How to Build an Excellent User Onboarding Experience in SaaS?

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How to Build an Excellent User Onboarding Experience in SaaS?


Vaishnavi Shah

Published September 22, 2022

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You have convinced users to try your SaaS product and made an addition to your revenue streams. But your job is only half done here. 

Studies show that 9 out of 10 companies primarily compete on user experience. This means that turning users into loyal customers requires you to move beyond the typical sales follow-ups and focus on creating an immersive user experience. 

And the best way to get started is through user onboarding. 

User onboarding in SaaS is a process that customers go through when they first try out your SaaS product. It is that stage in the customer lifecycle where you reassure them that they have made the right choice to work with you. 

Sending them half-baked product tutorials and videos will leave a sour impression. In this guide, we will discuss what SaaS onboarding means and have outlined some of the best practices you can follow to build an excellent SaaS onboarding experience for your users. 

What is SaaS Onboarding?

When a user tests your SaaS product, they need a lot of hand-holding to understand the features, functionalities, and product design. Without proper education and training, they may feel lost. It can also result in a higher churn rate. 

This is where SaaS onboarding comes into play. 

Most marketers confuse user onboarding in SaaS with product tours and demonstrations. While they are part of the experience, user onboarding is more comprehensive and involves designing a system that helps users get what they want from your product. It is a multi-step process that showcases how customers can succeed with your product. 

In a nutshell, SaaS onboarding is a process where you provide first-time users with the right content at the right time. It may include sending users email triggers, pop-ups, interactive tours, and more to keep them motivated to use your product. 

Relying on guesswork is one of the common mistakes leaders make when designing a SaaS onboarding experience. Studies show that over 90% of customers feel that the onboarding process of companies could be better. 

So how do you know when to improve the process? Let’s explore some common red flags!

Onboarding Flow

How Does a Typical SaaS Onboarding Experience Look Like?

The goal of designing a SaaS onboarding process is to encourage users to take vital steps in understanding your product to help them accomplish their goals. Since every business has different needs, you cannot have a one-size-fits-it-all onboarding process. You need to customize the process as per the user requirements. 

Let’s look at the top elements of a SaaS onboarding process to help you design a flow for your product. 

  • Welcome Email

A welcome email is the first positive correspondence that introduces you to the users and lets them know that you appreciate their choice to work with you. Most successful SaaS companies use personalized content and an interactive template to make their welcome emails more attractive and capture user attention. 

  • Product Set-Up Guides, Videos, And Other Resources

Once you have sent a welcome email, the next step is sending product set-up guides, video tours, set-up wizard, and other resources to help the users get started. Using visuals and appropriate humor is the best way to engage your audience during this step. 

  • Empty States 

Empty states are screens in the user interface that do not have information yet. When users open the application for the first time, they will not find any data. The screen will eventually have data, but they are empty at the time. This presents an opportunity for marketers to put educational content that encourages the users to learn about the features. 

  • Progress Bar, Direction Cues, And Routine Check-Ins

Adding a progress bar and direction cues keeps the momentum going and prompts the users to take action. From the finished set-up step to the exploration phase, you routinely send check-ins and keep tabs on the progress bar to help users whenever they feel stuck. 

  • Create a Self-Help Section

Most users want quicker resolutions to their problems. So it makes sense to create a self-help section with a bank of frequently asked questions. Users can type in their queries and get the most relevant answers to their questions. Another way you can help customers is by creating chatbots. That way, they can get answers easily and save time. 

Best Practices to Follow When Designing a SaaS Onboarding Process!

Whether you are working on a freemium model or offering potential customers a free product trial, a SaaS onboarding checklist will help reduce churn rates and customer acquisition costs. To help you create your SaaS onboarding checklist, here are some best practices that will turn potential clients into loyal advocates of your products. 

  1. Know The Intent of the Users

Suppose you have built a SaaS product that helps businesses streamline their social media calendars. And you are offering a free trial of your product. Also, if you have a few clients willing to use your product, you need to segment them based on their intent. A designer will use your product differently than a business owner would.

And this is how you can design a personalized SaaS onboarding process - Based on their intent. 

Here is an excellent example of companies using user information to curate personalized onboarding experiences!

teamwork app

Teamwork takes user information and offers personalized experiences to help them derive better value from the product. 

  1. Do Not Go Overboard

The aim here is to help users become productive. If you bombard them with too many emails and messages, there is a possibility that they will not read them thoroughly. Instead of bugging them and increasing friction at every stage, try to think of ways how you can add value to their experience. 

Let’s explore some tips that you can use to reduce friction and help users become productive!

  • Keep the Sign-In page simple: When users sign up for the first time, ensure that you keep the form as simple and to-the-point as possible. And ensure that the users can access their accounts from every device seamlessly. 
  • Let users dismiss product tours if they don’t want them: Although video tours are popular, forcing users to watch them can be annoying. So it is a good practice to add an option that lets users dismiss video tours with a clear “Got It”.  
  • Be selective: Overburdening users with information bulletins about every app feature may not be the best way to get started. Be selective in what you want to showcase.
  1. Send Congratulatory Messages

One of the best ways to make your customers feel valued is by sending them congratulatory emails or messages whenever they complete a task. Many successful SaaS companies turn the user journey into a challenging arcade adventure. 

For instance, once they accomplish the goal, you can trigger personalized emails, pop-ups, and messages appreciating their action. You can also incentivize their actions with discounts or offers. 

  1. Keep Testing And Experimenting

Nobody gets it right the first time. Most SaaS companies struggle with user onboarding because there are many variables that leaders have to consider. 

The best way to create the right flow is by experimenting and tracking user behavior. You can add certain interactive elements to the flow and test the reaction of the users. 

For instance, if you think that rewarding the users for taking action may have a positive effect. You can test this by analyzing the reaction of the users. Every time you experiment with something new, and if it works, you can reduce your acquisition rate. And if you notice an issue, you can fix it and learn something new about user behavior. 

First Impressions Can Make Or Break Your Business!

Sticking to standard interactions won’t work in the SaaS space. With changing times, your competitors have evolved and are doing everything they can to lure your clients away. 

And one way to stop that is to give your customers an experience they will never forget. 
Also, if you need help building a SaaS product with the best user onboarding experience and features, ATC can help. We have a team of dedicated developers, software engineers, and designers to meet your complex project requirements. Just shoot us a mail, and we will help you take your product to the next level.

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