What is Feature Adoption and How to Leverage it

What is Feature Adoption and How to Leverage it

Mile Zivkovic
Mile Zivkovic9 minDecember 29, 2022

Launching an app has never been easier. With so much knowledge online that you can grab for free, no-code options made even for non-developers, communities for SaaS founders, and more, it seems like literally anyone can create a new piece of software.

However, if you’ve been through it, you know that having a great idea and developing it into a product that customers use and love are completely different. One of the biggest struggles is working on an amazing feature and then having your customers ignore it completely.

Today, we talk about feature adoption as a part of product analytics and how to improve your feature adoption rates for a SaaS product.

What is feature adoption?

Feature adoption is the process of customers using a certain feature in your product over a certain period of time. We talk about this concept in terms of mobile and web applications.

It is crucial to improve the customer experience and make a product that actually solves customers’ pain points. At the same time, having key features that actually get used means that your development budget is going to the right direction. Ultimately, if customers are using the features you built for them, it’s easier to attract new customers and unlock more revenue.

Feature adoption is important for solving the actual needs of your users

Source: Twitter

Why does feature adoption matter?

Instinctively, we know that feature adoption is important because we want the hard work on our apps to reflect real-life feature usage. But it goes beyond that. If your product team spent months working on something new in your web or mobile app, those features need to reflect on larger business goals. Here are some practical reasons to monitor your feature adoption.

  1. Better feature adoption means better retention. If your customers use the features built for them, they are more likely to stay around longer. This not only translates to more recurring revenue and happier customers but also less effort and money spent acquiring new customers.
  2. Better retention means less churn. As experienced SaaS owners know, explosive growth doesn’t mean much if your churn is slowly bleeding your customer base. Improved feature adoption has a positive and profound impact on your customer churn rate.
  3. More value for your customers. With new features to adopt at the same price point, you’re giving them more value from your app and ultimately, giving yourself grounds for a price increase later on.

In short, driving feature adoption benefits both your customers and your own key metrics.

How to drive feature adoption: practical strategies for success

Ready to increase your feature adoption rates? The good news is, there are many companies that have been there before. This means that you can learn from their ways and start applying these tactics immediately.

Collect customer feedback and learn from it

Just launched a new feature and have no idea how your customers feel about it? All you have to do is collect user feedback from a certain percentage of users.

There are two ways you can go about collecting customer feedback.

First, you can use a session recording and heatmap tool such as LiveSession to collect feedback from different user segments without asking for it. LiveSession works in the background, recording user sessions so you can review them later on and see what they do either in real-time or through stored recordings throughout the duration of adoption.

Heatmaps in LiveSession

On top of this, you can use LiveSession to take a look at heatmaps. These are a visual representation of “hot spots” in your product, i.e. places that your customers visit often on the page, as opposed to greener areas that do not get any visits and clicks at all.

The second way to collect feedback and improve feature discovery is by directly asking your customers how they feel about the features and product updates you launched. Your product team can do this by implementing a microsurvey within the product, asking customers for their feedback.

This is also something you can do in LiveSession. Thanks to our integration with Survicate, you can ask customers what they think about your critical features directly from your app with a survey. The Survicate integration works with both web and mobile apps and you can use it to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback.

Once feedback comes in, make it a point to act on it and close the feedback loop. Your active users will appreciate being heard and you can use the feedback to improve your future feature launches. As a result, your key metrics go up, including customer retention, customer lifetime value, and recurring revenue.

Set up email sequences to announce new features

Do not underestimate the power of transactional emails. While they cannot bring the amazing ROI of marketing emails, they can be an amazing asset to your next feature release.

If your new feature is meant for all customers - that’s great. However, it’s even better if you’re launching to a specific user segment. For example, you have a review app and you’ve launched a new feature that lets them add reviews to the items in their store.

LastPass reminding customers about new and advanced features

You can then send out emails just to this user segment, explaining how the feature works and what specific benefits it can bring to them. You can finish the email off by offering a personal onboarding session. User segmentation is one of the key activities for the maximum adoption of your features.

Create interactive, personalized walkthroughs within the app

To make your feature adoption funnel better, one of the most important points is to create an in-app walkthrough. If you don’t already have one for your entire product, then launching one for new and relevant features should definitely be a priority.

An interactive walkthrough means that as customers use your app, they are greeted with carefully placed prompts, devised by your product team who works on proper app messaging and adoption strategy. 

For example, once you start using Slack, the app nudges you to different portions of the app, so that you can e.g. schedule messages or create a new Slack channel.

To make the walkthroughs even more valuable, work with your product managers to create user segments. Not everyone needs the same level of hand-holding. Even more importantly, there are some segments of your customer base that would simply not find your latest work a valuable feature.

Some ways that you can segment customers include:

  • Behavior within the app and usage over time
  • Primary use case
  • Survey score
  • Industry
  • And others

While you cannot personally walk through each person in your user base, creating these segments makes your feature rollouts much easier and quicker for primary and secondary features.

Announce new features properly

How are your users going to know that you have a new (or old) feature if you don’t let them know? Feature announcements are a huge part of the feature adoption funnel and knowing how and when to use them is a huge part of product-led growth.

If you have an existing but flashy feature that you want to show off to your customers (or just a segment), think about when they’re going to use it. For example, if you have an app for electronic signatures and you want customers to know about a signature tracking feature, let them know just as they send out a document.

As their electronic contract or other document goes out, they get a nudge about a feature that lets them track if the customer signed it. Timing is the key - only send app notifications when it’s absolutely necessary.

The same goes for launching completely new features that no one yet knows about. Once again, segmenting is key and you only want to inform those users who would consider this new addition a valuable feature.

This means sending the following types of messages to relevant user segments:

  • Emails
  • In-product notifications
  • Push notifications and app announcements
  • And others

Before you finish working on that incredible new feature, think about the ways to announce it. You want the kind of announcement that has the biggest impact on your target users without ruining the user experience.

Regularly check up on your feature adoption rates

It’s true that you live and learn, and unfortunately, learning on your own mistakes (and successes) is sometimes the best practice. Your feature adoption rate is a litmus test of how successful your feature launches are in terms of customer retention, stickiness and overall meeting the users’ expectations.

Along with your global product adoption rate, this metric will show you how successful you are with promoting new features to your audience. Unfortunately, some features just end up being unused, no matter how useful you think they are. The initial novelty wears off and these unused features remain as a hole in your budget.

By keeping track of your feature adoption rates, you can more easily identify which successful features are working with your customers and which are likely to be a flop after the initial appeal is gone.

Unclog your user and app experience

Software founders think of their products as their babies and they rarely see any faults with the features and the tool they made. The problem is that your user base may have different thoughts.

Using LiveSession, you can find out if a new feature is causing confusion or leading users to take full advantage of it. For example, just placing a button in the wrong section of the target user’s screen could cause them to ignore a new feature and move on.

It’s a good idea to run a new feature as a beta test with a certain segment of users before launching it to the public. This will help you remove any bugs and UX issues and provide more value to your target audience upon launch.

Run webinars with feature walk-throughs

As mentioned before, giving personalized feature walkthroughs to your product users is hardly an option since it takes quite a bit of time and money. Instead of targeting just a percentage of users with countless features, you can walk more of them through the app by running a webinar.

There are quite a few reasons why:

  • Video format, ideal for screen sharing and product demos
  • Infinitely scalable as you can add as many customers as you want
  • Customers can ask questions immediately
  • You can record the webinar for later use

Given how readily available and affordable webinars have become, using them as a way to showcase features to your existing and potential customers is a foolproof way to drive feature adoption and customer engagement for a small cost in time and money.

Create an impeccable help center

If a feature is completely new, there’s a good chance your users won’t know how to use it properly on their own. One thing to keep in mind is that a good portion of today’s customers prefer solving problems on their own before they get in touch with your customer support team.

You can provide them with this option by creating and maintaining a help center.

A help center is a repository with all the possible questions a customer could run into, regarding their onboarding, features, integrations, billing, you name it. It should be logically structured and present an overview of your key features, complete with screenshots, GIFs, videos and instructions on how to use them.

If you’re wondering what to add first, just take a look at your customer support queries and the most frequently asked questions you get. You’ll immediately know which features need to be covered and what your customers need help with.

Wrapping up

Working on your feature adoption rates is one of the most important tasks for any SaaS business. As you’re launching new product features, ensuring that your active users are actually using them makes an enormous impact on your business. At the same time, you’re providing more value to existing customers and making the product more useful for new ones.

Ready to take the first step towards better feature adoption strategies? With LiveSession, you can find out exactly what users do with your product so you can better guide them to feature discovery. Sign up for your free trial today!

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