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Strategising for every stage of the customer adoption process (2022)

Customer adoption is the process of bringing on new customers when taking a new product to market, taking an existing product to a new market, or introducing a new product to existing customers.

Companies can optimise their customer adoption process by breaking it down and reviewing each step, with the ultimate goal of increasing their customer adoption rate.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can strategise for each stage of the customer adoption process, and ultimately outline how your company can increase your customer adoption rate.

If you’re just interested in looking at one area of the customer adoption process, feel free to pick a section from the sticky menu to your left.

What is the customer adoption process?

Let’s start with the basics. What is (and what isn’t) customer adoption?

It’s important to define the difference between customer adoption and consumer adoption. The terms are similar, but not the same.

  • Customer adoption is the process of bringing on customers - the people who will buy your product.
  • Consumer adoption is the process of gaining new consumers - the end users of your product.

For many B2B companies, customers and consumers will be different people.

If you’re selling to a company who is the final user of your product, they are both customers and consumers. However, if you’re selling to a company who needs to use your product as a part of their own product, they’re not ultimately the consumer.

Consider the example of burger vendors buying sliced buns.

It’s important to make this distinction, because you might need to consider your customer adoption process (which mostly concerns sales and marketing), and your consumer adoption process (which mostly concers the product), separately.

Breaking down the customer adoption process

Hubspot breaks the customer adoption process down into 5 separate stages:

  1. Product awareness
  2. Product interest
  3. Product evaluation
  4. Product testing
  5. Product adoption

It’s clear to see how a customer goes through each of these phases during their buying journey, and we’re sure you’re already thinking of actions that fit into each stage.

Good job, reader. Let’s carry that energy into the first section.

Product awareness

This is the moment when potential buyers first hear about your product.

The truth is, there aren’t great hacks for product awareness. More or less, you get out what you put in.

What you can do is implement multiple strategies at the same time to increase your chances of hitting a sweet spot and meeting a buyer in their preferred channel.

Who does this sit with?

Marketing and Sales.

What are the strategies?

Whether you’re designing a go to market strategy for a new market, or generating demand for a new product in an existing market, the tactics are largely the same:

Ungate your content

There are much more effective ways to generate leads than gated content. Ungating your best content will increase the number of readers, which will increase the awareness for your product.

Run paid ads

Increase awareness by placing ads in front of people within your TAM. This can be supercharged with intent data if you’re using a prospecting tool that offers intent data. The most powerful example of this is Cognism’s Bombora-powered intent data.

Host and attend online and in-person events

You’re not likely to gain as much awareness of your product through events as you would with the other strategies in this list, but events do have a superpower.

At events, you can build awareness for your product, but you can also move onto later stages of the customer adoption process easily. By having conversations with prospects and even potentially giving demos, you could reasonably take them all the way to the penultimate stage, product testing.

Make use of your partnerships

If you have a partnership program already, establish an incentive for your partners to promote your product, making use of their branding strengths. If your partner has a successful sales podcast, ask for a mention. If they have a large newsletter audience, ask for an ad space.

They’ll be able to access an audience that might not already be familiar with your company, increasing the reach of your product.

Double down on customer marketing

Similarly, your customers could have access to an audience that isn't already familiar with you. Incentivise your customers to try out and review your new offering, and build a backlog of useful customer insights to use in your marketing campaigns.

Outbound

Sales are also responsible for increasing awareness after a product launch or international expansion. With intent data powered by Bombora, salespeople can use Cognism data to call prospects who are already in the market for a solution just like theirs with 98% accuracy, the highest phone accuracy on the market.

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Newsletter

If you’ve already got an existing customer base who would benefit from a new product, you need to make sure they know about it. You can do this by sending a product newsletter or email to your customer base.

Customer Success

If you sell a service that comes with Customer Success or Customer Support, ask the team to demo the new product to your existing customers, with the hope of cross selling or upselling.

Product interest

Potential buyers are now aware of your product and they’re interested. This interest allows marketers to implement additional strategies.

Who does this sit with?

Marketing.

What are the strategies?

At this stage you want to provide more information to the potential buyer and, if possible, get them to sign up to further communications from you, increasing your chances of selling.

Email marketing

If you can get a potential buyer to sign up to an email list, it’s going to serve you well. Use it as a channel to send more information about your new product and include case studies and reviews.

Just be sure to avoid spam emailing. You won’t just lose subscribers, you’ll lose the trust of potential buyers long term. Email marketing should always add value as a priority.

Product content

If pain point and TOFU (top of the funnel) content is going to help with awareness, product content is going to help with product interest.

The rule is this: you need to create content that answers every question a potential buyer has. If a prospect is going into a demo with a question that they couldn’t find an answer to online, that’s a content failure.

Listen to demos, put yourself in the shoes of your prospect, create content for every value proposition and feature of your new product. Make sure all of the information the prospect needs is readily available, and if you have the capacity, make it available in more than one medium. Product videos will be particularly useful for distribution.

Social media

Get active on social media, don’t just do the bare minimum, and don’t just write boring posts talking about your product, hoping someone will like it.

If you can, dedicate someone to writing exciting and varied content that speaks to your audience in an engaging way. Provide value over everything. Don’t worry too much about showing off your product.

Followers who are already familiar with your product will be reminded of it every time they see a post, and establishing your company as a thought leader will improve their perception of you, and by affiliation, of your product.

Newsletters and podcasts

You might be sensing a bit of a theme here… Sign Ups are good!

At Cognism we have a range of newsletters and a podcast catering to different segments of our audience. The purpose of these is purely to provide value. We want to give our subscribers cutting edge information about sales, marketing, and content, without pushing any product stuff.

So... what’s in it for us?

Growth of our audience, and establishment as thought leaders in our market. Both of these outcomes will provide product sales long term. Not every marketing activity has to be attributable and lead to direct sales.

If you think one or more of our newsletters could be useful to you, you can subscribe via the link below.

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Customer Success

We’ve already outlined how Customer Success and Customer Support can aid product awareness, but their job doesn’t end there. CS can continue to demonstrate the value of the new product by reminding customers of it, and sharing specific, relevant use cases.

Product evaluation

Interested prospects are starting to consider your product. They’re currently trying to understand exactly how it could be used, the impact it could have on their company or offering, and whether it’s a cost-effective investment.

Who does this sit with?

Marketing and Sales.

What are the strategies?

This is the time for communication with the prospect. You need to provide everything they need to make an informed decision. It’s now a case of dotting i’s and crossing t’s.

Sales

It’s the responsibility of Sales to guide the prospect through the evaluation stage by providing support and useful resources.

At risk of repeating ourselves, the key is to be helpful, not forceful. Check in with the prospect to find out what might be holding them back, provide the information they want. Avoid overloading the prospect with resources which have worked for you in the past. Avoid filling the prospect’s inbox with spam.

Arrange next steps after every touch point. You want to help guide the prospect through their buying journey. It’s an end goal you’re working towards together.

Create BOFU content

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) content is your best friend in the product evaluation stage. This is content specifically written for people who are aware of your product and are exploring their options.

The most important considerations when creating BOFU content are planning, transparency and respect.

Plan your BOFU content by getting to know the buyer. What’s stopping them from buying your product today? Listen to customer calls and speak to your sales team. Create the content your audience needs.

Be transparent and respectful by acknowledging that your potential buyers will do their research. Don’t shy away from mentioning competitors, your audience will find them. And don’t write pieces slandering your competition, your audience will see right through it.

Understand your strengths and write about them. If that’s not enough to win a prospect over, they’re probably not a great fit.

You’re not looking for high traffic on these pages. You’re looking to find high-intent traffic with demo CTAs (or equivalent) that convert. If you’re after an example, here’s a link to one of our high-conversion BOFU pages.

Website journey

When designing your website, make sure all of the information a prospect in the evaluation stage would need is present.

After browsing your new product pages on your site, a prospect should be able to accurately imagine what it would look like to adopt this product. If that’s not the case, you’re probably missing a page or two.

Product testing

The prospect is excited by your product in theory, now they need to see it in action. Usually at this stage the prospect will be convinced that the product works, they just need to know that it can work for them.

Who does this sit with?

Sales.

What are the strategies?

This can depend on the product you’re selling. It’s not always viable to offer a trial, but there are other ways to test whether a product can work for the prospect.

Trial

If possible, offering the buyer a trial is a great way to demonstrate how your product would work for the customer. Just ensure you give them the support they need to get the most out of the product. This could mean giving a demo first, or having regular contact throughout the trial period.

Demo

If a trial isn’t possible, a demo is a great alternative. The benefit of a demo is that the person giving the demo can dictate the route they take, showing the potential customer all of the relevant features and best bits.

Personalised resources

Preparing personalised resources such as an ROI estimate, or a plan for the usage of your product, can help get a deal over the line. Preparing realistic expectations for the customer’s specific use case can help them visualise success with your product.

When providing these resources, familiarise yourself with them first. There are bound to be follow-up questions.

Product adoption

The customer has bought your product, but the work isn’t done yet.

Who does this sit with?

Customer Success and Customer Service.

What are the strategies?

You need to provide the customer with an excellent onboarding process, and ensure they’re as happy as possible with their purchase. The long-term effects of this can be huge.

Onboarding

Making sure the customer knows how to use and is happy with your product is essential. For some use cases this is as simple as providing a user manual and sending a follow up email a fortnight later.

For other use cases, it needs to be more substantial. This could mean offering a bespoke onboarding with in-person training or access to an online training hub. Give the customer a chance to ask questions and provide them with a place to ask any further questions down the line.

Cross-selling and upselling

If you’re a multi-product company, you need a system in place to maximise cross-selling and upselling. Encourage Customer Success or Customer Service to show off new products to your existing customers, and if possible, offer incentives to existing customers who want to try new products.

These are your most important customers, because they really believe in your products.

Reviews

Happy customers are the best advocates for your product. Encourage and incentivise customers to leave a review.

Customer referrals and partnerships

The benefits of customer referrals and partnerships are twofold.

Firstly, you’ll have access to a new pool of potential customers that you might not have known about already, and they could be much more receptive to outreach from an existing customer than the company that created the product.

Secondly, a referral or partnership scheme will incentivise customers to purchase from you. If they know there’s a possibility to save some money through referrals, and they have the means to do so, it could make your product more affordable, and a more attractive option.

Saving time on lead gen

Fair enough, that was a lot to take in.

The truth is, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Marketers, salespeople and CS teams can get incredibly creative when it comes to customer adoption, and we can’t cover it all in one place.

But we can tell you one thing…

Boundless opportunities will become apparent when your team has more time to get creative. And your team will have more time to focus on the exciting stuff, when the boring stuff is taken care of.

Cognism’s lead generation platform could be the time-saving tool that frees up your revenue team.

If you want to find out how Cognism could work for you, speak to one of our experts today.

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