Unveiling the Secrets of a Good Activation Rate and Building the Next Big Thing


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 08, 2023

3 min read


Unveiling the Secrets of a Good Activation Rate and Building the Next Big Thing


In the world of startups and consumer tech, two crucial factors determine success: a good activation rate and product zeitgeist fit (PZF). While activation rate predicts long-term value delivery to users, PZF allows a product to resonate culturally, creating a powerful advantage. In this article, we will explore these concepts, uncover their commonalities, and provide actionable advice for achieving them.

Activation Rate: A Predictor of Success

An activation rate measures the percentage of users who hit a specific milestone in the user journey, indicating their likelihood of becoming long-term customers. A good activation metric should be highly predictive and actionable. It should demonstrate a retention rate at least 2x better than users who do not complete the activation step.

Setting the right activation point is crucial. Many companies make the mistake of defining activation too early or too late. Activation should signify a new user sticking around and becoming a customer, not just the act of becoming a long-term customer. Defining activation as sign-up or multiple purchases goes against its purpose. On average, the activation rate is 34%, with a median of 25%. For SaaS products, the average activation rate is 36%, with a median of 30%.

Improving Activation: Actionable Advice

To improve activation rates, several strategies have proven effective. Simplifying onboarding UI/UX, removing obstacles, and showing value earlier can make a significant difference. Emails, follow-up communications, and smarter top-of-funnel targeting also play crucial roles. Incorporating search suggestions, reducing friction, and personalizing the onboarding process can increase user engagement. Additionally, building features that facilitate collaboration and adjusting the length of free trials can drive activation.

Product Zeitgeist Fit: The Cheat Code for Success

Product zeitgeist fit (PZF) occurs when a product resonates with the mood of the times, connecting with users emotionally rather than just functionally. PZF buys time and energy to achieve product-market fit and answers why some products succeed while others fail. With PZF, users root for the product's success because it feels culturally relevant to them.

Most startups fail due to indifference, where no one cares about their product. PZF offers a thousand extra chances to navigate toward product-market fit. Nerd heat, the willingness of talented individuals to work on a product, and the "despite test," where users continue using a product despite its flaws, are strong indicators of PZF. The "t-shirt test" and the "eyebrow test" also reveal the cultural relevance of a product.

Achieving Product Zeitgeist Fit: Key Strategies

To achieve PZF, entrepreneurs need to find something important that resonates with people at a particular moment. Framing the company's story around its significance and mission is vital. Authenticity and connecting product decisions with the mission are crucial. Hiring individuals who share these values and giving everyone a reason to cheer for the company are essential steps toward PZF.


Achieving a good activation rate and product zeitgeist fit are essential for startup success. By understanding the predictors of activation rates, implementing actionable strategies, and harnessing the cultural relevance of a product, entrepreneurs can increase their chances of building the next big thing. Remember to experiment, adapt, and stay connected with the ever-changing zeitgeist to ensure long-term success.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Simplify onboarding UI/UX and reduce friction to improve activation rates.
  • 2. Incorporate personalized communication and smarter targeting to increase user engagement.
  • 3. Embrace product zeitgeist fit by finding something important and culturally relevant, framing the company's story, and hiring individuals aligned with the mission.


  • "What is a good activation rate"
  • "Product Zeitgeist Fit: A Cheat Code for Spotting and Building the Next Big Thing | Andreessen Horowitz"

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