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Aha moment examples and how-tos for long-term engagement

What’s the difference between a drifting customer and one who will stay with you long-term? Often, it’s an aha moment. These moments, found in every industry, inspire brand affinity and lead to feature adoption and long-lasting relationships.

In life, we think of aha moments as sudden, almost mystical moments of revelation—Newton’s apple dropping, Benjamin Franklin’s key on a kite string. But a product’s aha moment isn’t something you just happen upon. You cultivate it through deep research, understanding your product’s value, and repeated experimentation.  

If you can figure out the aha moment that produces a “Eureka!” for your customers, you can create both product and marketing experiences that consistently propel people through their lifecycle—and into lasting engagement.  

Ready for your aha moment about aha moments? Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is an aha moment?

A product’s aha moment is the point in a customer’s journey when they first truly grasp its value. It’s that flash of insight when everything clicks—and the customer understands why they need the product. Examples of an aha moment are wide-ranging, but they all propel conversion and retention.  

The aha moment functions as a transition in the customer’s thinking: from understanding theoretically how a product can benefit them to experiencing the tangible value. When and how this happens will vary from product to product, but it often occurs sometime during the onboarding phase. Many brands even have multiple aha moments across their complete customer journey.   

Finding your product aha moment is crucial for activating and retaining your customers, moving them through their lifecycle from acquisition to retention to long-term loyalty and advocacy. 

What creates an aha moment?

An “aha” moment occurs when your product’s benefits align perfectly with a customer’s needs, resulting in an emotional—and powerful—reaction to solving their problems.

Maybe you’re saving your customers time, money, or effort. Or perhaps you’re giving them something they want or need. Those are practical outcomes, but there’s an emotional feeling associated with achieving those results. The aha moment is that kick of dopamine your customers get when your product helps them fulfill their needs. That’s why aha moment marketing is so impactful: it taps into a deeper experience than surface-level promotional campaigns. 

How to find your product’s aha moment

So, how do you figure out what creates the aha moment for your customers? It takes strategic thinking, research, and experimentation. Across every industry, aha moment examples abound—but what works for your competitors won’t necessarily apply to you. After all, you’ve worked hard to differentiate yourself from the pack, so your product’s aha moment will be as unique as the experience you’ve designed. 

Go beyond the obvious

Pinpointing your aha moment isn’t always obvious because it’s not necessarily the most performed action. The behaviors that lead to customer retention might not involve what you consider a core product feature. You need to find the behaviors that, when performed, best correlate with customers continuing to use your product for an extended period.

Start an exploration

Ultimately, the aha moment is less made than it is discovered—through rigorous inquiry. You’ll need to do some exploring, unearth potential aha moment examples within your customer experience, and try different aha moment marketing strategies until the light bulb goes off. 

You don’t have to search for a needle in a haystack, though. Three steps can lead you to your product’s most promising aha moment: finding your power users, digging into the customer experience, and testing your hypothesis. 

Step #1: Find your power users

Power users are your most high-value customers. They stick around longest and use your product most loyally. Chances are, they had a meaningful aha moment early on—and have continued to recognize your value over time. These customers can lead you to your aha moment, meaning you’ll need to learn from their example. 

People who became successful using your product probably did something differently from those who churned out early—if you can figure out what and why, you can start to reverse-engineer that path for your other customers.

Identify power-user characteristics

What defines a power user for you depends on all kinds of things—industry, brand strategy, specific details of your product, etc. Come up with some behaviors you can use to define what “power usage” looks like. For example, you might look for people who exhibit behaviors like: 

  • Frequently using your product
  • Having longer sessions than average
  • Using multiple and/or advanced features
  • Remaining consistently engaged for a long time
  • Recommending your product or leaving positive reviews

Keep an eye out for “false flags,” like people who frequently use your product but don’t engage with any of your marketing or those who start a process but never finish it. They may look like power users, but they’re not the audience you’re looking for. 

Understand power-user behaviors

Once you identify your most successful customers, you’ll work backward to nail down how they went from initial adoption to avid fans. It’s time for a deep dive into your behavioral data: which actions did these people take early in their journey that kicked off high engagement? Within those actions, you’ll likely see many potential aha moments, examples of behavior that immediately preceded important engagement milestones. You’re looking for patterns—actions (or a series of actions) shared among multiple group members.

Facebook’s aha moment example

One example of an aha moment reflected by power-user patterns is from Facebook. Early on, they discovered that when someone added at least seven friends within their first 10 days of having an account, they were far more likely to stick around for the long term. Facebook realized that the most sociable people became their power users—and the aha moment for new subscribers was that magic combination of a particular activity (adding seven friends) within a specific timeframe (10 days). The platform’s growth in the following years was largely because they were able to take that knowledge and leverage it. 

Step #2: Dig into the customer experience

There are your power users and everyone else: new customers, engaged but unenthused people, idle subscribers, and individuals who have abandoned your product. To get more insight into what triggers an aha moment—and what veers people off course—you’ll need to understand the experience that various people have when actually using your product. 

While mining your data can help find behaviors that do predict engagement, it can be harder to look for something that’s not there. Lack of product use might be the result of something within your product experience, but you can only extrapolate so far. That’s where user experience research comes in. 

Gather user experience testers

You want to see exactly what the experience looks like from the customer’s point of view. Unfortunately, that means your employees are unlikely to make good testers—they’re too familiar with your product to land on an aha moment. You need unbiased eyes. The shoestring method of user research involves asking friends and family to participate. You can also invite current customers—those who fall in the middle between power users and idle customers—to join testing sessions. For an even bigger pool of testers, some services will provide you with people to use your product and provide you with video recordings, surveys, and reports.

Set a testing strategy

Don’t dive into user experience research willy-nilly. You want to provide your testers with a distinct objective and list of tasks so you can identify what’s working as intended, what isn’t, and what might trigger that magical moment of realization. If you have a vague idea of when your aha moment takes place, such as during the mobile onboarding period, it may make sense to focus your testing on that part of the customer journey.

Observe and inquire

To get valuable data from your research, capture a holistic view of people’s experiences so you can see your product through their eyes. Tools that let you actually record user sessions and view them later give you an unbiased window into just what your users are going through when they use your product. 

Combine observation with asking questions about what people are trying to achieve, how they want to use the product, and what they feel at various points in the experience. When you understand what your customers value, you can examine their behavior more closely and begin testing various theories as you search for your aha moment.

Tap your power users too

Your power users can be a valuable part of your user experience research as well—and since they’re highly engaged, they may well be eager to share their thoughts. While they probably can’t tell you exactly what your product aha moment is, you can identify clues from their insights. By asking them to reflect on why they like your product and the times they got the most value from it, you’ll see examples of aha moments for individuals, which you can use to look for larger patterns that would apply to a broad audience.  

Bonus: improve your UX

An added bonus to user experience research is data that helps you improve your product now. While this is ultimately a quest to find your aha moment, the process can also identify things keeping your customers from ever reaching it. User experience problems can block people from taking the action you need to turn them into power users. Fixing UX issues can go a long way toward paving the path to engagement.

Step #3: Test your hypothesis

Based on your analysis of power user behavior and the data and insights you gather from user experience research, you can hypothesize your aha moment. Now it’s time to put on your lab coat and start tinkering. 

Like any experiment, once you have a hypothesis, you need to start testing it. The most straightforward approach is an A/B test—presenting two groups of customers with two different versions of the same page, design, onboarding flow, etc Then, you measure results via your core metric. At the end of the test, you see how your different variants changed that metric. 

Testing an aha moment example

Let’s look at a SaaS platform as an example of an aha moment messaging test. Say you believe your aha moment is when the account admin adds a team member to their account within three days of starting a free trial. You can add an email to your onboarding sequence nudging people toward that milestone, like this example from Lighthouse:

Email example from Lighthouse nudging people toward an aha moment

Because Lighthouse is a team management tool, it makes sense that the aha moment requires the admin first to add a team member. To run an actual A/B test, you’ll need to create a control group and an experimental group. First, you’d make a segment of people who haven’t added a team member after three days. Then you’d create a holdout test: half of the people in that segment get this email (the experimental group), and the other half don’t (the control group).

Measuring results

Now you watch, wait, and measure. The metric that matters isn’t clicks or opens. It’s not even engagement. The goal is to encourage more group members to perform the action that leads to an aha moment—in this case, adding a team member. Then, you wait and see if the customers who performed that action stuck around in greater numbers. If they did, you have strong evidence that you’ve identified an aha moment. 

Test, learn, test again (and again)

Now it’s time to lather, rinse, repeat. Keep testing new hypotheses—even after you’ve identified a valuable aha moment, there are likely more to uncover. Your power users are your role models. This process is how you experiment to bring all your other customers up to their level. 

5 aha moment examples from product-led companies

The aha moment’s meaning is the same across every brand—trigger a recognition of value that leads to long-term retention—but the actual moments will vary considerably. Your aha moment could look rather similar or very different to other brands, even those in your industry. Here are some aha moment examples across customer lifecycle stages and industries that may help you identify some potential aha moments you could experiment with for your brand. 

Aha moment example #1: RushOrderTees

RushOrderTees is all about personalization. They produce apparel and products with custom designs for events, businesses, groups, and teams—and they’re known for their speedy delivery and rapid innovation.

The aha moment: Rapid custom design creation

Robust custom design support is their key brand differentiator, and customers stick around when they see their vision become a reality. Upon realizing this, RushOrderTees added new functionality to their site, allowing them to capture customers’ preferences for each custom design. Then, they created a flow that responded in real time to those preferences and customer actions. This put the most relevant information in front of their customers fast, driving 140% more revenue. 

>> Read the complete RushOrderTees success story

Aha moment example #2: Musora

Musora’s app suite teaches over 200,000 online students drums, piano, guitar, and singing. Because they offer an annual subscription, retention, and churn reduction are their keys to success. 

The aha moment: Pathways beyond cancellation

Musora identified an aha moment at a rather unusual lifecycle stage: cancellation. It may seem counter-intuitive, but gathering data when customers canceled helped Musora increase win-back conversion by 3.5%. Musora presents a survey with ten reasons for cancellations as part of the process and uses the results to build hyper-personalized campaigns that respond to the customers’ exact reasoning. By offering a membership pause to those who are too busy or a student plan to those who find the lessons too easy or hard, Musora created longer-lasting relationships with their customers and reduced churn. Effectively, Musora’s cancellation aha moment creates an emotional trigger that encourages customers to stay.

>> Read the complete Musora success story 

Aha moment example #3: Goody

Goody wraps corporate gifting into a complete package: an all-in-one platform for sending gifts to employees, clients, and sales prospects. Their platform empowers businesses to harness the power of gifting for retention and relationship-building throughout the lifecycle with a highly personalized experience for both their customers (who are sending the gifts) and their customers’ gift recipients.

The aha moment: Showing ROI with Goody Unwrapped

Goody realized that their customers needed more than just the warm-fuzzy feeling of sending a gift to appreciate the full value of their service — they needed to show people the ROI. So, they created a monthly “Goody Unwrapped” email campaign to give customers an aha moment that showed the impact of their gifting. At a glance, Goody customers see crucial metrics like how many gifts were sent, how many were accepted, and the thank you notes they’ve received. They used Journeys’ automation features to send tailored “Goody Unwrapped” campaigns 4x faster than before. With personalized data, their customers understand the ROI in their very first month, delivering the aha moment as early as possible in the customer journey. 

>> Read the complete Goody success story

Aha moment example #4: Livestorm

Livestorm is an end-to-end video engagement platform for events, webinars, meetings, and more. They focus on creating memorable and impactful live online experiences.

The aha moment: Powering up power users

Livestorm’s approach is an example of an aha moment for the company itself, which then amplified the influence of power users. As a B2B brand, Livestorm’s customers are organizations, but individual people actually use the platform. The team hypothesized that their biggest promoters likely had colleagues also using and loving the product. So they mined their NPS survey data to create a segment of power users’ co-workers. Through the power of social proof and real-time data, their campaign increased monthly G2 reviews by 135% and the conversion rate for billing emails by 36%. 

>> Read the complete Livestorm success story

Aha moment example #5: Olivia

Olivia is an AI-powered financial advisor app that analyzes customer spending habits and provides personalized recommendations. 

The aha moment: Rapid onboarding

Olivia knew that their aha moment required getting customers to connect their bank accounts quickly—without that step, people couldn’t get much value from the app. Previously, Olivia had sent a reminder about that crucial step three days after customers signed up. They hypothesized that they’d activate more customers by reminding them much sooner. If customers could see the product in action and experience the benefits within one day of sign-up, they were much more likely to stick around. Olivia experienced a 2x increase in customer onboarding activations by testing timing differences and optimizing their onboarding process.

>> Read the complete Olivia success story

Bonus aha moment example: Chameleon +

Aha moments are particularly vital for product-led growth strategies—when your product is carrying the torch for growth, you need to know exactly what experiences make it happen. Chameleon teamed up with for a workshop on driving deeper product adoption—including aha moment examples to trigger higher activation rates. 

>> Watch the on-demand workshop

Aha moments in lifecycle marketing

Lifecycle marketing is all about the big picture: identifying meaningful milestones and nudging customers toward them at every step—from first contact to lasting loyalty. Within that journey, there’s an aha moment where the switch is flipped—the customer “gets it” and becomes eagerly engaged. In fact, there might be more than one: aha moments can come into play when people need to level up their engagement to get more value, like upgrading, purchasing another product from your brand, or actively promoting you.  

Once you’ve identified your aha moments, you can start using them to support your entire lifecycle marketing strategy with tactics like:

  • Testing different channels (e.g., SMS, push notification, in-app messages) for aha-moment marketing
  • Experimenting with different timing for presenting the aha moment
  • Gathering ongoing feedback from both power users and people who abandon
  • Highlighting the aha moment within your product’s UX
  • Reinforcing your aha moment throughout the whole user journey
  • Identifying new aha moments as you add features and evolve your product
  • Using power users as additional marketing and referral channels

Your aha moment marketing will evolve as your business, product, and customers do. 

Leverage your aha moments throughout the customer lifecycle

Many brands focus their marketing efforts on lead generation—and, of course, we can’t live without leads. But there’s another considerable audience you should be marketing to: your actual customers. Aha moment marketing is when you identify and market on your aha moments to turn customers into enthusiastic promoters for your business.

Aha moment marketing is essential to  lifecycle marketing. Product-led companies rely on substantial data and research to understand what makes their customers tick, then use that info to trigger the emotional moment where they just get it. And when they get it, you’ve got them. 

Start putting your aha moments to work for activation, retention, and monetization with our guide to lifecycle marketing for product-led growth.