How to Speed up the Product Adoption Curve

One of the most cringe-worthy tips for accelerating product adoption, which I come across quite often, is “build a product that users will love”. Right up there with “Just do it”, right?

Input like that indicates to me a profound lack of understanding of the whole product-user relationship, of user psychology, and of the product design & development process.

The truth is that most people (and users) would rather avoid change. Learning inherently means stepping out of one’s comfort zone, so most users try to avoid that, too. It’s not bad, lazy or wrong – it’s just the way we’re built.

As training professionals and product leaders, it’s our job to make the learning part as quick and as painless as possible. Users fall in love with products. We can facilitate this by helping the user to get to know the product better.


stairs stock - product learning curve

Identify Onboarding Bottlenecks with Actionable Metrics

We can only improve what we know to be faulty. Onboarding bottle necks can be fixed by one of two ways: 1) if you are the product owner – understand what is clogging the flow and make usability adjustments 2) if you are on the training team for implementing an external platform – apply more training resources to those hotspots.


How do we go about uncovering usability or training problems? By creating a usage funnel and measuring how many users get to each of the steps.

For example: your product is a CRM platform. You define active users as users who have achieved a certain number of events –


  • Create a new Lead
  • Create a new Contact
  • Assign 3 tasks to other users
  • Create a Progress Report

If 1500 users created a new Lead, but only 600 assigned a follow-up task to a colleague – then you have a bottle neck. Perhaps they don’t know they can do that, don’t know how, or don’t feel comfortable enough in the software to engage their colleagues in it. For each of these scenarios, the way to address it would be different, but before anything else, you need to know what you’re up against.

Read more about actionable training metrics

Here’s an example of an Iridize guide funnel and its usage metrics.

training analytics and metrics

Iridize guide analytics. More about Iridize’s onboarding tracking here


Remove UX Obstacles with Microlearning

Once you’ve identified the bottle necks, the next step is to decide how to go about making those parts of the usage flow more accessible and understandable. If it’s your product – you can consult your head of UX and design team and have a better version out in a sprint or two.


If, however, you are implementing a third party product, now is the time to get creative, innovative and resourceful.


One way to tackle usability problems you didn’t design is to overlay guides and context sensitive help on the user interface. Microlearning in particular has become the most popular, elegant solution to many usability hiccups, or simply to streamline new features. Here are a few microlearning examples for inspiration and ideas.


You’ll notice that even The Greats are using it. In the example below, Google rolled out a new feature for Google Docs – the ability to assign items from documents. This CRMish feature moves Google closer to the workflow and task management arena.

 google docs microlearning example


Google could have just added the “assign” strip to the comment tip, but the chose to add a small tooltip that pops up when you Mention another user in a comment. The best part about this is, of course, the context sensitivity in this microlearning moment: the tip will only pop up when it is relevant to the user, not a second earlier. That makes it tremendously helpful in avoiding information overload and usability tediousness. 


Write and Send GOOD Onboarding Emails

Hotjar gives really good onboarding. Hotjar is a marketing and analytics platform that offer heatmaps, session recordings and other user feedback tools. They offer a free month long trial and their team is very enthusiastic about helping users get the most out of that month.


They start sending welcome and onboarding emails moments after signup. Their email messages were extremely helpful, not only in pointing me in the right direction (and doing so gradually), but also in explaining why I would need certain features.


If I had to choose the top 5 things an onboarding emails should be, they would be to:

  1. Explain more thoroughly what the platform does
  2. Tell me how I would benefit from it
  3. Elaborate on how I can activate/access those benefits in the product
  4. Shed light on helpful features I would otherwise miss
  5. Offer me benchmarks for successful usage and results


Here’s what part of a Hotjar email looks like:

hotjar onboarding email annotated


Keep Selling the Product to Your Users

You’d think that since the organization has paid for the software license and implementation is in progress, the selling part of the process is over.


Arguably, the best way to ensure successful product adoption is by turning your users into evangelists. The product is only as good as users are convinced it is, and they will only upvote it (figuratively and practically), if they think it improves their life in some way.

As product manager, implementation specialist or training expert, it’s our job to keep telling users how they can benefit from new tools, so they will be willing to invest in learning them.


Noa is Iridize's Head of Content. With a background in digital strategy planning and database management, Noa translates Iridize's vision, stories and data into words. Digital learning and user experience are a particular passion of hers.