What are the most important product adoption stages?
Should businesses focus on onboarding, training, or engagement?
In fact, all of these stages are important parts of the product adoption process.
Understanding these stages is crucial for any business that wants to improve its product adoption efforts.
Below, we’ll examine several of the most important phases of the adoption cycle.
6 of the Most Important Product Adoption Stages
The product adoption process is an important part of the total product experience, which is affected by far more than just the product design.
In fact, the product experience and the adoption process begin from the first moment a brand comes into contact with a customer.
Product adoption efforts should therefore focus on the entire user life cycle, beginning from that point.
Here are some of the most important product adoption stages to begin optimizing:
Marketing and Sales
Marketing and sales begin before a customer actually begins using a product.
Yet these early stages can and should still be considered part of the adoption process.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Marketing and sales helps to pre-qualify and select users that move on to subsequent stages of the adoption process
- These early interactions help set the tone and prepare users for onboarding and other brand interactions
- Many aspects of this process – such as the consistency of brand communications – will also have an impact on the rest of the adoption process
Ideally, marketing and sales pipelines should flow seamlessly into the other product adoption stages.
Certain mechanisms, such as product tours, can even perform a dual function – helping to convert leads and onboard new users.
Onboarding is, among other things, dedicated to…
- Familiarizing users with a new product. The first moment that someone starts using a product is a crucial one. If a product experience is learnable, memorable, and stress-free, then they will be more likely to stay engaged and continue adopting that product.
- Beginning training efforts. Training efforts should begin as early as possible, through, for instance, product tours and product walkthroughs. Early and efficient training helps to increase engagement and accelerate time-to-productivity, further increasing product adoption rates.
- Minimizing user abandonment. Users frequently abandon a product during the onboarding stage. There can be many causes: poor product design, ineffective marketing, poor training, and so forth. Adoption specialists should use data-driven analyses to better understand the causes of abandonment, then rectify those as much as possible.
- Maximizing engagement. Engagement can accelerate or decelerate during the onboarding process. Naturally, adoption specialists should do everything they can to improve engagement. A few ways to accomplish this: simplifying the onboarding experience, contextualized product training, personalizing the adoption experience, and so forth.
During onboarding, users first begin using a product. Their experience during the onboarding process will define their initial impression of a product, as well as the trajectory for the rest of the user journey.
Training is another important stage in the adoption process, since training will impact users’ skill levels, productivity levels, engagement levels, and more.
From the perspective of the adoption specialist, training is important because it…
- Affects how quickly users can become competent and productive with a product
- Impacts engagement, enjoyment, frustration, and other sentiments
- Directly affects the outcomes of product adoption efforts
Today, training is becoming more and more important – after all, in today’s digital world, the adoption of new software has become the norm.
Yet in this complex digital environment, users cannot afford to train endlessly and perpetually, which is why just-in-time contextual training is becoming so widespread.
Engagement, Performance, and Development
In the employee life cycle, engagement and development focus on keeping employees proactive, enthusiastic, motivated, and productive.
Training is a core part of this stage, but there are other elements to focus on, such as:
- The experience itself
- Workflow simplification and integration
- Identifying and overcoming performance roadblocks
- Maximizing the utilization of product features
For businesses that adopt products such as enterprise SaaS platforms, these stages help ensure that employees can meet performance expectations and continue to grow throughout the life of their career.
However, these stages are also important for product creators, since user retention and loyalty depend on how much value those users continue to extract from a product.
If skill levels and productivity levels both stagnate over time, then users can easily become disengaged and open themselves up to alternative solutions.
Customers will inevitably stop using a product at some point.
It is important not to overlook this stage of the adoption cycle, since user feedback can provide valuable insight.
For instance, departure surveys can help product adoption specialists better understand:
- Why users left
- The strengths and weaknesses of their adoption program
- How well the product meets users needs
- What improvements can be made
Naturally, every business wants to minimize user abandonment rates – and one of the best ways to do that is by understanding why current users do abandon the product, then taking action to address those issues.