SaaS Onboarding: Examples + Best Practices [UPDATED for 2023]

What is SaaS onboarding? What are the best practices? How do you create great user onboarding experiences?

When it comes to onboarding a new user, the onboarding experience must be focused on providing that first moment of value

In this post, we’ll go over the basics for great saas user onboarding and then show 8 of our favourite SaaS onboarding examples.

(or TL;DR – you can build amazing user onboarding with Userpilot, no coding needed!)



  • SaaS onboarding helps new users learn how to use a product and realize its value quickly
  • Onboarding experiences include the signup flow, welcome screen, and initial interactions
  • Best practices for SaaS onboarding:
    1. Reduce friction in the onboarding process
    2. Start with a welcome screen and microsurvey
    3. Segment users for personalization
    4. Create an onboarding checklist with a progress bar
    5. Build interactive walkthroughs instead of linear product tours
    6. Remember the importance of context in onboarding experiences
    7. Use native tooltips for less disruption
    8. Ensure a self-serve SaaS onboarding flow
    9. Continuously update onboarding as product and market evolve
  • To improve existing onboarding experiences:
    1. Analyze user behavior and identify drop-off points
    2. Develop hypotheses to improve onboarding experiences
    3. Implement improvements
    4. A/B test new onboarding flows
    5. Compare feature adoption goals for each variant
  • Some good SaaS onboarding examples to follow:
    • Box:

      • Simple homepage layout with prominent CTA
      • Easy-to-understand pricing page
      • Simple sign-up form
      • Brief product tour with tooltips
      • Use of empty states with sample content
      • Gamified checklist for onboarding tasks
    • Productboard:

      • “Try now” CTA on the homepage
      • Easy email validation process
      • Fill-in-the-blanks method for gathering user information
      • Checklist to introduce key features
    • FullStory:

      • Strong value proposition and clear CTA on the landing page
      • Beautiful feedback gathering modal
      • Persona-based questions during onboarding
      • Early push for activation with script installation
    • Airtable:

      • Clear CTA on homepage
      • Onboarding video and user persona questionnaire
      • Empty states with clear CTAs
      • Simple, easy-to-use UI
    • Userpilot:

      • Conversational sign-up process with chatbot
      • Simple personalization question
      • Installation of Chrome extension upfront
      • Interactive tour and onboarding checklist
    • StoryChief:

      • Testimonial in the signup flow
      • Welcome modal with brief video introduction
      • Onboarding checklist to drive activation
    • Salesflare:

      • Striking CTA on the homepage
      • Interactive product tour
      • Checklist and help widget
      • Activation prompts during Aha! Moment
    • Feedier:

      • Native onboarding checklists
      • Welcome modal with opt-in product tour
      • Event-driven onboarding email sequence


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What is SaaS onboarding?

SaaS onboarding refers to the process of helping new users learn how use your product to achieve their goals (and hence realize the value of the product quickly). 

What are SaaS onboarding experiences?

User onboarding experiences are all the interactions that a user has with your SaaS product onboarding at the beginning of their user journey.

Starting from the signup flow, you’ll generally have a welcome screen and some initial experiences/interactions.

In the first few seconds, your user may have a great experience that will lead them to the Aha! moment (the moment when they realize the value of your product). They’ll likely activate and maybe convert from free trial to paid.

Or, they might have a terrible and confusing experience (think empty states, irrelevant flows) and decide to end their adventure with your product.

How to build the best SaaS onboarding experiences (Best practices)

1. Reduce friction

As a rule of thumb, the less friction your user encounters in their onboarding process, the better.  For example, remove any unnecessary steps or fields from your signup flow (even we could do a better job with that!)    userpilot signup flow demo booking form

*Disclaimer: sometimes friction-based signup flow may be beneficial (e.g. highly complex enterprise platforms that require a lot of technical setups and human help in the initial stages of the customer journey). 

2. Start with a welcome screen, ideally with a microsurvey 

Once your user signs up for your tool, welcome them! But make it worthwhile by asking them 1-2 questions about what they want to accomplish (their goals, jobs to be done), or by adding buttons that would allow them to “choose they own journey” – select the course of action they want to accomplish first.

Using the welcome screen to segment your new users by the goals they want to achieve can be game-changing. You will get them to accomplish their Job-To-Be-Done faster, reduce their time-to value, and generally help them activate much sooner than if you drag them on a one size fits all 20-step-long product tour.

Welcome screen survey

3. Segment your users (to personalize your onboarding)

Personalization in SaaS onboarding is another tactic that helps your users get to their goals faster. But few SaaS companies personalize their onboarding flows really well. It’s not so much about adding “personal touches” to the flow (e.g. the “{first name}” tags) as understanding the user needs and customizing the flows respectively to reflect that. 

Using that initial microsurvey from the welcome screen, you can personalize your SaaS user onboarding to the user’s specific persona, role, goals, and use case. Say, you have an email marketing tool and two new users: one is brand new freelance online store owner who has never used an email marketing tool and doesn’t have an email list. Another is a seasoned e-commerce business owner who is switching from another email marketing tool with a list of 20,000. Obviously, their needs will be quite different and will need different onboarding! 

  • User one (“the beginner”) may want to watch a short onboarding video on the best practices of using an onboarding tool, and then learn how to set up a signup form to collect their first subscribers. 
  • User two (“the power user”) may just want to quickly find out where to upload their email list and set up the first email campaign/ automation workflow. 

This is what real SaaS onboarding personalization is about – it helps your users achieve their goals (rather than just showcasing your product) and makes your onboarding more relevant, engaging and effective.  

The first step to personalizing your SaaS onboarding is segmenting your audience by the relevant user attributes and events. The answers to the microsurvey in the welcome screen is one factor to consider, but there may be many other important factors to consider (depending on your product, plans, and how many user personas you have), especially at later stages of the onboarding flow. Attributes like plan, time when the user signed up, how many web sessions they had in the last e.g. 7 days – may all be important for triggering the right content at the right time. 

Saas user onboarding tools like Userpilot allow you to build sophisticated user segments for onboarding personalization:  

Userpilot segmentation in new user onboarding SaaS

Tip: To sum it up, apart from your welcome screen responses, you can continue to create more segments (and serve more relevant in-app experiences) based on user attributes, or user behavior.

4. Create an onboarding checklist with a progress bar

The purpose of good user onboarding in SaaS is to take the user on the shortest path to value. You need to know what the user wants to achieve and then show them the fastest route to achieving this goal/result

Luckily, checklists are proven to naturally trigger our need to “close the open loop” and push the users to complete the activation points. If you’ve heard of the psychological phenomena of Zeigarnik effect (the urge to complete unfinished task lists) and the endowed progress effect – you will instantly get why user onboarding checklists are so effective in pushing new users to activation. 

A successful checklist build means that users get to the Aha! moment and activate quickly.

But be careful, don’t overload your checklist! And remember to throw in an incentive at the end to reward your new users for completing the tasks – for example a discount voucher, or additional credits for their account.

postfity checklist

Tooting our own horn here: Userpilot checklists come with their own set of analytics, so you’ll be able to see engagement stats and where people are dropping off so you can keep improving:



5. Build interactive walkthroughs, not linear product tours

Instead of a lengthy multistep product tour (read this article on why product tours are ineffective for onboarding SaaS users) showing your users features that they may not immediately need (and likely won’t remember when they need them) consider creating interactive walkthroughs instead. 

What’s the difference between an interactive walkthrough and a classic product tour?

Interactive walkthroughs teach the users by doing – they push the users to complete certain actions before continuing the tour. Each step in their onboarding flow (or walkthrough) should be triggered only when the user has actually completed the required action from the previous step. You can see below that the experiences are triggered in reaction to the actions of the user, and follow the user’s own pace: 

interactive walkthrough

Compare it to a linear product tour: 

It consists of a number of tooltips showi ng the user all the different features one by one, and requiring them to just press the “next button” before proceeding. This obviously means a lot of users will just…be hitting all the next buttons to get rid of the product tour, without learning anything. 

INTERACTIVE walkthrough Userpilot

Not sure how to build interactive walkthroughs to improve the new user onboarding in your SaaS? Book a demo with Userpilot, we’ll show you!



6. Make your onboarding contextual

As you gather more user behaviour or user attribute data, you should work to keep onboarding experiences as relevant as possible to what your user is doing in your app.

Imagine you’re a user of a social media scheduling tool. You are supposed to schedule some posts for next week, but inspiration eludes you. You are typing a few words into the editor, deleting them, typing again… You don’t have any posts in your queue. 

Wouldn’t a helping hand pointing you to the ready-made post calendar with content templates be great? A perfectly timed tooltip like the one below can work wonders here!

tooltip userpilot contextual onboarding SaaS


Contextual user onboarding in SaaS outperforms traditional linear onboarding any day of the week. 

Contextual onboarding relies on two things: subtle in-app experiences such as native tooltips, hotspots and banners, and triggers based on user behavior and custom events. You can trigger these experiences in-real time in response to the in-app events the users are performing in your product with only a few onboarding tools (and yes, Userpilot happens to be one of them 😎). Here’ an example of such subtle hotspot prompting new users to install our Chrome extension: 

subtle hotspot

In sum – contextual onboarding reduces the time to value as well as allows you to create personalized flows and provide a great user onboarding experience.



 7. Use native tooltips

A good practice for your new user onboarding in SaaS is to use the more subtle native tooltips, especially at later stages in the user journey. Native tooltips are tooltips appended to your native UI that only unfurl when the user hovers over them. They are less disruptive than onboarding walkthroughs and can help especially with secondary feature adoption that the users can discover on their own. 

native tooltip

8. Make sure your SaaS onboarding flow is self-serve

Ideally, your user should be able to go through your user onboarding process without having to wait for a Customer Success Manager to find time for them. Self-serve, product-led SaaS should be accessible to its users 24/7.

Adding a Resource Center to your SaaS app allows the user to search all your help resources, video tutorials, onboarding flows and knowledge base help documents on-demand, by keyword, can improve the user onboarding experience immensely by providing your users with instant answers to frequently asked questions. Here’s an example of our own Resource Center in Userpilot (built with Userpilot of course!) 

Userpilot Resource Center 2023

Just like with checklists – our Resource Center comes complete with analytics – to help both your Product Managers and Customer Success Agents understand what your new users struggle with:

Userpilot Resource Center Analytics 2023

9. Don’t just set it and forget it – A/B test and use Continuous Onboarding

Your work is not done when you’ve improved new user activation! What about secondary features? And how about new features? A feature release note will not be enough for your users to adopt them. You need to think about how to implement them into your evergreen, continuous onboarding flow. 


Product managers/marketers responsible for onboarding often see it as a one-off ‘set it and forget it’ activity. This mindset can be really disastrous. Your product evolves all the time, your positioning, market and user personas change, and so should your user onboarding.

You should also keep introducing the more advanced features at the later stages of your customer onboarding journey to push for upgrades and expansion revenue. 

You should also constantly iterate and experiment with your onboarding. To help you understand which versions of your user onboarding flows are most impactful in terms of helping your users, you may also run A/B tests to test different versions of your flows: 

A:B test against null

Of course, we offer you this option in Userpilot too. 

Want to implement the best practices you’ve just learnt about into your SaaS onboarding?  Book a demo with Userpilot and we’ll show you how! On top of user onboarding flows, Userpilot offers behaviour analytics, microsurveys and NPS, all 100% customizable to your branding. 

But wait, how do you improve your existing user onboarding experience? 

If you’ve already built your SaaS user onboarding and just want to improve it, here are a few ways to troubleshoot and improve: 

  • Look at your user behavior analytics tools and see where users are dropping out or getting stuck – a session recording may be best for uncovering qualitative issues. 
  • Come up with some hypotheses on how to improve your onboarding experiences.
  • Implement the improvements to your onboarding flows.
  • A/B test your new onboarding flows 
  • Compare feature adoption goals for each experience variant (A – before, and B- after)

Hint: You can set feature adoption goals, tag features, and do product experiments (A/B tests) with Userpilot

The 8 best SaaS onboarding examples

Now that we know all about SaaS onboarding best practices,  let’s look at some real-life examples of great onboarding experience in SaaS. These user onboarding specialists and customer success teams did a great job – so take a leaf out of their book! 

Best user onboarding experience #1: Box

Box offers a secure platform for content management, workflows, and collaboration.

Here’s how it onboards new users…

Box has a fairly simple home page layout, with a prominent CTA, enabling new users to get up and running as soon as possible.

Clicking the CTA takes users to the pricing page, where they can see a breakdown of each price plan. This means users can immediately choose the most relevant plan for them. It also highlights the value proposition of Box.

Box then provides a fairly simple sign-up form, only asking for a few key details. It also repeats the main benefits of the product, so that they’re fresh in the user’s mind.

Once users access Box, they’re shown a brief tour of the product, with tooltips explaining how the product works. Note that the tooltips also explain the benefits of the feature, not simply how it works.

Box also makes use of empty states, by providing sample content in the form of a welcome pdf. This shows users how the product will work for them.

Here’s where Box’s onboarding gets really clever. When a user starts their free trial with Box, they’re given 14 days to use the product.

However, Box provides a checklist of onboarding tasks. Completing these tasks will extend the trial. It’s a great way of rewarding positive interactions with the product, and means new users are likely to reach the eventual Aha! Moment.

Box’s checklist also provides a progress line, so users can see how close they are to completion.

Every time a user starts one of the checklist tasks, Box ensures they know exactly what to do with useful and clear tooltips.

What we love about Box’s onboarding experience:

  • Guides new users through every aspect from sign-up to first using the product.
  • Gamifies the checklist by offering an extension to the free trial.
  • Clear and compelling tooltips that not only show users how to do something, but why it’s so great.

Best onboarding experience #2: Productboard

Productboard is a product management tool, designed to help you gather feedback and then act on it.

Here’s what Productboard’s onboarding flow looks like…

The home page features a large “Try now” CTA that stands out thanks to the vivid color.

Once you enter your email address, Productboard asks you to validate it. Note how they provide links to the most popular email clients, reducing the friction as much as possible.

After clicking the link in the email, you’re presented with this screen. It uses a clever fill-in-the-blanks method of finding out more about you and your specific use case.

Finally, you’re taken inside the app and are immediately presented with a checklist. The items are designed to show you the key features that Productboard provides, enabling you to reach the Aha! Moment.

What we love about Productboard’s onboarding flow:

    • Tries to reduce friction as much as possible, especially when validating your email address.
    • Interesting and unique way of understanding your use case.
    • Uses a checklist to drive user action.

Best SaaS onboarding example #3: FullStory

FullStory records and reproduces real user experiences on your site, helping you support customers, boost conversions, and debug faster.

Here are a few things we’d like you to take note of from Fullstory’s user onboarding experience:

The landing page has a strong value proposition, with a clear CTA to signup for free. The highlighted ‘sign up free’ CTA pushes users in a subtle way to dive quickly into FullStory and initiate that first contact with the product.

User Onboarding Experience_Full Story




As it waits for you to validate your email, FullStory takes a chance to gather feedback with a beautiful ‘How did you hear about us’ modal.   

User Onboarding Experience_Full Story

FullStory welcomes you back once you finish validating your email. It’s a friendly, personal touch that helps develop your relationship with your product.

User Onboarding Experience_Full Story

The signup flow continues with persona-based questions. This helps FullStory enhance your experience as they continue learning about your use cases.

User Onboarding Experience_Full Story

FullStory instantly pushes for activation. You will get almost no value if you don’t install the script, therefore they include this step in the signup onboarding experience.

What we love about FullStory’s onboarding experience:

  • As a product with many use cases and various user personas, FullStory excels in learning about each user. This helps it personalize the onboarding for each persona and provide the most value for each specific use case.
  • It pushes for activation (installing the JS code) early on during the signup process. This helps FullStory show value the minute the user lands on the main product UI, as they instantly start seeing real-time sessions playbacks.
  • Beautiful trustworthy UI.

Best Onboarding Experience #4: Airtable

Airtable works like a spreadsheet but gives you the power of a database to organize anything. It’s a productivity and workflow alternative to spreadsheets.

Here are a couple of screenshots from their signup flow.

It’s easy to get started with Airtable, thanks to the clear CTA on the homepage.

Airtable’s onboarding flow starts with a video to reiterate value and make you excited for that first-run product experience.

Just like the FullStory example, Airtable tries to understand a new user’s persona and any relevant use cases. 

Empty states where there’s currently no data are a great opportunity to drive action. Airtable make the most of these empty states with a clear CTA.

What we love about Airtable’s onboarding experience:

  • Gets you into the UI without email verification — less friction, faster time-to-value.
  • Takes advantage of empty states to push user action to create a new base.
  • User persona questionnaire to learn more about use cases. 
  • Resource and Learning tab to help users ease into the UI.
  • Simple and easy-to-use UI.

Best onboarding experience #5: Userpilot

Userpilot is a SaaS onboarding tool, designed to enable product teams to improve their product’s onboarding without any coding knowledge required.

It’s also our own product, and we’re pretty pleased with how we onboard our users…

Firstly, when a user clicks to get a free trial, it opens a conversation with our bot, Ava. Ava then asks for the user’s email. It’s a simple and straight-forward way of letting new users sign up. It’s also more conversational, which helps to develop a stronger relationship with the user.

Once the user has signed up with their trial link, Userpilot asks them for one key detail — the primary brand color they want to use. This one simple question means that users can start personalizing Userpilot to fit the look of their own product (making themselves immediately feel “at home”), but without the friction of long forms.

When it comes to the welcome screen, the users are greeted by the founder and CEO, and asked to perform the one key activation action: installing the Chrome Extension builder:

welcome screen userpilot

This is key to the success of our product, and so by asking users to install it upfront, we’re increasing the likelihood of activation further down the line.

Once the users perform that action, they are shown a success message and prompted to take the next key action: building their first onboarding flow (this is of course an example of an interactive walkthrough, not a product tour!) 

success message after installing Userpilot's chrome extension


Once they’ve installed the Chrome extension, it’s time for the user to get started with Userpilot flows. subtle hotspot


We prompt the users with a subtle hotspot that directs them to the builder, where in turn they can select what type of content they want to build:

Userpilot flow builder

Users can then get started with our product right away, thanks to the interactive tour. It explains what the user needs to do, but ultimately they’re the ones that do it. This way they learn by doing, and can start seeing value right away.


On top of the interactive tour, the new users are also shown a checklist. This is helpful in case they have to pause their onboarding flow, and return a few hours/days later. They don’t need to remember where they stopped, they can just click on the checklist and pick up where they left off: 

userpilot new checklist

What we love about Userpilot’s onboarding:

  • Reduces onboarding friction as much as possible.
  • Focuses on the few key tasks required to reach the Aha! Moment.
  • Uses an interactive tour so new users can experience how Userpilot works for themselves.

RELATED: 👉 5 Inspiring Interactive Walkthroughs to Reduce Time to Value

SaaS onboarding example #6: StoryChief

StoryChief is a content marketing tool for startups, SEO marketers and editorial teams.

Here’s a quick breakdown of their user onboarding flow:

Storychief includes a customer testimonial in the signup flow to demonstrate trust. This reassures new users that they’ve made the right choice.

Welcome Tutorial to Engage and Educate

The onboarding experience starts with a welcome modal. It includes a brief video that introduces you to the product.

StoryChief is using Zeigranik Effect i.e. A Psychological Effect




StoryChief then provides you with a checklist that drives users to take a linear path towards activation.

What we love about StoryChief’s onboarding experience:

    • Efficient use of testimonials in the signup process.
    • A beautiful and brief product tour to get you started with their UI.
    • Takes advantage of onboarding checklists to accelerate user activation.



SaaS onboarding example #7: Salesflare

Salesflare is a popular CRM, designed to automate most of the work.

It employs an interactive walkthrough to help drive users towards the Aha! Moment.

Salesflare’s home page features a striking CTA button. The red button contrasts with the blue background, making it stand out further.

The welcome screen introduces you to Salesflare, and asks you to take the interactive tour.

The tour then shows you some of the key features that Salesflare provides. The key part, however, is that you have to complete actions as you go along. This helps you to learn by doing.

They’ve also added a checklist + help widget to educate the user.

salesflare user onboarding example 5

They’ve everything to set up as a self-serve customer. 

salesflare user onboarding example 6

Instead of an academy, they have a video library. 

salesflare user onboarding example 7

At the end of the tour, right as you experience the Aha! Moment, Salesflare prompts you to connect with a range of different services. This is how they activate new users.

What we love about Salesflare’s onboarding:

  • Uses an interactive tour so that new users learn by doing.
  • Prompts activation right as users experience the Aha! Moment.
  • A conversational approach to onboarding.

Best SaaS onboarding example #8: Feedier

Feedier lets you collect valuable feedback by easily rewarding your customers.

Here are a couple of screenshots from their onboarding flow:

Feedier has a checklist. This a simple to-do list to make you act.




We love checklists, especially native ones. This one makes onboarding so much easier. You’re even given a video for each step to provide more information if you need it.

Users love welcome boards




A beautiful modal welcomes new signups and enables you to opt-in the product tour. Note how it reassures you that it won’t take long (two minutes) to get started.

 The above picture is an onboarding email

Feedier supplements their user onboarding flow with timely email onboarding sequences to enhance the overall user experience.

What we love about Feedier’s onboarding experience:

  • Native checklists to get you set up through the journey of activation.
  • Event-driven onboarding email sequence to keep pushing users through the activation process.

What we’ve learned from these SaaS onboarding examples

So what’s the takeaway here?

  • The onboarding process starts right from the landing page – make sure your value proposition is clear
  • If your product attracts different types of user personas or use cases, then make sure to include personalization in the onboarding process
  • Get users to that initial ‘Aha!’ moment as soon as you can in the onboarding flow. If your product requires an essential integration before you can show value, then push for activation during the signup process
  • Use ‘Get Started’ pages or onboarding checklists to help guide users through the activation process
  • Take advantage of empty states in your product whenever you can. These empty states are a great way to natively push for user action

Want to get started on building amazing user onboarding experiences with Userpilot? Book a demo today!



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  • reply
    What is product experience?
    Posted on November 28, 2018
    […] can have a detailed look at onboarding experiences. We believe following software have done well with providing a great product […]
  • reply
    Prem Bitkowski
    Posted on November 28, 2018
    Pretty neat blog post. I have an idea for another one. What do you think about evaluating the current onboarding of your reader's products? I would love to check what do you think about LiveSession onboarding process. We'll publish it soon :). Thanks for sharing knowledge.
    • reply
      Posted on December 10, 2018
      Hi Peter,This is a great idea - we'd love to check out your onboarding and give feedback :)

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