Product Management 101: Digital Adoption

Are your users getting as much value out of your product as possible? How well have they integrated your application into their key workflows? Are they discovering and making use of a wide variety of helpful features? Or are they missing out on the aspects of your product that are most useful to them? Digital adoption concerns itself with these and similar questions.

What is digital adoption?

Digital adoption refers to the state in which users are able to leverage digital tools (software products, apps, websites, etc.) to the fullest extent. It goes beyond understanding how to use these tools effectively to include the behavioral shifts often necessary to derive maximum value of a product or solution.

What’s the difference between digital adoption and digital transformation?

In short, digital adoption is a part of digital transformation, which is the process of using software to adapt to evolving demands. For example, if a software solution were to replace manual processes, full digital adoption only occurs once employees shift from their once-manual processes to the new digitally-enabled state.

Why is digital adoption important?

According to a 2018 report from analyst firm IDG, 89% of organizations plan to implement a digital-first business strategy. For companies that have already taken a digital-first approach, doing so increased revenue by 34% on average. Companies need to ensure the digital tools they procure are adopted by their users, whether those are their employees or customers. Digital adoption of internal software is typically measured by increased employee productivity, whereas customer-facing digital products are measured against various business KPIs and, for sophisticated organizations, product experience targets.

What’s the difference between digital adoption and feature adoption?

Feature adoption, or the rate of usage of specific aspects/features within your product, is simply one facet of digital adoption. One of the goals of your digital adoption strategy might be to increase feature adoption by a certain percent. And feature adoption rates may serve as an indicator of whether your digital adoption platform (see below) is working well, or if it might be time to change tools.

How can I increase digital adoption?

In addition to ensuring a product is as intuitive as possible, there are certain ways to help increase digital adoption across a company’s user base:


By creating an effective onboarding strategy, companies can ensure users not only become proficient in their application as quickly as possible, but also recognize the product’s value, which helps drive retention and prevent churn.

In-app guidance

In order to provide contextual information while users are in the product, many companies use in-app messaging to communicate at the right moments and guide users to success.

Ongoing education

Since digital adoption is an ongoing process, it’s important to continue educating users after onboarding is complete, especially when there are any product releases, changes, or updates.

Today, many companies are turning to digital adoption platforms to implement these practices effectively.

What is a digital adoption platform (DAP)?

A digital adoption platform is a software that is layered on top of another software product, app, or website to help facilitate proficiency by guiding users through key tasks and providing contextual information as users navigate the product. These tools help get new users familiarized and proficient in an application quickly, as well as provide ongoing education to drive adoption of new features and functionality.

Recommended reading

“What Is Digital Adoption And Why You Really Need To Know About It” by Lilach Bullock

This piece from Forbes gives a thorough rundown of the what and why of digital adoption, while also outlining some of its main challenges.

“Five Ways to Increase Feature Adoption Rates” by Suja Thomas

Feature adoption is a key facet of digital adoption. However, in the rush to build and ship new features, existing ones can fall by the wayside. Improve feature adoption rates of your hidden gems with these five tips.

“Product Love Podcast: Melissa Perri, CEO and Founder of Produx Labs” by Eric Boduch

In this episode of the Product Love Podcast, Melissa Perri of Produx Labs discusses how digital adoption and digital transformation can lead to real improvement in a company’s bottom line.

“Digital Adoption: What It Is and Why Big-Time Businesses Must Take Note” by Jordan French

This piece goes through some of the hurdles that enterprise companies in particular might face when it comes to implementing a digital adoption tool or strategy.

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