We built Candu with 7 Design Principles:

  1. Keep the user in-app — Since you’ve gone to the trouble of bring users into your application, let’s keep them there.
  2. Look and feel like your product, forever — Candu syncs to your product’s style guide. So you can swap and modify content while maintaining seamless design experience.
  3. Code-free edits — Candu’s Editor makes it easy to create, modify and test content without writing new lines of code. So you can dig into your idea backlog.
  4. Plays well with others — Candu integrates your existing content sources — from YouTube to Zendesk, so you don’t need to manage content in multiple locations.
  5. Targeted delivery — With flexible targeting rules, you can decide which users should see what content and when.
  6. Measure what matters — By tracking in-product events, Candu helps you understand when your content is performing and when it isn’t.
  7. Always be learning — Every time a user interacts with your content, Candu learns whether it had the an impact her behavior. Over time, Candu will recommend the next best piece of content for each user’s journey into your product.

No one is coming to your feature release party

Why user activation is getting harder, and what product enablement teams can do about it.

From drama to drumbeat

Once, a feature release was an anticipated event. Would the annual release be a tremendous success? A colossal failure?

Today, the latest and greatest release barely registers.

What changed? Agile release cycles have helped software developers course-correct sooner, and there’s no resting on our laurels when the competition is releasing continuously too. The net effect is that we can churn out features at an unprecedented clip.

This speed should create more value for your users. But as anyone who has been dropped into a complex piece of software can attest, the ‘build forever’ strategy has its drawbacks.

As you expand your offerings to capture new users and newer use cases, you increase the likelihood that any incremental feature won’t meet your user’s core need. More is more until it’s too much.

This dynamic creates a tricky balancing act: Our drive for growth demands an ever-expanding feature set. But the more we build, the less well we can serve any individual user.

Our dramatic moment has become a drumbeat. And, that drumbeat is creating a lot of noise.

The race to first value

The feature-building balancing act boils down to this: It doesn’t matter what your products can do in theory. What matters is what an individual user can do with your product. Will she get to value before giving up?

The moment when a user first realizes your product’s value is “activation.”

This is why customer and product teams need to be so focused. They have to identify why a user came to your product, help that user understand how your software will meet that need, and then remove any friction that stands between that user and getting that promised value.

As if that weren’t enough, users have come to expect that they will get value without investing much effort. And, with so many tools, your users are increasingly unwilling or unable to devote significant time to learning any individual software package. Gone are the days when we could trust users to pour over meticulous release notes, sign up for elective certification courses, or attend webinars.

Users now expect software to be intuitive, turnkey, and (dare I say it?) delightful. Certainly, that is what your competition’s marketing site would have them believe!

Don’t be distracted by bells and whistles. It’s the race to first value that really matters.

Activation isn’t just a B2C problem

Enterprise applications may feel insulated from these pressures, but they aren’t. Thanks to the consumerization of tech and bottoms-up sales strategies, ease of use has become a key buying criterion. When it comes time for renewal, if your users aren’t using your software, you’ve already lost.

Unfortunately, B2B software providers can’t simply borrow the B2C data-driven playbook. To start, there likely isn’t enough data to run a true A/B test. And in the enterprise context, there’s rarely a singular activation event that involves just one user. Instead, activation is likely to be a series of events involving multiple user types. This introduces delays and noise that complicate our efforts to define what it is that activation means — clouding our attempts to optimize a funnel.

B2B activation is hard. Consumer teams can rely on ruthless feature prioritization and intense funnel optimization. Meanwhile, enterprise teams must check-the-box on features, and yet don’t have the traffic for a true A/B test.

From feature announcements to feature discovery

Companies are adding product enablement teams to tackle the one-two punch of raising user expectations in increasingly complex products. These teams, with a little boost from powerful in-app software, can help users with wide-ranging needs activate without compromising on delightful feature additions. It’s not clutter if you love it.

Instead of presenting the kitchen sink of features, users should be welcomed with content that meets them where they are — matching their needs and skill level with the features that can help them with their immediate need.

And once that initial need is met, product enablement teams should empower users to get deeper into your product. The role of product enablement teams in onboarding is to lay out the path of what’s possible and then to sit back, letting users find their own way forward.

As it turns out, the best way to keep ahead of the competition is to let your users set the pace.

What can B2B Product Managers learn from Facebook’s a-ha moment?

A recipe for B2B customer activation

Many B2B product managers think fondly of Facebook’s “7 friends in 10 days” — the magical threshold that predicted whether a new Facebook user would “activate” into a lifelong Facebook user. With it, Facebook had a simple North Star metric to judge any feature release.

At Candu, we’ve talked with hundreds of product and customer teams at B2B companies and one thing on which they can mostly agree is that they aren’t satisfied with their activation metric.

B2B companies tend to oscillate between struggling to define a single activation event and choosing from a smorgasbord of options. Because activation is not measured consistently, few enterprise teams rely on it.

If it’s so useful, why aren’t we using it?

More cuts, smaller N

Consumer apps have a few things going for them that enterprise apps do not. Namely, they have clarity regarding what activation means, discipline around data-driven experimentation, and just one user journey to optimize.

When B2C companies think of their funnel, they can often trace a straight line from an ad to in-app conversions (and even on to repurchases). When B2B companies think of their funnel, it often cuts off abruptly at lead conversion.

B2B companies juggle multiple activation points with multiple types of users. Throw in a few offline interactions, and a customer journey can start to look less like a funnel and more like meatballs in spaghetti.

Complicating things even further, if you take a small dataset and start slicing it into smaller and smaller cuts, you end up with … nothing, statistically significant speaking.

It’s no one’s fault. It is just the nature of activation in the enterprise context.

There can only be… one?

For subscription services, the vast majority of your users’ value will accrue in the future. To capture tomorrow’s value, you have to get your user hooked today. More specifically, that gut call needs to happen in your users’ first session.

But how do we orient our product development toward activation when there are multiple needs, multiple users, and a “gut check” on value is so subjective?

It looks like an impossible optimization problem. The trick is to stop thinking of B2B activation as a single funnel, but as a set of smaller ones.

Candu’s B2B Activation Recipe

  1. Identify your key personas and create a unique funnel for each.
  2. Understand the moment when your product creates value for an individual persona.
  3. Remove everything you can between those points.
  4. Remove more.

Facebook’s 7 Friends wasn’t powerful because of its significance. It was significant because it helped Facebook recognize how it delivered value and oriented the company to deliver as much of that value as fast as it could.

That is something we can all agree on.