Successful customers stay longer, spend more and generate positive word of mouth. They are also much less of a drain on your resources.

Your aim should be to plan the easiest route from discovery to becoming successful, removing roadblocks and providing timely positive encouragement.

User onboarding is a process for increasing the likelihood new users become successful when adopting your product.

In this post I will give you the framework for creating your own user onboarding strategy.

Why does it matter?

A poor onboarding experience makes every part of your company work harder unnecessarily:

  1. Your support team has to spend more time answering basic product queries or misunderstandings, slowing down their response times.
  2. Your marketing team have to spend more acquiring new customers to prevent churn outstripping growth.
  3. Your developers have to fight fires rather than having the time to develop a cohesive platform

Creating a cohesive strategy

The first stage is to audit your existing collateral. What is their purpose and how successful are they? There is a good chance you already have elements of user onboarding dotted around. E.g.

  • Customer life cycle emails e.g. Welcome email, renewal reminder
  • Basic set up manual
  • Customer feedback form
  • Support database

Your objective at this stage is to identify how well they are doing their job and where are the gaps?

There are five stages to consider when putting together your user boarding strategy.

  • Introduction to product: Align you product with their success
  • Sign up process: Remove friction and simplify
  • First use of product: Guide them to an important quick win for a positive first step
  • Recurring use of product: Give them the tools and ideas to become successful
  • Advanced use of product: Prompt and nudge to turn regular use in to a habit

I would recommend getting help from people you know, but who do not have the same intimate levels of knowledge about your website as you do.

This fresh perspective will help you to see how new prospects interact with your product, from website to usage, highlighting road blocks and points of friction. Ask them to make notes at each stage of how easy it was to:

a) Progress along the conversion funnel
b) Login
c) Use your product

Once you have created a list of touch points and gaps in your information, you can start developing ideas to increase the likelihood of users’ success.

Getting started

Here are some ideas for each of those stages to help get you started.

Sign up process: Remove friction and simplify

  • Remove friction and simplify any sign up page to just require username/ password. Do you really need to know where they live at this stage? Get that information later.
  • Don’t require a new user to have to get their password from their email account. Allow provisional access until it is confirmed.

First use of product: Guide them to an important quick win for a positive first step

  • Link to an in depth, glossy “How to use” PDF guide from your welcome email
  • Walk through of account when a user signs in for first time
  • Walk through of important actions within account– get them to complete actions instead of descriptive tool tips – teach through action rather than memorisation
  • Account set up progress bar, highlighting which steps already completed (Endowed progress effect)

Recurring use of product: Give them the tools and ideas to become successful

  • Video guides on specific actions
  • Create a check list for them to tick off

Advanced use of product: Prompt and nudge to turn regular use in to a habit

  • Lifecycle emails based on event and time triggers
  • Feature road map and highlight which of them came from customer suggestions

Userboarding is a really useful framework

A lot of this really falls under common sense, but how much of this do you actually do? User onboarding provides a systematic framework for identifying each stage along a user’s journey with your product, and then working out how to increase success.

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