What is User Onboarding in SaaS?


Explained: User Onboarding in Saas

Imagine trying to navigate a foreign city without a map or a tour guide, it can be overwhelming, confusing and frustrating. The same happens with people who use your product, they feel like they’re wandering around aimlessly trying to figure out how to use it. Don’t let your users be lost in the digital wilderness, give them a map and guide them through the journey with a thorough user onboarding process.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what user onboarding is and how it can impact the user’s experience and your business’s success.

What is User Onboarding?

User onboarding is the process of introducing a new user to a product or service and helping them understand how to use it effectively. This can involve a variety of different tactics, such as providing tutorials, walkthroughs, emails, etc. It’s not just about providing instructions, but rather creating an experience that sets users up for success.


One key aspect of user onboarding is making the process as smooth and intuitive as possible. This can involve designing an intuitive user interface, providing clear and concise instructions, and using visual aids such as images and videos to help users understand the product. It’s also important to provide users with the right level of guidance, not too much that they feel overwhelmed but also not too little that they feel lost.

Optimized for the User Stage

In order to go to market effectively, each onboarding experience needs to be optimized from the experience of the user. Onboarding isn’t just signing up for your product. There’s an onboarding experience unique to each stage in the SaaS journey.

This includes Acquisition Onboarding (sign-up and account creation), Activation Onboarding (achieving first value), Revenue Onboarding (upgrading to paid), and Retention Onboarding (habit formation through app events).

User Onboarding is Not a Destination

Before you relax for successfully onboarding a new user, remember this is not a one-hit-wonder kind of deal. Onboarding is like a never-ending treasure hunt. As they continue to use your product, you have to keep showing them the hidden gems, new features, things they haven’t discovered yet.

Think of it as a three-part harmony, the initial setup, the training, and the acclimation. The ultimate goal of onboarding is to reach the “aha!” moment, when the user fully understands the value of your product and continues getting this value.

That’s why an important aspect of user onboarding is providing support and resources for users as they become more familiar with the product. This can include providing a FAQ section, a help center or a community forum for users to get help and share tips with one another.

Why is User Onboarding Needed?

User onboarding is crucial for a SaaS business because:

  • It helps users understand and see the value of your product quickly. This increases the likelihood of them becoming long-term customers. The faster a user can see the value of your product, the more likely they are to stick around. This means more revenue for your business in the long run.
  • It helps increase user engagement and retention. A well-designed onboarding process can help users understand how to use your product more effectively, which in turn leads to more engagement and a higher likelihood of them sticking around. This means less money and resources spent on acquiring new customers.
  • It can lead to cost savings. A well-designed onboarding process can help users become more self-sufficient, which means they are less likely to reach out to customer support. This can lead to cost savings for your business. For example, if your customer support team can handle 20% fewer support tickets due to a well-designed onboarding process, this could translate to less money spent on hiring customer service agents and hence saving $50-100K per year.
  • It can help increase user lifetime value (LTV). A well-designed onboarding process can lead to increased user engagement, retention, and satisfaction. This can result in increased revenue from each customer over time and reduced customer acquisition costs. For example, if a customer’s LTV increases by $100 per year due to a well-designed onboarding process, this could translate to an additional $1000 in revenue over the course of a 10-year customer lifetime.

Email Campaigns: The Easiest Way to Get Started

The best place to start with your user onboarding is to create email campaigns. We recommend implementing just the basic campaigns first and gradually adding more advanced campaigns as you go.

Here are a few campaigns you can easily launch right away:

  • The “Getting Started” campaign, your basic onboarding sequence to help users hit the ground running, promotes only the most essential features to reach that “aha!” activation moment.
  • The “Upgrade to Paid” campaign (if you use the freemium model) to get free users to upgrade by reiterating the value they’re already getting and highlighting the features they are missing by not upgrading to paid plans.
  • You can also use the Product Led Onboarding board designed by Inturact to make sure you don’t miss any step. This board guides your team through exercises to pinpoint issues with the onboarding process for your software and offers solutions for improving it. It also helps you create emails and in-app messages to support the updated onboarding.

    User Onboarding Email Examples

    Here’s an example of onboarding email from Feedly. It starts with a common problem users might face and shows how that can be solved with Feedly. Notice how the email talks about just one feature instead of overwhelming people with a lot of information.

    Here is another email from Trello that nudges people to try the ‘Templates’ and discover how Trello can help in project management.


    In conclusion, user onboarding is a crucial process in ensuring that your users have a positive experience with your product or service. It’s important to remember that the goal of user onboarding is to set new users up for success and help them quickly become proficient and successful with your product.

    As you continue to improve your onboarding process, think about how you can personalize the experience for each user and make it as seamless as possible. Remember that user onboarding is an ongoing process and you should always be looking for ways to improve it. Ask yourself, “What small action can I take to make my users’ experience even better?”

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