How to improve feature discovery for SaaS apps (and why it’s necessary)

How to improve feature discovery for SaaS apps (and why it’s necessary)

Feature discovery is an important contribution to how users perceive your product value. In other words, when you don’t show the value users will eventually churn. So how can you drive user engagement towards new and underused features? Discover how tactics like app gamification and segmentation improve adoption!

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about feature discovery, including 12 examples from leading SaaS apps in 2022.

What is feature discovery?

In short, feature discovery is the process of building awareness around new or underused features. Your users might discover new features either organically or accidentally. However, a great product adoption strategy includes ways to educate users on new features & as a result improve user engagement.

Why feature discovery is vital for SaaS product adoption

Ask yourself – how can you make the most out of product-led growth, if users are not engaging with parts of your product? In fact, just 12% of a product’s features attract the majority of user engagement. That leaves plenty of room for improvement, and also shows how feature discovery can gift you a competitive advantage, among other benefits:

  • Emphasis on individual features allows you to improve specific touchpoints
  • Rise in user engagement across different features, as well as higher retention
  • Using more features adds value to the product (so adoption is more attractive)

How to improve user engagement through feature discovery

The way in which users encounter a feature will transform their perception of it. Behavioral scientists call this ‘priming’. In short, when a specific stimulus compels you to think or act a certain way. You can use this effect to trigger a recurring loop of user engagement!

In other words, by triggering feature discovery, you own the context in which a user perceives new features. As a result, the perceived value of your product will increase!

12 top examples of how to promote feature adoption and discovery in 2022

#1 Gamified checklists incentivize feature discovery

Sometimes the value of your product can get lost during onboarding. However, gamified checklists are a great way to put those key actions in the spotlight. Postfity for instance gives a 50% discount after scheduling your first post! Additionally, using the ‘Zeignarik effect’ by already completing the first steps nearly doubled completion rates.

Above all, rewards don’t have to be financial. It can also be of intrinsic value such as achievements, badges, or leveling systems.

feature discovery gamification checklist

#2 Interactive walkthroughs let users experience the value

Interactive walkthroughs are not just fun, they also make the experience far more valuable. Take webinar hosting service Demio for example. They let new users present their own webinar with slides Demio provided. Furthermore, there are even fake attendees in the chatbox! Obviously, it’s a clever and fun way to show off the platform’s value.

user engagement app gamification saas

#3 Segment feature updates

You can create a personalized adoption journey without overcomplicating things. In fact, you can significantly improve experiences through simple segmentation. Beamer for instance lets you personalize discounts, feature updates, and push notifications towards admins, new or paid users. Additionally, you can customize based on demographics, location, language, and past behavior.

#4 Tooltips can nudge customers to underused features

Livestreaming platform Kumu suffered from low feature adoption on their search bar. So what did they do? With a simple spotlight nudge, Kumu achieved a 54% click-through rate, and feature adoption shot up by 38%!

feature discovery app adoption saas

#5 Celebrate customer success (and include tips on how to get more value)

While celebrating customer success, Evernote also plants the seed of further wins! In fact, Evernote congratulates new users right after sending their first email. This email includes some tips around related features to further increase user engagement!

how to increase feature adoption

#6 Promote new features with announcements

In-app announcements are a great way to target the right users. For example, look at how Slack introduced message formatting. Slack showed highly engaged users a slide-out modal with a simple gif that makes feature discovery easy and the benefits obvious! Without a doubt, a great example of ‘show don’t tell’.

feature discovery saas best examples

#7 Welcome emails can highlight the app’s key features

While many marketing emails are sent straight to spam, recipients are over 75% more likely to open welcome emails! Take the opportunity to introduce your software’s features like Descript.

best user engagement saas examples

#8 Let users provide feedback if feature discovery is skipped

While some users fight feature discovery helpful, others don’t see the value in it. When users exit an onboarding tour in Hubspot, they quickly ask why it wasn’t helpful. This feedback helps them understand the preferences of different segments. Because of that, they get to boost user engagement through a more personalized and relevant experience.

hubspot onboarding feature discovery

#9 Highlight new features through design

It is surprisingly easy for a new feature to go completely unnoticed. Make sure your tweaks stand out with an eye-catching design like Asana. By adding ‘New!’ in the highly visible menu, users instantly notice the addition to the product. This, of course, triggers their curiosity and leads them to check out the new feature.

uxdesign saas best feature discovery

#10 Create a dedicated in-app location for updates

In-app communities have many benefits – and increased feature discovery is one of them. Revolut for example targets its most active users with monthly feature updates. They even do it Instagram story style, which makes the changes feel newer!

user engagement revolut fintech

#11 Discover when users are churning – and intervene

Developing your own software adoption strategy will highlight where users are having trouble. Users might get frustrated and leave when a specific feature doesn’t work or is simply too complicated to handle. But how should you intervene?

Productivity SaaS Groove chose a simple email. In just 32 words, Lesley comes off as personable, expresses concern, and offers help. As a result, Groove achieved a 30% retention rate among those targeted after just 30 days!

#12 Create a blog with valuable product tips

Innovative users are always looking to optimize their process, and a great blog can satisfy that need! To elevate engaged users to brand champions, share product and industry insights and advice on your own blog. Generally, educated users are happy users, because they get the full value of your product! Who knows, you may even create some shareable content that gets people talking!

How to use feature discovery in your own product

Your feature discovery needs to be strong – or else. Behavioral scientists have noted an effect called ‘momentum behavior’, where we tend to dismiss options – even those that could help us – because we have already picked a course and are sticking to it!

UX experts NN/g – “Momentum behavior happens when parts of the interface are not strong enough to call to users when they need them.”

NN/g is a world leader in the user experience domain, and they recommend a few great tips to maximize feature discovery and overcome momentum behavior:

  1. Analyze the most common routes customers take to complete tasks. If the best path is not the most common, then make it more discoverable and usable
  2. Avoid developing crucial UI elements that look like advertisements (basically, content that people have learned to ignore)
  3. Let users conveniently sync information across different platforms, facilitating user engagement and reducing redundant actions
  4. Make important tasks, if not all tasks, easy on all devices

And of course, to track your success you’ll need to know the key feature adoption metric:

feature adoption rate (%) = (new users of feature/total product users) x 100

3 quick wins to improve SaaS feature adoption

App gamification creates the motivation to act

App gamification is key to unlocking long-lasting user engagement. Essentially, the success of a gamified UX comes down to human psychology. Namely, the need for competence, autonomy, and social relatedness. These needs are highly motivating and can prompt actions like feature discovery.

Contextual notifications help users when THEY need it

The difference between being helpful and pushy is small. However, being in the right place at the right time can be extremely rewarding. That’s why promoting new features, or adding tooltips should strongly depend on user behavior. Basically, you shouldn’t have the same experience for both new and power users.

Promote your features through product marketing

Product marketing is about more than user acquisition. The goal is to drive overall adoption through awareness and education. Product marketers can use conventional channels such as e-mails and blogs, but they can also leverage in-app communication. For instance by promoting new features on empty states like sign-up pages. Other options like notifications, changelogs, highlights and chatbots are also possible.

Bonus: Hypothesize, test, and tweak!

Use your analytics to identify room for improvement. Then, hypothesize about potential solutions based on your user personas and segments. What does this user need at this point in time to encourage feature discovery? Tweak accordingly, and repeat! Besides, having an engaged userbase will help you get more feedback to further hone your product.

How you can easily implement feature discovery with app gamification from StriveCloud

Studies show clearly that app gamification can improve the user experience. In turn, a better UX is found to significantly affect customer perception of benefits, value, and brand equity. And that also positively impacts feature discovery!

In fact, our app gamification solution allows you to easily add game-like features and contextual messaging throughout the user journey. Simply connect your data sources and create a custom adoption journey, from onboarding to power user. Start building your habit-forming product today!

FAQ

In short, feature discovery is the process of building awareness around new or underused features. Your users might discover new features either organically or accidentally. However, a great product adoption strategy includes ways to educate users on new features & as a result improve user engagement.

To take full advantage of product-led growth, make users engage with more of your product! In reality, just 12% of a product’s features attract the majority of user engagement. Maximize that number with feature discovery, however, and you’ll earn a competitive advantage.

The way in which users encounter a feature will transform their perception of it. Behavioral scientists call this ‘priming’. In short, when a specific stimulus compels you to think or act a certain way. You can use this effect to trigger a recurring loop of user engagement!

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