Samuel and Yohann discuss the advantages and limitations of using “Aha moments” as a core part of your Self-Serve Activation strategy.
(00:53) Aha Moments Have Social Media Baggage
Aha moments emerged as a concept in the wake of the tremendous growth that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter saw in the early 2010s. The problem is that Aha moments worked differently in those contexts, and have to be shoehorned into working for companies that are selling to businesses or aren’t relying on virality for growth.
Samuel: Seven friends in ten days [Facebook], following thirty people [Twitter]…these aha moments were built for giant, multipurpose, social viral offerings that the world had not really wrapped its head around. It seems dizzying to think about it not as much of the world was online back then, and these platforms were gateways into the new concept of social media, period. And so if you're introducing a really novel concept with, with really fuzzy boundaries around it, and you're trying to bring in literally millions upon millions of people, then it's going to be a pretty open-ended set of outcomes that you're offering is designed to provide to people and you can work with something — I don't mean this in a negative way, but — really generic like getting seven friends and ten days, or following thirty people.
(04:37) There Are No Singular Aha Moments
If you’re not working with an open-ended offering like Facebook or Twitter, chances are you’re offering value in terms of a concrete outcome that people use your product to unlock. Big outcomes are accomplished via smaller ones — the outcome of fresh, ready-to-eat pancakes, for example, is accomplished via smaller outcomes like preparing the pancake batter, heating up a skillet, and so on. Each sub-outcome comes with its own Aha moment.
Yohann: In our research, we’ve found that customers have a very clear idea of what they want and a very clear idea of where they are. What they're very fuzzy about are the stages between where they are and where they want to be. They have no idea what the path to the outcome that they're pursuing entails. And assuming that there are many stages to that path, there are sub-outcomes to the larger outcome that they're pursuing. Each of those sub-outcomes would involve an Aha moment in a way, where they make a little bit of progress and go, "Ah, I understand how this fits into what I'm trying to get to." And then they build on top of that progress and get to the next Aha moment and so on. There are Ahas all the way through figuring out how to unlock an outcome and not just one particular Aha moment where you go, “everything makes sense to me now.”
Most products can also be recruited towards a number of different outcomes rather than just one. You can use photography software to unlock better engagement with your followers just as you can use it to unlock creating an album to share with your family. Both use cases come with their paths to value, and unique Aha moments therein.
Samuel: If your product or offering can solve problems X, Y, and Z, there are some coming to you for help with X and Y, some people for X and Z. Some people just want Y. What you want is a repeatable process in place for reliably delivering outcomes that customers are motivated about getting, rather than having them habitually wind up somewhere that they don’t really care about.
(13:11) The WHEN of Aha Moments
Aha moments are associated with onboarding, but they don’t need to be thought of as part of the “post signup” experience. The earlier that users can understand how you can help them (in the marketing experience, for example), the earlier they can start acting.
(15:42) Aha Moments Don't Activate Users
When you look at activation in terms of Aha moments, you’re zeroing in on particular product behaviors and missing out on other important paths in the path to conversion. Focusing on one part of the user journey to conversion and leaving the entire rest of the journey to luck is a risky bet to make.
(25:35) Designing For User Outcomes Vs. Aha Moments
Ultimately, Aha moments are a useful tool in the activation toolbox if they are tied to the right product behaviors. Product behaviors that are:
Correlated with revenue
Inherently motivational to users
Occur on a path to what the users would consider valuable and
Occurs closer to free-to-paid conversion so parts of the signup-to-paid user journey aren’t ignored.
It’s rare to find Aha moments that tick all those boxes. User outcomes, on the other hand, do it with ease.
Samuel: On the subject of outcomes that have inherent motivation baked into them, let's say that your app helps people send invoices. Getting your first invoice paid is probably gonna be pretty strongly correlated with whether you become a good long-term customer or not. If you never get an invoice paid, probably unlikely that you're gonna convert or stick around long if you do. And so If you focus your activation efforts around getting people to the "Aha moment" of having their first invoice paid, that is something that I trust would scale as you get more and more — that's a behavior that I would feel comfortable manufacturing and getting more people to do because it's not hard to understand how that's inherently valuable to somebody. Compare that to saying something like, "once they're over the threshold of sending 15 invoices, we know that they're gonna be a good customer. So let's get people to just blast out a bunch of invoices as soon as they get here.”
Download the full transcript here Toggle Transcript
Yohann: Hi, I'm Yohann.
Samuel: And I'm Samuel, and you are listening to the Value Paths Podcast, and today we have a very special episode where we are putting Aha moments under a magnifying glass. Is it magnifying glass or microscope?
Yohann: Microscope, I think, because we are really going to analyze it.
Samuel: On a cellular level, we are going way deep. But either way, we're, we're using this as an opportunity to explore the concept of the Aha moment, which is a ubiquitous concept in our industry. And looking at what it's good for, what its limitations might be, and how we recommend approaching it overall. Well, so let's start off by talking about the good side of Aha moments, or at least, what our industry recognizes those to be a benefit for.
Yohann: Yeah, the lay of the land.
Aha Moments Have Social Media Baggage
Samuel: Historically speaking, I remember Aha moments becoming a pretty pervasive topic in growth slash activation design in the late aughts, early 2010s, somewhere in that range.
Does that, does that resonate with you?
Yohann: Yeah. Facebook had blown up and everyone wanted that kind of growth. So they were like, whoa, what did Facebook really do? And the product manager behind that explosive growth was... damn, I'm forgetting his name...
Samuel: Chamath Palihapitiya?
Yohann: Yes, that's, that's the person. Everyone was asking Chamath about his approach and going into his approach, he said he came up with this metric about engineering seven friends for new users in ten days.
Samuel: Well, or at least an observation that if somebody got to seven friends within 10 days, then they were much less likely to churn.
Yohann: Right. I don't think they'd even connected it to churn at that point. Facebook as a concept unlocked for them when they got to seven friends in 10 days, they could... they went, "Aha."
So I think the whole correlation with less churn, I think that came later. But what happened at Facebook was they were trying to unlock this concept, this new concept that hadn't existed in the world before for people, and it happened when people got to seven friends.
Samuel: There was a similar one that came outta Twitter, where once people got over a particular threshold of following 30 people, then they were most likely to be to... I don't know, it seems like splitting hairs to me to say, "continue engaging" versus "churning." I mean, that's kind of one side of the coin versus the other, right?
Yohann: Right, right.
Samuel: So they were more likely to be good participants in the Facebook or Twitter ecosystem if they were able to get to a particular behavioral milestone, shall we say?
Yohann: Yeah, that makes sense.
Samuel: And so, I think part of it is scientific observation where if you go through and crunch the numbers, you can see that the engagement patterns or behavioral patterns of people are different depending on what they do. And then trying to reverse engineer what is actionable and, and how you can actively leverage a particular milestone. To me that's good sound thinking overall. And so, similarly inspired by these kind of companies, a lot of other software companies, maybe B2B SaaS, other consumer facing SaaS for sure, mobile, et cetera, have adopted the idea of getting people who are signing up in your product and who are interested in exploring more to a particular Aha moment, similar to seven friends in 10 days, or follow 30 people, where there's a particular behavior that a company is trying to engineer because they believe that that correlates with stronger engagement, customer performance, whatever your, your core metrics are. Is that a fair description?
Yohann: Yes, that's fair. On the face of it, the logic makes sense. If you want someone to be engaged and get value out of the product, then they need to understand what it is in the first place. And, an Aha moment, tying into behavior, that makes sense as well because if you can say that if users do this certain thing, the concept of the product unlocks for them and they get it, quote unquote, then you have a concrete outcome to design for.
Samuel: On the surface, it sounds good.
There Are No Singular Aha Moments
Yohann: Yeah, but if you dig into the concept a little bit, there are a lot of problems with the Aha moment. I think the biggest... where I'd like to start at least, is the fact that there is no one singular point where you can say, this is where the concept of the product has unlocked for people. There are no singular Aha moments. So, in our approach, we work backwards from outcomes too, and we've talked to users and customers about why they have signed up for particular products, what kind of value they're trying to unlock. And in our research we typically see that customers have a very clear idea of what they want. They have a very clear idea of where they are. What they're very fuzzy about are the stages between where they are and where they want to be.
They have no idea what the path to the outcome that they're pursuing entails. And assuming that there are many stages to that path, that there are sub-outcomes to the larger outcome that they're pursuing. Each of those sub-outcomes would be an Aha moment in a way, where they make a little bit of progress and go, "Ah, I understand how this fits into what I'm trying to get to." and then they build on top of that progress and get to the next Aha moment and so on. There are Aha all the way through figuring out how to unlock an outcome and not just one particular Aha moment where you go, "everything makes sense to me now."
Samuel: So when we talk about the, the apple falling on Newton's head and, uh, the, the lightning bulb going off, you're saying that that is not a singular, discreet event in any given user's lifecycle experience with you, nor is it the same monolithic event for every single user either, right?
Yohann: Yes, absolutely. The apple falling on Newton's head is a great metaphor because it sounds wonderful on paper, it makes for a very compelling story. Did that actually happen in reality? No.
Samuel: It didn't?
Yohann: It didn't! The apple falling on Newton's head is a myth, an urban legend.
Samuel: Oh my goodness. Wow. Science exposed. I didn't know we were gonna be skewering two topics this, this episode.
Yohann: So, um-
Samuel: So when we say Aha moment, It's really more like a series of realizations rather than one particular moment when lightning strikes and everything comes together. Like, the end of The Usual Suspect's twist ending kind of stuff. And one thing that that stands out to me when we talk about Aha moments is that, like, seven friends in 10 days, following 30 people on Twitter, like those are giant, multipurpose, social viral offerings that the world had not really wrapped its head around. It seems kind of, dizzying to think about it, but like, not as much of the world was online back then. Like, this was a lot of times their gateway to, to just doing social media, period. And so if you're introducing a really novel concept with, with really fuzzy boundaries around it, and you're trying to bring in literally millions upon millions of people, then it's going to be a pretty open-ended set of outcomes that you're offering is designed to provide to people and you might need to go with something — I don't mean this in a negative way, but — really generic like seven friends and 10 days, follow 30 people. These different, general thresholds that you can be looking at overall user participation and trying to find where your levers are.
But, when you're talking about most SaaS offerings out there, or most software out there, even video games and things along those lines, it's pretty unlikely that you're going to be able to prescriptively tell people what their Aha moment is and decide that it's going to be the same for everybody. What we find instead, especially when we're looking at Self-Serve SaaS companies is that the people who are most invested and most likely to convert, engage, become customers, recommend to other people, et cetera, do all the good user things, usually those people have a specific outcome in mind that's relevant to their particular life, not something that they're thinking, how can I be the best Facebook user that I can be? How can I follow 30 people on Twitter? I might sound like I'm rambling a little bit here, but like, when actors talk about how to perform their character in a scene, a lot of times they ask, what is my character's motivation? What does my character want? And when you talk about an Aha moment, that should, in theory, even just taking it superficially should be the moment that the light bulb goes off and they realize that this is a thing that they want. And I would just generally say that, like, if your Aha moment isn't something that somebody would plausibly consciously desire, then you're already kind of on the wrong track. And if you're trying to apply that to every person who signs up, it's very unlikely that that's gonna move the needle.
Yohann: Right. So if your Aha moment is a product behavior, you're saying users don't inherently desire to perform a product behavior. They're only interested in that product behavior insofar as it gets them to the outcome that they want.
Samuel: Yeah, and what we're claiming is that you can perform research and get to understand the common patterns among outcomes that your users actually want, and that you can find correlations between those and good user behavior, good subscription revenue, et cetera, and design for those where you're lining up the incentives. Where you know if we can solve this problem for you, you're very likely to be a good customer for us. So we're gonna try to move with you rather than trying to hack your behavior into some sort of manufactured habit or something along those lines that, that our data says correlates with good customer behavior or good user behavior.
Yohann: Right. It's a partnership. Like, the term that comes to mind at the moment is symbiosis. It's a symbiotic relationship where each side is providing value to the other. But I think part of the problem is that Aha moments have become an activation thing, so people who are not concerned about the symbiosis of the relationship are trying to manufacture early engagement because that's the part of the lifecycle that they are thinking about first and foremost.
Samuel: Well, I mean, I think early engagement is a very... I wish more companies focused on early engagement, to be honest. It's just do you focus on it on your terms based off of some data science that you've applied to your customer behaviors, but that don't really have an inherent motivational explanation to them? Or are you gonna focus on things where you know, if we can solve problems X, Y, and Z, some people are coming for X and Y, some people are coming for X and Z. Some people just want Y. But we know that we have a repeatable process in place for generating customers who are actually valuing what we do, rather than habitually winding up somewhere that they can't escape.
Yohann: Right, so, there are two levels here. There's Aha moments on the level of, if you're looking at a customer lifecycle, it's composed of multiple Aha moments one after the other. And there's also the level of, if you are looking at people who are at your product pursuing different kinds of outcomes, then there are probably different kinds of Aha moments associated with each of those and not just one that applies to everybody. So X, Y, Z outcome probably have associated X, Y, Z aha moments to begin with. I'm sure the X timeline, Y timeline, and Z timeline are all composed of Aha moments as well.
Samuel: Yeah. Aha moments all the way down.
The WHEN of Aha Moments
Samuel: And another thing along those lines is to think about how many light bulbs can you get to go off before somebody even signs up or before they start their trial or before they have been using your offering for 10 days, or things along those lines. If, if your offering is a subscription service that you charge customers for, you wanna be as explicit as possible about the value that you provide as early as possible, so that inspires more people to meaningfully invest their time in trying to become a customer of yours by getting the value that you're advertising. And if that value only becomes apparent to people after they've just decided to start a trial and decided to go through your activation wizard and clicked all your tooltips, and then eventually they get to some point where there's a maybe arbitrary behavioral threshold that you've engineered people toward in the hopes that it sets them up to become better customers. It's just a pretty flaky plan in my opinion.
Yohann: When you said before that, when you choose a particular user behavior inside the product, you're being prescriptive about the Aha moment? You are also being prescriptive about when that Aha moment occurs, right? And you are saying, we want that Aha moment to occur as early as possible. Why be prescriptive about the when, you know, and say this product behavior is when it should all unlock.
Samuel: Absolutely. I mean, again, like, the world wasn't ready to wrap its head around Twitter, but if you have invoice sending software or you help a construction, accountants submit blueprints or whatever, Like, I think you can be pretty explicit and upfront.
And there are times where, from like a, a conversion design standpoint, we work with companies that maybe have an interactive demo or they have a dashboard that's filled with dummy data inside their offering. And you've gotta go through, like, 12 screens before you ever get there. And decide to sign up before you ever get there. Whereas if you take that dummy dashboard and make it publicly available, then that becomes a way to get the light bulb to go off for people with minimal investment on their end. And would, in my opinion, be probably pretty compelling marketing to get people to sign up and start a trial. And you've got that out of the way by the time they have started the trial so they can really just focus on getting what they already know they want.
Aha Moments Don't Activate Users
Yohann: Fully agreed. I think a good place to go next would be to talk about the relationship between Aha moments and activation because I think Aha moments have become a catch all term for anything you do to activate a user. I don't think it's necessarily uh, "this is when users get it" anymore because like you said, we are not working with entirely novel concepts anymore.
We were talking to Tyler King, the CEO of Less Annoying CRM the other day, and he builds a CRM. He says, people don't need to know what a CRM is today. They already know, so they're entering the product, not trying to have an Aha moment and figure out what a CRM is, but really what makes this CRM different? , how is the CRM less annoying? That's part of their pitch.
Samuel: Speaking as a user, it's pretty rare that I encounter any kind of software thinking, I hope this blows my mind. I hope this helps me see the world in a totally different way. It's cool when that happens, but it's rare that you build a scalable business around something along those lines.
I think that really, when you're offering the... what you were talking about earlier where people are in their current situation, they wanna be in a better situation. They think that your app can help them get there. Going back to what I was saying, like speaking personally as a user, it's not like I'm trying to have my mind blown. It's more that I have a list of criteria where I know, like, there are maybe five different offerings out. And some of them offer help with X and Y and others help with Z and B. And I've gotta try to figure out which of those offerings is gonna be the best fit for my needs. And I'm almost like looking through it, like I'm de-risking the criteria involved rather than having the apple fall in my head and, and just completely, I don't know, I guess what in theory, inventing gravity or something.
Yohann: Right, and to that end.. That's why I brought up activation because to that end, the Aha moment has kind of become a catchall term for answering the questions that users have once they begin using the product. So even in Tyler King's case, the question of how is this CRM less annoying if it's called Less Annoying CRM. I think a lot of product teams would call answering that question, getting users to an Aha moment, and just switching that perspective around and not seeing it as an Aha, but seeing it as getting them to step one of the five step approach to getting to the outcome that they're pursuing is a much better way to look at it.
Samuel: I, I like to think of it as it's less "I understand it now" and more "I did it now." Like, can you actually get them to the point where they did the thing that they came to do?
Yohann: Wow, that's absolutely perfect.
Samuel: Oh, Yohann, you're so kind.
Yohann: So speaking of this relationship between Aha moments and activation, I wanna talk a little bit about how this perspective can be limiting, especially in a Self-Serve context. When we talk about growing revenue in a Self-Serve context, you've got expansion, acquisition, and in between those two very important levers, you've got conversion and activation. If we are ignoring expansion and acquisition for the moment and just zeroing in on when you've got users, how do you get more of them to convert, activation becomes one of the only things that you can control in order to make that happen. And when you look at activation in terms of Aha moments, what you're doing is zeroing in on particular product behaviors rather than the entire path to conversion.
So focusing on one part of the user journey to conversion and leaving the entire rest of the journey up to luck and happenstance. One of the big problems I have with Aha moments is if you're focusing on Aha moments and you're focusing on a particular behavior, then you're placing a bet.
You're saying, I feel with confidence that if we can make this behavior happen, it will result in more conversions. And we're saying why focus on a behavior at all when you can focus on that entire journey, why work backwards from one particular product behavior, when you can work backwards from conversion? Does that make sense?
Samuel: To be honest, I'm a little unclear on what you mean when you say product behavior versus conversion. What's, what is the distinction in your mind?
Yohann: The distinction is... so one of the things we do when we are working on improving conversion is we lay out all of the screens that users have to look at in order to get to that "you have successfully converted" last screen, all of the necessary steps, and we call it the critical pathway. So when we lay-
Samuel: And when you say convert-
Samuel: When you say convert, do you mean convert into doing the Aha moment or convert into activating or convert into a customer or any, any of the above.
Yohann: That's a good point because these are all mini conversions. But I'm talking about the final conversion, converting into becoming a customer, paying you for the first time.
Samuel: Okay. So to go from sign up to paying the company for the first time, there are a number of different screens that a user has to go through, which means that there are activities that they have to do. And each of those has its own conversion rate in route to the customer conversion.
Yohann: Absolutely. And if you look at these as a timeline, one of the critical questions is: where does this Aha moment occur? And it's usually the case, especially if you think about user onboarding and how Aha moments are, I mean, it's just convention that Aha moments are typically part of user onboarding.
If it's a part of user onboarding, then the Aha moment, the product behavior that you are saying is the linchpin of people converting, it happens early on in this timeline. Within the first few screens that users look at in this timeline. It happens there. And if you focus on getting more users to perform this behavior that happens early in this timeline, you've got the other three fourths of the timeline that are unattended, that you're not paying attention to because you think this early product behavior is what influences conversion.
Samuel: I, I agree with you in the sense that you can't declare mission accomplished just because you railroaded people to a particular behavior. Even if in theory you were able to engineer a system in which people really did arrive at some sort of light bulb moment going off, that still isn't really good enough because you haven't actually fulfilled the thing that they're excited about, you just got them excited about it. I have to say like it gets a little murky when we talk about it at this level, because I do think that companies, generally speaking, are deriving their Aha moment through studying the user behavior data. A lot of times we'll encounter a company where they say that their Aha moment is that the user created five touched-up photos or started three projects or invited two people to join them in whatever they were doing. I agree that there is probably some sort of correlation between those behaviors and users recognizing value. But one other area where there is a limitation to this level of thinking is that, assuming that if you engineer more people toward that particular behavior, that those people will have the same level of correlating success as the initial batch of behavioral data that you use to derive that milestone to begin with.
We keep mentioning Twitter's "follow 30 people." I remember around the time that that became a popular truism in growth circles, that Twitter's onboarding changed to present people with, pretty early in the account creation process, 30 people to follow.
And those 30 accounts were all pre-checked. And it was like Shaq and NASCAR or Cher or whoever, not people that you know, not people that you have meaningful relationships with or even necessarily care about. And I'm not saying that this was an intentional choice by the design team or anything along those lines. But if you do notice, "Hey, once people come in and organically get over the "follow 30 people" threshold, then their stream is more interesting, they're having conversations back and forth with people they know, so on and so forth. They're much more likely to be good long-term users for us. If you just arbitrarily get the new people who are signing up to just follow 30 random people, that's not necessarily gonna have the same uplift effect that the initial observation implied.
Yohann: By manufacturing the behavior, you don't know if it will have the same effect as the behavior taking place naturally.
Designing For User Outcomes Vs. Aha Moments
Samuel: Yeah. When we are talking about the distinction between outcomes that have inherent motivation baked into it versus not, that to me is one of the most important parts of that distinction where, let's say that your app helps people send invoices. Getting your first invoice paid is probably gonna be pretty strongly correlated with whether you become a good long-term customer or not. If you never get an invoice paid, probably unlikely that you're gonna convert or stick around long if you do. And so If you focus your activation efforts around getting people to the "Aha moment" of having their first invoice paid, that is something that I trust would scale as you get more and more- like, that's a behavior that I would feel comfortable manufacturing and getting more people to do because it's not hard to understand how that's inherently valuable to somebody. But if we're saying, "once they're over the threshold of sending 15 invoices, we know that they're gonna be a good customer. So let's get people to just blast out a bunch of invoices as soon as they get here."
That's way less likely to resonate, I would imagine, with the nature of why people are coming to you and unlikely to match up with the value that you ostensibly should be proposing to them.
Yohann: But there is a difference I think with choosing something like having your first invoice paid. Okay, so let me put it like this. I imagine that a few people who are listening are going, if you approach Aha moments right in that you are not prescriptive about them, you figure out how to align them with user motivations, you choose a product behavior that's closer to conversion rather than closer to signup. If you approach Aha moments right, then it is possible to activate users with them and scale them up. What would we say to those people?
Samuel: I think that all sounds pretty good. Oh, was that rhetorical, I'll just, I'll just be quick. I, I personally, I think that sounds pretty good, and I would say that, the only thing that I would add on top of that is that it's pretty unlikely that everybody who's signing up, especially when we talk about your most important customer segments and your most important acquisition channels, it's pretty unlikely that everybody uniformly is all coming for the same "meaningful" thing.
I think that when we talk about meaningful motivational outcomes, those are individually held and are patterns that you can pick up on across different segments of your signup or user base. But are not things that you can dictate to everybody and say, you will understand value when you have made it through this wizard or whatever.
Yohann: I agree. Different meaningful outcomes to different people. But one place that I disagree, and this is super interesting because we rarely disagree, but I would say that it's not just a semantic difference. It's not just a question of approaching Aha moments in the right way.
I think that, and I'm realizing that this is my big problem with Aha moments, is that it focuses your attention on a singular product behavior. I think even if you choose that product behavior in the right way, you're still going wrong because you're choosing and designing for a product behavior.
Instead, if you were to look at conversion and ignore when users are "activated," and just look at step drop off... like, Samuel, doesn't step drop off, make an activation metric obsolete because you're taking that big conversion, turning it into mini conversions, and just trying to make the mini conversions happen for more people.
Samuel: Well, I mean, I don't think we disagree quite as much as you, as you might think we do. I hear where you're coming from, but to me, the, the distinction is that, hmm, I think we both agree on on it being undesirable to have a single uniform, all-encompassing Aha moment that you just try to drive every single person to. But I do think companies are becoming more sophisticated along these lines and, I don't think that people see the Aha moment as the only tool in the toolbox. I think that companies often are thinking about things like habit loops, feature usage, multiple different behavioral parameters and trying to figure out what is really working the best and not. I definitely get a sense that people are looking at their trial-to-paid conversion rate and, and other customer conversion metrics. If it was something where people truly just had blinders on and that was the only consideration that they were designing around and the only lever that they were trying to use to grow their company, that would be a really poor fit, but I'm sensing that this is more just one of the tools in the toolbox. It's just a question of how do you really use it in the most effective way and not bring on a lot of conceptual baggage that isn't necessarily applicable to your own company and your own users.
Yohann: I, I think that makes sense. If you're looking at Aha moments as the way that you make more conversions happen, that's an incredibly flawed concept. But if you approach Aha moments in the right way and choose a product behavior that's inherently motivational to users and is scientifically correlated with conversion, then it could be a useful tool in the toolbox. But it's not the only tool in the toolbox that you rely on. There are other ways to improve activation and conversion outside of Aha moments.
Samuel: I think part of the confusion here is that it becomes a little bit of a tautological dead end where if you're defining activation as people reaching your Aha moment, then they become one and the same. And I, and I definitely understand where you're coming from and advising people to avoid that kind of circular logic. I think to us, we, we really see, like you were saying, it's a, it's a series of Aha moments that an individual person has where you can identify bigger patterns and try to create experiences that help facilitate those like real world beneficial outcomes that people are pursuing as much as possible without having to come up with just blanket generic, let's get as many people to create three projects as we can and see if that moves the needle on growth.
Yohann: Right, right.
Samuel: While we're in the neighborhood, I, I would also strongly suggest making your Aha moment, if you are going to use one, something other than engagement. There are a concerning amount of companies out there who think that their Aha moment is logging in seven times or something along those lines. And we know for a fact that there is not a single person on earth who wakes up with the desire to find an app that lets them log in seven times and helps them with that problem.
Yohann: So if not engagement, what are you looking at?
Samuel: I think that you're ultimately looking at what, what are you here to achieve and how can we align our experience around helping you do that? If we're talking about the theoretical listeners of the show and concerns that they might have, I think another one that I would probably have if I was listening to this is, "okay, well maybe you identify these different patterns of outcomes, X, Y, and Z. How do I know which people are the X people and which people are the X and Y people, and which people are the Z people?"
And for that I really like to use the design pattern of, I don't know what it's called exactly, we call it a Sorting Hat. But I don't know what the official term is, but basically like an early activation survey where you present different options to people and say, " What can we help you with? What's most important to you right now? What can we unlock for you, so to speak?" And let people self-select into saying, I'm here for this and this, but not that. And then you are getting a bunch of different things: you're getting continuous information from your signups around what they're basically self-selecting into saying that they're looking for. If you include a field where they can type in "other" and let you know if those options aren't relevant to them, then that's a helpful learning as. But either way, when people say, I'm here for X and Z but not Y, then that can really inform all of the rest of their, not only activation experience, but just lifetime relationship with what you offer.
You can be sending them emails about how your offering helps with X and Z. Was it X and Z but not Y? Yeah, I think it was. But X and Z, or you can be putting a, a testimonial in your billing flow that speaks directly to problem X, that the person said that they were here to try to resolve. And just have that be as resonant as possible where you're creating a personalized experience, not around the person, but around the thing that they're trying to accomplish.
And ultimately you want to see what's the proportionality of people who are here for X versus Y versus Z. And even more importantly, what's the likelihood of, or not even likelihood, but what's the, what is the historical data say about how X people converted versus Y people converted versus Z people?
And, and you can even carry that forward and look at, do X people churn faster than Z people after they... the world really becomes your oyster when you have a grip on the driving force that's leading them to find your offering to be relevant.
Yohann: Yeah. And we are big fans of user outcomes specifically because they're a great way to define what is driving this relationship between business and user. If you can define outcomes that are valuable to both the business and the user, and design for those instead of Aha moments, then then you're zeroing in on what drives this relationship rather than what just correlates with driving the relationship.
Samuel: I like it.
Yohann: For better or worse, I think our industry puts a lot of weight on Aha moments. At the very least, we wanna help people think about Aha moments a little better. But at best, what we are saying is Aha moments are not as valuable as designing for beneficial outcomes.
Samuel: Well, there you have it. Thank you so much for joining us in this diatribe, and if you have any follow-up thoughts, please let us know at Self-ServeSaaS.com. We have a whole community in place. This episode will have its entry in that, and we encourage anyone and everyone to chime in with their thoughts on anything that we put out there, especially if it's a little bit contentious along these lines.
Thank you again for listening, and we will see you next time.
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