If you're letting your product's features go unused, you've got some problems. First of all, you've invested time and energy into developing something that nobody's actually using. That's frustrating! And in the long term, it can hurt your business. You're missing out on great opportunities and outcomes for your company and your customers, which is a bummer.

The good news is that even if feature adoption is low at your company right now, there are plenty of ways to change that. You just need to take a closer look at the factors surrounding feature adoption—there's a lot more going on in this area than you might realize.

That's why we're here! We'll be looking at what causes low feature adoption rates, so you can start making positive changes and getting those features up and running... pronto!

Is your feature adoption low?

There are a few ways you can determine if your feature adoption is low, even if you don't have a tool to measure it.

Remember that a low feature adoption rate isn’t always something to worry about. You may have just released a new feature, and not enough time has passed for the bulk of your users to use the new feature. If you only have 100 users and only 10 are using the newly added feature, then it could be normal for your adoption rate to be at 10%. If you have 5,000 users and half of them aren’t using the new feature after a decent amount of time, then it's more likely that there is something wrong with how you're communicating about this new release.

Feature Adoption Guide: What Is It & How to Improve It | Appcues Blog
Source: Appcues

If you are using a tool like Gainsight or Appcues, you can also determine if your feature adoption is low by looking at whether your metrics fall below industry standards.

For example, according to Appcues:

  • 4% monthly active users (MAU) is an extremely poor engagement level across all industries – their customers see MAU rates between 15–30%.
  • 25% is the average percentage of user base active in any given month across all industries. This means that 75% of customers are inactive every month (across all industries).

Value-Adoption Matrix: Find Untapped Gold In Existing Features // OpinionX  — Free Stack Ranking Surveys

The first step: Understanding why your feature adoption is low

So, you've created a product and have worked hard to perfect it—but people aren't using your awesome new feature. It's time to face the facts: low feature adoption can be a sign of a lack of user training or education on your part. Or, maybe the problem is that people are just not interested in what you're offering! If you discover that this second option is true, it may be time for some serious self-reflection. Ask yourself: is my product actually solving a problem for my customers? Do they even care about this new functionality I have developed? If you don't know the answer to these questions, talk to them!

The more straightforward issue at hand—the type we'll address in this article—is when users are not using your product because they simply don't know how. After all, with all of our different products and tools out there, who has time to read through every instruction manual or product guide? And who wants to go through every tutorial video we make? The good news here is that there are solutions that can help increase your users' engagement with your product as well as alleviate their pain points while using it.

Outer factors you should focus on to increase feature adoption

The outer factors that cause poor feature adoption are what you can see and fix. Your goal here is to identify the issues with your product, fix them and make sure they don't come back. The top items that you should focus on to increase feature adoption are:

  • User interface – The user interface could be an obstacle for your users adopting a new feature if it's not intuitive enough, or if it looks too different from what they're used to. Make sure the new features are self-explanatory and keep the design consistent throughout your app.
  • User experience - A good user experience means having all of your systems working together as a cohesive unit - from marketing campaigns to customer support all the way through onboarding and product usage. That provides value for customers at every touchpoint along their journey with you (and this will vary depending on who you’re talking about).
  • User onboarding – There are many ways to ensure users adopt new features by making sure they know how to use them when they first sign up for a trial or start using your product. For example, walking them through a guided tour of the feature, sending out emails explaining how it works. Onboarding is so important because it sets expectations early on as well as gives people an idea what value they'll get out of using these features before getting into more advanced use cases later down the line. If something doesn't work right away, there's an easy way around this problem without needing help from customer support staff, which would be costly over time!

Inner factors you should focus on to increase product adoption

There are several inner factors that you can focus on to increase product adoption. These include:

  • How well the product fits user needs
  • Product cost (affordability)
  • Product usability (ease of learning and use)
  • Product enjoyment (how fun or boring the product is to use)
  • Perceived familiarity with the product (if users feel like they know how to use it, they'll be more likely to try it out)
  • Availability of support for users who have questions about the features you're trying to get them to adopt (this could include training, certification programs, user guides, FAQs, etc.)
  • The value that users place on your product

Feature adoption is a complex issue that doesn't lend itself to easy solutions. There are lots of internal and external factors that can affect the adoption rate of your product's features, but it doesn't mean that you have no control over it.

With some careful thought into the types of barriers your customers may face, and the production of content and support materials that enable them to overcome those barriers, you can increase the chances of your features being adopted widely by your customers.