Building a digital product is hard work. From web to mobile apps, digital products require effort and budgets to design, develop and launch. And like a website we know just building a mobile app isn’t enough to make it successful.

Smart and effective product marketing is necessary.

At RevUnit, a digital product studio, we’ve seen first-hand the importance of getting new users to download your app. Working with some of the biggest brands on the planet, we’ve developed a framework for product and app marketing that goes beyond just getting new users.

We call it product adoption and we believe it is an answer to the biggest problems in app marketing and digital product promotion.

Growth Hacking and Product Adoption

“Growth Hacking” is one of the most discussed topics in product marketing today. It’s been a game changer for companies like Uber and Airbnb. People are even calling the new head of marketing, a growth hacker.

Growth hacking means using hacks or shortcuts to generate high growth for a product.

Years ago, the term hacker would have meant a programmer. Someone who builds features with the goal of viral growth. However, that isn’t what it means in growth areas today. A growth hacker is someone that thinks outside of the box and is analytical while being creative.

The most common misclassification is that growth hacking is marketing. Growth hackers are not marketers. The growth hacker must know a combination of code, analytics, and product. Knowledge most marketers do not possess. They also concentrate at the product-level when marketing is focused at the channel-level.

Growth hacking is becoming essential to the success of startups. This is because most intend to grow by more than 20% month over month with limited resources. The perfect set-up for growth hacking.

Though growth hacking is becoming commonplace in new companies, most enterprises haven’t followed suit. The data shows many enterprises have yet to adopt the growth mentality. There are a few reasons for this.

First, growth hacking requires the close collaboration of marketing, product and engineering teams. At large organizations, this can be extremely difficult. Second, growth hacking leaves out a major department most organizations see huge value from. Customer Loyalty.

Most enterprises have already figured out growth, while retention (customer loyalty) isn’t a clear focus in growth hacking. The lack of focus on retention is why growth hacking hasn’t been as widely accepted in enterprise-sized business. Enterprises focus in on current customers and growing a couple percentage points every year. Their goal is not explosive growth.

Retention is growth’s better half and a big money maker because it’s more cost effective. In growth hacking, acquisition is seen as a quick way to revenue. Although you may see quick returns, the reality is acquisitions can actually cost up to five times more than retaining an existing customer.

So what happens when you combine acquisition and retention? You get the biggest return. Product adoption.

Acquisition + Retention = Product Adoption

Product adoption is the successful retention of onboarded users. It includes what growth hacking does not and it’s a framework even large enterprises can use.

Increasing customer retention rates by as little as 5% typically can lead profit increases ranging from 25% to 95%.” – Bain & Co.

The important thing to remember is adoption is an after effect of user delight. And user delight comes from an amazing product experience. The product adoption process provides a strategic roadmap for engaging users. In other words, it’s lifecycle marketing for digital products. The roadmap illustrates how you’ll engage your users based on their lifecycle stage.

The DARRC Model

When we talk about product adoption, we like to use the DARRC model as a framework. The DARRC model illustrates the stages of the product adoption process according to the user.

RevUnit DARRC Model for Product Adoption

Discover – The potential user becomes aware of your product.

Acquire – The potential user downloads and has their first experience with your product.

Retain – The user likes your product enough to continue to come back and is now a loyal user.

Recommend – The user loves your product enough to advocate it to others.

Convert – The user has completed the action you want them to take.

This DAARC model merges growth and retention strategy. Companies can use this framework to develop strategies for engagement throughout the user lifecycle.

Product Adoption and the Product Development Process

For product adoption success, we know you have to build the right digital product. Great growth and retention strategies fall flat when the digital product behind those strategies fails to be useful and easy to use.

So, how do we ensure product adoption and product development work hand-in-hand to build the right product and successfully get it to market?

In the rapidly changing digital ecosystem of today, traditional methods of building digital products often buckle under the weight of poor process. When process fails, strategy and execution suffer and too often the wrong digital product is built. We’ve all downloaded an app that wasn’t useful, easy to use, or delightful. Those apps get deleted.

Ultimately, without an agile process for developing digital applications, products fail to meet user expectations and no strategy can resuscitate it.

At RevUnit, we combine the digital philosophies of Design Thinking, Agile Development, and Lean Startup to create a digital product development process that works. We call that process “Build Small. Learn Fast. Iterate Often.

Build Small

Building small equates to stripping a product down to its most basic, essential parts. Traditional development methodologies often have large budgets, little value, and long timelines; at RevUnit, we know how to break work down into its most manageable and efficient segments. Focusing less on feature sets and more on problem-solving and providing value.

We work quickly in small, specialized product teams, permitting ourselves the freedom to make strategic course corrections before spending significant time and budget on a product. Our goal is to build an MVP (minimum viable product) which is the smallest, leanest version of your product that still solves your main objective. There’s no extra fluff in the first iteration. It’s all about ensuring we use the smallest budget and timeline possible to prove your product’s success.

The Product Adoption process is integrated into the development process from the beginning. Ensuring through the development of objectives and KPI’s and user testing the right product is built for the right audience.

Learn Fast

Learning fast is all about active listening. We refuse to be so attached to our own ideas that we’re not willing to let new information or ideas enhance or change our trajectory. While most agencies fear being wrong, we’re fearless in our pursuit of the essential information and feedback that culminates as the backbone of the fantastic things we create.

Our listening infrastructure gives us a window into how our users think, feel, and what they value – insights which directly funnel into stronger products and a bigger bottom line. Product adoption facilitates the qualitative and quantitative research allowing for strong listening.

Iterate Often

We believe you can never ‘set it and forget it’ in product development. We aren’t looking to create static, temporary solutions that will one-day gather cobwebs – we’re here to make living, breathing, evolving products that continuously respond to the demands of a fundamentally changing business environment.

In our dynamic product lifecycle, we gather feedback and inject the best ideas back into your product for optimal effect. Our team, processes, and tools are uniquely built around strong iterative digital development so we can minimize waste and maximize your investment now and in the future.

After your MVP (minimum viable product) is launched we keep listening to your users. We solve problems for them and prioritize the next set of solutions in your product. Rather than building out a checklist of features and slowly checking each feature off, we listen and solve problems based on the priorities of your users. Allowing the product to grow and evolve rapidly into its best version.

The Product Adoption process is integral to iteration. In working to retain users, the Product Adoption Strategist on each product development team takes user feedback, optimization opportunities, and detailed analytics back to the product team. Together they work to prioritize the highest impacting product features. Then they build a road map for the next iteration.

The digital product team is collaborative, creative, and iterative. It’s made up of a Product Owner who stands as the voice of the product team, a Creative who stands as the voice of the user experience, a Developer who stands as the voice of the technology stack, and a Product Adoption Strategist who stands as the voice of user.

The Digital Product Development Process

RevUnit Digital Product Development Process

The Role of Product Adoption Strategist

At RevUnit, we know product adoption is vital to the success of a product. If people don’t use your product, it loses its value.

To support product adoption, we’re introducing a new role to the product team. The new role is Product Adoption Strategist. This role provides clients with strategic guidance for engaging and retaining users. Examples of these strategies include KPI tracking (analytics) and lifecycle marketing.

The Product Adoption Strategist is an expert in product, marketing, and analytics. This combination of skills provides both a strategic and tactical outlook on the product experience. They’re not only putting together strategies but executing them.

The required skill set is unique. They’ve worked as masters of customer acquisition, analysts, and product marketers. They know where to find potential product users, how to track them, and what will make them keep using your product. They’re technical marketers on steroids.

The Product Adoption Strategist is the champion of the user on the product development team. That’s what makes this role special. They take the product’s we build and ensure their success.

Product Adoption Services at RevUnit

A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.” – Bain and Co.

The product adoption team partners with clients before, during and after product development. The team works throughout the product development process to ensure that the right product is built for the right audience.

Prior to launch, the team creates acquisition and retention playbooks, one of the many product adoption services. These playbooks outline how and when to communicate with the product’s audience. They give clients the tools and strategies to ensure product adoption after launch.

The acquisition playbook contains strategies for product awareness and onboarding users. It also includes audience profiles, a product roll-out plan, and user engagement strategies.

The retention playbook outlines strategies to engage users using the DARRC model. The goal with this playbook is to keep users coming back to your product for scalable growth. Our goal, with the addition of this role, is to give ideas an even better chance for success.

RevUnit is excited to expand our service offerings and include this role in all of our product development teams. If you’re interested in Product Adoption services, please reach out to seth@revunit.com.

Article written by Seth Waite, Chief Marketing Officer, and Sidnee Schaefer, Product Adoption Strategist, of RevUnit.