Once you know WHY each new user that signs up, measuring activation rate is easy.
Thanks Captain Obvious …but in fairness, most SaaS new user onboarding experiences are the same for all users and thus drive users to the same features.
Activation rate is the percentage of new users that get hooked on using your product. What causes someone to get hooked on a product? Experiencing how a product solves a pain point or delivers a need in a habit forming pattern.
Most SaaS products can solve multiple use cases. Product teams sometimes call that “customer pain points.” Another way of asking it is what are your user’s Jobs to be Done? The answer to this question is the key to measuring activation rate.
Why did a new user sign-up to your product? Of all the main use cases that you can deliver for a customer (shown beautifully on your home page), which one is most important to them? Once you know this about each new user that signs up, measuring activation rate is easy. A user is activated when they experience the features that they need to experience to solve their need/pain point. Whether they stick around afterwards is dependent upon how good your product is at solving that need. But the goal with activation is to have new users quickly experience the parts of your product that they need to solve their most pressing needs.
It’s really easy to figure out what success is for a new user…simply ask them. Add a question to your new users in your sign up flow. Here is how Monday.com does it.
Again, the goal of activation is to show new users how to get value from your product. “Value” is determined based on an individual’s need. So once you know a new user's need (step 1 above), to activate that user, they have to use the product features that deliver value for their specific need.
Let’s take an example: Figma. Here are the five use cases that Figma lists on its homepage:
1. Design. Co-create in one space
2. Prototype. Make designs feel real
3. Dev mode. Bring design and dev closer
4. Design systems. Scale design and development
5. Align your team
If a head of Design is looking for a better way to collaborate with developers and they see this on Figma’s home page, they are likely to sign up and try it. For that user, “Dev mode” is the key use case. Thus activation for that user are the set of features built for “Dev mode.” If that user creates a design and turns it into a prototype, but doesn’t try Dev mode features, they are not activated. This is why a one metric fits all approach doesn’t work. Without trying the Dev mode features, that user is unlikely to understand how Figma can solve her most pressing need…better collaboration with developers.
Most new user activation marketing fail because it highlights features that the user doesn’t care about. If I sign up to improve collaboration between developers and designers, then that’s what I want to learn, asap. Everything else is noise to me. Help me understand how to solve my most pressing need and I will be activated. Then you can share other use cases with me. Product marketing/onboarding should be specific to the key use case that each user prioritizes.
So, new users are now trying the right features that align to their priority use case. Great! Is it working? Are you activating more users now? Using the Figma example, are new users who sign up for Dev mode or Design systems activating at a similar rate? Or is the activation rate different for each use case? This makes product prioritization much easier. By aligning use cases with features and measuring results, it becomes really easy to figure out what to build next. It also is a gold mine for customer discovery.
Want to discuss how this might work for you? I am happy to set up a time to discuss your specific situation. Please reach out to me here.
Winware helps SaaS teams drive better trial conversion rates or higher retention rates by optimizing SaaS onboarding to align product features with customer's goals.