Best Practices

5 digital adoption strategies that drive impactful results

Published Mar 23, 2024
How to get users onboarded and engaged.

Have you ever rolled out a new or significantly updated software solution within your organization — or to your customers — only to find, months later, that user adoption of the new capabilities remains dismally low? Perhaps you’ve launched a new feature-packed content management system (CMS), but your marketing team is struggling (and failing) to navigate its intricacies. Or you find your sales reps, instead of utilizing the powerful new CRM you provided, continue using familiar (yet clunky and inefficient) spreadsheets. Or you discover that customers are using that vastly upgraded mobile app you delivered into their hands even less than the previous version. 

Scenarios like these are all too common, and they highlight a critical challenge faced by businesses in today’s digital landscape. McKinsey reports that, despite all the advanced technology and good intentions, a whopping 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail to deliver on their promised benefits, many due to poor user adoption. Employees and customers alike may struggle to adapt to new software, leading to frustration, wasted resources, and a poor return on investment (ROI).

In a nutshell, digital adoption is the process by which users learn to leverage new technology (software products, apps, websites, etc.) to its fullest potential and derive maximum value from a digital process or solution. Digital adoption requires us to focus on those who will be using the technology as much as the technology itself, and we humans can present as many (or more) challenges as that technology. There are, however, strategies to help overcome such hurdles to unlock the full potential of your digital transformation initiatives, not to mention turning skeptical users into grateful fans. 

Here, we explore the 5 key digital adoption strategies guaranteed to deliver impactful results.

1. Prioritize user onboarding and user education

As is true in most life experiences, first impressions matter when it comes to acclimating users to new software apps and features. A well-designed onboarding process sets the stage for positive user experiences and fosters long-term engagement. Effective user education empowers users to leverage the software’s full functionality, maximizing its value.

Taking a new CRM as an example, let’s say the company had invested in a comprehensive onboarding program for all its sales reps before, during, and after the rollout. They could provide targeted, interactive tutorials tailored to different user roles within the sales team. These resources would have equipped reps with the knowledge and confidence to navigate the CRM effectively, promoting user buy-in and encouraging adoption instead of reverting to older inefficient practices.

User onboarding and education are just two areas where Pendo excels. It’s all-in-one product experience platform allows you to create user flows and in-app guides that walk users through specific workflows. Additionally, Pendo’s always-on Resource Center system empowers you to build a robust knowledge base that provides context-sensitive articles, FAQs, and videos to address user questions and provide ongoing learning opportunities.

2. Foster user engagement with in-app guidance

Contextual, just-in-time guidance — delivered in the software when and where it is most helpful — provides users with immediate assistance at the moment of need. Such guides reduce frustration and confusion, keeping users engaged and actively learning as they explore the platform.

Imagine a sales rep using that powerful new CRM for the first time. Pendo’s contextual overlays can highlight key features relevant to the task at hand, such as adding a new lead or logging a customer interaction. These interactive tips provide bite-sized learning experiences that empower users to discover new functionalities independently, fostering self-sufficiency and engagement. Contextual nudges provide timely guidance without overwhelming users, keeping them engaged and on track. Plus, you can provide proactive, in-app communications that let users know about upcoming features and other changes so they are always aware and never surprised.

3. Leverage user feedback for continuous improvement

Understanding users’ needs and pain points is crucial for optimizing the user experience and boosting adoption. While we’d like to think our software delivers exactly what users want and need, the reality is that there is always room for improvement and that user needs change over time. By actively collecting and analyzing user feedback and activity (how they actually use the software), you can identify areas for improvement and continue tailoring your software to better meet user expectations.

Say your sales team finds the new lead qualification process in the CRM awkward or cumbersome. By actively soliciting user feedback within the app and recording the actual activity leading to a point of confusion, you can gather real-time insights into what is causing frustration. You can then use these insights to streamline the lead qualification process and improve the UI of the CRM, directly addressing a user pain point and improving overall adoption rates.

Pendo lets users provide feedback directly within the app with surveys, in-app polls, and sentiment analysis tools. This real-time data empowers you to identify user frustrations and prioritize improvements that directly address user needs.

4. Empower non-technical teams with user adoption tools

Successful digital adoption often requires collaboration across teams. Empowering non-technical teams, such as customer success, IT or customer service, and marketing, with user adoption tools allows a broader audience (not just IT) to participate in onboarding and user education initiatives, fostering a more user-centric approach.

For example, your customer success team could create a targeted onboarding flow for new sales reps and a different one for existing team members. This flow could guide them through features like creating custom lead reports and setting up automated sales workflows. Tools aimed at non-technical team managers empower them to tailor onboarding experiences specifically for their department and different user roles within those departments, ensuring a relevant and engaging introduction to the CRM for everyone who needs to use it.

Pendo’s intuitive interface requires no coding knowledge, making it easy for non-technical teams to create engaging in-app guidance and user education materials, thus empowering them to contribute directly to user adoption initiatives.

5. Measure and analyze user adoption data

By now, the adage “data is king” is almost cliché but still true. Tracking user behavior and engagement metrics will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your digital adoption initiatives. By analyzing data like feature usage and task completion rates, you can identify areas for improvement and optimize your strategies for continuous progress.

For that CRM, for example, you can use tools like Pendo’s comprehensive analytics  to track user engagement by measuring how much sales reps use specific features. Such tools can monitor metrics like the completion rate of onboarding tutorials, built-in workflows, and deal closure, as well as help to identify features that users rarely access. This data is valuable for refining onboarding experiences, improving workflows, and prioritizing improvement to (or even deprecations of) features within the CRM itself.

Pendo’s robust analytics dashboard provides a wealth of user behavior data, including feature usage, task completion rates, and time spent within specific sections of the app, whether it is a CRM, an internally built service provisioning tool, or a mobile app for your users. These insights empower you to identify user trends, measure the impact of your user adoption strategies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize the user experience.

Ready to drive better adoption outcomes?

Whether you’re deploying an off-the-shelf software package you’ve configured or customized to suit your organization’s needs or software tools you’ve built for internal users, customers, or both, you can help ensure you get the highest user adoption rates possible. By implementing these digital adoption strategies and leveraging the power of Pendo, you can provide a smooth onboarding experience, foster user engagement, and unlock the full potential of your software investments.

Get a custom demo here to see the difference Pendo’s data-driven digital adoption platform can make.