10 Software Adoption Best Practices and Tips For B2B Companies

Software adoption is crucial to the success of SaaS companies because it secures users to be long-term customers. A SaaS business model relies on recurring revenue from retained users, so if adoption fails, the whole business model fails as well.

We’ve compiled the fundamentals of proper user onboarding that leads to software adoption — so you don’t have to do more research.

Let’s go over the concepts:

TL;DR

  • Software adoption is a step-by-step process to make users comfortable and habitual with a new software system.
  • Successful software adoption makes it possible to retain users, increase product stickiness, and grow your SaaS.
  • Your software adoption rate is the percentage of signed-up customers that become active users.
  • In SaaS, the median user growth is 4%, while the median activation rate is 17%.
  • To grasp the full picture of your software adoption process, you need to calculate other metrics such as the activation rate, feature adoption rate, and product stickiness.
  • As you develop your product and achieve product-market fit, you must consider the technology adoption curve, which divides users into five segments: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.
  • The software adoption process follows 6 phases: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, activation, and adoption.
  • The ten tips and best practices for good software adoption include:
  1. Collecting user data with a welcome screen to segment users and personalize the onboarding experience.
  2. Use onboarding checklists to drive users to the activation point as fast as possible.
  3. Implement in-app tooltips to introduce relevant features to the user without disrupting their experience.
  4. Create video tutorials to shorten the learning curve and make it easy for users to consume information.
  5. Provide repeated value with secondary onboarding, introducing them to advanced features.
  6. Implement an in-app help center to provide educational resources and support to your users.
  7. Set goals and track adoption KPIs to spot and fix points of friction.
  8. Add gamification elements to engage customers with your product
  9. Create win-back email campaigns to re-engage inactive users outside the app.
  10. A/B test your in-app experiences to find opportunities for improvement and optimize adoption.
  • Userpilot is the most cost-effective product we know that can make software adoption easier for you. So instead of relying on the dev team, why not try a Userpilot demo to see how you can improve adoption without coding?

What is software adoption?

Software adoption is a step-by-step process to make users get comfortable and habitual with a new software implementation.

Your new customers are changing old business operations to use your product instead. Hence it’s your responsibility to help users adopt your product.

Why is software adoption important?

As already mentioned at the beginning of the article, adoption results in retention. And in SaaS, retaining customers is as important as acquiring them (and up to 25 times less expensive).

Adoption also translates into lower churn, which alongside higher retention makes your revenue more consistent and predictable over time.

How to calculate the software adoption rate?

Your software adoption rate is the percentage of signed-up customers that become active users. And it’s calculated like this:

E.g: If you get 100 new signups per month and 25 of them become active, your software adoption rate would be 25%.

product adoption rate
Product adoption rate formula.

Software adoption benchmarks

Now, how do you know if your software adoption rate is good?

According to this 2019 Mixpanel study, the median user growth rate — the percentage of new users over a month — is about 4% (and 72% for the 90th percentile). In contrast, the median activation rate is 17% (and 65% for the 90th percentile).

3 key software adoption metrics that you should track

Although you can easily calculate software adoption from the above formula, you still need more metrics to get the full picture and improve product adoption:

Activation rate

Activation rate is the number of users who engaged with the product’s core features (known as an activation milestone) in relation to the number of users who signed up. Here’s the formula:

activation rate formula software adoption
Activation rate formula.

Feature adoption rate

With feature adoption rate, you can find out which features are being used. To get it, calculate the percentage of user logins who engaged with a specific feature.

Feature_Adoption_Rate
Feature adoption rate formula.

Product stickiness

To check if your customers are sticking around, calculate product stickiness by simply dividing the number of daily active users (DAU) by monthly active users (MAU). The result will be your DAU/MAU ratio:

stickiness-software-adoption

What are the five stages of the new technology adoption curve?

The product adoption curve illustrates the distribution of different types of software users.

As you develop your product and achieve product-market fit, you must consider the five different user segments so you can improve software adoption and grow your business.

software adoption curve
Software adoption curve.

Innovators

Innovators (2.5% of the market) are excited about trying products and testing new technology. They’re important for software development to get early feedback, but they usually don’t stick around.

Early adopters

Early adopters (13.5%) have a greater need for your product and are willing to spend resources on a great solution. Their feedback is critical as it’s more oriented toward solving a problem and getting a job done rather than technical aspects.

Early majority

The early majority (34%) is the larger segment of potential customers, and they’re only interested in a product that’s already established and has no risk of failing. So you must gain their trust with early success in order to build a loyal customer base.

Late majority

The late majority (34%) is as large and risk-averse as the early majority. However, they’re less likely to get invested with a brand, thus making them more intolerant of technical issues and bad fits.

Laggards

The laggards (16%) are resistant to change and are comfortable with their current processes. They’ll only change when it becomes a pressing need.

What are the six phases of the software adoption process?

The software adoption process follows a series of phases. Your user onboarding process must guide users through all stages for complete adoption.

Most people split the product adoption process into five stages. But we think it misses out on product activation, so it turns out like this:

  1. Awareness. Becoming aware of the product’s existence through branding and marketing.
  2. Interest. Searching for more information to see if it fits the needs.
  3. Evaluation. Considering the pros and cons of the product before trying it.
  4. Trial. Limited usage of the product as a test.
  5. Activation. Experiencing the value of the product and engaging with a core feature.
  6. Adoption. Deciding to keep using it or abandon it.
software adoption process
Software adoption process.

10 tips for a successful software adoption process

Now that we’re clear on what software adoption is and its phases, what can you do right now to improve it?

Let’s go over the ten user onboarding tips:

1. Collect user data with welcome screens and personalize the adoption flow

To leave customers with positive first impressions, create a personalized onboarding experience that fits your customer’s needs.

This software adoption strategy doesn’t only make your product more engaging but also demonstrates that you understand your users and makes software adoption easier.

To do this, you first need to collect customer data, you can use a simple form or a welcome screen after the user has signed up. Take Airtable’s onboarding as an example:

Airtable-welcome-screen-software-adoption

Once you’ve collected data about your user’s goals, use cases, and expectations, you can create segments and personalize in-app interactions such as:

  • Onboarding flows with dedicated checklists and walkthroughs.
  • Tooltips for introducing relevant features based on the journey stage.
  • Emails to dissatisfied customers.
advanced-segmentation-Userpilot-software-adoption
Advanced segmentation in Userpilot.

2. Drive users to the activation point with onboarding checklists

You want users to reach the activation point and realize the value of your product as fast as possible.

To help with this, implement onboarding checklists to guide customers through the core features of your product, breaking them into small steps.

Pro tip: A UX design best practice is to add a progress bar and dummy tasks (steps already crossed out) to make the user feel like they’ve made progress. It works because — according to the Zeigarnik effect — our brain remembers unfinished tasks, giving us a higher motivation to finish something we already started.

onboarding checklist userpilot software adoption
Onboarding checklist on Userpilot.

3. Use tooltips to highlight relevant features and engage users with them

Tooltips are UI patterns that appear on the screen when you hover over, focus on, or touch an element. They subtly draw the user’s attention to introduce a feature and engage the user with it.

For example, here’s how Ahrefs subtly includes them:

ahrefs_advanced_feature_tooltip
In-app tooltip example on Ahrefs.

4. Shorten the learning curve and time to value with video tutorials

Some users prefer to consume video over text, and they’re proven to make complex concepts look easier and shorten the learning curve.

So if you don’t want to overwhelm customers with too many resources, you can improve the adoption experience with onboarding videos and mini tutorials.

Loom is an excellent example, as one of the first things you see on your home screen is a set of short videos explaining how to replace meetings and use the app:

video onboarding tutorial loom
Video onboarding tutorial on Loom.

5. Drive software adoption with secondary onboarding

Onboarding doesn’t stop at activation. You must engage users with secondary onboarding for successful software adoption.

For this, provide value to the user repeatedly by introducing advanced features that are relevant to their use case.

Think of triggered tooltips, secondary checklists, or webinars to encourage users to try new features.

You can learn more about secondary onboarding with our video:

6. Offer ongoing education and support with an in-app resource center

For smooth adoption, users should have access to educational resources so they can always learn more about your app or get help.

With an in-app help center, your customers can access self-service support without leaving your app.

For example, a great help center widget would offer resources such as documentation, video tutorials, FAQs, access to a support team, and training:

Userpilot-resource-center-software-adoption
A resource center created with Userpilot.

7. Set digital adoption goals and track in-app user behavior to identify roadblocks

To improve software adoption. You must set goals and monitor KPIs.

You can use a customer success tool like Userpilot, for example, to set and track events throughout the user journey to see:

  • How users navigate your product.
  • What user segments are more successful.
  • Where users are getting stuck and need help.
  • How fast do users get to an “Aha!” moment.

Using this data, it becomes relatively easy to spot friction points across the user journey and improve software adoption.

track events userpilot software adoption
Tracking user events on Userpilot.

8. Use gamification strategies to drive repeated engagement

Celebrating milestones is a great way to encourage adoption, as it motivates users to engage more with your product and stick around.

With UX gamification and emotional design, game elements such as badges, points, and levels result in a more fun experience (reducing the friction to adopt your product).

For example, here’s how Mailchimp celebrates when you schedule your first campaign:

gamification example mailchimp
Gamified message on Mailchimp.

9. Re-engage with inactive users outside the app and give them reasons to come back

Most of our software adoption strategies are for in-app engagement, but what about users who signed up but didn’t get inside the app?

Don’t give up on them, instead look for ways to engage with them outside the app and give them reasons to come back.

When a customer hasn’t logged in, trigger a win-back email campaign that educates them about the product and helps them reach their “aha moment” as soon as possible.

For example, this win-back email from ActiveCampaign introduces you to plenty of resources, including free courses, demos, and direct support:

win back email activecampaign
Win-back email from ActiveCampaign.

10. A/B test your in-app experiences to improve the user adoption process

A better customer experience leads to a smoother adoption.

Use A/B testing to test small changes and see their direct impact on the user adoption process, including:

Additionally, you can use a tool like Userpilot to A/B test in-app experiences and — for instance — check if adding a small tooltip could enhance the first-time user experience.

AB-testing-software-adoption
A/B test adoption flows and find the one that works with Userpilot.

Best digital adoption solutions on the market for B2B companies

Although some of these strategies (like email campaigns) can be easily implemented with other tools, there’s a lot more you can do with a product adoption tool.

Userpilot — best digital adoption platform for enterprises

Self-promoting or not, Userpilot is indeed the most cost-effective product we know that can make software adoption easier for you.

Here’s what you can do with it:

  • Create in-app flows with several UI patterns to choose from. Remember the onboarding checklists and adoption tooltips we covered earlier? It includes that plus banners, modals, slideouts, hotspots, and more:
in app flow userpilot software adoption tool
Adding UI patterns to an in-app flow with Userpilot.
  • Collect customer feedback through NPS surveys to communicate with your users, create segments, and improve the adoption process with a personalized product experience.
  • Create customizable in-app surveys to collect passive feedback. Just like this Postfity’s survey created with Userpilot:
Postfity-in-app-user-survey-software-adoption
In-app survey for Postify, created with Userpilot.

Conclusion

In SaaS, software adoption is as important as acquiring customers.

Thankfully, the best practices we covered today should be enough to help you make some improvements to your strategy.

So instead of relying on the dev team to implement in-app experiences the way you want, why not try a Userpilot demo to see how you can improve adoption?

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Userpilot Team

Userpilot Team

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com