AHA Moment: How to Increase User Activation and Reduce the Time To Value

Have you ever wondered why some customers stick with your service and others leave after a short time?

The answer is simple, yet often overlooked by many companies. It's because some customers got the value they came for right away, while others didn't. They did not reach the magic moment, the so-called AHA Moment.

In this article, you will learn what the AHA Moment is, why it is important for user activation and how to reduce the Time To Value to keep customers in your business.

Let's get started!
What is an AHA moment and what does it mean?
An AHA moment describes the moment when a user ges the full value or potential of the product.
It's the point where users say "This is exactly what I´ve been looking for"
Emotional event that should happen early in the user journey

What is an AHA Moment and what does it mean?

An AHA Moment describes the moment when a user gets the full value or potential of your product. It's the point at which users realize how the product can solve a certain pain point, meet a need, or perhaps improve their experience. It's the point where they say, "Oh wow, this is exactly what I've been looking for".  

The AHA Moment typically occurs early in the user journey, at best during the onboarding process or the first interaction with the product. I'd say it's a critical point that determines whether the user sticks with the product or abandons it. So, make sure your customers get to that AHA Moment as quickly as possible. Remember, the longer the Time To Value, the more likely people are to churn.

Example of an AHA Moment

To illustrate what an AHA Moment is, let's use an example. Let's say you offer a fitness app where people can get personalized trainings and nutrition plans.

A potential customer - let's call him Ben - downloads your app, signs up and starts to explore. Ben looks at some fitness and nutrition plans and sees the Call-To-Action button that says "Customize your plan". He clicks the button, enters his weight, height and fitness goals. Immediately, he gets a customized training and nutrition plan based on his current fitness level and goals.

That's the AHA Moment.

Why? Because it was exactly what Ben had been looking for. An easy way to get a personalized fitness plan without doing a ton of research. Your platform does the hard work of creating a fitting plan.

In this example, Ben's AHA Moment came when he realized that your platform wasn't just a search tool for standardized fitness plans, but a time-saving assistant that made the process of creating a customized training plan 10 times easier.

In conclusion, if you show your customers the value of your product or your service early on - ideally the first time they use it - they will stick with it. That's the power of the AHA Moment. They will not switch to your competitor because you have delivered so much value.

Remember this: The longer your Time To Value, the more likely people are to churn.
Worksheets to build a successful business
Why are AHA moments important
Engages users
Retains users
Positive perception
Free users will become paying customers

Why are AHA Moments important?

Using the example we have just discussed, you can see why this concept is so important. Defining and getting people to this important moment should therefore be a part of every business strategy. Here are some reasons why AHA Moments are important:
Engages users
As a SaaS company, you want an active and engaged community. You want people to use your service, not just a lot of registrations but few active users. Getting users to the AHA Moment quickly will help you do just that. Creating a community of engaged users. Not only will this help you improve your service (through customer feedback), but more importantly for SaaS businesses, more engaged users means more paying users means more revenue.
Retains users
AHA Moments act as a turning point in the user journey, convincing users that the SaaS product can truly address their needs and solve their challenges. Simply put, when customers see this value, there is no reason for them to abandon your service. Over time, users will become more committed to using your product as you continually improve your service and help them achieve their goals.
Create a positive perception
Have you ever tried a new tool and spent the first 20 minutes trying to figure out what it was supposed to do? Well, I have, and let me tell you this much - users today are not that patient. You either show them the value you provide or they will immediately leave. If you give your users exactly what they came for, you will create a positive perception. So, don't mislead your customers, deliver value and reduce the Time To Value as much as possible.
Transform free users into paying customers
Users who experience the AHA Moment are more likely to convert to paying customers. Simple as that. I mean, why would you pay for a service you don't see the value in? Again, the AHA Moment happens when users see the benefits of the platform right away. It makes them think "Wow, this helps me".

This feeling leads users to upgrade their plans (assuming they are using either a free trial or a freemium version of the product), or perhaps to continue using the platform for longer. Either way, your bottom line will thank you.
How do you find your AHA moment?
Reach out to top customers for qualitative feedback
Each persona will likely have their own journey to their own AHA moment
Multiple AHA moments
Use analytics and create retention metrics
Did the customers who converted..
Ask churned customers what they were looking for but did not find in your service

How do you find your AHA Moment?

Finding the AHA Moment for your service is critical to your business success. If you don't know what people find valuable, you can't expect them to find it for themselves. So, to find your AHA Moment, here are the steps you need to take:

1. Ask your customers

Start by contacting your top customers and asking them what they value most. These simple customer interviews will help you better understand what they really love about your service. In the second part of this analysis, we focus on analytics. But for me, it has always been important to talk to customers first, not just look at the dry numbers. But bear this in mind: It is very likely that each Persona will have an individual journey to their own AHA Moment. So don't be confused if you get different answers from your interviews.

I know everyone talks about doing surveys, but here's the tricky part. People aren't always good at putting their feelings into words, especially when it comes to what they like about a product. Sometimes users may not be able to express exactly why they love a feature. So, it's likely that they'll say one thing, but it could be something else that made them go "AHA".

To address this issue, ask some questions that allow them to rate specific elements of the product, but also include open-ended questions. Get them to share their thoughts on specific moments that made them realize "This product is great".

2. Use analytics

Now we are going to use analytics. First, look at how your best customers have used your app (what was their user journey, what features did they use). Based on this, create a list of behaviours that correlate with user retention. Use this list to define your activation metrics. These metrics are unique and will vary from service to service. Examples of activation metrics are "10 app uses per month" or "add 2 friends within the first week". To get these metrics, you might analyze patterns such as:
• Connected with other users
See if users who connected with others tend to stay longer.
• Completion of the onboarding process
See if users who complete the onboarding process tend to stay longer.
• Interaction with the core feature
Understand if users who actively use the core features are more likely to stay engaged.

After evaluating the behaviours associated with user retention and customer feedback, you should have a clear understanding of where people find value in your product.
Resources for your business success
How to get customers fast to the AHA moment
Simplify your onboarding
User session recording tools
Personalize the user journey
Interactive tours and walktroughs

How to get customers fast to the AHA Moment

Getting customers to have their AHA Moment isn't something you can just figure out overnight. It takes planning, strategy and testing. But don't worry, there are some tried and tested methods that can help you get your users to that lightbulb moment sooner rather than later:

Simplify your onboarding process

Once you have identified your activation metrics, you have only one goal. Get people to the experience that correlates with retention, whether it is connecting with other people, interacting with the core feature, or whatever metric you have identified as your activation metric. A great way to do that is through customer onboarding. But this means you need to have a simple and effective customer onboarding process in place.

Don’t overcomplicate things and quickly bring customers to that experience. This will reduce the time and effort it takes for users to get to the point where they see the value of your service.

For example, if you see that people are taking a very long time to fill in the registration form, consider removing optional fields to get people to their AHA Moment more quickly.

Use session recording tools

Session recording tools capture how users navigate through an app or website. By watching these recordings, you can see exactly where users get stuck in their journey. Watching these recordings takes time, but it helps you figure out what needs to be fixed.

Once you've done that, you can tweak things to guide users better and get them to that AHA Moment faster. For example, if you see that people are taking a very long time to fill in the registration form, consider removing optional fields to get people to their AHA Moment more quickly.

Personalize the user journey

Personalizing the user journey increases the relevance and value of your product to each user by addressing their specific pain points or interests. Addressing customers personally also makes them more engaged, as they feel the experience was created specifically for them.

Use interactive tours and product walkthroughs

If you have a complex product, the onboarding process can be daunting for users because it may take some time for them to experience the value of your product. Here are some things to consider: Interactive tours or product walkthroughs.

Product walkthroughs are helpful guides that walk users through a new application. They highlight key features and let users try them out, speeding up the process of realizing the value of the app. The advantage is that users can interact directly with your tool, get to work and be productive while learning about your service. An excellent way to get users engaged.
AHA moments. 3 barriers to overcome
Not showing your value
User hesitation and scepticism
Unclear user journey and bad usability

Top 3 barriers you need to overcome to get people to the AHA Moment

Here are common barriers that SaaS companies often face:

1. Not communicating your value

People won't use products if they don't understand why they need them. So, you need to show users what problem you are solving and how it will make their lives better. You could for example communicate this concisely in all your marketing and messaging. But remember not to use jargon here. Use simple language that highlights the unique benefits of your product.

2. User hesitation and scepticism

Many users will be reluctant to try a new product, especially if they don't know the company. You can overcome this by building trust through positive reviews, case studies and social proof. In addition, offering free trials or demos can allow users to experience the value of your app first-hand without committing to a purchase.

3. Unclear user journey and bad usability

I have to be honest - even with a clear value proposition, users can still encounter usability issues that prevent them from having that AHA Moment. But you know that by now. If you don't get people to experience the value of your product in their first session, it will be hard to keep them in the long term.

You should therefore test regularly and gather user feedback to address usability issues such as confusing navigation, unclear instructions or bottlenecks. Make the user journey simple and intuitive and get people to the AHA Moment quickly.

To learn more about avoiding common SaaS pitfalls, check out my article on the 8 SaaS mistakes you must avoid.
What is time to value?
Time to value measures the time it takes users to realize the value of a service
Longer time to value = more likely customers churn

What is Time To Value and what does it stand for?

Time To Value (TTV) is a metric that is often used in SaaS (Software as a Service). It measures the time it takes for users to realize the value of a service - or in our case, to have the AHA Moment. Put simply, the shorter the TTV, the better. This means that customers can quickly experience the positive impact of the product, which can lead to higher satisfaction and retention.

Conversely, if they have to wait too long to experience the benefits of your service, they may simply drop out or switch to your competitor. TTV is particularly important in industries such as technology and software, where you need to deliver value immediately.

Let's say you've downloaded a fitness app. If you start using the app and it has a simple interface that clearly shows your weekly progress, this will contribute to a short TTV. Now, if the fitness app has a confusing layout, takes time to figure out, or even requires you to create an account, it will have a longer TTV. I can almost guarantee it, that only a fraction of your downloads will result in active users.

For a glimpse into the secrets of UI design, check out my in-depth guide on SaaS user interface.
Resources for your business success
 5 Tips to reduce the time to value
Prioritize the most valuable features
Build a minimum viable product
Get feedback early and often
Have a culture of experimentation
Track the right metrics

How can you reduce the Time To Value?

Here are some approaches to TTV so users can see your product's value as early as possible.

1. Prioritize the most valuable features & make the user journey easy

In the SaaS industry, you see a lot of features being developed at the same time, resulting in a cluttered product with an unclear value proposition. In my experience, project teams that have a clear understanding of what users find valuable have an advantage. They don't waste resources on things nobody wants. So, what should you do instead?

Prioritize features that directly address user pain points.

Also consider prioritizing features based on impact and effort. To do this, use a framework such as the Kano Model to assess the impact of potential features on user satisfaction and business success. Consider both the positive impact (delighters and satisfiers) and the negative impact (dissatisfiers) of each feature.

2. Build a minimum viable product (MVP)

I've seen companies launch products with a vast array of features, only to find that users struggle to navigate and use them effectively. A more effective strategy is to focus on building a minimum viable product (MVP) that includes the core features and delivers immediate value. This allows you to gather feedback and iterate quickly, without wasting time and money building features that users don't need.

3. Get feedback early and often

Don't wait until your product is finished to get user feedback. Start getting customer feedback as early as possible in the development process. This will help you identify and fix problems early on and ensure that your product is meeting the needs of your users. It will also help you narrow down what customers value most about your service, and then lead new customers directly to that experience (for example, with onboarding).

There are many ways to get feedback, but here is a pro tip: Have you ever considered creating an early adopter program to invite a select group of users to try your product early? These early adopters can serve as valuable beta testers and provide insights into real-world usage scenarios.

You may also want to integrate in-app feedback mechanisms that allow users to provide immediate feedback without leaving the application. This can be done through pop-up surveys, feedback buttons or dedicated feedback sections.
Learn what customers value most about your service and help them reach the AHA moment quickly

4. Embrace a culture of experimentation

I'd say that companies that don't embrace experimentation risk being left behind. A culture of experimentation fosters creativity and innovation, driving the development of new features and approaches that can increase user value and reduce TTV.

Don't know what to experiment with?

Experiment with different onboarding flows to determine the most effective approach for introducing users to the core features of the product. Then experiment with different customer acquisition channels, such as social media, content marketing and paid advertising, to determine the most effective ones. Also try different support channels, such as chatbots, knowledge bases and live chat, to optimize the customer support experience.

But remember, all your experiments should have one goal: To get new customers to the AHA Moment quickly.

5. Track the right metrics

While user numbers may seem impressive, I've seen companies make the mistake of focusing on vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are metrics that look great on the surface but don't have any real business impact. For example, if you have developed an app and have 1 million downloads, it looks great on the surface. However, if you dive deeper and find out you only have 100 active users per week, the amount of your downloads are irrelevant. A classic vanity metric.

Instead, you need to focus on more important KPIs such as customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value and retention rate. These metrics provide an accurate representation of your product's success in delivering value to users.

How to measure the Time To Value?

The first step you need to take is to define a clear onboarding process and mapping out the critical touch points. For example, if you have a clear idea of what your core feature is (you should know that), map out the steps it takes customers to get there. Then you simply monitor the time via your go-to analytics tool.

Here, you look at two indicators.

1. How long did customers take to get to the core feature?
2. At which point of their journey did they abandon the service?

If you find that it takes customer super long to get to your core feature, reduce the steps it takes them.

Also, if you see that customers abandon your service for example in one part of your onboarding process, you really need to think about leaving that out completely. Remember you have one goal and one goal only – getting people to experience that crucial magic moment.
The longer your time to value, the more likely people are to churn

4 FAQs regarding the AHA Moment

1. Can AHA Moments be different for different user Personas?

Yes, it is very likely that AHA Moments will vary for different user Personas. Each user may have unique needs, pain points and expectations. You should therefore always conduct customer interviews and analyse user behaviour to identify the different AHA Moments for different user segments.

2. How can SaaS companies ensure a consistent AHA Moment across different devices and platforms?

This might seem like a strange question at first. I mean, what's the problem, you might ask. But think about it. On mobile, you have less screen real estate. So, while it may be easy to get customers to the AHA Moment on desktop, it can be a real challenge on mobile.

To tackle this problem, you always need to do testing. Conduct usability testing on different devices to identify potential user challenges and implement responsive design principles to ensure a seamless experience across different screen sizes.

3. Are there strategies to re-engage users who might have missed their initial AHA Moment?

That's an excellent question, because even though users may have initially missed their AHA Moment, your product could still be a good fit for them. But you need a clear strategy to do this.

For example, you can run targeted re-engagement campaigns via email or in-app notifications that highlight the key features and benefits of your service. Whether or not you succeed in regaining their interest, always analyze user behaviour data to understand where they dropped off and try to optimize those specific touchpoints.

4. Can AHA Moments evolve over time as a product adds new features or updates?

Of course, AHA Moments can evolve as products introduce new features or updates. Regularly reassess customer needs through ongoing feedback mechanisms and analysis. Understand, how users interact with new features and whether these additions contribute to a revised AHA Moment. Oh, and keep your Personas up to date!

What's next

And there you have it - the journey to get people to the AHA Moment. Remember, getting people to that magic moment quickly and showing them the value you offer is key to keeping users engaged and turning them into lifelong advocates. But showing people the value of your service is only part of building a successful business. To be truly successful, you need a lot more.

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