With App User Experience, Adoption and Retention Go Hand-in-Hand

Written by 
Deirdre Mahon

Users only want to retain access to products that they have truly adopted and rely upon to get jobs done. When this adoption occurs, you set yourself up for higher retention rates over the lifetime of the customer.

Adoption and retention are often thought of as different forms of customer behavior. As a result, they are seen as two distinct KPIs for SaaS teams. The former is early-stage, the thinking goes, whereas the latter is late-stage. You want both to be up and to the right, but the two have no direct correlation or link.

To be successful, teams need to consider the two as heavily linked – and both driven by an excellent user experience, in-app. 

Without adoption – without the product becoming an embedded part of users’ daily lives – companies will have a much lower probability of achieving a successful renewal. Users only want to retain access to products that they have truly adopted and rely upon to get jobs done. When this adoption occurs, you set yourself up for higher retention rates over the lifetime of the customer.

Read on to discover how companies can provide the best app user experience with the right approaches and techniques.

Everything Starts With User Adoption

Swiftly driving product adoption requires an excellent app user experience during activation and onboarding. 

(Product) adoption is the point “when your product becomes a regular part of your customer’s workflow.” It is the second stage of the SaaS user journey, immediately following activation.

Typically, at the adoption stage, the goal is to improve app engagement and naturally move from novice to pro with a deeper understanding of the important, value-driving features. Adoption means that the user has become familiar with the basic features and capabilities of the product, and has started to more regularly use it in their daily tasks. A user has “adopted” a product when they have embedded it into their normal workflow.

The more sticky a product, the more likely it is to be adopted, and quickly, by users. That of course will depend on the intuitive nature of the product itself. Once a user starts “embracing” your product and its purpose, they will come to depend on it to achieve their jobs and tasks. They will be reluctant to leave.

All well and good. But how does strong adoption help your company’s customer retention techniques?

What Does Strong Adoption Look Like?

SaaS companies vary of course. Their products and services target various demographics so it’s difficult to pinpoint a one-size-fits-all adoption metric. Instead, your team should come together first and determine which metric(s) you’re going to rally behind to achieve company-wide goals.

Take monday.com for example. In a recent Simpo webcast with Tom Ronen, Head of monday’s customer success team, he details how they came up with a singular metric that would indicate progress for them.

“We wanted to drive the right behaviors. We wanted to drive feedback, as well as execution on the product side, around what we value the most. And so we decided to align everybody around one KPI, and used that KPI to both drive behaviors and align the priorities.”

For monday, that was their WAU (weekly active users).

“How do we know that customers are getting value from monday.com? We thought, ‘Well, if a customer is using us on a weekly basis, then they're probably seeing value.’ Now it's important to keep this metric as simple as possible, so that everybody can understand. You can use this as a currency, so that if this number goes up, then you know that you've done something right and then double-down on that.”

Every organization will be a little different, and it’s important to align on the ‘holy grail’ measure that indicates a strong adoption. For some, this might be one of the following: 

  • The number of users or teams
  • Volume of data, if that’s a relevant measure
  • Number of integrations with other systems / apps (hooked into their entire workflow)
  • The number of reports (or queries) run
  • Frequency of login (weekly or daily)
  • Sharing of reports / output with other stakeholders.

When the Moment of Renewal Becomes a No-Brainer

Every customer success team is laser-focused on optimizing the metric of customer retention.

Customer retention means renewals. Whether it’s every month or every year, there will come the moment when a user has to decide whether they want to continue to pay for the service.

This is where the big question of adoption comes in. Consider the user’s reaction when your renewal notification arrives. The question they are faced with is: Would you like to maintain access to this product? Would you like to prevent it from being cut out of your daily life? How much do you rely on it to achieve business outcomes? Whether it’s improving efficiency, saving time, cutting costs, or improving top line, the app in question should have a direct line to value. 

Often, users who are champions of the product want to continue their usage and would like to renew. However, it’s also important that whoever is in responsible for the budget also knows the value being delivered to the organization. 

In many cases, you rely upon the champion or user to convey this value on your behalf, to their higher-ups, so they can continue to budget going forward. This means that one of the team-members, on product or customer success  customer retention techniques should be able to triangulate and ensure the broader team is aware of the value being delivered.

If a product has been fully adopted, then your champion will be louder. They will say to the economic buyer: Please don’t turn off this essential product!

Nail the adoption phase, and a user will not deliberate over renewing their subscription or access. By contrast, if your product fails to become a natural part of your customers’ daily workflow, you will most likely be met with a “no, thank you.”

If you’ve got the adoption right, then retention should flow naturally from here.

Drive Adoption and Retention through App User Experience

Retention happens when adoption occurs. And the best way to drive positive and consistent adoption user experiences is to provide a best-in-class app user experience.

Here are some key ways to drive product adoption:

  • Use targeted announcements. Announcements provide users with signposts and directions at the right moment, with the right information. When new features are launched, or when there’s a new UI or UX workflow that users need to be made aware of, announcements are powerful tools.


  • Leverage walkthroughs. Walkthroughs, as their name implies, guide your users through the process of adopting your product. With the most important parts of your in-app experience, leverage walkthroughs and point your users in the right direction. But: keep them short and sweet; it only takes one too many steps for users to go from “Great, this is just what I needed!” to “Ugh, this is a waste of my time or way too laborious.”
  • Let users “choose their own adventure.” Don’t overwhelm users. Let their learning journey be self-directed and free of annoying prompts and pop-ups. A handy tip we learned from our own customers: Enable quick search options, or in-app help documentation.

Get adoption right, and renewal should be as quick as a friendly email to renew for the following year.

To learn more about how to provide the best app user experience and improve your product adoption and customer retention techniques, don’t hesitate to contact us for a demo, or try out Simpo for free.