11 Best Customer Onboarding Software For SaaS

Successfully onboarding your customers is tricky, right? If your new users take too long to see value from your product, they might just drop off and start looking elsewhere. Luckily, there are many customer onboarding software options that will help!

We’ve done all the hard work for you and put together this list of the best customer onboarding software and apps in 2022. There’s something for everyone. From teams that want to increase user adoption and activation rates, from MVPs and early-stage startups to scaling SaaS businesses.

Overview

  • When choosing SaaS 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
  • The benefits of onboarding tools include improved activation, retention and feature adoption, as well as lower support and development costs.
  • 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.
  • When choosing SaaS onboarding software (especially if you’re scaling), look for a code-free tool that lets you segment users, analyze their in-app behavior, communicate with them in-app and build interactive walkthroughs.
  • For scaling SaaS companies, the best SaaS onboarding software tool is Userpilot.

What is customer onboarding software?

Let’s begin by getting our definitions straight.
When we talk about customer onboarding for SaaS, we are referring to user onboarding, not employee onboarding. So if you’re looking for ways to train your new hires, try this article instead.
By “onboarding,” we mean the process of teaching your customers how to get value from your product.
Here are some concrete examples of what this type of customer education could look like:
  • A tooltip that demonstrates a new feature that’s not intuitive
  • An interactive walkthrough that helps new users understand your core product features, and thereby activate
  • A modal that upsells a higher account level to a long-time customer
  • A help center widget that gives customers access to your knowledge base from inside your product
Contrary to popular understanding, onboarding is not just limited to the initial interactions new users have when they sign up to your product for the first time, as this chart indicates:
user journey
 
It’s an ongoing process, one that spans the entire customer journey. For SaaS companies that really get the value of onboarding, there’s no reason not to invest in tools that teach customers how to use secondary features, as well as primary ones.

Common features

Userpilot features
Create these in-app experiences with Userpilot, no coding required!
 
The core of any SaaS onboarding software tool is the UI features that it allows you to build, normally without requiring code.
Examples could be modals, hotspots, driven actions or checklists.
It’s these features that will effectively become part of your native product UI, acting as an additional design layer that teaches customers how to get the most out of your app.
Most onboarding tools worth their salt also come with analytics tools that allow you to measure the success of your customer onboarding process.
For instance, you might want to see what percentage of new users finish your product tour, or how changing a tooltip from red to blue impacts the number of customers who find it.
While quantitative user data of this type is helpful, there is still a place for talking directly to customers in 2022, so you can expect customer onboarding software to allow you to do that inside your app itself.
So how might you expect a tool like this to move the needle for your business?

Benefits of SaaS customer onboarding

Disclaimer: each customer onboarding tool is different and therefore affects SaaS businesses in different ways. What follows is a list of typical benefits that you could expect to experience.
  1. Improve activation rate – probably the most important onboarding metric. 
  2. Retain more customers – more customers stick around long enough to experience the value of your product
  3. Improve feature adoption – try creating a tooltip and pointing it to your chosen feature using a digital adoption platform like Userpilot. There’s a good chance that the usage rate will go up.
  4. Reduce support ticket volume – if a customer is stuck, it’s faster for them to solve their own problem by looking at a tooltip or flicking through the help center widget, as opposed to waiting in a queue to speak to a support agent.
  5. Reduce development costs – if you missed it above, product marketers can build UI elements with no-code onboarding software like Userpilot. That means you won’t be burdening your dev team with having to build tooltips and hotspots from scratch.
Sounds pretty valuable, right? Now let’s get into your options.

Criteria for choosing your onboarding software

You don’t need me to tell you to look at the price. But if you want to measure value, you should attention to the following five factors:

Can you segment your users?

segmentation
Without the ability to segment your users, you’ll be left providing a generic onboarding experience for all user types.
This is a sure way to alienate your customer base, as we previously argued in this article.
So the very first thing you should ensure your user onboarding process has is an automated tool to divide users into segments.

Can you analyze your users’ behavior?

analyze
There’s no use in building an onboarding process without being able to measure the results of your efforts.
Otherwise, how would you know that any product experiments you conduct are a success?
So your software of choice needs to have analytics capabilities. An A/B testing function is especially important.

Are your walkthroughs genuinely interactive?

There are some onboarding tools out there that will only let you build product walkthroughs out of tooltips, or who think that a linear product tour is still a good way to onboard new customers. Instead, look for a tool that will allow you to create walkthroughs which are genuinely interactive, in the sense that they are responsive to the input of the customer.
For example, if you’re a social media scheduling tool, you wouldn’t want your tour to show users the option to post a Facebook message before they had first connected their Facebook account.

Can you communicate with your users in-app?

in-app communication
It’s easy to find onboarding software that will spam your customer’s inbox with email notifications and surveys, but is this really the best solution?
Rather than risk your user getting distracted by their inbox, look instead for software that will allow you to communicate with them inside your app itself.
Microsurveys are a great means of doing this. The surveys you send out can be quantitative (eg NPS) or qualitative (ie explaining why the user chose to do something).

Is your onboarding tool genuinely code-free?

Sadly, there are onboarding tools that advertise themselves as “code-free,” despite being nothing of the sort.
A common problem is when onboard software lets you build simple UI elements without code, but will then require you to use advanced CSS to create anything more sophisticated. Do your due diligence carefully in advance, and make sure that your onboarding software delivers you what it promised.

Customer onboarding software for scale-stage SaaS

While early-stage companies (more about that below) simply need to help guide users through the product, scale-stage SaaS companies need a lot more. 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. This creates an opportunity for customer success.

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.

Customer Onboarding Software #1 – Userpilot

userpilot-onboarding-software

Yes, we’re going to kick off our list with our own software. Userpilot distinguishes itself from the competition by the sheer range of onboarding patterns that you can create without needing to code. From modals to tooltips, and driven actions to hotspots, everything you could possibly need is available and you can choose to build a few simple tooltips or a thorough interactive walkthrough (see why walkthroughs are better than product tours here).

You can choose from checklists, slideouts, modals, and more. It’s all code-free and fully customizable to your company’s branding.

If you use Userpilot’s segmentation function, you can also customize your walkthroughs to the individual needs of each segment.

The factors by which you can segment include:
  • Location

  • Device

  • Language

  • Account level

  • Account age

  • Company email address

To check that the onboarding patterns you built are hitting your chosen onboarding metrics, Userpilot comes equipped with a powerful analytics suite. The A/B testing and feature adoption sections are particularly valuable.

If you need to communicate with your customers in-app, Userpilot will let you do this as well. Userpilot offers NPS surveys, as well as qualitative microsurveys.

This means that you can assess a given customer’s segment, and then follow up with qualitative microsurveys if you need more data to substantiate their NPS score.

Unlike some of the other onboarding tools on the market, all of these features are included at all plan levels, and the only code you’ll need is one small JS snippet during installation. Everything after that is code-free, which means that your developers will be able to focus on complex engineering problems instead of changing the color on a tooltip.

Userpilot has everything you need, and pricing starts at $249 for 2500 MAUs. Get a free demo today!

Customer Onboarding Software #2 – Pendo

pendo customer onboarding app

Pendo is best known in the onboarding software world for its analytics features, which we previously wrote about here.

Some highlights include:
  • The Paths feature, which allows SaaS companies to visualize all the possible routes in and out of a particular custom event.
  • Funnels, which allow you to track the progress of users towards a pre-specified sequence of steps.
  • Reports, which will graph out various adoption metrics, such as page views.
The challenge from a user’s perspective is that Pendo provides you with so many graphs and data points that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.
By contrast, Userpilot’s analytics are extremely focused on one goal: getting your users to adopt your features.
Besides analytics, Pendo also gives you the ability to make code-free product tours, consisting of familiar elements such as tooltips, welcome screens and success messages.
While the range of UI patterns offered is good, Pendo’s tours lack the interactivity offered by competitors such as Userpilot. After a while, it gets a bit repetitive reading 3-4 purple tooltips in a row.
If you’re a massive enterprise with money and manpower to spare, it might be worth the effort to make sense of Pendo’s clunky analytics and somewhat lifeless product tours. Maybe you could assign one analytics person to each analytics tool?
But for leaner SaaS companies, it’s difficult to see how this clunkiness justifies a price tag of $12k-30k per year, especially when there are more powerful alternatives available (hint: Userpilot).

Customer Onboarding Software #3 – Appcues

appcues
 
As a tool that was initially launched in 2013, Appcues is the oldest onboarding software on the market.
Despite its age, it remains user-friendly to use. Appcues’ Chrome extension is easy to download and install, and like Userpilot, it requires minimal code to get started. The range of features offered by Appcues is similar to Userpilot’s as well.

Notably, more complex UI patterns are hard to build on Appcues without using CSS. It’s different from Userpilot in this regard. Appcues’ analytics are easy to use, and their data visualizations are well designed.

So what’s the catch? Well, let’s just say that it pays to read pricing information carefully.
Appcues’ basic cost is exactly the same as Userpilot’s: $249 for 2500 MAUs. However, this only gives access to Appcues’ most basic features, whereas this price on Userpilot gives you full features.
And the price if you wanted the same functionality as Userpilot? Try a smooth $879!

Customer onboarding software for early-stage SaaS

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 onboarding software is a bit like choosing the right person to marry. If you make the wrong decision – it can make or break your product adoption rates. The point is: onboarding tools are very sticky. Once you have built an elaborate onboarding process 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 good thought so you don’t waste time and resources on tools that don’t help you achieve the user adoption growth you’re chasing.

SaaS 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 improve product adoption rates.

There are two different aspects of onboarding you need to consider when using emails. They’re proactive and reactive.

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, the email onboarding process 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 onboarding process, and help achieve customer success.

SaaS Customer Onboarding Software #4 – Userlist

customer onboarding software userlist

The first client onboarding tool 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 process 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 and optimizes the onboarding experience.

It also offers segmentation, so you can send different onboarding flows to specific groups of new customers. This is a great way of tailoring your onboarding experience to different use cases or customers at different stages of the user onboarding journey in order to achieve customer success.

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 new 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 better customer onboarding tool if you want to put your email onboarding on autopilot.

Customer Onboarding Software #5 – Encharge

encharge customer onboarding app

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 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 new 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 something to aid your email onboarding process, 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 new users with a self-serve onboarding approach. They can access them as and when they need to, making their onboarding experience self-directed.

This next group of tools are designed to help early-stage SaaS companies start building out their help docs.

SaaS Customer Onboarding Software #6 – Help Scout

helpscout help docs app

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.

SaaS Customer Onboarding Software #7 – Document360

document360 customer onboarding software

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.

Customer Onboarding Software #8 – Helpjuice

helpjuice help docs software

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 new 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.

In-app customer onboarding

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.

We mentioned the best in-app onboarding software for scaling SaaS businesses above, so these are the perfect options for early-stage SaaS companies that want to optimize their onboarding experience and improve activation:

#9 – HelpHero

helphero customer onboarding software

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.

As well as product tours, you can add checklists to your product, enabling users to see their progress and adding an element of gamification.

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.

#10 – Tooltip.io

tooltip.io customer onboarding app

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.

High-touch customer onboarding

High-touch customer onboarding is best suited for high-dollar deals. Onboarding new customers to a product/service usually takes a few weeks to several months. It needs frequent communication and collaboration to maintain stakeholders’ involvement and to keep projects on track.

A high-touch customer onboarding software helps you manage multiple customer-facing onboarding and implementation projects, improves visibility for leaders, and elevates the customer experience.

#11 – Rocketlane

Rocketlane is a customer onboarding software purpose-built for high-touch customer onboarding. Think of it as project management, communication, and collaboration tools bundled to streamline customer onboarding and software implementation projects.

Rocketlane has a sleek dashboard that provides visibility and insights into projects across the organization. It offers templates that you can use to codify your best practices and create projects in just a few clicks. Also, it has built-in time tracking capabilities that let your team log hours and provide visibility into their workload. 

Rocketlane’s USP is its customer-centricity. The software lets you impress your customers, make life easy for them, and keep them accountable throughout the journey.

Rocketlane provides a customer portal that you can customize to reflect your brand. The portal facilitates the right level of sharing with the customer across tasks, documents, and communication. Customers are now always in the know of the project or task status and can easily access information via magic links. No sign-ups or passwords needed.

Also with a one-of-its-kind unified workspace, you can collaborate live with customers on documents and project items. You can also mark work as private or shared to define what’s visible to whom.

Rocketlane works best for SaaS companies serving midmarket and enterprise, IT services, system integrators, and marketing agencies. It starts at $19 per user per month and comes with a free 21-day trial. 

Accelerating time-to-value, bringing consistency to your methodology, and delivering a 5-star customer onboarding experience can’t get easier.

Conclusion

Having finished this article, you should now have a better understanding of what onboarding software is and why it’s valuable. We’ve also given you a framework for deciding which onboarding software is the best choice for your business.
We hope that you’ll choose Userpilot! It offers a broad range of features at a competitive price.
The trial is also free, so you’ve got nothing to lose by signing up for a demo today.

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.

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Joe is a UX and content writer, with several years of experience working with SaaS startups. He's been working with SaaS startups that are focused towards product management and customer success for the past couple of years.