Activation: finding the Aha Moment

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Activation: Finding your aha moment

The second phase in the AAARRR funnel is Activation. This phase revolves around the so-called WOW or AHA moment, the moment when the user is convinced to make an action. In this blog you will find the fundamentals steps for a successful activation, together with some examples and the strategies that you can apply to your company.

The funnel phases are by definition not always applicable in the same order. 90% of the time it is necessary to offer an AHA moment to users before acquiring them. When acquisition is placed before activation in the funnel it’s due to the nature of the offered products, like software, that you need to buy first in order to experience the aha moment.

“Something that looks great but is difficult to use is exemplary of great UI and poor UX. While Something very usable that looks terrible is exemplary of great UX and poor UI.” – Helga Moreno

1. Why is good activation so important?

The internet landscape is changing fast, and entrepreneurs need to make the right online decisions quickly. There are now more than 1.7 billion websites, and just under 200 million of them are active. This creates a saturated online landscape, where finding a niche is becoming increasingly difficult. A good activation campaign ensures that your product or service stands out in this huge online landscape.

2. How do I find the aha moment?

Before creating an AHA moment, it is good to know which features you should begin to highlight. Neil Patel describes this process as composed of three steps.

Step 1: Find out when an activated user decides to stay on the platform after an enrollment and a specific promotion.

Initially, this step is closely linked to the overall retention of the app or website. A good way to further investigate is through an analytics’s cohort analysis. Start segmenting your users into a cohort, or a group of users who share common features. There are two types of cohorts:

  • Acquisition cohorts that are segmented based on enrollment and installation / account activation.
  • Behavioral cohorts segmented by Behavior.

When you see what percentage of users drop out and when then you need to find out why the rest of them stayed. There you will find your aha moment.

Step 2: Identify the core features of your product or service

Once you have compiled your cohort lists, the next step is to identify the main actions they have taken on the product or service. The AHA moment will then be one or a combination of these core features.

Step 3: Find out which core features are related to long term retention

Now that you’ve identified key features among the retained users, find out if they have a strong connection to customer retention in the long run.

Let’s use as an example a payment app for fast payment requests. We have seen two actions that seem to cause an aha moment within 30 days.

  • The user sent two payment requests to friends.
  • The user has received and paid a payment request.

Imagine 5% of users have left after 30 days. The retention ratio of users who have sent 2 or more payment requests is 10%. The retention ratio of users who have made and paid at least 1 payment request is 14%. That means that your aha moment for the most valuable user lies within the fact that they see what happens when you have paid a payment request. You should then highlight this moment when potential new users make contact with your platform or campaign.

3. The three phases of a good activation

We can break down a good activation to a number of steps, in an article by N. Patel, Fraser Deans describes how to divide it into the following three phases:

1. Pre-sign up: everything that a potential user experiences before taking the first action

The first phase underlines all steps a user takes to reach your sign up page. They googled something, read a blog or saw an ad that landed them right on one of your landing pages, or maybe they typed in your brand right away. The trick here is to map out all the different user journeys, optimize them and use the data to quickly lead users to the page where you explain the value of your product.

2. First user experience: all the steps a potential user goes through to experience the value of the product

The first interaction is the most important, because it can persuade the user to purchase or register. A good example is the website This company offers heatmap and tracking so that entrepreneurs can test whether the website has a good focus and touchpoints. In the first user experience, they let users immediately conduct a heat map audit for their own website. With this unpaid version it is necessary that you enter some minimal information before you get the result (this benefits the acquisition and retargeting of Crazyegg). It’s a way to immediately show the aha moment, so that users get the will to purchase more quickly.

2.1. UX/UI Design

The skill set of the T-shape Growth hacker is enormous, and it’s safe to say that it would be impossible to be an expert in every field. However, it is beyond valuable to have -or hire- these skills. An example of must have skills are User Experience Design and User Interface Design. User Experience design (UX) is about improving the user experience under every aspect, is more analytical and technical, and focuses more on user/product research and usability testing. User interface design (UI) includes everything about looks and feelings, interactivity and the presentation of your product or service, a good UI is therefore part of a good UX. Read our blog about UX and UI design to learn more.

3. Post-sign up: post aha-moment phase, according to the idea that a user does not regret the action taken during their first user experience

You delivered the perfect first user experience, now it is important to give your users a good feeling after the first interaction with your company. Therefore, do not request more data than necessary and do not send unnecessary information that will be perceived as useless.

The post signup is the final part of the activation phase. After successfully activating your user, you can proceed to the next phase of AAARRR funnel, which is acquiring the activated user.

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