SaaS Business

How to Increase Feature Adoption in 7 Steps

March 16, 2021

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Your team has created an incredible new feature, but is struggling to get people to use it. You know that users will appreciate the new feature once they figure out how it works, but they simply can’t get over the learning curve. 

Sounds familiar? This could mean that you need to step up your feature adoption game. Improving product and feature adoption can have an outstanding positive impact on user engagement and retention and, consequently, your revenue.

How can you increase feature adoption with onboarding tools like Nickelled, a well-planned email marketing strategy, and enhanced customer support practices? Read on to find out.

What are Feature Adoption and Feature Discovery?

In a nutshell, feature discovery and adoption mean that your product users “discover” the new feature and “adopt” it simply by starting to use the feature regularly.

While too many software product developers tend to measure their product success by the number of features offered, the true key to success is getting your users to their “wow” moment

The more features the person adopts, the more value they receive from your product, and the less likely they will be to give it up. As such, feature adoption becomes a key metric for user retention and expansion.

Stages of Feature Adoption

Feature adoption may sound like a vague process, but, in reality, it is a very specific step in the marketing and sales process.

The overall sales process can be summarized in five steps:

  1. Awareness. A lead finds out that your product or new feature exists.
  2. Interest. The lead starts searching for more information.
  3. Evaluation. The lead mentally evaluates your new feature or product and compares it to the alternatives. 
  4. Trial. The lead uses your feature or product for a short period of time.
  5. Adoption or Rejection. The user decides whether or not they are going to make a mental or financial investment to adopt the new feature or product.

No matter how well-thought your marketing and sales process is, adoption isn’t a guaranteed outcome. That is why it is crucial to learn how to increase feature adoption and look for additional tools to help you succeed and prevent churn.

Measuring Feature Adoption

When it comes to measuring and analyzing feature adoption, it is important to track it on a variety of levels, including:

  • Breadth of adoption. This metric describes how widely your feature has been adopted across your entire audience or a key user segment. Determining what percentage of the users are using the feature can help you evaluate the initial appeal of your brand new feature.
  • Depth of adoption. This measures how often your key users access the feature, as well as whether they are following the desired workflow or are behaving in unexpected ways. Looking at the depth of adoption can help to determine whether the customers have an ongoing need or face challenges using the feature.
  • Time to adopt. This metric describes how long it takes for a user to start using the new feature. Do they try it out right away or wait a few days or weeks before picking it up? Shorter time to adopt means that the feature addresses a significant customer need or pain point.
  • Duration of adoption. After adopting the new feature, for how long do people keep using it? Do they try it a couple of times and give up, or use it on a regular basis? This metric is intended to show whether the feature is offering real value to users beyond its initial novelty.

How to Increase Feature Adoption Rates

Given the impact that feature adoption rates can have on both the user experience and your company, it should really be your top priority. Here are some proven strategies to increase feature adoption and help your customers get the most out of your product:

1. Announce Features the Right Way

An obvious, but often overlooked, reason behind low feature adoption rates is the fact that users may simply be unaware of your new feature.

To increase feature adoption rates, treat each new feature announcement like a mini-product launch. Devise a Product Hunt Launch. Do an email campaign. Create social media buzz. Contact industry journalists. 

Remember, even experienced users of your product are newbies when it comes to a newly-added feature. Celebrating new features and providing feature onboarding will keep your existing users excited about your product and show that you are evolving to meet their needs.

For instance, Pieter Levels created some buzz on Twitter regarding Hoodmaps’s Product Hunt launch: 

It’s short, to the point and clearly explains what the tool does. 

Interactive guided tours created with Nickelled are a great way to provide your customers with a better user onboarding experience and to incentivize them to give the new feature a try. You can even notify them with a popup nanobar about the new feature release.

2. Provide a Better User Onboarding Experience

Your customer’s first-time experience with the new feature sets the tone for every experience that comes thereafter. As such, it is your job to demonstrate the usefulness of your feature head-on.

You can use welcome messages, tips, or in-app tutorials to create a clear view of the value – no matter how complex your product or feature is. Start by defining your core value proposition and streamline your onboarding efforts to demonstrate that value to the users.

Here, choosing the right tool to create onboarding tutorials is key. For example, Gengo, which manages around 21,000 translators globally, has chosen to use Nickelled to onboard new translators joining the team. Within a few months, they were able to increase the percentage of new translators who become active within the first 3 months, eventually reaching their goal of 60%.

3. Analyze Your Feature Adoption Rates

Contrary to our best hopes, some features end up never being used. In fact, many features of the most popular products get lost before ever reaching the target audience, while others end up being adopted by a completely different user group.

Analyzing feature adoption rates and related data can be a great weapon for you to see how users interact with your product’s features. 

We recommend using Nickelled to get instant insights into how the users are using your guided tours and analyze real-time session recordings to see how customers interact with the product.

4. Support the In-App Experiences with Behavioural Emails

Increasing feature adoption involves developing a specific habitual user experience. You want people to be using your feature in a consistent and automatic manner.

Naturally, similar to any other habit, feature adoption requires reinforcement through repetition. Email marketing presents an easy way to achieve this repetition and take advantage of the exposure effect. 

By sending emails that repeat the recommendations offered in your Nickelled guided tutorials, you will increase the probability that a user will take an action and start using the new feature regularly.

For example, Frase, an SEO content optimization tool, sends this email to users who aren’t using its Answers feature. 

This email is a great way to tell users of the value of this feature and educate them in the process.

It is a good idea to schedule and customize your emails in response to certain behavioural triggers, when the users are most engaged and receptive. For example, you can send the first email shortly after the user installs the new widget or feature, and follow up with a second one after the user gives it the first try.

5. Provide Customer Support

If you provide your customers with an opportunity to reach you whenever they need assistance with using your new feature, you won’t regret it. Here, again, Nickelled can come in handy.

For example, Gumtree, the UK’s largest website for local community classifieds, found that switching to Nickelled to handle support requests has improved the customer support experience ratings by 10%. The company also saw an impressive 470% ROI after adding Nickelled guides to their customer support arsenal.

6. Use Targeting to Boost Feature Adoption

Chances are, most of your product’s value will come from just a few key features. Some features may turn out to be too complicated for a standard user, while others might only appeal to a small category of customers.

To increase feature adoption, you will need to fix these “weak spots” and find a way to boost engagement with your product altogether, no matter how specific the feature is. 

Luckily, segmentation of the overall audience provides the solution. When releasing a new feature, conduct your research to determine which user groups will benefit from it most, and target these user groups specifically. Sending out a mass email, on the other hand, would alienate just as many users as it would help.

7. Improve Yourself Continuously

Sometimes, feature adoption is hindered by an acute, specific problem. Your product’s navigation might be making your latest feature hard to find. Your new feature might seem too advanced to use. You might even be targeting an audience who has no stake in the problem you are trying to solve.

With thousands of users, finding and addressing these issues isn’t always easy. Sending out user surveys is a simple way to collect the feedback first-hand and act on it. After giving your product users some time to play with the new feature and go through onboarding tutorials, send them a short feedback survey right from the Nickelled app.

For example, the team of, a European sports club management platform, is now working on creating guides to preemptively answer the most common questions posted by new users with Nickelled. They were also able to double the number of teams they can support in only 2 years.

Create a Seamless Onboarding Process with Nickelled

Without a doubt, an unforgettable user experience is key in increasing feature adoption rates. A seamless onboarding process will not only aid in displaying the real value your product has to offer, but will also enhance all of your other efforts aimed toward user retention and expansion.

Use Nickelled to easily create and update interactive and immersive guided onboarding tutorials and get instant insights on how users are using your guided tours.