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An unforgettable product onboarding experience

Updated: Jun 5

Ever been to an after party? It’s still a party alright, but an exclusive one where the selected few enjoy certain benefits. It’s a special feeling attending these after parties for sure!

Now, why am I talking about parties and after-parties on a SaaS blog? Let me refresh your memory about the time when you joined a new company. The HR team made you feel so good and made you believe you’re such an asset to the company right? In HR terms, that’s called employee onboarding.

They take you through the company’s policies, employee benefits, goodies that you get from time to time, and other happy stuff that you’re entitled to as an employee of the company. And like that wasn't enough, you also get lovely gifts as a part of a welcome kit. Just try remembering what all of that made you feel. Really good and somewhat indebted to the company right? Even if you have the slightest thought of wanting to quit, you’re going to snap out of it.

B2B? You're still selling to people!

Are you selling to office buildings? No. Are you selling to desks and chairs? Well, no!! There’s a person at the end of this all. So, why is your welcome sequence limited to one email saying “Thanks for scheduling a demo” and then immediately handing over to Sales to take care of the rest of it?

That’s the equivalent of HR saying thanks for joining and then handing you over to your team to get you started with work. Sucks right? Yes. Are you more likely to stick with this company? No way!! The same goes for your customers as well.

If you do not have an efficient onboarding experience for your SaaS, give it a thought the next time you have problems with leads going cold. I mean, if you’re selling an enterprise product worth $50k-100k ACV, and the lead came in through a direct response ad on LinkedIn or Google, they’re not going to remember your product 10 minutes later. And considering sales calls are made after anywhere between 1-48 hours of a lead coming in, what are your chances?

While it isn't as easy for a website sign-up to forget about you, it’s still pretty much the same. Mind you, this holds good for SMEs as well. You don't need to have an enterprise-grade solution for this to make sense to you.

Throw them an after-party

Not in the literal sense. But if you’re up for that, then hey! What’s stoppin ya?

Anyway, show them they’ve done the right thing by filling out that form. Celebrate it!. If you’ve ever filled out a form for a product demo or the likes, you know how forced the whole process is. And because someone took the trouble to do that, now it’s your turn to give back and throw an after-party. Reassurance is key in pushing someone from one stage of the funnel to the next.

So, how do you make this happen? It’s by setting up a user-onboarding flow. An onboarding flow that allows them to make full use of the product which in turn, benefits both parties.

What is a user-onboarding flow?

Hubspot defines it as “Customer onboarding is the nurturing process that gets new users and customers acquainted and comfortable with your product. An exceptional customer onboarding program involves step-by-step tutorials, unlimited guidance and support, and milestone celebrations when a customer achieves success through your solution.”

I’m sticking to SaaS here. A typical business goes through 2 stages of wins.

  1. When person A signs-up.

  2. When person A has the first Aha moment.

If there was a Stage 1.5, that would be where you’re most likely to lose this person. A study by Intercom shows that only 40-60% of people who sign up for a free trial actually convert.

Check this out -

Image source: Intercom

You see the third part with less than 40% of your users logging in the second time? That’s where your swanky user-onboarding comes in and saves the day.

Although each SaaS product will have to do this differently depending on the type of product and the end user, the purpose is still the same - effective adoption.

Going back to what I said earlier about making customers experience the Aha moment, a good onboarding flow should help customers feel that over and over again as they progress through the product.

Why bother with an onboarding flow?

Well, that’s totally up to you. Companies look to achieve one or more of the points below, with an onboarding flow:

  1. Introduce the prospect to the product without having to spend resources like Sales time and effort.

  2. Helping customers make the most out of the product

  3. Helps you learn about your customers product usage

  4. Shorten the sales cycle

  5. Customer retention

  6. Upsell

Setting up a user-onboarding flow

Introduction - It starts with a welcome email

From the email,

a. Introduce yourself. Acknowledging the fact that it's another person you’re sending to goes a long way.

b. Give them a quick recap of what your product does. People do a million things in a day and for the most part, will not remember what product they signed up for.

c. Send them a video that will help them get started. You don't want anything too fancy here.

d. Let them know you’d be coming back and hand holding them through the product in the next few days. This will give them something to look forward to.

e. At the end, let them know you’re there for them when they need you. More points for more authenticity. Add an unedited image of yourself in the signature without one of those company branded backgrounds. Also, mention contact details such as your phone number, calendar link and links to your socials (they need to know you’re a real person and not a bot)

Guide them towards their first Aha! Moment

Getting the lead is just half the battle won. Ensuring good product adoption and usage is everything.

Most SaaS tools have either a dashboard or an app, or both. Your first priority should be to get them on to the dashboard and familiarize them with the product.

Start with a quick exercise -

Help them get started one step at a time as using a new tool can be overwhelming for a lot of people. Something simple but essential such as adding a teammate is a step forward in driving adoption.

Once they’re on the dashboard/app, send them actionable nudges to guide them towards a desired action. Here’s an example of how Box nudges people to upload their first file.

Image source: Userpilot

Here’s another example from Slack.

Image source: Groovehq

Drive retention

Your onboarding flow can influence a reduction in churn. Just make sure you’re tracking user behavior on your marketing automation tool. The goal here is to hand-hold the customer for the 7 or 15 day trial period which will then hopefully, push them towards becoming a paying customer.

Some examples for what to track and the action to take:

  1. User signed up, but didn’t get on the dashboard - Nudge them over email.

  2. User is on the dashboard but hasn’t taken an action - Nudge them with an in-app/dashboard message as well as an email.

  3. If you haven't got a desired action even after the trial period is over, send them an email asking them if they’d like an extension. No response? No worries. A last ditch effort would be to ask them what went wrong. Any feedback is golden!

Onboarding doesn't end with trial users

Now that your trial user converted into a paying customer, why bother with further hand holding right? Wrong!. Show your best customer how much you love them by continuously enhancing their experience and helping them make the most out of what you have to offer. Let your customer know that their wins are your wins.

Have a product update? Send them a short video of it showing them how to use it. Got a new account manager for them? Send them an intro video of this person talking about how they can support the said account from here on.

There’s literally no end to making your customer love you for what you have to offer. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way in our world.

Hit me up for ideas and brainstorming sessions. I’d love to be a part of something like that!!

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