If there’s one thing all subscription apps-based business owners fear, that’s spending all their time and effort building a fantastic product that no one ends up using. 

If you want to avoid bleeding a lot of users (and money), you need to have a clear action plan on how you’ll drive product adoption. 


Product adoption will help you make your ROI more predictable and consistent because it translates into higher retention and lower churn. Simply put, implementing an adoption strategy will help you achieve greater efficiency over time.

Read on to find out about the only tactic that really delivers results in converting and retaining users for subscription apps.

Product Adoption For Subscription Apps: An Overview Of Our Process To Convert More Users

There was one thing we kept top of our vision throughout: selling subscriptions and retaining subscribers are the two key goals of building a business with subscription-based apps.

To have a successful subscription app, you need to convert more free users into paying users. 

And if you manage to transform those users into your app’s loyal advocates, you’ve won the race. 😉 86% of users say they will stay loyal if onboarding and continuous education are provided after activation

Side note: Obviously, I’m not talking about apps that automatically convert users because they respond to a direct market need, such as Revolut, Uber, etc.

I’m talking about nice-to-have apps that are good for entertainment or wellness but don’t serve as a necessity in our daily lives. 

So then, how do you manage to retain users and get them past the trial period? The tactic that really does the job is persona-based onboarding. 

I’m not saying other product adoption tactics won’t bring results. We ran numerous tests and experiments on multiple clients, and even if we sometimes saw better numbers, they were only minor improvements.

The Go-To Strategy For Driving Product Adoption: Persona-based Onboarding

Persona-based onboarding means customizing the onboarding process to a T. You’re basically making each element relevant to the target user. This helps to create an immersive experience and build a long-term relationship with the user. 

A lot of popular subscription apps employ persona-based onboarding. Below is an example from Headspace 👇


Employing this strategy not only makes the onboarding process feel very personal for the user, but it also helps product teams in segmenting the UX based on the personas. Win-win!

From our own experience, persona-based onboarding has proven to be by far the most efficient strategy in terms of long-term results in driving product adoption for subscription apps.

You name it, I’ve tried it all with my team – we did experiments with different app screens, different copywriting, different pricing, etc. But the only thing that truly made an impact in converting users and driving adoption was personalizing the onboarding process. 

I’ve witnessed cases where personalizing user onboarding has helped reduce users’ activation time from 1.5 months to under 10 days. 

Not to mention that the overall customer experience has seen skyrocketing improvements after implementing this strategy for the subscription apps we work with. I’m tooting our own horn here, that’s right 😉


So, Why Is Persona-Based Onboarding Converting Like No Other Tactic?

⚡ A Better User Experience

Employing a customized onboarding process helps both ways:

  • You get to understand your users even better than before;
  • Your users get to acknowledge the value of your app from the get-go.

Customizing the onboarding process for them should be at the top of your list of priorities, as it not only delivers a better overall user experience but also drives further product adoption, especially for subscription-based apps. Happy users mean a successful business. 

Almost 60% of users consider receiving a personalized experience to be absolutely crucial

⚡ Users Understand The App’s Value From The Start

By making the user input their personal preferences in the onboarding screens in your subscription app, it will be easier for them to visualize the value that your app brings them. 

This way, they will understand the app’s value from day one. And they will know what to expect further from your app, even after they convert. 

After implementing persona-based onboarding for our clients, the time it takes users to convert has drastically shortened. And it kept getting shorter, especially for users who activated their free app trials.

⚡ First Impressions Matter

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of psychology for a little bit.

Users are more likely to want to hold onto what they already own than to want to buy it if they don’t. No matter what the product’s actual market value is, people have a tendency to overvalue what they already own. This process is known as the Endowment effect. 

Think of it like going on a blind date. If the first impression doesn’t spark an interest in you, you’re likely not going to go on the second one. 

It’s the same thing for your users when they first get introduced to your app. Driving value for your users during onboarding means better retention rates at a lower cost.

⚡ Quicker and Better Aha! Moments

You only have a brief window of opportunity to create first impressions. And wasting it is something to definitely want to avoid. 

Making the most of your early touchpoints in the journey and considering how specific you can get with personalization will help you drive better Aha! moments, faster. 

More Aha moments for your users will stop them from churning and will help you drive product adoption for longer for your subscription app.

How To Approach Persona-Based Onboarding For Your Product Adoption Plan | Practical Examples

An efficient onboarding strategy is based on the actions the users take. And based on those actions, you can then recommend further steps they need to take in order to fully personalize their onboarding – based on their goals. 

In order to personalize your app’s onboarding process, you need to take it back to the basics. There are 3 key points you need to fully understand:

Your users;

The power features of your product;

How you can help them become successful.

Here are some questions that might help you get crystal clear on these points:

  • Why did they download the app?
  • Which features of the app are they using? 
  • After which set of actions does a typical successful user have an Aha! moment?

This information will help you fine-tune your onboarding efforts and maximize the occurrence of such actions. By going through these questions for some of our clients, we reduced the time to conversion and provided value faster.

This way, we’ve created a rewarding experience for the users: finding the right tool to help them achieve their goals. 

Let’s go through our process for driving product adoption for subscription apps using persona-based onboarding:

STEP 1️⃣ Reiterate The Value Proposition

It’s important not to assume that every user that signs up for your app knows exactly what the value proposition is. You’d be surprised to see how many people actually don’t read your app description 😅

The main objective of this step is to reiterate the value users should expect to get from using the app. 

Remember to refrain from starting the onboarding with a bunch of tips on how to use the app. Doing so might hinder momentum without actually providing much value in the long run.


STEP 2️⃣ Interactive Flows With Specific Questions

Interactive flows in user onboarding are like a choose-your-own-adventure game, but with very specific questions that lead the user to maximize the value they get from the app.

Asking the right questions is an adventure in itself, though. No question is randomly asked. We’ve done numerous tests to be able to create the most engaging copy that actually gets clicked. 


The ultimate goal is to make the user’s first experience better and more relevant, with higher engagement and lower time-to-value rates. Fine-tuning the flows is an ongoing process. Might as well add it to your list of WIP projects from now.

Unlike conventional product tours, interactive flows have proven to be extremely entertaining and totally centered on offering value, thus delivering a better experience for the users from the start.


By this point, you should literally get obsessed with designing an interactive flow that would direct users toward meaningful engagement with the app, creating Aha! Moments and eventually inspiring them to convert. 

The key is to recognize the type of users you’re working with. That’s how you’ll make sure that the flow is the right fit for them.


STEP 3️⃣ Value Summary

Probably as important as knowing your users’ intent is to reiterate the value they will get from using your subscription app. 

Highlighting how they will get the best results for their goals by using your app will ensure your users are successful and happy.

This helps ensure that users would have everything they need before getting to the actual app UI. They were, therefore, more likely to see an instant value that urged them to adopt.

I do hope our experience-based insights have helped you reflect a bit on how you can personalize the onboarding experience to help your users “get it” from the first interaction. 

One other thing… I wanted to quickly mention that personalized onboarding is not necessarily a (product) marketing tactic. It’s more of a product-led growth tactic. We’re big fans of driving great marketing results by enhancing the product and offering users real value.

But I’ll go further into that in a future article very soon 😉

Instead Of Saying Goodbye…

Don’t be shy, say hi! 

We’re here to help you create a seamless onboarding process for you and your users. If you are still unsure which strategy for driving product adoption to choose, then reach out to us today.