Product adoption is when people learn about your product and implement it into their lives. The companies that are best at product adoption have succeeded in integrating their products into our everyday lives until most of us couldn’t imagine our lives without them.
It’s important to track product adoption because it gives you a clue about your business’s long-term sustainability. The faster you can achieve product adoption, the more successful your business is likely to be in the long run. If you struggle to capture any of the market share for a while, that’s a sign that growth is probably going to be very sluggish throughout your business’s lifespan.
The best part of achieving product adoption is that it builds on itself. Once you’ve gotten people to start adopting your product and you’re picking up momentum, more people will naturally take notice and become customers as well.
Typically, it’s hardest to find early adopters, but once you do, the early majority will be a little easier to pull in, and the late majority will usually be easier still. The better product adoption you have, the more visible your business becomes, and the easier it is to build further momentum.
Product Adoption Meaning
Product adoption can be a tricky concept to nail down because it can seem a bit ambiguous. So, let’s spend a little bit more time defining product adoption and the product adoption curve. The product adoption curve represents when people became your customers and started using your product.
Tracking and studying product adoption can help you understand peoples' attitudes toward your product and their willingness to purchase it over time.
A great product adoption example is Apple. Before Apple introduced the iPhone, many people had never used or even heard of a smartphone before. Now, nearly everyone has a smartphone, and the term has become almost synonymous with the “iPhone.”
The product adoption curve is usually broken down into five different groups:
Innovators: Innovators are the very first people to use a new product, such as the founders and those close to them.
Early Adopters: Early adopters are the first people beyond that inner circle who give the product a chance before it’s very well-known.
Early Majority: Consumers in the early majority tend to wait to hear the verdict from early adopters before jumping on board.
Late Majority: The late majority comes around after the product is already well-established, sometimes just because they’re trying to “keep up.” (Most of us know a person or two who signed up for a Facebook account just to stop people asking: “wait, you’re not on Facebook?? Or, maybe you are that person.)
Laggards: These people may never adopt the product, or if they do, they do so years after everyone else. Picture a grandparent who just learned how to send text messages.
There are a couple similar terms that are often used in place of product adoption: technology adoption and innovation adoption.
Technology Adoption Curve
The technology adoption curve represents the process of consumers becoming aware of new technology and implementing it into their lives over time. It is split into the same five groups as the product adoption curve.
Innovation Adoption Process
The innovation adoption process is the process of people learning about new, innovative products and the majority of the time, you can consider the product adoption curve, technology adoption curve, and innovation adoption process to be the same thing. The only time the latter two terms would be incorrect is if the product is not technology or not innovative.
Product Adoption Metrics
As we mentioned, product adoption can feel like an ambiguous statistic that’s difficult to measure. However, there are effective ways to measure your product adoption rate.
Here are some of the best product adoption metrics to use:
Conversion Rate: This metric tracks how many people take the next desired action after signing up. This indicates how many people are actually using your product successfully after purchasing it or subscribing.
Time to Value (TTV): This is the average amount of time it takes your customers to start realizing they’re getting significant value from your product.
Onboarding Engagement: This is how many customers complete an onboarding program or other kind of training. Tracking it can tell you whether your customer education efforts are having any effect on your customers' ability to use your products successfully.
Frequency of Purchases: The more often customers purchase products, the better your product adoption rate is.
These are some of the best product/feature adoption metrics you can use to measure product adoption for your business. While product adoption is definitely tricky to measure, it can be done if you pay attention to the right numbers.
Once you’ve spent some time measuring and analyzing your product adoption rate, you can start taking steps to improve it. One of the best ways to do this is to offer a robust customer education program that helps customers learn about the value of your products and how they can get that value from them.
Product Adoption Strategy
To improve your product adoption rate, you’ll need a great product adoption strategy. You can tailor these general steps to your business’s needs to build a strategy that works for you:
Set an Objective: Obviously, your overall goal is to improve product adoption. But look a level deeper and ask yourself how you plan to make that happen. For example, maybe your objective is to improve user engagement with your customer education program. This could decrease time to value for your customers and lead to a higher product adoption rate.
Map the Customer Journey: There isn't necessarily a simple one-size-fits-all process for building a product adoption plan. The best way to organize your product adoption efforts depends on what kind of customers you’re targeting. Customers who are at different points in the customer journey will benefit from different tactics. For example, a customer who has just made their first purchase likely needs a tutorial to get them started, while someone who has been a customer for a while but hasn’t fully adopted your product might need a more advanced course.
Outline a Customer Persona: Again, different kinds of customers will require different approaches if you want to increase product adoption. You may have multiple different customer personas that make up your user base. In this case, it’s important to prioritize the decision makers who are actually purchasing your products. Focusing on the customers with the highest lifetime value is usually a better option than trying to cater to everyone at once.
Build a Roadmap: Now, you have an objective in mind and you know which customers you’re targeting at which point in the product adoption process. With this information, you can put together an effective customer adoption framework. As you create a roadmap to your objective, keep in mind it will require some experimentation. After you implement changes, like improving your custom education program, gather feedback from your customers and adjust accordingly.
Using these steps, you can begin to plan a product adoption strategy that can help your customers understand the value of your products and incorporate them into everyday life. The key is to find the elements of your business model that prevent customers from realizing the value of your products and improving them.
Customer education is just one possible element, but lack of customer education is a very common reason for poor product adoption, so it may be worth examining your education program first.
Product Adoption Tools
Improving customer education is one of the best ways to improve product adoption. Customer education tools like learning management software can double as product adoption tools because they tend to be very effective at delivering customer training that improves product adoption.
A learning management system (LMS) can make it much easier to deliver high quality product education to your customers, which often leads to higher product adoption rate. Here are a few LMS features that could benefit your customer education program:
Customizable design, including personalized learning paths for customers.
Mobile optimization to cater to on-the-go learners.
Support for a variety of content formats, including video, audio, text, and images, which makes it easy to cater to different learning styles.
Certifications for customers who complete training courses
Using an LMS like Northpass can give you access to features like these that can go a long way toward improving product adoption.