The Software Adoption Funnel

Getting people to use the software you have written seems to be a crucial step marketers tend to ignore. I say this from experience in working with Microsoft, Intel,  AB, and Coke. Obviously, there are serious efforts within those companies to make sure people use the applications they create, but I have not witnessed it for anything I have produced for any of them. Of the 34 million dollars or so spent on BudTV, I think I saw a single 5 second mention of it on TV. That was it. No  concerted effort to drive people to the site, certainly no advertising platform.

Budgets are completely spent in making applications. This is odd to me because an application is like a product, and products need marketing. This is why I created the software adoption funnel. It’s similar to the retail purchase funnel, but essentially it’s a guide on how to segment, target, and proposition marketing communications contingent to where a user is in the process. Each part of the funnel should be driving the user to next phase.

This conversion should be nurtured as studies have shown that delays in moving users down the funnel leads to an attrition of the adoption process. Information recall is chief among issues that arise from any delay.

The process starts with awareness. Strategically, this is addressed like mass advertising and communications should have a very creative appeal to spark interest.

Once a user signs-up or a downloads the application you now more towards a more direct marketing model. Lifecycle e-mail marketing can begin. Communications should focus on getting the users to play with the application.

Now the user is in the evaluation phase, test driving the application. This is the most crucial phase where usability can make or break an application. If the experience is relevant to their needs and it’s easy to use, the users will come back. Communications should focus on helping the users get past any sticking points. It’s about customer service and reassurance.

Through repeat trial our primary conversion goal is achieved, we have breached that cultural penetration threshold with a user who has made it to adoption. Strategies to drive frequency are now considered. Both putting out fresh content and marketing it are important. But we can go further and should.

The final stage is advocacy, where super-users become software evangelists promoting by word of mouth and social media. These people need to rewarded for their dedication or least have their voices amplified through any channel available. They can effectively drive other users through all phases of the funnel.




  1. Hi, John. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the Software Adoption Funnel. My partner and I just started a Developer Relations consulting company. The Adoption Funnel resonated with us (application users => software developers) and would like to use the diagram on our website and presentation deck. May I please have your permission? Thanks!

    1. It’s been a very long time since I have been active blogging. I apologize for taking so very long to get back to you. If you still have a need feel free to use the diagram.

      Best regards,

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