incentivize customers to use your product and spread the word to others.

How to apply this product adoption strategy: 

  • Build adoption into your pricing structure, especially if you're a B2B SaaS provider. For example, offer your customers a bonus or discount when a certain number of end-users have successfully onboarded

  • Offer bonuses and discounts to users who reach certain adoption milestones or 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. Make continuous discovery and delivery part of your adoption strategy, so you can continually improve your product and the customer experience to boost satisfaction and revenue.

How to apply this product adoption strategy:

  • Use PX tools and customer research processes to continually gather user insights: for example, install a feedback widget on your website or web app 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, so you can make changes based on their feedback 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.

How to apply this product adoption strategy: 

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

  • After sign-up, use session recordings and heatmaps to see how users move around your product. 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 usage. Then, experiment with different versito 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

Drive product adoption with user-centric strategies

Continuous learning should be at the heart of all your product adoption strategies. 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 your customers' needs and helps you remove the barriers that could stop them from adopting your product. 

Want your product to be a hit with users?

Hotjar’s tools show you how your users experience your product, so you can make improvements to drive adoption. 

FAQs about product adoption strategies