The Definitive Guide to Product Adoption

Customer Experience, Customer Retention, User Experience
The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption

Product Adoption is the most heated problem of this decade!

Why, you ask?

Because most of the products in the market sell the talk, but can’t walk the walk!

Why do I say so?

Honestly, it’s not because the products that we use are less intuitive or not useful. Many of these products, simplify our everyday lives. They make us productive, ease our efforts and gives us the space to use our mental capacity on things that need more attention.

But sometimes, when you get around to use them actively, they make you pull out your hair, one by one.

The reason – their complexities messes up the seamless product adoption that we expect!

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption - Image 1

Empathize much?

Majorly, this is because the User Experience of these products generally renders us unimpressed. And the UX of a product is simply the most important thing when it comes to driving its users’ to the product’s “Aha” moment.

There’s a big difference between making a simple product & making a product simple.” – Des Traynor, Co-founder, ‎Intercom

This is the reason why there are so many alternatives for every possible product there is, and why our general instinct is to go for the one that seems less of a hassle.

Speaking about less hassle, what do you think about the product adoption approach of one of the most innovative companies – Apple Inc? Let me explain with two interesting examples.

How Apple tackles Product Adoption

Ever heard of the Apple Pippin?

Well, it’s highly likely that you haven’t.

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption - Apple Pippin

Apple Pippin is a game console created by Apple Inc. in 1996, in collaboration with the Japanese toy and video game company Bandai. And as it turned out, the Pippin game machine was arguably the biggest commercial failure for both Apple and Bandai.

Apple sold only about 42,000 units (from the produced 100,000 units) between when it released the Pippin in 1996 and when it discontinued the device the next year.

Why did the product adoption of Apple Pippin fail?

Well, the controls pretty much sucked. The games were bad. And overall the Pippin gave a bad User Experience despite the fact that it had a great inbuilt hardware.

The second reason – It was pricey! Pippin was priced at about $599 in 1996. Adjusting the inflation that is approximately $1000 in 2017.

Wait a sec? Isn’t that the current price of the iPhone X?

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption - iPhone X

Yes. Ironically, Apple Pippin was comparable in price with the latest tech from Apple, the iPhone X.

The iPhone X is definitely the hottest device in the market now. And from what we have already seen it definitely is quite the beast in terms of performance, camera and that beautiful, beautiful display!

Well, as a matter of fact, in comparison, Apple did it right with the Product Adoption of iPhone X.  Let me explain.

Making it “special” amongst the other iPhones
If you’ve been following the Apple releases, then you already know that along with the iPhone X ($999), Apple also announced the iPhone 8 and 8 plus. While the former is a new design altogether, priced higher than the latter (i.e, at $699 and $799) which are better versions of the older iPhone 7 and 7 plus. This gap in technology along with the pricing is a great way to make the iPhone X look better and attractive in comparison.

Proactive Customer Retention
Apple already has a major fan following, that they retain with each of their iPhones. This is a major part of their Product Adoption strategy, i.e, retaining the existing customers proactively so that they don’t jump ship to any of the competitors, say Google Pixel 2 for instance.

Utilizing Tried-and-tested Methodology
Apple used its tried and tested UX and hardware as its foundation for iPhone X. One of the major perks of using an Apple iPhone is its simplicity in usage. Apple has made this one of their primary objectives since the very first iPhone.

Effective Onboarding & Training
iPhones have a great onboarding and training process. Right from the start where they ask you to select your preferred languages, to setting up your iCloud, fingerprint, etc, to providing you with pop-up Tips on how you can utilize its features.

Consistency in UX updates
Every iPhone user excitedly waits for new updates on iPhone. The reason is that with every update they try and fix an issue or improve on the UX front.

If you try summing up all these points, you will very well understand that Product Adoption is not just merely getting a user started on a Product. But it is in fact, much deeper in context.

On that thought,  let’s move into a bit of the conceptual part, which is quite important before you jump into growth hacking your product adoption.

What is Product Adoption?

Product Adoption is simply the state in which a digital product (or tool) is used as intended to its maximum extent possible.

The business dictionary defines product adoption as a psychological process for prospective customers to learn about the product, adopt it or reject it. But the fact is, as I explained with Apple analogy is not just about getting a prospect to onboard the product. But is much more than that!

Let me break it down for you.

Once a prospect buy/use the product, the Product adoption process moves into the further stages.

User onboarding – the customer is given a product tour and is shown how to use the product

Consistent training and Feature Adoption – the customer gets consistent training to make sure the potential of the product is realized and utilized

Proactive support – the customer queries are solved proactively as and when it arises

Retention – the requirement of the customer is met to its maximum extent possible

These processes can work on a similar basis for both B2C and B2B companies. Although, funnily enough, the product adoption is named and called differently in both scenarios.

Let’s have a look at that. Shall we?

User Adoption v/s Product Adoption v/s Digital Adoption

One of the common confusion when it comes to adoption of a product is how it is called. Much like how we are so confused on the names of who is who in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption - MCU

With jargons like User Adoption, Product Adoption, and Digital Adoption commonly used in the market, the idea could often be misunderstood easily.

Well, truth be told, they are more or less the same. But each of them has a slight change in perspective. Let me explain.

Product Adoption (as mentioned above) is seen from the perspective of a product owner or manager, whose aim is to make the usage of the product by its prospects/users to its maximum extent possible. This could be used in both B2C and B2B.

User Adoption is moreover the user’s perspective in which he/she mentally accepts the usage of the new product in his/her lives.

Digital Adoption is the corporate jargon which is used widely by managers at B2B companies whose primary aim is to help their employees adopt their in-house products effectively.

In totality, all the 3 aspects/perspectives are important when it comes to a business. It’s more or less like looking at your product from different angles.

Summing up, we’ve reached the point where all these talks converge. That is, how to Growth hack your Product Adoption to make it exceptional.

Growth Hacking Your Product Adoption

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption

If you’ve been paying close attention, then you already must have figured out some of the gaps in your product adoption. And you must be on the lookout for answers.

But to be fair, you must understand that, your questions may not have a single answer. But will have multiple phases that may need fruitful implementation.

Growth hacking your Product Adoption would require consistency, a lot of experimentation and openness to hardships. Albeit, there are many prevalent growth hacks by businesses that have helped them improve their product adoption.

Here are some of the ones that you must try out!

1. Make your product interactive

Your product might be a technological marvel but always remember – the people who interact with it, is more important.

To get a perspective, try answering these questions.

  • Have you ever checked how your users/employees are interacting with the product they rely on every day?
  • Do they find them intuitive, or do they get often stuck?
  • Do they waste productive time waiting for support queries to be answered or do they look for other solutions?

Many a time, products are built with a User Experience that inculcates and addresses all these issues. But quite often they get befuddled as they build the product adoption lifecycle.

This could be due to various reasons, but one great growth hack to sort this out is via interactive tooltips and guided walkthroughs.

Built for complex and sophisticated products primarily, these interactive tooltips and guided walkthroughs help users interact with the multiple touch-points on the product actively. It helps them get a better understanding of the product’s features, elements, etc. and prompts them to take an action.

Say for example, here is a guided walkthrough created using Whatfix on Salesforce Lightning.

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Product Adoption - Whatfix

This guided walkthrough helps the user navigate seamlessly across the product, helping him/her complete each task from start to end promptly.

Bottomline: These interactive walkthroughs help in accelerating your Product Adoption by streamlining the interactivity, improving the user’s learning curve, and helping them proactively sort out their confusions.

2. Deduce the complexity and minimize it

Complexity is basically the degree to which a product is difficult to understand and use. And obvious as it is, greater the complexity, slower the product adoption.

However, educating your users/employees is one of the best ways to thwart complexities. To do that, start by creating great content.

Firstly, pinpoint the complexities of your product by utilizing feedback mechanisms and analytics. Then make sure you create content that addresses each of those complexities. The content created could be of various forms that can be easily consumable by the users like blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, infographics, videos, etc.

Secondly, channelize these content via your marketing strategy to be shown to your prospects and users. If the users know the complexity and its viable solution beforehand, then they are more likely to adopt your product.

3. Simplify your product design

Design plays a critical role in how smoothly a user adopts a product. But for many of the popular web products, the design comes as an afterthought. There is also the factor that, with sophistication, the design goes for a toss.

People are infinitely lazy, the less they have to do, the clearer path to product adoption.

For example, take the popular CRM Salesforce, the original version called Salesforce Classic is stuffed and difficult to navigate. Product Adoption solutions like Whatfix as mentioned above fit in perfectly in such situations. But with its newer version with a fresh UI & UX, that is Salesforce Lightning, they have been able to diffuse the situation a bit in comparison.

4. Strategic Repetition of Key features

Strategic repetition is a methodology that will help you tone your users on a deeper level, helping them transcend their normal resistance to change. This in terms of a product can be done by consistent feature updates, tips and tricks, webinars, podcasts, and further propagating the concept and vision of the product.

5. Create Advocates & Champions

Another way to growth hack is by creating product advocates. These advocates could be from multiple target niche who can help you spread the word about your product and its potential.

They can also be converted into champions who help other users streamline their difficulties on the product. Champions, in general, will have in-depth knowledge of the product and can answer questions from their circle and also in community platforms like forums, social media, etc helping you propagate your product’s voice across.


Have any more ideas or suggestions to add? Let me know in the comments or tweet out to me!

Gokul Suresh

Gokul Suresh

Gokul leads the Inbound, Content and Social Media efforts at Whatfix.

A techie, a marketer and a UX enthusiast, he lovesthinking up creative ideas and experimenting with new tools. He's an expert in inbound marketing and eats CRMs for breakfast, ITSMs for lunch and leftovers from Product Hunt for dinner!

Have anything to say to him? Tweet out to him. He enjoys constructive criticism.
Gokul Suresh

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