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15 Proven Best Practices for Product Onboarding

Usha Vadapalli
July 26, 2023

Onboarding directly impacts revenue in SaaS companies. Customer onboarding statistics have shown that 63% of customers decide on a product subscription based on their onboarding experience.

If you already have a product onboarding process in place, it is high time to evaluate and make changes to positively impact your business.

Signup experience

An excellent sign-up experience not only draws in new customers but also establishes a positive initial impression that shapes the trajectory of the entire customer journey.

If…

You do not have an option for the users to signup for your product online, or your signup process requires some kind of manual intervention,

Then…

  1. Implement online signup to lower friction to using your product and increase your customers and users.
  2. Start thinking about automating the part that requires manual provision. Users are in the zone... don't add a blocking moment.

If you offer a fully self-serve signup experience, you’re already set for success. Kudos! Here are some ideas for onboarding communication you might find inspiring.

Initial experience

After successfully signing up for a product, users enter the activation phase, during which they begin engaging with the software and are most curious to experience usability and value.

If…

Your users are taking the first steps into your product without any guidance or you offer basic onboarding assistance

Then…

  1. Implement an in-app navigation guidance, tour, or onboarding checklist for your new users to smoothen their initiation into your product. You can also consider using an onboarding checklist for your users to complete.
  2. Improve the experience further by using personalized (based on user role, persona, etc.) in-product tours, and communication triggered by product activity.

For example, sending an email with instructions on how to set up security features makes sense to a user in the system Admin role but not to the CTO from the same account.

Already offer a comprehensive onboarding workflow to your newbie customers? Great! You already have an amazing onboarding experience. Take a step further to improve activation and adoption.

Email delivery

Email serves as a powerful tool for delivering onboarding materials and encouraging user actions. When executed right, an email delivery strategy can enhance the user's onboarding experience, with increased product adoption, and paves the way for future expansion opportunities.

If…

You do not send onboarding emails sent to users or send only time-based welcome and setup emails

Then

  1. Start sending onboarding emails to your new users, now! They are very important to reduce friction for onboarding and increase conversion rates.
  2. Time-based emails are sometimes useful for your users, but product activity-based emails are more relevant and useful for your new users and customers. Start sending product activity-based emails for a personalized onboarding experience. If you are not sure how to, Inflection.io can help with that.

For example, once the user creates a new whiteboard in a digital collaboration app, sending them an email with instructions on how to assign tasks and set reminders to team members is relevant and useful.

Still not convinced about sending product activity-based emails? Check out our Guide to Product Onboarding That Doesn’t Suck.

Personalization

You’d be already seeing the positive effects of tailored communication based on individual user and account needs using product activity data. You’d see better conversion and retention rates if you are pulling off user and account-level personalization that is meaningful to your business.

But if…

You are relying on one-size fits all communication or implemented some level of single pivot customization to make a lasting first impression

Then…

  1. You are falling short when it comes to making your customers feel seen.
  2. Be sure to personalize emails with product data to help users see more value in your product. Understand their next steps toward the goal to build a better onboarding experience.

Cracking the code to personalize effectively in PLG SaaS businesses is not as tough as it seems. We can show how Inflection customers are personalizing their onboarding campaigns.

Customer communication

Good customer communication is key to nailing product onboarding for any SaaS company. It helps users get the hang of the product from the get-go, making them understand its features and encouraging them to use it like a pro.

If…

You do not send a welcome email but try upselling even before the account setup is complete

Then…

Bad news! Users are unlikely to convert if they haven't seen value in your product. If you want to improve your free-to-paid conversions, lower churn, and expand accounts, focus on

  1. Getting the users to the next step when they are the most eager to try out your product. Use ‘Welcome emails’ wisely.
  2. 10. Point them towards your product’s differentiating features, remind them of the missing setup, and help them figure out how to use your product to their benefit with (I can’t stress this enough) relevant and helpful resources.
  3. Personalize communication because one-size-fits-all doesn’t work.
  4. Offer them human help when needed. Assign a product expert, CSM, or account executive depending on your product’s complexity and the type of customer.
  5. Personalize upselling or cross-selling communication that is triggered by product actions such as attempting to access a premium feature or reaching the team’s seat limit.
  6. Set up a feedback loop to improve your comms and also product.
  7. Encourage users to invite others to the product and offer incentives.

Almost all of the usual onboarding mistakes can be fixed with the right communication at the right time.

Leveling Up Onboarding

Starting with a seamless sign-up experience that creates a positive first impression and implementing best practices at each stage of product onboarding is vital for SaaS companies seeking to drive customer success and long-term growth.

Understanding the differences in what your users, customers, and accounts hope to achieve with your product is key to personalizing their onboarding experience for a better success rate. Using their in-product activity to help them be successful with your product is the way to build a thriving and satisfied customer base.

If this seems like a daunting task, you should check out Inflection. We’d love to help you tackle your onboarding challenges.

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