How To Increase User Activation For Your SaaS - UserActive

How To Increase User Activation For Your SaaS

In this recording of our live workshop, we discussed how to increase user activation for your SaaS, directly within your product. We covered how you can articulate the value embedded in your product, raise awareness of your product’s best features, and how to use onboarding, navigation, notifications, and empty screens to surface your best features. Additionally, we covered how to create flows that get your users to activate key features encourage users to revisit features, and develop habits around your product.

Transcription

[00:00:08] – Peter

Okay, so first of all, what I’ll do is welcome you to ask questions at any time throughout the session. It’s going to be interactive, so I want to hear questions, and any challenges you’re having with activation. So just please feel free to put something in the chat or just come on mike and chat with us just directly on the microphone. That would be great. I would encourage you to have your screen on and join in. That way then we can see who’s talking, and make it interactive. But what are we looking at today? Okay, so we’re looking at how to increase user activation for your SaaS. So this is a big challenge. Obviously, you’re spending a lot of time and effort working on your SaaS, and then what happens is that you get new users coming in and they’re not really adopting the product. They’re not really making use of all these great features you’ve built. So we really want to make sure that we give your work and effort the best chance to get used by users and to deliver value. Okay, so let’s get started. Okay, we’ve had Caleb join us. Hi, Caleb. Mariana too.

[00:01:20] – Peter

Great to see you. Hey, Caleb, good to see you again. Hey there.

[00:01:26] – Caleb

Good to see you.

[00:01:27] – Peter

Yeah. Do you want to remind everybody where you’re from, Caleb, what your company is?

[00:01:35] – Caleb

Yeah, 100%. Sorry I’m late, guys. My name is Caleb Page. My company’s propertyscout.io we deal with real estate information based for professionals around the real estate industry in the US. Throughout the US.

[00:01:49] – Peter

PropertyScout.io, great. Okay, great. Also, Steve, I see that you’re on camera too. Do you want to give us a quick intro into what you’re doing? That’d be great to know.

[00:01:59] – Steve

Yeah, I mean, interested? I’ve just moved into a product manager type role, so this possibly becoming my problem. I’m coming from a development side of things. I’ve been a developer for a long time, so I’m not sure. I mean, our particular product, this is kind of on the edge of what we do. Most of our customers are not signing up in application. If you like, they kind of work or sign up outside of the application. So this was more of a it was an interest. I kind of like the idea of this. And we do have certain parts of application where we do have some self registration and getting people involved in that way. So it’s something we’re moving into rather than something we’re actually having to deal with right now. So that’s where I’m coming from.

[00:02:52] – Peter

Great. Okay, great. It sounds like you have maybe customer success or sales that sign your customers up rather than directly through the product.

[00:03:02] – Steve

Yeah, this kind of thing. I mean, commerce decisions, we work in the procurement space, so he evaluation and that sort of stuff. So our direct customers are done exactly like, say there’s a sales and a customer success portion, but then suppliers who are our customers, customers, if you like, or bidding into those processes. They can bid in a self registration. So if they want to bid on a piece of work or something like that, then they kind of go through this very similar to sort of a user activation that I would normally associate with other applications. They go through that process. So I think that’s part of where we’re getting involved in.

[00:03:43] – Peter

Okay, good to know. Good to know. A bit of background there. Great stuff. Thanks, guys. Kashi, did you want to share anything about your product as well? Hello.

[00:03:56] – Kashi

My name is Kashi. I’m from fitbots. We are an OKR company. We help companies implement and scale OKRs. I think one of the things that I want to learn today is the difference between user activation and buyer activation. They seem two different things to us. The triggers, how do we actually get buyers activated along with user activation? For as much of the buyers are either founders or maybe CXOs versus users may be employees in the company. So fundamentally how we can probably short on the buying cycle or something. I’m eager to learn.

[00:04:37] – Peter

Yeah, interesting. Okay, thanks for that context. We’re looking today at user activation and really within the product. Once your user is inside the product, what can we do? So if we can consider anything about buyer activations during that cashier, then I’d love to try and include that for you. It’s not as much an area of expertise for me, but definitely on the product side. Okay, so David has a question. What are the key metrics? David, if you’d like to elaborate on that a little bit. We’ll come back to that. We’re going to come back to that and look at what our key metrics.

But let’s get started today. So we’ve all had an intro, so welcome everybody. Thanks for joining us. We’re going to be about, I’d say maybe 45 minutes here. So I think we’ll go fairly brief, fairly quickly. Here’s what we do. We’re at User Active. We’re a product design consultancy. So we work with SaaS companies and we become their design partner. So we literally produce designs in Figma. We run Design Sprints and we’re consistently releasing or designing UI that we hand off to our clients. So we act as their product design partner.

[00:05:52] – Peter

This slide is just if anybody needs help with strategy or talking about your product, then feel free to book a call. You can always write it in a chat to me or go via our website, useractive.io and feel free to book. You can get some time with me via that 15 minutes or 30 minutes. I’m pretty flexible with that. Okay, so workshop content, what are we looking at today? So we’re going to talk about some of the challenges with activation. We’re going to look at five product tips for activation, some examples, and then just some Q and A.

After this session, I’ll share the worksheets. You can book a call if you need to and I’ll share the recording. So let’s get started. What are your activation issues? If you have any, feel free to come on the mic. Just tell us what your biggest activation problem is right now or put it in the chat. While you’re doing that, I’m going to talk about three really common ones. Okay, so firstly I see a lot of products that are fairly complex, and what happens is that it gets hard to know what to present to users when they first sign up.

[00:07:07] – Peter

So it’s quite a common problem, particularly when you’ve been working in a product for a long time, you lose the ability to see what the new user sees, the perspective of someone who’s fresh to the product. So it’s quite easy to overwhelm a new user. That’s a pretty common challenge with activation. If there’s too much information or many features, user kind of doesn’t know where to start and it takes a while for them to digest everything that’s there. The other issue is that it’s not always clear where users need to start. So what’s the first thing they need to do in their new account and how do they get started being productive?

Sometimes that can be a bit ambiguous, sometimes there’s not clear guidance and sometimes there are too many options. So getting this right is quite important. And then another key thing that makes activation really challenging is that of course, when a new user comes into a product, they’re coming into kind of an empty account. They don’t have activity, they don’t have data in there, so they have to do some work to populate data and it’s usually work that gives them friction and they’re having to deal with that friction in order to get and see their results.

[00:08:25] – Peter

So we want to try to get them past this challenge of having an empty account. We’ve got a couple of comments in here. So Caleb Page. Caleb, please feel free to come in and talk this through with me on new Mike. But he says the biggest activation problem is filtering out the one and done users from those who could be our ongoing users. Then clarifying what part of the journey for ongoing users we should emphasise improve. That’s really neat. So you have this property platform, some users come and just use it once they have a particular task and once that’s done, they don’t need to come back. And you may have a different cohort that need regular use, is that correct?

[00:09:07] – Caleb

Assumption 100%, yeah. Obviously those initial people, it’s funny, we watch our cancellation reasons, we’re looking for complaints and many of them say, I just got what I needed, which is fair. However, we don’t need those people. We would really like the other people to say, I need to come back every day, we better people that love our application that come back every day. I think most businesses may have an element of many businesses have an element of this. So we’re trying to figure out those ongoing guys and how to really emphasise what works for them.

[00:09:42] – Peter

That’s really great. It’s really great that you’ve got that insight. So I’d say most products have this issue, but there’s a lot that have this issue. So a premium plan often works quite well for this because one and then they come and go. They’ve still got the account. They can come back if they ever need to. But then you can also start using that premium account to identify who these repeat users are. You can start segmenting them during onboarding, so you can personalise the onboarding flow. Ask them what their uses a great way to do this actually, is in the onboarding process. Ask them a few identifying questions, key questions that identify them. How clear are you on the profile of the users that become ongoing users?

[00:10:36] – Caleb

Good question. Yeah. On the thank you page at purchase, we’ve identified some segments. We’ve done some cohort analysis, so we’ve identified four or five segments. So we have a survey when they purchase and this is new user activation. Say what segment are you in? And so that’s a closed ended question. And then the open ended question, I forget the exact wording. It’s very specific so we can get the right answer. But basically why are you here today? It’s weird in a way. So they don’t say to get property information, because we know that. But it’s like, what do you expect to get out of your search today?

It’s a well worded question, but that’s all we do at the thank you page. And it’s really only at that point that we get new user surveying. I have some doubts. Also, this is a drop down for cohort selection, so I have some doubts about the validity because if I was to take that survey, I would just select the first one and keep moving, whatever that option was. And then in the application, we do follow up calls for usage or high usage users. At the end of every month, we reach out to them and it’s kind of like, hey, what are you doing?

[00:11:48] – Caleb

How can I help? And then we try and do quality calls to anybody that just subscribed. So we’re calling anybody that turned to a monthly user and tried to engage in a conversation as well. And it’s really qualitative, highly qualitative as far as these conversations. And I think we struggle because we haven’t been able to really have that AHA moment clear in our team’s mind to say this is like the journey where maybe Yahoo moment is defined by cohort or segment or maybe it’s not one for everyone, but we’re really trying to figure that out.

[00:12:26] – Peter

It sounds like you’re doing some really great work in identifying what you can do. Maybe personalization will become a feature for you to make that journey once they’re activated the different user profiles, you have to make that journey engaging for them and activating the features that matter most to each of those. If they’re quite different.

[00:12:49] – Caleb

It sounds really interesting, the personalization from a development perspective, though, that sounds difficult.

[00:12:57] – Peter

Yeah, that can be quite difficult. So obviously there’s a consideration for resource there, but you can do it in a simplistic form, which might be change the order of the onboarding, or change the layout of the dashboard, or promote a different action or call to action on the dashboard that they land on once they’re activated, just to highlight the feature that’s really important to them.

[00:13:30] – Caleb

Are you suggesting based on their cohort selection is maybe to amplify that what we think is their AHA moment in the dashboard in that empty state when they first engage?

[00:13:42] – Peter

Yeah, that could be an answer. That could be a solution. So yeah, you’re identifying what’s the most valuable thing for them and then you’re like, you say amplifying that. You’re highlighting that and getting those features activated with them, trying to build up their habitual usage of those features.

[00:14:03] – Caleb

Thank you.

[00:14:04] – Peter

You’re welcome. And hopefully as we go through, we might get a few more ideas on that topic. So I’m going to keep that one in mind. Vigil has a comment too. We have two different user personas. One who understands OKRs and there are others who are figuring out okay. And our software okay. So Vidya, that can be a challenge when you have a specific piece of software. Some people might hear about occasion and think, hey, we want to implement those in our business, but they’re new to it all and they haven’t run them yet. So you have a challenge there, which is educating, getting users who already understand and use occasion up and running so they’re much faster. And then this is really a different journey for figuring out for users who haven’t done them before because they need to define those OKRs, what are the measurables, how they want to implement them? So this is a classic case of designing a different flow, a different onboarding. So the first question on your onboarding process could be do you already implement OKRs in your business? And that onboarding flow could differ depending on the answer.

[00:15:18] – Peter

If they say yes, you skip ahead and get them set up. If they say no, you take them on a journey to define their cars. Okay, let’s move on. Okay, let’s just define what is activation? What are we talking about here when we talk about activation? So you can consider activation as users completing a task for the first time in your product. They could be existing users though you might be releasing a new feature, so you want existing users to activate the new feature that you’re releasing too. So activation doesn’t just happen at the new user stage, right? It happens throughout the lifetime of the user. It also happens during upgrades. So when they add new seats and new usage or upgrade their plan, then you need to activate them on the benefits of whatever they’ve just upgraded to. So they’ll have new features and new usage. If they’re buying one of these plans, it can be quite common that users upgrade, but they don’t make use of all of the benefits of the new plan. So you want to really drive that, push that forward to get them activated on the benefits of the new plan.

[00:16:26] – Peter

And then ultimately activation is leading towards adoption. So you want to build habits for users making use of your features. They activate these features, but they also keep coming back to use these features. So think of it as a cycle that goes towards adoption. Okay, so here is a worksheet, this is how I would suggest thinking about activation in your project or in your product. So a great place to start is really considering the desired outcomes. So list out the different profiles you have in your product and what are the desired outcomes for those profiles. We’re going to start there and then we’re going to go through this step by steps. We’re going to look at onboarding different screens, navigation, reactive moments where you can interrupt your user, and then announcements and notifications that you can use in your product. So we’re going to work through this worksheet as we go and I’m going to share some pretty simple examples as we go. So, desired outcomes. Consider your user profiles. Who are they, how many do you have? What are the biggest problems? Like what’s the reason they signed up for your platform or software and what are the results they’re looking for?

[00:17:48] – Peter

So we really want to be focused on the outcome, the result that they are looking for. We’re very clear on that. Then we can match that result to the features that are going to help them achieve it and then we promote those features to that user. If you have one profile, obviously it gets easier because you’re just really promoting they have maybe the same desired outcome and you can have one flow, but often this means tailoring the product. So I’m going to use an example of a project that a client that I work with a lot and that we know really well, prospect CRM. There are CRMs for sales, wholesale and distribution companies who use this as a sales platform. So they have three main user profiles sales execs, account execs, and sales managers. And they have really clear desired outcomes. So the sales execs wants to hit their targets. The account execs wants to increase customer loyalty and not miss out on orders from existing customers. And the sales managers want to gain visibility across activity across the business. So you can quickly see here that we’re thinking about three quite different use cases, three different desired outcomes.

[00:19:11] – Peter

And now all of the key elements in our product. We’re going to be able to think about how we match these up to these profiles and outcomes and make sure that in every step along the product, there’s something that relates, promotes reacting to what this user profile is trying to achieve. So, let’s look at Onboarding. First of all, key things to think about Onboarding is how you welcome the user, how you get them orientated. So orientation is key because remember I mentioned a few moments ago, we’re looking at that issue of overwhelming. So we want to orient the user and give them a context of what they’re going to expect, what they’re going to achieve with your product. And then we want to give them some kind of guidance, whether that’s walkthroughs checklists or a flow. So just thinking back a moment to prospect CRM, say, the sales execs key features that we want to highlight to them during Onboarding. They’re definitely going to help them hit their sales targets are the pipeline feature, this is like a Kanban sales feature, a sales target manager, customer score. And they need to integrate as well with another platform.

[00:20:35] – Peter

So it’s an integration. So if you have a thought for any of your products, here how any of your in fact, I’ll be interested to ask. Does anybody want to share what are the key, most valuable features that contribute directly to your user profile, achieving their desired outcome?

[00:21:04] – Speaker 5

I can reflect on this. For us, our software has what we call an OKR. As soon as we land on the screen, they’re prompted to a video and to build an OKR.

[00:21:20] – Peter

Yeah. Okay. So the OKR builder, that’s pretty much essential on their journey from getting to their first experience of value within your platform, right? Right. So during Onboarding, the great thing about your builder feature is that you can quite often in complex features. During Onboarding, we show them the features and explain them. But the great thing about your Occal builder is that you can get them working and creating okay. And guide them through that process during your Onboarding. So that’s a much more interactive experience. By the end of Onboarding, they might have already created their first OKR and then you can take them onto the next step. So if you can activate features during Onboarding, that’s even more powerful, which is a great thing. Is that something that you’re able to do Vidya?

[00:22:24] – Speaker 5

Not at the moment, because what we do find is the user is creating an OPR. There are two points where the Onboarding flow breaks. So one is they don’t click on the OKR builder for some reason, but those who click on the OKR builder create an OKR and probably get stuck on how do they connect and align to, let’s say, a company OKR?

[00:22:51] – Peter

Yeah, sure. Okay. So one of the challenges that you are having is because the user might be coming to your platform and you’re not guiding them clearly. So you’re waiting to see if they click on the okay, our builder. Now, one thing, I haven’t seen your products. I’m just going to make an assumption, just to give you an example. Assuming that all of your users need to use the builder to create their OKs to then be successful with your software, you could create an onboarding flow where you don’t land users into your software, but you say, hey, welcome to our platform. Have you used OKRs in your business before? Yes or no? If they say yes, great. Let’s take you on a journey to populate your OKRs and get them started. If they haven’t your guidance. So if they’re on that flow where they have occasion and they’re ready to put them in, you could say, okay, to get started, let’s get your first OKR. And here’s how we do it. You get them to populate that and then you might have a series of steps that come after that and you could go through it step by step, and you only need to get them to do one, and then you can land them in the platform and say, great, you’ve got your first OKR up and running.

[00:24:12.640] – Peter

Here’s what you can do now. And you’re guiding them through this journey. So rather than having them land in the platform and hoping that they find the okay our feature, you can activate them and on board them through that process. I don’t know how relevant exactly that is until I see your software, but I just wanted to use that as an example of how you can guide the user and give them a focus journey rather than leaving them to explore within the software.

[00:24:41] – Speaker 5

Thank you.

[00:24:44] – Peter

So we’re just going to look at a few examples of onboarding orientation. This is what I refer to as orientation. Your user lands in your platform. First Promoter are a platform for managing affiliate sales. So what we want to tell most of the users of this platform are SaaS company. So what we want to tell them is, hey, we want to get them excited and we want to tell them about the key features, the biggest features. There’s quite a lot going on this platform, so we just pick out, say, four or five, and we promote them right here. And we promote them based on the benefit or the value.

So welcome to First Promoter. You’ll be able to launch your own affiliate platform in just a few steps. So we take them through okay, you get your own branded affiliate dashboard. That’s a great feature. So companies know that their affiliates can manage their own platform and they get something to use for themselves. You can manage commissions and adjust commissions based on different affiliates. You can get one click payouts, you can actually pay your affiliates from the platform and you’ve got protection against, which can be quite a concern when you’ve got a lot of affiliates managing sales and it’s essential to integrate in order for affiliates to track affiliate sales as an essential integration here.

[00:26:11] – Peter

So we talk about how easy this integration is. Okay. So we just hit them with each of the pain points and we’ve matched those pain points to some of the biggest features in this platform. Now sometimes, as you know, it’s quite common users will skip this, but we’ve given them something here that we’re going to keep reminding them about throughout their product experience. So it becomes more and more familiar and through repetition they’re becoming more aware and then we give them calls to action to actually start using some of these good features. Yeah, and these are just different examples of this. Here’s one about the value of a dashboard for this games. This is a games company that does games actually for learning and development within big corporations. There’s an enterprise SaaS for learning and training. Here’s an example of just how we’re talking about the benefits of a messaging platform here. So the key features and then I also mentioned about checklists. So if you can’t think of a way to the example I gave about video’s. Okay, our software, if you can’t think of a clear flow where you’re taking the user through some tasks before they get into the product, checklist can be a good way to do that.

[00:27:37] – Peter

So vidi you might still land them in your platform and say, okay, create your first OKR, I think we’ve all seen these kind of cheques. That’s why you’ve got a progress. This keeps popping up every time they’re logging in and it’s always prompting them to get through those steps. Essentially each item on this checklist is activating a feature and that’s really the purpose of it.

[00:28:05] – Caleb

Hey Peter, can I ask you a question here?

[00:28:07] – Peter

Yes.

[00:28:09] – Caleb

So when I’m looking at this, the first one, the overview, you’re just running that as a modal over the application.

[00:28:19] – Peter

Yeah, so we do it in a number of ways, but a modal can be quite lightweight and also with the context of the product in the background. Sometimes it helps, but sometimes we do this in terms of screens and then when they get more complex, they will have some actions in them as well, some tasks.

[00:28:40] – Caleb

Okay. And the other one you showed, was that a third party integration or is that also custom for the application, the checklist?

[00:28:52] – Peter

So you can find tools that do this. Intercom, for example, I think does this, but there’s a whole bunch of them that you could use. This particular one was custom built but these are ways yeah, and you mentioned it might be quite difficult to personalise things but then there are some kind of lightweight ways to build some of those onboarding things in. You can iterate step by step. The first iteration might not have personalization, but at least it’s building some onboarding and you learn each step. That’s key too. Right, so you learn how to yes.

[00:29:32] – Caleb

I’m thinking about the analytics on just the tour now. Right. Where’s the fixed point in the tour?

[00:29:38] – Peter

Yeah, that’s it, that’s it.

[00:29:41] – Caleb

Thank you.

[00:29:43] – Steve

Is that checklist generally just presumably the user just clicks on had a person or something, does that take them generally? Is that sort of like a link to a part of the product where you would do that action?

[00:29:58] – Peter

Yeah, in this particular one it does do that so if you click on one of these links it has a kind of walk through that comes up. So up here in the navigation in the left you’ve got the people tab there so an overlay comes up there at all tip and it says okay, go to the people screen, you go there and then it says right click here to add a new person. So this one does and they don’t always need to, sometimes they’re quite straightforward but yeah, if we can really guide them and push them through it, then we do. Yeah.

[00:30:43] – Steve

And does the user control going too deep on that but is the user the one saying I’ve done that or is that some sort of smarts within the software to say you’ve added a person? Well done.

[00:30:56] – Peter

Yeah, once they hit they’ve entered some details of a new person and hit save, there is some connection that updates the checklist that just gives it a cheque, moves the progress bar along. They don’t need to go through this in the order that is presented so they could skip ahead and do a different task and then go back and forth. So on this particular one we don’t need to guide them through a journey it can be user to find.

[00:31:39] – Steve

Okay, thanks.

[00:31:43] – Peter

Okay, so that gives us one huge chance to get to impact. Activation is onboarding, the next one is often overlooked quite a bit and it’s quite simple, it’s navigation. Right? Navigation is such a good opportunity to promote features and you see this happening more and more in big well funded SaaS companies that they design a big drop down navigation. Each feature always has a graphic for it, a nice heading, I’ll have a description below. Sometimes even sometimes I see calls to action inside the navigation drop down so this is a nice way to do it and it doesn’t just have to be the main app navigation, it can be navigation elements on pages as you travel through the product. So key things we need to think about our features group logically. One problem that I’ve seen occurring several times is that software that has been worked on for a long time, the navigation gets quite messy and I’ve even seen software that has really great features that have been put into settings and the music is never going of discover them. They’re in a long list of settings so when we discovered them we said hey, why are these hidden in settings.

[00:33:10] – Peter

Bring them out and put them in your main NAV and show them off. So it’s like just giving them visibility as part of that exercise. So mega menu to highlight the features and then using graphics and descriptions to just bring them to life. The first time users see a menu, they really don’t know what any of the items in the menu refer to and what they mean. So just help speed things up for them. In this worksheet, we’d use this just to highlight which features are your most powerful features. Okay, this doesn’t need to be personalised because this is the navigation for your whole app. So we want to highlight the best features, the most powerful features, and showcase them in your navigation. So this is probably the simplest example I can give of this is that this is a CRM and some of the key features under this automation tab. We’re just giving them a simple icon and a description of what these do. So workflows not everybody knows what workflows are and what they’ll do, so it’s just as simple as that. Just surfacing them, giving them a description. You’ll be surprised how well, you probably wouldn’t be surprised.

[00:34:36] – Peter

Most software, especially that’s bootstrapped or not really well funded, doesn’t make the best use of navigation to help users understand and start using features. So that moves us onto another problem, which I mentioned earlier. If a user signs into your product, they see a great navigation with a mega menu and it describes the feature. They say, oh, this looks interesting, they click on that. They might land on a screen that’s empty because they have no data there or they might land on a dashboard that’s empty.

I’d say Caleb, for your example, say they might need to run some searches to populate or find properties. So they might want to save some properties onto their dashboard when they first get in there. They’re dealing with a bit of a blank canvas, kind of a bit of an underwhelming experience. Right? So what we want to do with empty screens are sell the benefits of the feature. What’s the benefit of this empty screen? Why should they get started using it? And what we’re trying to do is psychologically implant a vision in their mind of how it will look when they’re being successful with the software in the future.

[00:35:58] – Peter

So imagine if they’re looking for what’s your use case? Kayla, can you give me just a quick what’s the main use case of your users that return to the platform? What’s a good use case for them? Are they looking for properties to invest.

[00:36:14] – Caleb

On the insurance side? So what we’ll see is what they want to do is they want to confirm that the owner and we have the owner’s name correct so they’re making sure that the policy holder matches the owner name correctly. That way the claim get paid out correctly quickly. After that, they want to confirm the debt on the house? Are there any liens? Is there a mortgage on the property? So if there’s a claim to be paid out, it’s paid out to the correct people. So those are the two areas, and the third one might be they want just a property overview. Look at the satellite, view the boundary lines, make sure they’re clear on what the property is physically right.

[00:36:52] – Peter

So we’re going to say access to this information. We just put implant that vision in their mind on the dashboard. You can have a dashboard that gives you insight into the insurance use case or the other use case and give a graphic that represents a busy dashboard or visibility into the different views of the property, something like that. And then a compelling CTA. Get started, enter your search details and generate your list. So, key screens for this. Just going back to prospect’s CRM or CRM that we’re using for an example, their dashboard was a huge problem.

So they’d have a lot of new users signing up for a free trial, and they’d have this empty dashboard experience when they never upgraded. So we redesigned their dashboards and they basically saw a 25% increase in free trial to paid account upgrades. And it was just because of that underwhelming experience. Another one would be a sales pipeline screen, a product screen. There’s no products populated, a contact list. If you have a CRM, these screens will be woefully empty and looking pretty tedious. So we want to bring them to life. Here’s an example workflows. We have a nice video showing off the workflows that you can build.

[00:38:18] – Peter

So now they see, oh, wow, look, I can create a workflow that has this level of complexity. We explain it. We also have a reference to the knowledge base. If they want to see different use cases, then we literally ask them to create your first workflow and we talk about what they can do and then get started. So that’s one way to bring an empty screen to life. Once there are workflows on this screen, it looks totally different, layouts different when I was showing lists of workflows. But in the beginning, we actually have to design a different screen in order for them to get going and get activated with workflows. So that’s how we approach that.

And you can do it in a simple manner too. Maybe you don’t want to invest the time and development resource and effort, and you just want to say, okay, so if you’re familiar with IVR to build the telephone option menu, this was a tool that does that, and it says welcome to them. They called it a digital receptionist. So this just says welcome. Here you can set automated messages for your phone line. Callers can easily find information, contacts they’re looking for without having to speak to somebody.

[00:39:35] – Peter

Okay, get started. So there’s very simple ways to get these kind of interactions up and running in your product before they get more sophisticated, which I think is a generally a good way to iterate. And then also here’s just a way to activate a feature. It’s like, okay, say they click on get started on this previous screen. Get started. So we’re just saying, look, can we give you a template to make this easier? We know activating something like a workflow for a telephone options system is complex.

We’ve got a bunch of templates so you don’t have to create it from scratch. We recommend you use this and that activates them even faster. Otherwise they’ve got a bigger task on their hand, which is to build theirs from scratch. So little things every step of the way. And that’s how we might activate empty screens. Here’s another really simple example. If you don’t really want to design a completely different experience but you have the screen there, this is a common way to do it. So just give them a big call to action button. We explain what the screen does, the benefit of it, and we can give them a graphic.

[00:40:52] – Peter

This is a pretty plain icon. You might want to give them a graphic that represents a future state beneficial for them. Right, so we’re getting through things. The penultimate step here is considering reactive walkthroughs. Your user is exploring. You don’t have a lot of control where they’re going to click on what they’re going to do, but there might be times where you want to interrupt their journey because the first time they click on something, you know that they’re not going to understand it or they’re going to struggle with this.

So reactive walkthroughs can be for tasks where your user needs assistance doing something and we want to explain and highlight steps they need to take so taking them on a journey. So the example going back to our CRM might be a sales pipeline walkthrough or an integration. An integration is a really common sticky point for getting new users into your product. A lot of the size companies that I talk to have problems with their integration flow. So it might be a thing where we interrupt and say, hey, we’ve got a journey to help you integrate your platform with whatever they need to become successful.

[00:42:16] – Peter

So here’s an example of a couple of reactive walkthroughs. This is a CRM and in order to send out emails and use a phone line for SMS, the user needs to set up a sender profile. So what we do is we interrupt them. If we take them to the messenger screen and they want to create a message, we interrupt them and say, hey, you need to complete your sender profile. Or we also do this on onboarding. They can skip it, but we also ask them to do this onboarding. And then we have a walk through here. So this tool tip pops up to just tell them what they need to do here and why. So they understand the importance of the journey and we literally walk them through and make it simple for them to put in their details. And this is a nice example of that telephone reception thing. So if they’re on that feature again, we’re going to give them a walk through here. It’s a contextual walk through that they’ll only see if they try to perform this task for something for you, there might be a complex search that they need to do.

[00:43:36] – Peter

So you might kind of break down that search to a few steps. That makes it easy for them and more engaging for them. This is a bit like a cheque, but this is more a stepper. It’s step by step. They go through these tasks, progress. Steve, has there been anything on these last few points for you so far that relates to the product that you’re currently working with? Anything that you have?

[00:44:13] – Steve

Yeah, absolutely. First of all, this has actually been far more useful than I would just imagine activation being at the start. But actually, I can see there’s huge benefits just because I hadn’t really thought about using it when new features come in or the new users going through using things. I think especially what you’ve been talking about, the workflows that prompting stuff for us. One of our biggest problems is we do have a very complex product. It’s unavoidably complex because there’s an awful lot of people to do. It’s kind of almost a builder application, if you like. And also we have users that will only use it maybe three times a year, so they may have had training, but when they come back to it, it’s been several months since they’ve used it before and that’s just a normal workflow, that’s how it works. And so within that three months or four months, we could have put out a couple of releases so they could easily give you new stuff. This is not a thing they use every day. I like this idea of these little walk throughs and sort of pop out reminders and that sort of stuff, I think would be huge.

[00:45:39] – Steve

And we do suffer from what you’ve been talking about with the empty screen syndrome. Somebody for us. One thing the customer has to do, they have to build a list of criteria. How are you going to evaluate this thing? But it’s empty, obviously, when you start. So they just got a big screen with lots of buttons because you can do lots of things on it. But it’s intimidating, isn’t it? Customers find this intimidating. They don’t really know exactly what they’re doing or it’s been several months since I did it before, so I think having this these little breakout parts, that would be really useful.

[00:46:19.230] – Peter

Yeah, it sounds like it. And I guess you do have a challenge when you have users that they might not have any sessions logged for a few months and then they log back in. Is it like a code platform builder or something along those lines?

[00:46:33] – Steve

Yeah, essentially what our direct customers will do. They are building evaluation models, so they put in questions, they define whites, they define metrics and how they’re going to score. So they build this big evaluation model and then they get evaluators and so somebody is going to buy a school or something. Then there’s lots of questions and they’ve waited everything and they come in and then they’ve got Evaluators that use it. And again, we got some very differing user personas. We’ve got Evaluators that maybe use three screens of the application and then we’ve got sort of project builders that are maybe using the other 90% of the screen.

So it’s a very wide range and we’ve got some customers that are less experienced and then we’ve got our own consultants that are very experienced, so it’s a wide range. One of our biggest challenges is meeting those needs between very experienced and very new. It’s kind of what you’ve been saying here, I’m interested in that, how maybe you could talk about this. Is that migration? I think you were saying earlier on. You’ve got some people that come in. They’re using it once and they go and then your other people that come in.

[00:47:53] – Steve

They use it. They grow more experienced and it’s that transition from inexperienced user maybe only need 10% of the features to how do you then start saying.

[00:48:04] – Peter

Well.

[00:48:04] – Steve

Actually there’s all these other features come on board. Use all this great new stuff. That transition I think is interesting and that’s a challenge for us too, how to promote new stuff for people to use.

[00:48:17] – Peter

Yeah, that is interesting. You touched on something where if they’ve not locked in for some time, there might be a bundle of features, there might be a few things that happened. I don’t know if you’ve ever used Mero. Do you use Mirror? Are you familiar with mirror? Yes. Have you ever logged into Mirror? And they have a list because they release updates so frequently they have a list of things. So they’ll say, oh, this new feature and it’s like a modal that’s scrollable and it’s telling you all of the stuff that’s happened since you last acknowledged it. So that’s quite a neat way to kind of get them up to speed. Inevitably, a lot of people might just quickly scan through that and then close it off.

But at least they say, oh God, there’s a lot of activity that’s happened with this platform since I last they make a mental note. And then the other thing for one activity that’s really useful is promoting premium features, new features and upgrade flows. How an existing active user might encounter new features or moments where they need to upgrade or increase their usage. So those are different kinds of interactions that we’ll design across the platform.

[00:49:38] – Peter

Again, navigation can play quite a good role in that announcements, the overlays, some notifications in the screen. So it’s like a series of UI elements and notifications that we’d use. Another interesting challenge on top of activation, I’m going to jump to a comment that Kayla mentioned. Not sure if of the plan for our events, but a session dedicated to UX UI and integrations would be great. UX UI design or were they two topics or were you thinking of those as one thing together?

[00:50:25] – Caleb

I don’t know where it goes, but it’s really the problem sets around integrations and adoption for integrations. It’s something that’s on our roadmap in the upcoming year, Peter, and we’re not clear what the Pitfalls are going to be we tie into. What do you mean by integration anyways? Is it going to be to Asana Monday trello a workflow? Or it could be the salesforce HubSpot or CRM integration. It may be just be of trying to figure out what one even means. Gmail or Outlook add in or Chrome extensions, who knows? But there are a lot of places, considering it seems to be the hot topic in many SaaS circles right now, these partners or indirect partnerships and what that means from incorporating that into our applications.

I also want to piggyback on something Steve said about people converting in different parts of their journey, but ultimately what they just reminded me that we’re looking for people to give us feedback. I’m using all these features, but the feature I really like is the thing you don’t have yet. Right. And that’s almost the Holy grail of this experience. If we can get a nice strong feedback loop into the feature development, to our roadmap so we know that we’re building something, building a bridge, people are actually going to crossover.

[00:51:56] – Peter

Yeah, that could be really neat. And a good time to show that is in your NAV somewhere you could have a little icon where they can click and it’s a feature request if you’re really focusing on that. Other times you can do that is when the user finishes a task. So say, for example, the screen that we are right now. Say they publish in the top right here. You’ve got the progress completion and they can publish. Once they get towards 100%, they can publish at the end of that. We usually show them like a success and notification on screen.

So we say, great, your new receptionist is live and that’s a great time to do the kind of things that you mentioned. How would you rate this feature out of one to five? You want to say, is there anything else that you need, any other features that you need? And that can just be a quick interaction on the success screen that they can skip. So there are these moments where it’s relevant to gather feedback and the user is also in a frame of mind where they’re more willing to give it. Oh, just finish that.

[00:53:06] – Peter

That feels good. Oh, that was better than I thought. I found that really difficult, actually. Almost a reflective moment. It’s a great time to capture that feedback. So the final thing we’re going to look at here is announcements and notifications. So like I just mentioned to you, tasks done or updated. It’s a great time to give the user a notification announcement or ask for something. Also when somebody else on their account or somebody else in the platform has interacted with either their content or their tasks. Or there’s some news. You’ve got new or upgraded features, you’ve updated something on the platform.

These are all great opportunities to activate whatever it is that you’re talking about. So for our going back to our CRM company, we could give the user a notification when one of their customers makes an order. Great. Okay, so then what’s the next step? We can ask them to do something then and perform a task which activates a feature that relates to that. Or the CRM is going to release a custom health score feature. So once that gets released, we will announce that in the product with a nice overlay or a nice screen.

[00:54:32] – Peter

If we really want to get them activated, we can get them say, hey, start using this now. Get your top five custom scores. It could be an engaging thing, something that makes people curious, they want to use it. It’s something that’s actually on their mind that they might be willing to just take that journey and activate that feature as the announcement comes up. So this is in a really simple way, just like the way I mentioned Mirror. When you first log in, they give you a list of what they’ve done.

Here we just provide a notification that we’ve upgraded several things in this platform. Okay, got it. And you can get much more sophisticated than this. And this can operate in a variety of ways. Updates, notifications, announcements, feedback after a task is completed, that is generally how we like to think about. These are the key areas in your product where there’s great opportunities to build user activation. And when you’re thinking about the desired outcomes, helps you to kind of focus on which features to push and present at which point of the journey. So I hope that really helps when you’re thinking about how you can relate this back to your own products.

[00:56:01] – Peter

And that’s generally what this session was designed to talk through. So I wondered if there’s any questions left over before we wrap up. We’ve talked through quite a bit during the session. There’s anything remaining?

[00:56:19] – Steve

It’s been really helpful. Say thanks. Yeah, there’s been a lot of good tips and good information super.

[00:56:26] – Peter

Really glad it has. Is there anything else that is on your mind about activation that hasn’t been included here? I know Fukashi, you mentioned the buyer activation, which is something happening off platform. I think maybe it’s involving customer success. And I’m aware we haven’t touched on that much here because this is really focused around the product centric interactions. Apart from that, is there anything else that you would like to see or learn more about with activation? I think we’ve covered everything that was on your mind. Sounds like we’ve covered.

[00:57:09] – Kashi

It was an amazing session, Peter. Really loved it.

[00:57:13] – Peter

Thanks Kashi. Glad you could all join. So I really appreciate your time. Thanks Caleb, for the comment there. Really appreciate your time joining the session and good to see you all and catch up on what you’re working on and learning a bit more about your product. So like I said, if you need any help from me, feel free to book this session. We talk about activation and many more things. Like I said, user active, we’re product designers. But yeah, other than that, that’s the session. We do one every month, so we focus on different topics and I’ll give some thought to the integrations one because I also have noticed it’s a really hot topic and I think we’d have some good content on that too.

[00:57:59] – Caleb

Yeah, I’m going to SaaStr next month and it’s across the board. Partnerships, partnerships, partnerships. I can see there’s a lot of interest in it right now.

[00:58:10] – Peter

Oh, great. Yeah, I think SaaStr will be fantastic. They had a European one, which is a much smaller event. I was there this summer. We have another one in Europe, SaaStock, which is in Dublin. Right. So I’ll be there in October, but unfortunately not making it. Maybe in the following year. I’d love to go because I’ve heard it’s the real big conference for our yeah.

[00:58:37] – Caleb

Let me know if there’s anything you want me to look at there for your end. Happy to scout for you if there’s.

[00:58:46] – Peter

I’ll see if there’s any interesting speakers or topics that come up. When I mentioned to you yeah, the.

[00:58:52] – Caleb

One in Dublin I had considered too, but the schedule doesn’t work and everything, but somebody in one of my networks, Nathan Latka, actually had brought that up.

[00:59:01] – Kashi

Okay.

[00:59:02] – Peter

Yeah, I know him. I think I’ll be joining him on one of his sessions in September as well, so I’ll let you know if that goes ahead. But yeah, he’s always a great speaker, so if he’s at after in San Francisco, definitely.

[00:59:18] – Caleb

Yeah, a little bit. Yeah, he’s got a different session a couple of weeks earlier, so he’s not going to be there. But yeah, great content as always, Peter. I really do enjoy it and I keep stretching my mind for a way to do business with you. So we’ll find something here, but nice. Thank you for doing this effort.

[00:59:33] – Peter

Thank you, I appreciate it. Okay, well, on that note, I think we’ll wrap up for today. But thanks again, everyone. Great to see you all. Take care and all the pleasure. Best with activation on your platforms.

Sarah Stratton

Sarah manages the social media at UserActive as well as other marketing activities. She also writes blog content for UserActive.

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