Sure, you've heard how important it is to have a strong onboarding strategy a thousand times, but here's why: retention is a big problem in SaaS. Customer acquisition costs are rising, and churn is rampant.
According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring customers for your business will cost you five times more than trying to keep an existing customer. For every one person who leaves your platform, not only have you potentially lost out on months of revenue from them (depending on the term length), but you also have to invest into finding and transitioning someone new onto your platform.
According to research done by Bain & Company, “A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.”
The point is: with such high churn rates, most companies are not focusing on the user experience or their onboarding process. Their first impression of your product may be their last, which doesn't help anyone.
That's why we've put together this list of 6 tips for a smooth user onboarding process:
Establish the basics
First things first, make a checklist to ensure you have all of the relevant information.
Don't overwhelm your user. The first step toward a great onboarding process is a checklist that will give you an idea of what you need to do and in what order. During this initial stage, keep it short and sweet. Try not to inundate your user with information they don't need right now (and definitely don't ask them for too much). It's better to leave the long-term stuff for later — trust me, it'll feel like a breeze once the basic requirements are out of the way!
Don't leave your user hanging. When was the last time someone told you something important, then walked away without offering any further instructions? I'm guessing never, because that would be pretty rude! Make sure your new user is provided with all necessary details required in order for him/her to fully understand their role within this process as well as what steps must be taken next so there's no confusion when it comes down crunch time; otherwise people might get lost along way without anyone noticing until things turn sour.
Think outside the box
Your onboarding process is an opportunity to be creative. It's easy to fall into the trap of approaching it as a chore, but that’s not thinking outside the box. If your company is willing to let you think and act creatively, there's no limit to the potential of your onboarding process. By designing a truly innovative approach, you'll not only make a great impression on new users—you'll also make things easier for yourself when it comes time to train them.
There are many ways for your onboarding process to stand out from the crowd. You might consider communicating with clients in unique ways (like through a video), using different learning methods (such as interactive tutorials), or incentivizing progress by gamifying your training program. Don't be afraid to try new things, even if they're outside of what other companies are doing—if you fail at something before anyone else, you've gained valuable experience that others are likely to benefit from in the future!
Be ready for your most common questions
Tell your users what you want them to do.
You've heard the adage that content is king. So, don't make your users search for the information they need to thrive with your product or service. Give it to them in a place where they can easily find it. This could be in-app, or on your website or blog. Either way, make sure you have a repository of answers to the questions people ask most frequently. After all, if lots of people are asking about something, it's obviously important to them and its worth addressing clearly and directly. (And maybe frequently).
In addition to having a knowledge base ready, remember that simple language is often best when describing how something works -- even if someone has extensive experience with computers or apps or software like yours! You never know who might be using what you create -- so don't assume that all of your customers will be tech-savvy enough for technical documentation
Be clear and transparent
While I'm sure you're wondering how to be clear and transparent, it's probably even more important for us to think about why a smooth user onboarding process is so crucial.
Clear and transparent means that your users know what your site or product does. You'll want to think about how you can clearly demonstrate the benefits of using your product. It means being upfront about any costs of using your product, if there are any. If you aren't sure whether or not you've been clear enough, ask a friend or family member who doesn't work for your company to look at it and tell you what they would expect from the site before they start using it.
Being clear will help make sure that people have an idea of what they are getting into when they sign up right away. Being transparent will help make sure that those same people don't feel like they were misled in any way by information they read while researching the company before signing up. This is also something that can be tested through A/B testing, though it might take a little bit more thought than simply changing some wording on a website!
Make onboarding customizable
Giving your users the power to customize their onboarding experience is a great way to make an impression on them. While other apps might force users to learn how to use everything before being able to get full value out of the software, when you give customers a way to pick and choose what they want, you stand out. This makes them feel like they're in control of their own journey with your product, which is something all of us appreciate (and cherish). As long as you offer enough features for those who want more—which you should, because that's how you set yourself apart from competitors—your customers will be happy.
It’s important that when designing your onboarding process, you allow new users the option to pick and choose exactly what they want. The last thing anyone wants is a complex UI that requires learning ten different things at once. It's better if people can pick one or two things and then move on later. By giving customers a choice in this regard, it's almost like they're getting an upgrade right off the bat (even if it’s just selecting what typeface appears in their profile).
Constantly iterate, but don’t forget about your user’s end goal
Of course, you should continue to test and iterate on your onboarding process. You should never stop doing that. It's a great way to engage with your users, figure out what they like or dislike about the process, and encourage them to provide that feedback by showing them you're listening (and acting) on it.
But don't forget: Your user's end goal is not onboarding! If it takes your user three months of continuous improvement sessions just to get through the onboarding, something is wrong. Keep KISS in mind: Keep It Simple Stupid (or "Simple," if you'd prefer).