Here are my assumptions before we dive into the topic:
You have probably heard of product maturity curve. If you haven’t, I found this detailed write up from HBR on the product maturity cycles. The curve goes something like following:
As companies starts to approach initial maturity stages of their core product, they launch their second product line in hopes of continuing the company’s current growth trajectory or lift the trajectory up further (All the different approaches on building subsequent product lines and their launch timings is a topic for another day).
The new product adoption is usually an engagement, retention and expansion play. As companies launch new product lines, their tendency is to gravitate towards the existing user base to drive adoption and rightly so. Generating new product awareness and interest becomes a much manageable lift. We will chat more about how to track and measure success later in this write up.
I use a framework to grow new product adoption. The framework goes something like: Find it, Want it, Do it. Apparently, different variation of this framework exist in the industry and I don’t recall where I first picked it off.
The framework is not perfect, for example companies with direct sales as primary avenues to sell the product, “Purchase” may come before “Do it”.
Find it: The goal here is to increase discoverability of the new product/feature.
Typically companies create new features, put those features in a separate tab somewhere on the navigation bar, send an email sequence to their existing customers telling them about the feature, do some form of in-app notification or broadcast, put an announcement on their social media channels, announce it to their sales teams and maybe run Ads around them. Soon you realize, a very few of your users/customers are paying attention to these activities.
In order to get traction, it is a ton more important to increase discoverability of the feature from within the app and as part of the core product workflow. Figma did it well when they launched FigJam, they put the ability to create new FigJam files as part of the core Create action. Instagram launched Stories and put that in the core creation workflow, on top of the news feed and within the news feed as suggested highlights. At Sentry, we launched Performance Monitoring as a way of monitoring your transactions health in addition to your errors. We added transactions visibility from within your error issues (our core product), in our highly visible weekly email reports, and in our error issue alerts. These are all a way to increase discoverability of the feature. The discoverability hacks need to be in-cotenxt of your existing workflows. The adoption should grow naturally, specially when this is an extension of core use cases for the existing user persona. In my Sentry example above, I mentioned in-app and email channels. More on PLG channels here.
Want it: Once you have the discoverability sorted through, the next step is making the value proposition of the new feature clear. Messaging is important. It should be clear, concise and should answer the WHY for the target persona. At the same time, often words are not enough.
You want to find ways to give a taste of the new feature/product to your target persona. Make it easy for your existing users to try the new feature. Even if the new feature requires someone to pay/upgrade, open up the free-trial to all customers (including the ones who have done a free trial before). At Sentry, we have opened up trial to existing orgs multiple times and have always found good success. Obviously, you don’t want to reset free trials too often otherwise the trials lose their value. In my opinion, these events should be at least 9-12 months apart and you want to provide clear reasons to users for resetting their Free Trial. Another tactic is to provide access to sample apps/data/playground (or whatever shape that takes for your product). Essentially, give a taste of the new feature/product to the users along with guided tours. Sentry enabled Performance Monitoring in their Sandbox environment (A sample environment for users to experience Sentry without signup). We also brought in dummy data in the app. So, the users can experience the new feature without needing to change their own environment.
All in all, you are trying to bring the value proposition as close to the user as possible and clearly highlight it.
Do it: Through both the previous parts (Find it, Want it), you are hoping to convince your users to trial this amazing, shiny new feature/product that your company has spent so much money and time to build. It will be a shame to lose this interest from users when they are ready to take an action. So, you want to do a few things:
This is a crucial phase. You have spent so much effort for users to be able to discover the feature and understand the value proposition. Now, that they are ready to give it a shot, you want to put your best foot forward. The onboarding should feel effortless and relevant.
Phew, I believe I have gone through all major aspects of the strategies and tactics to drive new feature adoption. However, they are all just words and outputs if they don’t drive an outcome. PLG teams should all be about driving outcome/impact over output. It’s less important to define how much code you are writing or how many channels you are covering, and is more important to drive your product and business metrics.
I will re-iterate that PLG teams should all care about numbers and goals first. Product metrics for new feature adoption are often unique to companies. The KPIs vary a lot including number of data points sent, number of queries written, average time spent on the new feature or number of interactions per user with the new feature etc. I believe those metrics are more for product teams to worry about. As a PLG team, you care more about driving the framework for Discoverability and Onboarding. So, some core metrics you want care about are:
In Summary, you want to highlight and drive adoption to your new feature in a way that feels natural extension of the core product to users versus forcing them into this new functionality or the product line.