Instant Adoption, the "Google Way"

Google does an amazing job at getting users to opt into new “beta” features.

I did the following in < 5 minutes:

  1. Hear about Gmail Priority Inbox for the first time (callout bubble)
  2. Learn what it is, and why it will “make my life so much better” (brief description and short animated video)
  3. Opt in and get started (click one button, and suddenly I’m in a friendly and familiar environment, but with just the 1 twist that I expected)

Awareness + Clear & Believable Value Proposition + Low Barrier to Entry = instant adoption!

Some other factors that led to my quick adoption:

  • Limited Beta: The limited beta approach adds an air of excitement and exclusivity. (Google’s been playing this angle for years, and it continues to work for them!)
  • Extremely clear value proposition: A brief, amusing animation was used to explain the new feature and why it’s worth checking out. The fact that this could be conveyed in less than 2 minutes speaks to the clarity of the message.
  • Trust: I’ve been using Gmail for years, basically to a point where I “count on it always being there for me” (you and me, Google, BFFLs!) So, why not try this new feature? You wouldn’t lie to me, right?
  • Nothing to lose: The “off” switch is quite visible. If I try it out and decide that it’s “not for me”, I can easily turn off the feature later.
  • Non-intimidating: Based on the brief intro material I’d seen, I already knew what to expect in terms of what would be the same/different. I didn’t have any worries like “Will I be able to understand this? Will I need to read lots of help documentation?” In general, the gradual build up of new features over time helps users to feel like they are growing and evolving with the product, rather than having to reorient themselves each time.

These all work well for Google’s free, consumer-facing products. Where else can we apply these techniques to increase user adoption?