There is an old tale about the Greek mathematician Archimedes of Syracuse discovering how to measure the volume of an object by submerging it into water. In some versions of that story, our pal Archimedes is in the bath, and when he realizes what he has discovered, he jumps and yells: Eureka! (sometimes while running naked through town).

There’s a joy in discovery, at that moment when you understand how something works. That “Aha!” can happen not only to the inventor of a thing but also to those who use it. You can create “Aha!” moments to reinforce user behavior, product adoption, feature discovery, and enhance long-term retention.

In this article, we’ll tell you all about what an “Aha!” moment is, how marketing sees it, and how to start designing your own to build better long-term relationships with your users.

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How to use “Aha” moments for SaaS long-term retention

What is an “Aha!” moment?

The idea of a sudden moment of discovery is not a new thing or a trendy concept. Cognitive neuroscience is finding patterns about how the brain process information to achieve a moment of sudden insight; there are stories of this sort like the one about Archimedes, and even there’s the concept of serendipity.

Coined in the 18th-century serendipity is described as a moment of unplanned discovery. For example, a scientist investigating subject A and ending up discovering the cure to illness B. Eureka! 💡 

In marketing, an “Aha!” moment (or eureka effect) is an emotional response to the discovery of a product’s usefulness that usually occurs during the onboarding process or at any pivotal point when the real value provided by the product becomes clear and sinks in.

But marketing is not a game of chance or luck but an effort of deliberate design, testing, and improvement. That means that the random eureka effect must be reinforced by a designed curated experience.

You may know exactly what value your product provides, and your users may have an idea too. If they are testing or subscribing, they at least have a hint. But the art of boosting the “Aha” moment, requires thinking of value from the user’s perspective, and helping them see it; making the value something obvious. 

aha moment

When does the moment happen?

If you have users that are converting, then some of them may be experiencing “Aha!” moments even if you’re not aware of them. Randomness is no base upon which to build a SaaS product, even though you can’t force a moment, you must reinforce them and for that you need to understand when they happen and why they happen.

We have identified three main stages in the customer’s journey when “Aha!” moments usually occur. By studying those naturally occurring moments, you can set strategies to make them more effective.

A. Leads and Acquisition

The first “Aha!” moments happen during sign up. As leads arrive and have their first interactions with your product (due to a successful ad campaign, referrals, and all sorts of pipelines) they will form ideas about the ways your product can be valuable to them.

At this stage, the “Aha!” moment is the pivotal point in which a user that is just “looking around” 👀, internalizes the value of your product and decides to convert. From acquisition to activation! Users may experience this without realizing it, but even if they don’t notice, you must identify it to make it more effective. Some fundamental ways to increase the possibility of “Aha” moments at this stage are:

  • Marketing campaigns that focus on the real value of your product, from the user’s perspective. You may understand how your product works and what benefits it can provide, but you need to communicate those benefits in a language that users may understand and might be looking for.
  • Design a clear landing page that communicates the value of the product. Try to avoid abstract concepts and focus on real measurable value that your users can recognize once they have experienced it. For example, instead of promising a “new way of doing things” (that’s too vague!), tell your users what actual benefits can be achieved by using your SaaS product. That way you’ll be planting the seed of the current “Aha!” moment, but also of a future moment when those promises are fulfilled.
  • A frictionless sign up process. It’s vital that the sign up process is easy to complete and hassle-free. By losing a lead before they sign up, you are not just missing a potential customer, you are missing the chance of the future “Aha!” moments that can occur  during demos, trials, and product usage.

Photograph of a neon sign that reads Discovery

B. Onboarding and Activation

When your users sign up, they arrive at a critical junction for a new “Aha!” moment (or more than one). The onboarding process is vital at this point to communicate value. Onboarding should be easy to follow and educational. It should make the value clear as the user learns to use the tool and walks their first steps.

Let’s use a real example! When you create a new Twitter account, you’ll be asked for basic information. When you finish and get to your blank account (even if you skipped all the customization steps), you’ll be greeted with clear prompts to take action.

twitter aha moment

Twitter will lead you to follow other accounts with phrases like “see what’s happening in your world” and “Let’s go!”. At the same time you’ll be asked “What’s happening?”, pushing you to publish your first tweet. With those two simple calls to action, Twitter is trying to convince you to see the value of the product by experiencing it in the first person. In this example, there are at least two possible “Aha!” moments:

  • Twitter is valuable because it lets me post content easily and quickly.
  • Twitter is valuable because it lets me read what people and brands that I like are saying.

And not only that! The second moment is boosted by the fact that users pick what accounts interest them by themselves, so the value is increased by their own actions.

If users experience an “Aha!” moment at this stage, they’ll get activated. User activation happens when that user completes the trial, leaves the training wheels behind, and actually converts to an active user of your product’s key features. Activated users, as they are experiencing the value of your product are less likely to churn than those who don’t. Users, activate!

C. Long-term Engagement and Upgrades

Even though most articles about the eureka effect focus on a user’s first steps, there are plenty of opportunities for “Aha!” moments in the long-run. The key is to keep engaging users and giving them the opportunity to incorporate the product into their regular workflow or their daily lives. As users keep engaging with your SaaS product, the chance that they understand the value it provides increases.

Just as the first “Aha!” moment can make or break conversion and activation, a timely moment at this stage can turn basic users into advanced ones. That simply may mean that they’ll be more loyal and engaged with the product, or better yet, that they’ll be prone to upgrade it with advanced plans or plugins. These additional features not only are great for upselling and cross-selling, but the benefits they provide can also generate new “Aha!” moments on their own. Think of it as a chain reaction of eureka moments!

Very few SaaS products stay always the same. In the competitive SaaS industry, constant improvement is key to getting ahead. That means that each time you launch a new feature or improve an existing one, there’s the possibility of users not noticing or caring. Feature discovery is key to the long-term success of any product.

A new feature launch is fertile ground for “Aha!” moments, as long as you communicate them effectively and show their value. That’s why a good communication channel like Beamer is vital. Beamer can help you lead your users to the moment of discovery. With Beamer you can set up a changelog in a matter of minutes and start to publish updates right away. You can show off your new features, communicate their value and even lead readers to them with a single click. Ideal for feature discovery and adoption.

Beamer widget example

How to identify an “Aha!” moment?

The “Aha!” moment strategy rests on the idea that activated and engaged users must have done something while interacting with your product that allowed them to discover its value. So to identify eureka moments, you need to pinpoint what those users did, and how that’s different from what those who churn did (or did not).

Even though you’ll never be able to say with 100% certainty “that’s the moment”, by tracking, analyzing and comparing user behavior you’ll find the correlations that signal a probable “Aha!” moment. Once you identify it, you can make adjustments and tests to increase the chance of those moments to occur and increase their effectiveness. So let’s get started with the moment hunt!

A. Look at the data

In the process of decoding the mysteries of the “Aha!” moment, the first step would be to look at the data and try to find empirical evidence. As you track your users’ interactions with your product, you’ll get hints about what moments are decisive for activation and churn.

  • Analyze patterns for activated users. Look at how your activated users have interacted with your product. Did they invite other users? Did they use a specific feature, react to any specific message or call-to-action? Did they finish the onboarding process? 
  • Identify why users churn: What happened with those users who signed up and never used your product? What about those who started a paid subscription or trial and then cancelled? What features did they miss? What action did they forget or avoid taking? At what stage of the onboarding or usage did they leave? For how long did they stay? Take a look at the stats and add an exit survey to have additional insights on their reasons to leave.

By comparing those trends and correlations, you’ll find which steps of the user journey are the most probable “Aha” moments. As you test improvements to those steps, a change in the ratio of activation/churn will reflect if your implemented strategy is improving or worsening the eureka experience.

aha moment: use data

B. Use feedback

On top of data and stats, nothing is more valuable than hearing your users’ voice, and users are generally open to sharing it with the world (regardless of a positive or negative experience). Gather feedback in different ways to have detailed insights of how your users value your product or why they decide to leave. Here you have several options:

  • Support chats.
  • Comments sections.
  • User reactions. 
  • Customer, exit, and NPS® surveys.

Look at what your users current and former are saying about your product and look for the signs of a missed “Aha” moment:

  • “I tried X, but I couldn’t Y”
  • “I didn’t understand how to make X work”
  • “X feature makes this product hard to use”
  • “I would love if X feature worked more like this…”
  • “At this moment I realized that I love this product!”
  • “I didn’t know I needed this!”

By looking through your users’ comments and reviews, and following up on them (people love when companies respond to their reviews) you can have a fuller and personal picture of how users interact with your SaaS product, and what moments are most important for them. You can be even more direct and send surveys to your users asking them directly for the moment when they realized your SaaS product was a fit for them.

With NPS® surveys you can identify promoters and detractors, to better understand both camps. This way, you can also find product ambassadors that can recommend your product, refer new customers through affiliate programs, or even support you with user generated content.  Beamer NPS is a really easy way to create NPS® surveys and deploy them quickly and start engaging promoters and detractors right away.

NPS survey

C. Trial and testing

Correlation does not imply causation, says the popular phrase. You should keep in mind that even if you have done a lot of research to pinpoint where the “Aha” moment would be most effective, you can’t be sure until you try. Some trends may show that all your activated users have done the same thing before converting or that churn is higher at a particular moment. That may reflect a whole other issue and to make better decisions you’ll need to test them in real life.

So regardless of the methods you choose to create the Eureka effect, find ways to make sure that those “Aha” moments are actually happening. For example:

  • You can use A/B testing to reinforce different experiences and measure what’s more effective for creating potential “Aha” moments. 
  • You can also set up different moments along a user’s Journey to see in what stages they usually activate, or with what moments they engage the most.
  • You can use surveys to measure Net Promoter Score® and ask your users what they think about your product and what they value most.

How to boost the “Aha!” moment?

We know the what, when, and how, but there’s more to produce effective “Aha!” moments. It’s a combination of leading, reinforcing, and reminding.

A. Leading to the moment

There will always be confusion at the first interaction with a product or new feature. Even with today’s global trends, design musts, and proven concepts, each product has its own way to do things. Leading users to the features you want to promote, and to the value opportunities they offer is a must.

How do your users know what to do with your product? There are multiple ways to do achieve that:

Leading to the moment is as important as the moment itself. So, by marking the path to discovery you are creating a potential “Aha!” moment. You’re taking them from the chaos of unfamiliar territory to a controlled space where the moment can occur, and the value can be communicated properly.

Beamer snippet example

B. Reinforcing the moment

As we said before, you can’t just force the “Aha!” moment, you can lead them to it, and you can reinforce it to achieve the desired experience. Reinforcement is key here.

Let’s give a few examples of reinforcing behavior that can improve an “Aha!” moment for an imaginary blogging app:

  • Congratulate your users for achieving the desired behavior. “Congratulations, you have published your first post!” or “You’re one of the first users to test our new feature!”
  • Use user feedback to make the moment pop! Like showing them an animation when they publish new content. 💌
  • Reward them with gamification mechanics. “You’ve reached user level 2!” or “You’re one of our top 100 most read bloggers this month”.
  • Describe or calculate the impact of what they just have done. “This post can reach 2427 potential readers” or “Your latest article has been read 3k times”.
  • Reinforce regular behavior. “You have achieved a 2-week streak of daily publications”.

Photograph of balloon letters that read CONGRATS

What matters is to make users know that the things that do with your product produce tangible and desirable results. Think about what your users are looking for in your product and let them know when your tool helps them achieve those goals.

  • If your customers value speed and efficiency, let them know when they took less time than before to complete a task.
  • If they value impact, let them know when something they have done has reached more people than before.
  • If they value development and growth, reward them when they reach specific goals or thresholds.
  • If they value teamwork, congratulate them when they invite members to their team or when those teammates start using the app regularly.

C. Reminding the value

Not all “Aha!” moments happen exactly when the user does something. Some of them occur when they get the results of their effort explained in numbers. You can use the same sort of strategy as the ones described before, but long after they have occurred. A delayed “Aha!” moment ⏲️.

For example, you can send your users regular emails or reports of how your product usage is generating better results. Weekly improvements, monthly metrics, and trend comparisons can trigger the “Aha” moment by making the value of your product measurable in real life.

Email example

As with many other aspects of the SaaS (we have written before about the feedback loop and lifecycle marketing), “Aha!” moments work as a cycle of constant evolution and refinement. Planning multiple “Aha” moments along that long-term relationship will strengthen user loyalty. Will remind them of the value of your product even if they already know. It will also serve you as a fallback in case any other discovery moment wasn’t effective enough.

Measure, plan, put into action, test, and improve. That way, your “Aha” moments will go from an occasional occurrence to an inevitable part of using your product.

If you’re looking for a tool to lead your users to that special “Aha” moment, think of Beamer. Beamer is a changelog that you can embed in your app or site to update your user about everything that’s happening with your product. Announce new features, communicate changes, highlight the value of your product and collect useful feedback. Beamer has a robust NPS® feature that will allow you to ask your users directly for what they value most about your product, and a versatile in-context announcement feature that will allow you to send targeted announcements so no feature gets undiscovered. Try Beamer for free today!