SaaS onboarding is a tricky thing.

It's tempting to believe that the more you can give your users, the more likely they are to stick around. But if you go overboard with your onboarding process, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

In this post, we'll cover 10 SaaS onboarding mistakes that companies make—and how to avoid them!

Not having a clear onboarding process.

Before you set out to design an onboarding process, it's crucial to figure out what kind of user you're catering to. This means understanding the user's goals and motivations when interacting with your product. What are their pain points? What are their underlying needs? Understanding these will help you better understand how to cater to the onboarding process for your target users. You also want to understand what your product goals are in regards to user retention, engagement, etc., so that you can define the KPIs for your onboarding program accordingly. Do this research at the beginning to know how valuable each step in your onboarding process is regarding conversion and retention before diving too deep into the design.

Trying to do too much at once.

When it comes to onboarding, less is more.

One of the most common SaaS onboarding mistakes we see is a company trying to teach users about all their features right away. This can have the opposite effect you want and overwhelm your customer with too many options, which triggers decision fatigue and often leads to them not using your product at all.

Instead, focus on teaching users just the core features they need to learn in order to get started with your product. You can always share additional information later when they're more comfortable with what they've learned so far.

Onboarding is an opportunity for you to make a great first impression on your customer, so don't waste it by overwhelming them with unnecessary information right away!

Confusing the user with jargon.

Avoiding jargon is important. It's not just the acronyms you need to worry about. Jargon can take many forms, such as industry-specific words or technical terms. Using any of these can affect the customer's ability to understand your product and how to use it. It doesn't matter how easy your onboarding process is if the customer doesn't understand what you're saying to them throughout it because they don't know what any of it means.

It's also important to avoid using complex sentences in your onboarding flow as well as any other communication with customers. Don't make them have to read a sentence three times over or use a dictionary to get through an onboarding flow! While amping up their vocabulary might seem like a nice side effect for some of them, this is not why people come back to your SaaS product time and time again.

Too many options, not enough direction.

In the case of SaaS onboarding, you'll want to avoid giving users too many options. This can be because your product or service is too complex (in which case you may have to simplify things), or it could simply be that they haven't been given enough direction on what they should do next.

A common mistake in SaaS onboarding is presenting users with a blank screen and a single button that says "Continue." Asking them to decide what their next step should be isn't good practice for two reasons: firstly, most of the time there's only one thing they need to do before continuing; secondly, even if there are multiple options, it's probably better to guide them toward one specific option rather than letting them choose themselves. You don't want users leaving your onboarding experience having no idea where to go or what to do next.

In this section we'll go through some simple steps you can take in order to make sure that your SaaS onboarding doesn't suffer from giving users too many options and not enough direction.

Trying to be too fancy.

When you may be tempted to add a little bit of flair to your onboarding, keep in mind your user’s goals.

If you have an app that is meant for busy professionals and managers, they want to get started as soon as possible. They don’t want to spend any time learning how to use the product. And they certainly don’t have time to go through a 10-step process just to get started with the basics of your product. They also don’t want instructions on how things work—they would rather learn by doing. If they run into issues that they can’t solve on their own, they will ask for help.

Let your users learn in the context of their own work and make sure it's easy for them to discover what comes next and when tasks are completed.

Forgetting about mobile users.

You can’t forget about all the people using their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices to use your SaaS. In fact, according to GlobalWebIndex, nearly a quarter of SaaS users only use mobile when they access a SaaS. Not only that, but most users spend over two hours every day on their mobile devices. Since so many people now rely on their mobile devices for everything under the sun (and even for business), it's imperative to make sure your site is optimized for mobile features. However, don’t stop there! Making sure your onboarding process is also optimized for mobile users is the key to making it successful across the board.

It’s important that you know how many users are coming from desktop or laptop computers and how many are coming from mobile devices so you can optimize accordingly. If more of your users come from desktop versions, focus more time optimizing for them.

Assuming new users will find help on their own.

Not assuming users will find help on their own. The onboarding process is an experience that doesn't just start and end with your product. It's also about being ready to provide the best possible customer service at all times because when things go wrong during this stage (as they occasionally will) you'll need to be prepared to offer answers quickly and easily. If you haven't already, streamline your customer support by providing users with access to a 24/7 chatbot or other real-time solutions and accessible help documentation that can be accessed directly from within the product experience.

It's important not to overestimate how much people know about your product before trying it out for themselves. The only way to do that is by offering an easy way for them to access direct assistance whenever they need it. This will make customers more comfortable throughout the onboarding process, thereby increasing their percent chance of success and conversion rate down the line while also lowering churn rates in the long term.

Trying to be overly familiar.

Don't try to be overly familiar with your users by using slang, jokes, or memes. These are great ways to connect with certain audiences on social media channels, but they're not appropriate in emails. Strive for a professional and friendly tone that's also respectful—don't use profanity or make sexual references.

It's okay if you share a personal story once in a while—but don't get too personal. Many SaaS companies build trust by showing the humans behind the brand, but it's important to maintain boundaries. The goal of your onboarding email sequence is to help new users move through their journey as quickly and smoothly as possible, so keep that in mind when deciding how much information to share about yourself or your team members.

Failing to ask users what they want and need in terms of onboarding.

Asking users what they want and need in onboarding is a great way to learn more about your users, find out what's important to them, and address their needs. You'll be able to see where gaps in the product or onboarding process exist from a user standpoint.

There are two ways you can do this: surveys and interviews. Surveys are great for getting a broad picture about how the whole customer base feels about your product and onboarding process, while interviews provide deeper dives into specific features or issues users are having.

User feedback can help you make informed decisions on how to improve your onboarding process going forward!

Making onboarding a one-time thing.

Onboarding isn't a one-time thing. It's an ongoing process that should be a two-way street. As such, you can ask your customers for more information at any time and make the onboarding experience better, simpler, and more relevant.

When done right, onboarding is not just a tool to help your users get started but it’s also an opportunity to provide them with more value, increase their satisfaction and even learn what they need next from you.

By making the most of user onboarding, you'll create a much greater chance of keeping your new customer around for the long haul.