The Five Stages of Product Adoption

February 22, 2022

We’ve broken the concept of product adoption into five key stages, outlined product adoption metrics, and provided some strategies for how to improve product adoption.

What is product adoption?

Product adoption refers to how customers embrace and use a product. It is the way in which customers discover a new product, understand its purpose and value, and then continue to use it as intended.

When product adoption is strong, that typically means the following:

  • The trial period of your product has proved to have value
  • Effective onboarding helps make adoption seamless and fast
  • Product design and usability are seamless
  • The product is the right market fit
  • The company has a feedback tool in place to gather customer feedback to identify and solve issues quickly

When product adoption is not strong, it can mean the following:

  • The onboarding process is arduous or confusing
  • Product design or interface isn’t intuitive
  • The trial didn’t prove value quickly enough
  • The product is not reaching the target audience
  • Customers are attempting to give feedback but the product lacks the tools to ingest and act on this information

The five stages of product adoption

Stage #1: Awareness

Obviously, customers are not going to adopt your product if they do not know about it in the first place. Digital and mobile marketing can help direct potential new customers to your product whether that lives in the app stores or elsewhere. As in all marketing, it is important to help audiences understand and solve their problems – with your product being the solution.

Stage #2: Research and discovery

After your potential customers are aware of your product, it is up to you to make sure they understand the value of your product. Whether this is compelling website copy, detailed app store listings, useful screenshots, etc., it’s critical to quickly and effectively educate customers on how your product can solve their specific problems.

Stage #3: Evaluation and decision-making

Once customers have gathered all of the information they need in the research and discovery phase, it’s time for them to make a decision. At this stage, understanding your competition is critical because your customers are likely comparing your product to other similar products. You want to stand out from the crowd, prove value, and entice customers to choose your product over anything else.

Stage #4: Trial

Whether or not your product is free, there is always a trial period of sorts. This can be in the form of a free trial before paying a fee or it can just be the first few days of using your product. Regardless, this is the testing phase where customers actually try your product for the first time. It helps them understand if they want to continue using your product or move on to a competitor instead. This is your most important opportunity to prove your product’s value.

Stage #5: Adoption OR rejection

Ultimately, there comes a point where your customers are either going to adopt or reject your product. Even though this is technically the last stage of product adoption, the work certainly does not stop here. In fact, product adoption should always be an ongoing process of collecting feedback from active customers, analyzing it, and then acting on it. Customers can leave at any point, so it’s critical to continue providing value time and time again – not just after they become regular customers.

How to measure product adoption

Some of the KPIs product managers should measure when onboarding new customers or launching a new product include:

  • Trial conversions: How many people adopt your product after their free trial has expired?
  • Reach: Understanding how widely the new feature/product/offering is being used can help validate product decisions, identify high-value features, and highlight key areas for improvement.
  • Depth: It’s critical to understand the extent to which customers are using your product or new feature.
  • Time: Understanding how long it takes customers to adopt a new feature and actually start using it can help you quickly identify friction in the onboarding process.
  • Retention: How long do users continue to use a feature after learning about it? Do they just try it out a few times or continue to use it over the course of months and years?

Strategies to increase product adoption

There are five key strategies to increasing product adoption. We dive into each one more deeply in this article if you want to learn more.

  1. Understand your ideal customer
  2. Define success metrics
  3. Make onboarding a continual process
  4. Proactively communicate in-app
  5. Consistently ask for customer feedback

Combine these product adoption strategies with a mobile feedback solution like Alchemer Mobile (formerly Apptentive), and you’ll quickly see increased customer lifetime. Get started today!

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