How To Create A SaaS Onboarding Checklist Template [With Examples]

Onboarding checklists are a game-changer when it comes to getting SaaS users to the activation point. They employ a psychological phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik effect to push more users towards the activation point.

Creating a solid onboarding checklist template can help to ensure fewer users drop off during onboarding. That is because they are guided on what to do to achieve the value they need from your product. The result is higher retention and revenue.

So far so good. But where do you even start?


  • An onboarding checklist guides users through a SaaS product by creating steps or tasks to complete in order to get to the activation point faster.
  • Onboarding checklists are used to onboard new users and increase product adoption rates through secondary, tertiary, and continuous onboarding experiences.
  • To achieve the best results from an onboarding checklist; keep it simple, measure your users’ progress using a progress bar, gamify the onboarding checklist, provide your users with quick wins, and A/B test different versions of the copy to increase the completion rate.
  • An onboarding checklist template is a reusable checklist widget you can easily copy, customize, and reuse for different user segments and stages of the user journey.
  • You can build an onboarding checklist template quickly and easily without writing any code by using Userpilot. Jump on a quick call with us to find out how.
  • To create the best onboarding checklist template for your SaaS, check out our list of examples that include Growthmentor, PayPal, Databox, Skedsocial, Storychief, and Evernote.

What is a user onboarding checklist?

An onboarding checklist guides users through the creation of simple tasks, progress bars, or steps that users need to do in order to get to the activation point.

As a quick example, is a blogging platform that simplifies the publishing process for bloggers. The image below shows their onboarding checklist as tasks that a new user has to complete to get to the activation point.

onboarding checklist template by onboarding checklist

Here are the onboarding checklist tasks for

  • Create a blog
  • Publish your first post
  • Choose a theme
  • Add a domain
  • Share your work

From the example above, we see that an onboarding checklist helps you to organize your user onboarding process by highlighting the key activation points in the right order.

An onboarding checklist template then, is a reusable checklist widget you can easily copy, customize, and reuse for different user segments and stages of the user journey.

How is a user onboarding checklist template used?

Onboarding checklists are used in SaaS for various purposes and goals. These include:

1) New user onboarding – helping your new users hit the activation point faster with an onboarding checklist template

When a new user signs up, you want to get them to activation as soon as possible. However, if they are left to themselves they won’t know where to start or what to do to get value from your product.

An onboarding checklist helps to show the new user how to get started and exactly what steps to take to get the value they need. This pushes them to the activation point faster.

2) Secondary onboarding – using multiple onboarding checklists throughout the user journey with multiple onboarding checklist templates

In order to increase product adoption and drive more value, feature engagement and push upsells, SaaS companies usually employ secondary, tertiary, and further onboarding workflows.

Creating specific simple tasks for your existing users in an onboarding checklist helps to increase product adoption and feature engagement. This leads to higher retention and revenue.

For example, is a chat-based customer support SaaS that helps companies combine the power of chatbots with human customer support to deliver a great customer service experience.

Their support team noticed that their customers kept asking for features that already existed in the platform. 60-70% of customers were using 3-4 parts of the whole application with a handful of major features.

They were not fully exploring the app, therefore not fully interacting with all the features that are available – and therefore, not getting enough value. And not getting value over time means…churn, of course.

The product team decided to fix feature adoption using secondary onboarding checklists.

The focus of this onboarding checklist template was on 2 goals:

  • Get the users to their initial ‘aha moment’ – the chatbot integration.
  • Driving users to adopt certain key features that correlate with conversion – through adding little cues in the product. introduced the following onboarding checklist:

onboarding checklist template by Kommunicate onboarding checklist

To increase chatbot integration, the attention of the new user is called towards the first task. There is a button to help them do it faster.

Since launching this checklist, the chatbot integration went up to 55-60% from 40-45% for new users.

In order to enhance the adoption of features by existing users, introduced cues in the form of onboarding checklists in their product.

Take for example this onboarding checklist template:

onboarding checklist template cue created in Userpilot

Kommunicate small product adoption cues

A lot of users did not know they could integrate a bot platform or customize their chat widgets. By introducing the onboarding checklist above and a few more, the team noticed increased feature adoption rates.

Initially, only 28% of customers would reach these new features, but now it has grown to 41%.

This is a great example of using onboarding checklists for secondary onboarding to drive product adoption.

Read more about onboarding improvements here.

In addition to increasing product adoption, further onboarding experiences help to push upsells. By using onboarding checklists to push users to make use of new features, they discover the hidden value and upgrade subscriptions if need be to utilize those features.

What are the benefits of using a user onboarding checklist template?

SaaS companies benefit from onboarding checklists in the following ways:

1) The checklist creates onboarding tasks for the user in an orderly and structured way.

2) It leverages the Zeigarnik effect to ensure higher completion rates. The Zeigarnik effect is the tendency for the human mind to focus more on uncompleted tasks than completed ones.

3) Using an onboarding checklist template built in a tool like Userpilot allows you to save tons of time and money on development. You can easily copy your onboarding checklist templates, personalize them for different user segments, and deploy the adapted checklist for each user segment to maximize activation/feature adoption.

4) Using onboarding checklist templates rather than hard-coded checklists also allows non-technical PMs and PMMs to run their own product experiments and A/B tests without resorting to their development team for help.

This, obviously, makes your product team more agile.

But let’s talk about the benefits of onboarding checklist templates for your users.

The incomplete state of tasks generally unsettles most human beings. By creating an onboarding checklist as tasks or steps to be completed, the Zeigarnik effect comes into play.

Consequently, users naturally want to get the checklist done. This helps them get to the activation point faster.

6) If tasks or steps are indicated, the user knows what they need to do next. That way, they are accountable for what is done and what is yet to be completed. It gives them a sense of responsibility and drive to complete the tasks faster.

7) Every time I finish one simple task, I feel very accomplished. New users feel the same way once they finish a task or step in the onboarding checklist.

8) Onboarding checklists help bring gamification into user onboarding. Gamification can be adopted as a strategy to make checklists fun and increase the number of users that get to the activation point. By completing a step, a user can earn a virtual award, score points or earn trophies to keep them motivated.

SaaS Onboarding Checklist Template best practices

For an effective onboarding checklist, there are best practices to follow. They include:

1) Keep it simple

An onboarding checklist should break down your complex onboarding process into really simple tasks that users can complete in a few clicks.

Don’t use more than 2-3 key activation points in the checklist. It is good to remember that your new users have little experience with your product. This emphasizes why you need to keep it simple.

Simple steps are easy to follow and will push more users towards activation.

2) Measure progress using a progress bar

onboarding checklist template with progress bar

A long onboarding checklist can be quite intimidating for users. This might make them skip the process altogether.

A great way of ensuring the users keep the checklist in perspective and are encouraged to complete it is by adding a progress bar.

It gives users clarity about how they are fairing with the product.

If they finish a few steps in the checklist and see that they are at 60% completion, they get encouraged to finish the rest of the steps.

3) Gamify your onboarding checklist template

For your users, an onboarding checklist can feel like a set of chores to be done.

Gamification helps turn the onboarding checklist into a fun activity.

You can gamify your onboarding checklist by adding badges, scorecard points, and levels.

onboarding checklist with an incentive

When a user completes a task, they earn more points, a new badge, go top of the leaderboard, or go to a higher level.

This motivates them to do the rest of the tasks.

4) Provide a quick win

Quick wins are low-hanging fruits in your onboarding process that your users can achieve without putting in too much work.

We have all stayed away from completing a task only to find out it would have taken us 10 minutes to get it done.

We do this because we think the task will be hard, take too much time, or we can’t see the value in completing it faster.

Users may feel the same way every time they see your onboarding checklist.

“Am I supposed to finish those six tasks right now?”

“No way!”

And off they go.

Users need to see quick wins that can be completed immediately to get the motivation to finish up the onboarding checklist.

We will see how Evernote does this in our onboarding checklist templates section below.

5) A/B test different versions of your copy to maximize completion rates

Your copy will affect what customers understand. This will reflect in the completion rates of the onboarding checklist.

Testing different versions of the copy helps you analyze which copy works best.

As a rule of thumb:

  • Make sure your copy focuses on a specific action – be clear about what you want your users to do. In a checklist, you have very little space to communicate; so clarity and precision are important.
  • Provide a reason for the action – users want to know why you are telling them to do a particular task. This helps them understand how they benefit from it. A simple statement like – “Add your location. Profiles with locations get 30% more engagement” – helps the user understand why adding a location to their profile is important.

How to build an onboarding checklist template for your company code-free?

Userpilot helps you build an onboarding checklist without writing any code. Let us see how to do that in the steps below:

1. Go to Userpilot

2. Choose Checklists and pick your colors to stay consistent with your branding

Checklists in Userpilot

3. Type in Beacon text:

Beacon text in Userpilot

4. Customize widget text:

customize widget text in Userpilot

5. Customize dismiss text:

create dismiss text

6. Customize completion text:

create completion text

7. Add tasks – make sure these are the key activation points that are necessary, otherwise, you’ll overwhelm your users

adding tasks for onboarding checklist in Userpilot

8. Choose who will see your checklist via the audience targeting tab:

audience targeting in Userpilot

9. Click ‘publish’ and you’re done!

Publish checklist

Do you want to build an onboarding checklist template like this without writing any code? Jump on a call with us.

Onboarding checklist templates and examples

These onboarding checklist templates and examples will give you a sneak peek into how other SaaS companies are currently using onboarding checklists.

1. Growthmentor – keep it simple

Growthmentor’s onboarding checklist is simple and straightforward. Instead of asking users to simply fill out their profiles, the checklist breaks down this action into simple tasks as shown below.

Growthmentor onboarding checklist template

Growthmentor simple onboarding checklist

2) PayPal – Give users a headstart

This uses the psychological phenomenon known as the “Endowed Progress Effect”. It means that people are highly likely to finish a task (or series of tasks) if they feel that they have already made progress.

PayPal uses this phenomenon by giving its users a headstart during onboarding. When a new user signs up, the “Account created” task is already checked off.

PayPal onboarding checklist template

PayPal onboarding checklist

Checking off the “Account created” task motivates the user to move to the second step and so on.

3) Storychief – measure users’ progress

Storychief has implemented a progress bar in their rather long onboarding checklist that looks like this:

Storychief onboarding checklist example

Storychief onboarding checklist with progress bar

This progress bar helps users to understand how they are fairing with the product. When they see a score of 25% they are motivated to finish the next task to score higher.

4) Evernote – introducing quick wins

By introducing quick wins, users finish the first task faster and are motivated to finish the next one. Let us see how Evernote does this below:

Evernote onboarding checklist example

Onboarding checklist by Evernote

Evernote wants to show users that writing a note will take a minute. So they have that as the first step in the onboarding checklist.

A note-taking space is on the right side and the user just has to type something there to get their first quick win.

This step achieves the following:

  • Shows a new Evernote user that taking notes in the app is not hard or time-consuming.
  • Introduces the user to the primary feature of Evernote – notetaking.

5) Databox – gamification through leveling up

Databox has set its onboarding checklist as a leveling-up game. Every time you complete a set of tasks, you are ramped up to the next level.

Databox onboarding checklist template

Databox onboarding checklist gamification

6) Skedsocial – precise, action-oriented, emoji-filled copy

Skedsocial’s copy is precise. It focuses on specific actions to help the user understand what is required of them as quickly as possible.

Skedsocial onboarding checklist template

Skedsocial onboarding checklist copy

In addition, the company uses emojis in the copy to sound very friendly.

The use of friendly copy gives the onboarding checklist a great human feel.


We have seen that the best onboarding experiences utilize onboarding checklists. They break down complex actions into simple tasks that users can quickly complete to move to activation faster.

By learning from the onboarding checklist examples above, we hope that you will be inspired to create your own onboarding checklist today!

Would you like to see how to implement one without coding? Jump on a call with us today.

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