This article was originally published on Digital-Adoption.com

The term adoption refers to users who implement and integrate a new product, such as a software program, into their regular workflows or digital environment.

As with most technology-related terminology, this term is a recent one and has many variations, such as:


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Different industries, companies, and job roles will often prefer one term over the other. 

Though the terms often refer to the same process, they often have distinct definitions – and those distinctions can make a big difference when these concepts are applied in the workplace.

To some, for instance, software adoption refers to the implementation of software within a single company.

If the definition stops there, however, organizations can easily miss out on the most important measures of software ROI, such as user productivity.

Of the terms mentioned above, digital adoption offers a more holistic and practical definition: using software to its fullest extent and for its intended purpose.

By focusing on “using software to its fullest extent,” the emphasis shifts from software implementation to improving user proficiency, user productivity, and the user experience.

Since this is the most valuable definition among those covered above, we’ll explore adoption rates in this context.

Measuring the Adoption Rate

Digital adoption provides specific goals to work towards, such as:

  • Improving users’ skills 
  • Increasing productivity
  • Enhancing user onboarding, training, and the user experience
  • Shortening learning curves and time-to-competency
  • Boosting overall software utilization

Achieving these goals will lower user abandonment rates, frustration, and burnout, while raising other important metrics, such as user productivity and loyalty. In short, these goals can help companies improve software ROI and performance.

By quantifying those goals into measurable objectives, it is possible to gain insight into key adoption processes, such as onboarding and training.

Here are a few examples:

  • Time-to-productivity
  • User abandonment rates
  • User engagement
  • User satisfaction
  • Utilization of specific product features

All of these metrics will provide a detailed picture of user adoption, and, if necessary, they can be combined or distilled into a score, or “one metric that matters.” An employer adopting a new SaaS platform, for example, may decide that employee productivity is the most important adoption metric to focus on.

However, as a general rule, a granular view of adoption metrics is best – having a detailed set of metrics will allow adoption specialists to better understand their adoption process and actually improve upon it.

3 Ways to Improve Adoption Rates

Here are three strategies that can help organizations boost their adoption rates, whether they are creating products for customers or implementing software internally:

A Structured Digital Adoption Program

First and foremost, it is important to take a structured approach to digital adoption.

This means:

  • Articulating a set of clear goals and measurable objectives
  • Developing an adoption process built around onboarding, training, and long-term development
  • Implementing the adoption program, measuring its performance, and making improvements

The adoption process, a key leg of the user journey, should be mapped out in stages.

Key stages in the adoption process include:

  • Onboarding
  • Training
  • Support

However, adoption specialists should also take into account other parts of the user journey, since those will also affect the adoption process. 

Marketing and sales, for instance, prepare new users for the onboarding process, so it is important to collaborate closely to ensure that the user experience is seamless and consistent.

A structured approach to user adoption is the crucial first step towards improving adoption rates, but it is equally important to use the right adoption tools, especially in today’s digital economy.

In-App Onboarding and Training

When new users first begin using a new product, they almost always need help learning its features and workflows.

In-app guidance is the best solution – it offers immediate information and users can put that knowledge into practice right away.

Digital adoption platforms (DAPs) are tools that offer automated, in-app training, making them ideal tools to improve adoption efforts.

Common use cases include:

  • Product tours that quickly introduce new users to the product’s features and capabilities
  • Walkthroughs that teach users how to perform tasks and workflows
  • Self-support solutions, such as chatbots, that allow users to quickly find answers inside the application

With the right DAP and the right digital adoption strategy, organizations can significantly boost adoption rates and help users gain more value from a product.

The User Experience

Adoption rates go hand-in-hand with the user experience, which affects a number of important metrics, such as:

  • Engagement
  • Satisfaction
  • Software-related frustration
  • Productivity and performance

Adoption strategies should aim to simplify the user experience as much as possible, since complexity is one of the biggest hurdles to full adoption. While much of that complexity is necessary in order to deliver full-featured, robust products, it is also a major barrier to learning.

Of course, other barriers occur before the onboarding process actually begins – a sign-up process that is needlessly complicated, for instance, can deter many users before they actually touch the product.

DAPs, as mentioned above, offer another solution to this problem, since they can provide continual guidance throughout the adoption journey.

For more ways to improve digital adoption rates, visit our digital adoption blog.