Onboarding your customers successfully is tricky, right? I mean, there are so many different things that can go wrong, so many parts of the user journey where they can drop off and disappear. That’s why choosing the best customer onboarding software is a big decision.
Choose the wrong tools and your onboarding won’t work. Your customers won’t see any value from your product. Ultimately, they’ll start looking elsewhere. So, in a way, choosing the wrong customer onboarding software can lead to churn. Which none of us want, of course.
Luckily, there are many good (and great) tools that will help you do your onboarding in the right (and scalable) way. To help you choose, I’ve put together this list of the best customer onboarding software and apps. There’s something for everyone here, from MVPs and early-stage startups to scaling SaaS businesses.
These tools cover every aspect of onboarding, including email, help docs, and in-app guidance.
Feel free to skip ahead to the most relevant section for you using the links below…
- Early stage customer onboarding software for email
- Early stage customer onboarding software for help docs
- Early stage customer onboarding software for in-app
- Scale stage customer onboarding software
Product adoption school:
Early stage customer onboarding software
Early stage startups have a lot to consider when thinking about customer onboarding software.
You need a good mixture of proactive and reactive onboarding (this will become clearer as we go on). You also need to consider different media: email, help docs, and in-app messages…
Also: choosing the right customer onboarding software is a bit like choosing the right person to marry. If you make the wrong decision – it can be ugly and expensive. The point is: customer onboarding tools are very sticky. Once you have built an elaborate onboarding flow with several emails, experiences and tooltips, it’s virtually impossible to move it to another tool without all that blood, sweat and tears of building it from scratch.
Hence – make sure you give it a good thought so you don’t waste time and resources on tools that don’t help you achieve the growth you’re chasing.
So, let’s get started with email onboarding.
Customer onboarding software for email
When a customer first starts using your product, they’ll be a little unsure. They’ll spend a bit of time playing around and then they’ll disappear to go and do something else. Email onboarding software will help engage these customers and bring them back to your product.
There are two different aspects of onboarding you need to consider when using emails. They’re proactive and reactive. Aazar does a great job of describing these on his blog.
Proactive onboarding is where you know the path that the user is going to take. You can then use emails to proactively guide them through it.
Reactive onboarding is where a user has thoroughly explored the product and has activated. They may have more detailed questions. In this sense, email onboarding is a little redundant, unless you were willing to set up email workflows for every possible outcome – which would be far too time-consuming.
So email onboarding is a form of proactive onboarding, and these customer onboarding tools can help.
The first customer onboarding tools we’ll discuss here is Userlist. Userlist is designed to make it as easy as possible to send automated onboarding flows via email or in-app.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll talk about Userlist’s email functionality.
You’re able to set up advanced triggers based on a user’s in-app behavior. You might, for example, want an onboarding flow to trigger when a user first reaches a specific page of your product.
Userlist features a clean, simple UI that makes creating your emails incredibly easy.
It also offers segmentation, so you can send different onboarding flows to specific groups of customers. This is a great way of tailoring your message to different use cases or customers at different stages of the user journey.
As far as pricing is concerned, Userlist offers a great Starter plan for when you’re in the early stages of development. It costs just $9 a month for unlimited messages and up to 100 users.
The price does jump up quite a bit as you upgrade, but overall the pricing is fair for the functionality you get.
Overall, Userlist is a great customer onboarding tool if you want to put your email onboarding on autopilot.
Encharge is actually a lot more than just an email onboarding tool. It also enables you to send Facebook ads and work as part of your marketing stack.
Again, for the purposes of this article I’ll focus on the email functionality.
Encharge boasts a drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy to start building your email workflows. If you don’t have the time to build them, you can choose from loads of tried-and-tested templates taken from the likes of Dropbox and Airtable.
You also have access to advanced user segmentation, so that campaigns are only sent to the most relevant users. Encharge connects to all your favorite tools, including Segment, Intercom, and Hubspot.
As for pricing, Encharge starts at $49 per month. This gives you up to 2000 subscribers. I think that’s a fair price if you’re going to use the marketing features that Encharge provides. If you’re simply looking for email onboarding, then I’d lead more towards Userlist.
Customer onboarding software for help docs
While email onboarding is an example of proactive onboarding, help docs are the opposite – they’re reactive.
Remember, reactive onboarding takes place when a user already has an idea of how to use your product. Sometimes they just need a question answering.
Help docs are a great way of providing users with a self-serve onboarding approach. They can access them as and when they need to.
This next group of customer onboarding software tools are designed to help early stage SaaS companies start building out their help docs.
Help Scout offers a lot of great functionality when it comes to creating and maintaining your help docs.
With a simple article editor, it’s easy to add new help docs to your collection. Help Scout also helps you link relevant articles together and organize them into logical categories.
If you prefer, you can even embed your help doc articles somewhere else, such as a page on your site or even within your product itself. This means you can make your help docs even more accessible.
They also offer a help center widget called Beacon which enables you to provide relevant articles to your users as they engage with your product.
Help Scout starts at $20 per user per month (when billed annually), which is roughly in line with other help doc tools.
Next on our list of customer onboarding software is Document360. If you’re simply looking for a tool to help you create help docs, then this is a great choice.
It might not have all the other functionality that the likes of Help Scout has but what it offers is a simple way of creating and managing your help docs.
There’s a simple editor that puts the focus on writing. You can then organize articles into different categories and sections. Also important is the ability to customize the branding to match your own style and create consistency.
Another interesting, potentially useful feature is the ability to create private help docs that are password protected. This is a good way of creating internal documents for your employees.
Document360 starts at $49 per project per month (billed annually). This is a little on the expensive side considering the functionality is a little more limited than other customer onboarding software. Having said that, if you want the simple approach to help docs, then this could work for you.
Helpjuice is the last help docs tool on our list. Like the others, it offers a comprehensive way of creating and maintaining your help doc articles.
There’s a built-in editor so you can create your help docs and then organize them into a structure that makes sense for your customers.
More interestingly, Helpjuice enables your team to collaborate on help docs, much like you can with Google Docs. This could be useful when you first start building out your help docs.
Another feature that Helpjuice offers is detailed analytics. This lets you see what users search for, as well as the impact that your help docs are having.
Helpjuice will cost you $120 per month for the starter plan, which gives you access to all the features for up to 4 users. That’s fairly expensive, especially for early stage SaaS companies, so perhaps this is one to consider for the future.
Customer onboarding software for in-app
The final type of onboarding I want to look at is in-app onboarding. This refers to any onboarding that takes place within your product. It includes product tours, interactive walkthroughs, and other elements like tooltips and checklists.
In-app onboarding is really useful because it enables you to engage users as they’re using your product. You can have a direct impact on their behavior and show them how to extract the most value from your product and reach the Aha! Moment.
Most in-app onboarding is proactive. You have predefined pathways that you want your users to follow in order to reach activation.
The following customer onboarding software apps are perfect for early stage SaaS companies that want to drive users towards the Aha! Moment and activation.
HelpHero focuses on making it as easy as possible to add product tours to your SaaS product.
It offers a visual tour editor, enabling you to see how your product tour will look as you edit it. No code is required to build the tours, meaning you don’t have to use up valuable dev time.
You can customize the look of your tour so that it fits with your product’s UI and branding.
You also have the ability to segment and add triggers so that only certain groups of users are shown a specific product tour. This helps you implement contextual onboarding – where users are shown the right message at the right time – to your product.
HelpHero starts at $25 per month, which provides you with all the features for up to 1000 monthly active users. This seems a fair price for the functionality you get.
Tooltip.io is a customer onboarding app that centers around in-app messaging.
There’s a wide range of message types on offer, including tooltips, popups, slideouts, banners, and more. You can easily create these messages with the Chrome Extension, no code required.
Tooltip.io also offers custom triggering and segmentation so you can reach the right person at the right time.
You can also fully customize the branding of the messages you send, ensuring they match your product.
Ultimately, you can build both simple and complex in-app onboarding flows with Tooltip.io. It might take a bit of work if you want an in-depth product tour, but you do get full control over how the flow works.
Pricing starts at $249 per month. For very early stage companies this might be too high a price point. You do get a lot for your money though, with up to 100,000 monthly active users and all the functionality that the product has to offer.
Scale stage customer onboarding software
While early stage companies simply need to help guide users through the product, scale stage SaaS companies need more functionality.
For starters, scale stage companies will be running far more onboarding experiments. This means it’s crucial that the customer onboarding software offers A/B testing and other forms of experimentation.
Obviously, you can’t run experiments without detailed analytics, so it’s also important that your customer onboarding software provides you with the data you need to make product decisions.
Finally, it’s useful to have support for multiple product teams, as it’s likely that different teams will be working on different parts of your product.
With that in mind, here is the best customer onboarding software for scale stage SaaS companies.
We’re going to kick off our list with our own software. Userpilot is a complete customer onboarding package that has everything scaling SaaS companies need.
Let’s start with the onboarding functionality. Userpilot enables you to create “Experiences”. These experiences can range from a simple tooltip to a thorough interactive walkthrough. You can choose from checklists, slideouts, modals, and more.
A unique feature that Userpilot offers is “Driven Actions”. This is an onboarding element which forces the user to interact with your product. To progress through your walkthrough, users would need to click a button, or type something in, or scroll a certain distance. This increases the effectiveness of your onboarding flows.
The best part? You can add and fully customize these onboarding experiences without any coding knowledge. This means you don’t have to wait for dev time to roll out any changes.
On top of that, Userpilot offers detailed segmentation, allowing you to contextualise your onboarding and tailor it to each user based on in-app behavior.
When it comes to experimentation, Userpilot enables A/B testing and analytics that show you how effective your different onboarding experiences are.
Userpilot’s pricing starts at $199 per month (billed annually). That pricing plan gives you all of Userpilot’s functionality for up to 2500 monthly active users.
For SaaS companies looking to scale quickly, Userpilot has everything you need to perfect your onboarding and keep your customers engaged.
The Pendo Product Cloud is more like a suite of products that cover different aspects of onboarding. As far as customer onboarding software goes, a lot of it isn’t necessarily useful, so we’ll concentrate on the parts that are most relevant.
Firstly, Pendo offers product usage analytics. This helps you to understand how users are engaging with your product, and identify gaps in your onboarding.
As for creating onboarding experiences, Pendo does offer a lot of functionality. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that they don’t offer all of the different elements that Userpilot do – in particular the driven actions.
You can also customize the look of your onboarding flows, but you will need CSS coding to achieve exactly the look you want.
Essentially, Pendo is a great piece of customer onboarding software, but it also offers a lot of other products that you may or may not need. Pricing is custom and you need to reach out for a quote, however it’s generally seen as being a more expensive piece of software.
As well as making constant improvements to your in-app onboarding, scaling SaaS companies need to make sure the emails are engaging customers effectively. Customer.io is our final customer onboarding software, and aims to help you do just that.
While the other email onboarding tools offer automated workflows and tailored email campaigns, Customer.io goes a little more in-depth.
You’re able to monitor exactly how your users interact with your product, and set up precise trigger points so that users are only sent the most relevant messages.
Workflows are also not just limited to email. You can automate SMS, Slack messages, and push notifications depending on your needs.
Customer.io is a worthy upgrade to early stage customer onboarding software. The basic plan, which has everything you need to start scaling your onboarding messaging, is $150 per month.
- When choosing customer onboarding software, it’s important to consider whether it’s aimed at early stage or scaling SaaS companies.
- You also need to determine whether you need in-app onboarding, email onboarding, help docs, or a mixture of all three.
- For early stage SaaS companies, the best customer onboarding software is Userlist and Encharge for email; Help Scout, Document360, and Helpjuice for help docs; and HelpHero and Tooltip.io for in-app.
- For scaling SaaS companies, the best customer onboarding software is Userpilot, Pendo, and Customer.io.
About the author
Joe is a content writer, with several years of experience working with SaaS startups. He’s also the founder of Turing, a conversation design agency, making chatbots more human.