The user onboarding process is when a new user of a SaaS product begins their journey with the use of that product. This means it is the process where a new user becomes familiar with a product. It is a critical moment that can cause a user to flee or stay for a long time to come. It is essential to boosting the lifetime value of a customer while also reducing churn.
The process of retaining customers starts at the onboarding stage, which is what many SaaS companies fail to understand. In fact, within the first three months of signups occurring, churn will be at its highest. This is the time to maximize customer LTV.
How do you do that? You succeed in reducing churn and increasing LTV by properly onboarding users. When you succeed with this, you will all but guarantee higher revenue down the road.
When you incorporate the following user on-boarding practices, you will ensure you will have a reliable and effective user onboarding process.
Send Out Personalized Emails
As humans, we crave customized experiences. According to psychologists, when we are addressed personally, such as being addressed by our first name, we are more receptive to what we are being told and more easily convinced. This is why personalization sees widespread use and adoption in business.
You want your personalized emails to be short and to the point. Make it simple and easy for users to provide their feedback, so you can get a temperature check on their onboarding experience. Ask the “right” questions.
People may get confused during your onboarding process, so you want to find out what specifically is causing the confusion. You want to make sure you are still engaged with them while they still have an interest in your product.
Providing clear instructions during the onboarding process is something you probably are aware of needing to be done. However, what’s clear to you may not be clear to the average user of your product. Directly contacting users and asking them how their onboarding experience is going will help you reduce unwanted churn.
Once you receive helpful feedback, simplify problem areas and streamline others. This will all increase your user retention and trial conversion. Optimize the entire onboarding process based on the user feedback you receive.
Create In-App Messages
An essential feature of a great user onboarding process is a tour of the product and its features. Without this sort of guidance, expect your product’s users to become confused and abandon it.
In-app messages are an effective form of communication, getting the information across to users that can help them navigate your product. You can also use these messages for other announcements and alerts once users have been onboarded. For the purposes of this article, we are focusing on using in-app messages to guide new users through your product.
For example, the first time a user logs in, they see a message pop up that welcomes them. Then, it shows them what they should do first and get started with using the product. After the initial message, you can have more messages pop up in specific areas of the interface or dashboard. These will clarify what other features and functions are used for and how to use them.
This sort of messaging works really well. People will click through the pop-up messages and learn how to use and navigate your product. This can make them very familiar with your product. If it is a trial subscription they are using, you will see a higher conversion rate over to a paid subscription.
Optimize the Product Tour
Your product tour will work hand-in-hand with your in-app messages. The tour will take your new users by the hand and show them everything they need to know to get started on using your product.
You may have a complex product that you feel needs dozens of steps to properly explain how to use it. However, you want to avoid overwhelming new users. You can stick to the basics, with information provided to them on where they can learn more.
If you have a video explaining how to use your product, avoid making it too long, because you will see a significant drop-off of users watching it and completing their onboarding.
You can also optimize your product tour by splitting it up into several parts. You can create different product tours for different functions of your product.
For example, you can have the primary onboarding tour focus solely on a user setting up their account. After that, they may want to call it a day and come back later. When they do, you can trigger a new tour, based on whatever new page or section they went to in your product. This should increase your user retention rates in a significant way.
Have an Ongoing Email Sequence
After the users familiarize themselves with your product, your onboarding work doesn’t stop. You should put together a simple sequence of onboarding emails. The first one should be the welcome email that was personalized, as mentioned earlier.
Throughout the onboarding process, you can highlight notable features, emphasize the benefits they will receive by using your product, and show off specific use-cases. At the end of all your emails within the sequence, including a call to action (CTA). This could mean asking them to log into their account or read an article on your site that will ask them to head back into the app. Once your email sequence is finished, you can essentially ask for money if it is a free trial, or upsell them in some way. You can also use a tool like Rebrandly URL Shortener in order to track how your CTA’s perform. 20
These user on-boarding practices will help you reduce churn and increase the LTV of your customers. Converting users into paying customers should also be the final step within the entire onboarding process. When you adopt these user on-boarding practices effectively, you will increase your revenue, as well as customer success.
Surojit has over 15 years of experience in quality and implementations. He is a promoter of an extremely light and efficient Agile process to fit business needs. In his prior role as product owner, he built a robust product in a very short span of time.
Published June 11, 2020, Updated March 15, 2022