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Product Onboarding Journey Templates You Can Copy

Usha Vadapalli
November 22, 2023

A seamless product onboarding experience is where you start laying a foundation for your SaaS business’ growth. Onboarding shapes the user's perception and understanding of your product’s value proposition. A well-crafted onboarding process not only ensures that users quickly grasp the product's core functionalities but also guides them through the journey from activation to becoming paying customers. It is a strategic opportunity to showcase the product's strengths, address users' pain points, and demonstrate how the solution aligns with their needs. 74% of new users make a decision to pay for your product based on their onboarding experience alone.

In the SaaS world, successful onboarding isn't a one-size-fits-all deal. It's like tailoring the road trip according to the terrain – smooth highways for some, adventurous trails for others. The industry, type of product, and business model all contribute to the unique twists and turns in the onboarding journey. You can’t have the same onboarding journey for an audience of say, creative teams and a finance analyst.

Just like different road trips can all lead to successful adventures, different onboarding experiences can lead to satisfied users, loyal customers, and flourishing SaaS businesses. You just have to figure out what successful onboarding looks like to your product-led business. Start by assessing your SaaS onboarding effectiveness to figure out where you stand.

In this article, we will take you through different onboarding journey templates you can customize and make your own version of. Let’s go!

Onboarding Journey Template for Free Users

If your SaaS product has a free version, be it in the freemium, free trial, or reverse trial model, you have a lower threshold. Your top of the funnel is winder and you're welcoming free users into your product. Crafting a personalized onboarding journey is pivotal to converting the free users into paid customers.

The onboarding template we're about to explore is designed with simplicity, engagement, and conversion in mind, ensuring that even free users have a delightful and informative introduction to your SaaS offering. So, buckle up – we're about to sketch a roadmap that turns free users into enthusiastic advocates for your product.


Welcome messages enjoy some of the highest open and engagement rates. Use the opportunity to nudge users towards activation. Here’s how you can do it:

In-Product Welcome Message

  • Upon sign-up, users see your in-product messages extending a warm welcome and introducing key features.
  • Initial prompts guide users to complete their profiles within the platform, ensuring a personalized experience. Use a micro survey here to find out more about your users. Ensure that the questions are the ones you absolutely need to understand your user’s primary goal with the product.

Welcome Email

  • The first email can be from your CEO, founder, or CSM establishing a foundation for a great customer relationship along with important information for the user.
  • You can set up a welcome email sequence triggered by your user’s product behavior (or inactivity) a.k.a product activity-based onboarding. For example, not completing the user profile after 2 days of sign-up sends a reminder but skips if the user already did the task.
  • The onboarding email sequence can also introduce the benefits of completing their profile for a more tailored experience.

Initial Set-Up and Get Started

For many SaaS products, there is an initial setup required to experience product value. Like, integrating with other tools or the user's own platform, so they can work with the actual data to see value. It’s crucial to assist the user and nudge them to complete these steps before anything else.

  • Make use of checklists in your product to highlight the incomplete set-up process to the users.
  • Use mini product walkthroughs to assist with the required integration or any other initial set-up steps ensuring a seamless connection and for a more comprehensive user experience.
  • Emphasize your commitment to data security and the robust measures you’ve taken to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of user data throughout the integration process. Using emails to highlight safety assurance and pointing toward the relevant documentation can address the user’s apprehensions.
  • Follow-up email offering support with links to video tutorials, FAQs, and guides, aiding users in setting up. Offer live support if needed.

Activation and First Aha Moment

The onboarding journey focuses on guiding users to identify and complete the first core task that demonstrates immediate value.

  • In-product messages gently nudge users towards the first core task, creating a pivotal "aha" moment.
  • A strategically placed micro survey gathers insights into user goals, team dynamics, and organizational needs. The survey data guides further personalization of the onboarding journey.
  • Use feedback to minimize friction and speed up the path to the first aha moment.

Be sure to check if the user has already completed their first core task before suggesting they take action. Automate your campaign to skip irrelevant steps. Let me explain this with an example.

Let’s say WHTBoard is a digital collaboration platform for teams. Their aha moment is when the users create their first whtboard with project data pre-populated. Marketing at WHTBoard sends an email to help their free users create their first digital collab space but, only after verifying that the users haven’t already. This is part of their onboarding campaign.

The free users to the next step if they already built their first whtboard.

Milestone Celebration

Acknowledging their progress gives users a boost to keep exploring the features and also talk about the product with friends and colleagues.

  • Users receive an in-product celebration upon completing the first core task, reinforcing their accomplishment.
  • In tandem, an email acknowledges the milestone, encouraging users to explore more features with the option to share it with the world.
  • In-product messages and emails provide a subtle nudge towards the next essential task, maintaining user momentum.
  • Add gamification elements to and continue celebrating product milestones to keep users engaged.
  • The sequential nature of tasks keeps users engaged and invested in the product.

Advanced Exploration and Conversion Nudges

At this stage, introduce sequential core tasks to showcase the breadth of the product's capabilities and prompt users towards considering an upgrade.

  • Unfold additional core tasks through in-product messages, progressively showcasing advanced features and functionalities. In-product messages guide users through advanced features, building on their existing knowledge.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Show messages that countdown to the trial expiry day and highlight the benefits of upgrading to a paid plan.
  • Based on user interactions and task completions, targeted in-product messages and emails strategically nudge users towards considering a paid plan.
  • The tailored nudges must align with the value users have experienced, and showcase the value received during the trial and the benefits of a premium subscription.

Onboarding Journey Template for Free Users Matching ICP

Unlike generic free trial users, you already have better chances of converting users that match your ideal customer profile (ICP). It’s crucial to acknowledge their distinct needs and experiences, ensuring a more personalized onboarding journey that addresses their pain points directly. Leverage proven strategies that worked for you in the past.  

Personalized Welcome and Getting Started

You can start with the same welcome emails and in-app messages to get the free user started. Make the following tweaks to your welcome sequence:

  • Introduce the user to a dedicated support contact, reinforcing a sense of personalized assistance.
  • Tailor welcome email sequence to suit your user profile.

Interactive Product Walkthrough

  • Highlight key features in your comms that directly address the known pain points of this specific user group.
  • Customized product tours to focus on features directly addressing the ICP's pain points, ensuring immediate relevance.
  • You can also take a white-glove approach in conducting weekly onboarding webinars with Customer Success, one-on-one set-up assistance with an AE, etc. Send personalized invites to users matching specific criteria.

Fast Tracking to First Aha Moment

You know the pain points of ICP users a bit better than the generic free trial sign-ups.

  • Point them to the most common features used by similar user groups.
  • Leverage your understanding of the ICP to offer support that can fast-track their onboarding journey to the first aha moment.
  • Send resources to help maximize value from the most relevant features. Here’s an example from WHTBoard. The onboarding journey leads their sign-ups through instructions to integrate their project management tool. The users matching ICP are contacted by a CSM for a more personal approach and to fast track aha moment.

Milestone Celebration and Nudge to Upgrade

  • Celebrate product milestones with a pop-up message, emphasizing how the achieved tasks directly alleviate their identified pain points.
  • In-product messages and emails strategically nudge users towards upgrading, framing the premium plan as the solution to their ongoing challenges.

Personalized Offers

Consult your product data to figure out the most attractive premium features for this user group.

  • Present personalized offers or limited-time access to premium features directly addressing their pain points, strategically placed within the product interface.
  • You can also extend their trial period if your data supports the strategy.
  • Send a follow-up email highlighting an exclusive offer, emphasizing the value of upgrading to a premium plan tailored to their needs.
  • Create urgency by clubbing the offers with trial expiry reminders. Use FOMO emails to remind users of what they cannot do with the product once the trial expires.

Combine these strategic steps with the onboarding journey set up for a free user. Implement an onboarding journey with tweaked messaging tailored to your ICP(s) based on the success of similar user profiles.

Onboarding Journey Template for Customers

Conversion to paid customers doesn’t mean you ignore onboarding them. Customer onboarding marks a distinct phase where the goals shift from initial engagement to deeper product adoption, advocacy, and potential expansion revenue.

Unlike free users, customers have already committed to your product, signifying a different set of expectations and opportunities. The onboarding process must now focus on ensuring that users fully realize the value of their investment, transforming them into advocates who not only continue to use the product but actively promote it within their network.

Welcome and Orientation

The distinction in this welcome messaging is the goal. For free users, we want to get them to their aha moment quickly. In the case of onboarding customers, we focus more on product adoption and engagement. These steps lay a foundation for better customer relationships, product advocacy, and expansion opportunities.

  • A personalized in-product welcome acknowledges the user's transition to a paid subscription, emphasizing the premium features and support they now have access to.
  • Point the new customers to advanced functionalities, ensuring they understand and leverage the full spectrum of the product.

Guided Premium Feature Walkthrough

You can continue a product-led onboarding with low-touch to engage your customers.

  • Use in-app guides and emails to introduce users to premium features that align with their usage patterns first, emphasizing the expansion possibilities within their existing subscriptions.
  • Provide interactive tours for a seamless exploration of these features and any additional offerings.
  • Encourage habit-forming routines with the product such as sending product notifications after a period of inactivity, encouraging sharing results with coworkers, and inviting the team to the product if not already part of an org.

Personalized Training and Support

Let the product event data guide you in deciding to take your new customers through the initial setup or get-started steps. You can use the same set of setting-up steps to assist a new customer.

  • Offer personalized training sessions, either through live webinars or one-on-one interactions, to guide users through advanced features tailored to their specific use cases. At Inflection, we automated the onboarding journey of our enterprise customers with flow steps that alert the assigned CSM when the customer hasn’t completed a specific task.
  • Provide resources like advanced tutorials or documentation to support independent exploration.

Introduction to User Community and Advocacy Initiatives

  • Welcome paid users to your product’s user community or forum, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging knowledge-sharing.
  • Highlight success stories within the community, showcasing how others have maximized the value of their paid subscription.
  • Initiate advocacy programs, encouraging paid customers to share their positive experiences through reviews, testimonials, or case studies.
  • Offer incentives or exclusive benefits for users actively participating in advocacy initiatives.

Post Onboarding Support and Success Management

  • Assign a dedicated account manager to paid customers, serving as a single point of contact for ongoing support and personalized assistance.
  • Regularly check in to address any concerns, gather feedback, and ensure a positive customer experience.
  • Send periodic updates on new features, enhancements, or relevant content to keep paid users informed about the evolving value of their subscriptions.
  • Use personalized product-led comms to highlight tips and tricks for maximizing product utilization.

Wrapping Up

Recognizing the nuanced needs of free trial users, ICP free users, and paid customers is pivotal for sustained success. Tailoring onboarding experiences to align with each user segment ensures a more personalized and effective journey.

If you are a PLG SaaS business thinking about revamping your onboarding, check out Building onboarding journeys triggered by product-activity data is effortless and you do not have to depend on engineering. Request a demo now.

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