Snagging new customers is one thing, ensuring they become active, long-term users is another. OpenView’s latest report reveals three techniques that require cross-departmental efforts but yield big results.

User Adoption: Where Product Strategy, Customer Service, and Marketing Intersect

While it’s no surprise that expansion-stage SaaS companies are sharply focused on customer acquisition, to truly be successful, they also need to pay close attention to what their customers do once they have begun using their product. In fact, driving stronger user adoption — among both paying and trial users — can be just as important to a growing software company as acquiring new customers.

The reality is that developing for, communicating with, and marketing to existing users can lead to better product traction, and help growing software companies retain more customers while also acquiring new ones. However, to be truly effective, user adoption has to be a cross-departmental effort. Specifically, that means that a company’s product development, customer service, and marketing teams must partner to:

  • Convert free and trial users to paid users
  • Encourage paying users to adopt more functionalities
  • Push more users in the same organization to use the product
  • Drive user adoption across multiple platforms

“User Adoption: Where Product Strategy, Customer Service, and Marketing Intersect,” examines gamification, educational content, and customer outreach — three techniques that technology companies can use to improve user adoption and product engagement. The report explains the concept behind each strategy and highlights how a variety of businesses, including Autodesk, Mindjet, and Zendesk, have fostered true cross-departmental collaboration to bolster the effectiveness of their user adoption efforts.

Ultimately, for a user adoption initiative to be successful the report notes, your product must engage existing users in much the same way that your marketing messages engage prospective buyers. It needs to deliver an educational environment that prompts users to become excited about the product, explore it further, and become ambassadors for your product within their own company.

For a PDF of the report, click “Download” to the right of your screen.

“Gamification doesn’t mean turning everything into a game. It’s about using what the gaming industry knows about intrinsic motivation and how it, in turn, stimulates user adoption and engagement. Within the context of business, gamification can be as simple as having a bar that shows percentage of completion, such as the one that LinkedIn uses for to encourage users to fill out their profiles in full, or something as complex as the Autodesk’s ‘Undiscov­ered Territory,’ which has had a hugely valuable impact on our trial engagement.”

Chris Bradshaw, Chief Marketing Officer, Autodesk

“Mindjet is a collaboration company, and as such, our user community is the nucleus of everything we do. Because our content strategy incorporates both user-generated content as well as publishing, Maps for That is directly integrated within our product and our social ecosystem. Our blog, Conspire, along with Maps for That, help create a rich community space our users rely upon. Interacting with our community has a continuously transforma­tive effect on how we drive our business and ensure user adoption.”

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Chief Marketing Officer, Mindjet

Additional Reports on B2B Marketing Tactics

For more insights to help take your marketing strategy to the next level, read the other reports in our B2B Marketing Tactics Series:

Share Your Thoughts

  • Srini Kalluri

    Customer retention comes from user adoption. The more value each user can derive from your software, the more customers you retain. In addition to marketing, customer support, and product development, you should consider ‘customer success individual(s). Lastly, you should REALLY care for your customers. We do and have close to 100% retention.

    • http://twitter.com/tienanh Tien Anh Nguyen

      Srini, thanks for commenting. Agree with you that caring for the Customers trump everything!

  • http://www.apptegic.com Karl Wirth

    Another way to increase user adoption is to in-app message users right inside the SAAS application. Think of this like the #zentips you mention but instead of being posted in Twitter, they are being shown to you in-app based on who you are and what you’ve done so far…or not done. At Apptegic, we provide a service that makes doing this easy.

    • http://twitter.com/tienanh Tien Anh Nguyen

      Karl, thanks for the comment. Apptegic’s offering is very interesting and will help a lot with sending the appropriate and timely messaging to the users inside the application. I will definitely urge our portfolio companies to check it out.

      • http://www.apptegic.com Karl Wirth

        Thanks Tien