How to Build User Onboarding that Converts and Retains Customers

Share on:
userflow article
Share on:

Product-led onboarding and the power of no-code tools

We recently sat down with Esben Friis-Jensen, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer of Userflow to discuss a simple framework for product-led onboarding, its benefits, how to ensure user engagement with product tours, when to use a no-code tool, and how to analyze the overall success of your user onboarding.

What is Product-led Onboarding?

The product-led model is a shorter and more effective way of selling software, hence why so many companies are moving towards it. This is where you have a user who visits the website, they sign up for a free trial, they experience the value of the product, and upgrade to a paid plan without speaking to anybody.

Product-led onboarding spans across this entire chain of events, but the most important aspect is the user experiencing the value of your product as quickly as possible and in a smart way, so that you don’t lose their attention – particularly for free trials. It’s equally as important for retention of customers who have already purchased your product.

Let’s take a closer look at the moment users experience the value of your product for the first time.

The “Aha!” Moment

Also known as a Value Realization moment, the “aha!” moment is when users experience the value of your product, the problem that it can solve for them, and how it’s going to solve that problem. This is what product-led onboarding is heavily focused on.

  • A classic example of an “aha!” moment in Slack would be: “I can easily communicate with my team and structure topics.”
  • Another example for Userflow would be: “I can easily build a good-looking onboarding source without developers.”

It’s important to note that a product will often have more than one “aha!” moment; in fact, it should have many. Different types of users will experience different “aha!” moments based on their particular needs.

To make these “aha!” moments measurable, you should tie it to some kind of activation goal.

  • Revisiting the Slack example, an activation goal could be: “If a team sends 2,000 messages, they’re activated.”
  • And for Userflow: “If a user has spent 30+ minutes building onboarding, they’re activated.”

You can use these activation goals to determine if you have a Product Qualified Lead – a term that is being used more and more in the PLG world.

What are the main goals of product-led growth and onboarding?

  • Empower the end-users to self-serve
  • Grow faster at scale by automating your onboarding process
  • Reduce CAC and Customer Service Cost by reducing the need to have people involved in both your selling and onboarding process
  • Build a better product

The last point is extremely important – ongoing product optimization takes center stage, because the user experience becomes the number one focus.

Build a Basic, Yet Effective Automated User Onboarding

Here’s a simplified framework for user onboarding that you can build and try out for your own SaaS product.

In the SaaS industry, we’re often the victim of “analysis-paralysis.” We try to analyze everything, and then we never get anything done. Keep it simple, start small, and don’t overcomplicate things.

When you look at your SaaS product –

Prior to a user authenticating:

  • Show the product on your website. Onboarding needs to start as soon as the user visits your website, before they’ve signed up; they need to see and understand your product, and understand the value proposition of your product.

Once the user has authenticated:

  • Greet them with a welcome message, give them an introduction to what your product is all about.
  • Have an initial flow or guide focused on a key value realization, driving the user to experience how great the product is.
  • A checklist with 3-5 additional tasks, that are also linked to guides or similar.

It’s as simple as that!

Example of a no-code guide setup with Userflow
Example of a simple no-code guide setup, using Userflow

Ensure Engagement With The Onboarding Product Tours

Now that we have a basic strategy for our automated user onboarding, you may be asking yourself how you can ensure user engagement with the onboarding product tours:

  • “Aha!” moments / value realizations – Focus on driving users to experience the value of your product as quickly as possible. Follow the principle of “show, don’t tell.” You shouldn’t onboard users with lengthy “next, next, next” product tours. Rather than telling users about your product’s functionality, drive them to take actions that will actually allow the user to experience what the product can do.
  • Be clear and concise – When offering guidance to the user, make sure it is always clear what action(s) the user should take next, and perhaps include why the user should take that action or step. If the user doesn’t know what to do, they won’t like your product and will likely close out. Don’t overcomplicate your flows by trying to cover all scenarios; focus on simple steps that the user can easily maintain. 

How to ensure engagement with the help of onboarding tours

How No-Code Tools Can Make It Easier To Build Onboarding

There are a number of no-code tools available on the market. But first…  What is a no-code tool or a no-code onboarding guide?

A no-code tool, to put it simply, is a tool that enables its user to build an interactive product without any knowledge of coding or programming.

So what are the benefits of using a no-code tool?

  1. You don’t need developers. You can use customer success managers or product managers to build the onboarding.
  2. Effortless iteration and updating. You don’t have to rely on developers, whose focus may be on the core features of your product.
  3. Straightforward analytics. Analytics is typically built into no-code tools, so you can analyze how many users viewed, engaged, or completed the onboarding, etc.  (Note: This does not mean you won’t need a product analytics tool overall, but even if you have one in place, the no-code tools analytics will come in handy)
  4. Accessible integration. You can integrate no-code builders into analytics tools so you can better correlate data between the onboarding and your general product data.

When is it better to build the onboarding yourself versus using a no-code tool?

If you’re faced with a user experience problem in your application where users don’t know where to click or where to go next, that is likely something that you should solve yourself within your product.

If it’s something that’s more of an add-on or something you want to explain to drive the user to understand parts of your application, a no-code tool is a great choice. A no-code tool is also a great stopgap or temporary solution for as long as you have those user experience issues.

There are benefits to building your user onboarding yourself, and parts of it where you definitely should. But there are also benefits to using a no-code tool for the sake of simplicity and speed. Your user onboarding can have a balance of both.

How to Measure The Success of User Onboarding

At this point, you’ve built your user onboarding, or perhaps you’ve decided to use a no-code tool. How do you actually measure the success of your onboarding process?

  1. Set a goal and include metrics. If you don’t have a measurable goal, you’ll never know if your onboarding journey is successful. An example of a goal could be increased conversion rate. You can set different kinds of goals and then tie metrics to these goals.
  2. Examine the customer onboarding data in correlation with the metric you’re trying to improve. Once you’ve built your customer onboarding and start using it, you can compare scenarios to one another to see how they compare. To continue the example of increased conversion rates, you could compare the conversion rates of how many users engaged with the onboarding versus those who did not. As advised earlier, don’t make the analysis too complex.

Product-led onboarding is becoming more and more popular within the SaaS community every day; no matter what your background in product-led onboarding may be, start with something simple and go from there. The basic framework we mentioned above is a great starting point, and a solid set up to continue to build on.

To dive even further into product-led onboarding, be sure to watch this webinar – including an extensive question and answer section with our listeners at the end.

Feel free to reach out with any questions you may have! We look forward to hearing from you.

Subscribe to the #DataDiary

Data driven insights from behind the curtains of high growing companies.

Thank you for subscribing