How to Reduce Time To Value For SaaS Products by Improving User Onboarding Experiences

How to Reduce Time To Value For SaaS Products by Improving User Onboarding Experiences

Did you know that reducing Time To Value for SaaS products can drive product adoption?

You might have a product that offers incredible value to your customers. But you’ll still struggle to drive adoption if you don’t optimize your Time To Value (TTV).

What if we say that you can reduce time to value by streamlining your onboarding experiences?

Read on to learn why Time To Value is a crucial metric for your SaaS business and how you can reduce TTV by improving your user onboarding experiences.


  • Time to value (TTV) in SaaS is the time taken to realize the value a customer expects from a product.
  • You need to tailor your approach for multiple types of time to value to help users engage with relevant parts of your product and deliver continuous value faster.
  • Ways of improving time to value:
  • Ask relevant questions in the signup flow to shorten time to value.
  • Replace empty states with personalized content to avoid users freezing after logging in.
  • If you need a good volume of data to show how your product works, use demo content generated from dummy data.
  • Add a micro survey to your welcome screen to understand user needs better, and then personalize the onboarding path based on the responses.
  • Use onboarding checklists to drive customers from one milestone to another, including the activation point.
  • Interactive walkthroughs guide customers step-by-step, helping them get the value faster.
  • A customer success team ensures that users have all the necessary resources to use the product and can offer group or 1 to 1 help if needed.
  • Contextual self-service support using an in-app resource center ensures a better user experience as it offers help where the user is and needs it.
  • In-app micro surveys are great for collecting user feedback, which helps you identify and remove friction easily.
  • Set a shorter free trial length and gamify the trial onboarding experience to help trial users realize the value of your product quicker.
  • Onboarding emails help you stay in touch with users outside your product, which is a great way to bring users back inside the app where the value of your product lies.
  • With a digital product adoption tool like Userpilot, you can build in-app guides and flows to help customers realize the value of your product faster.

What is time to value in SaaS?

Time to value (TTV) indicates the time taken by a user to realize the expected value from your SaaS product.

Reducing time to value is crucial, as it makes sure that your users are finding value from your product sooner rather than later.

Why is it important to shorten the time to value?

A long time to value is likely to lead to a low trial to paid conversion rate.

This means users won’t go forward in their user adoption journey, resulting in low to no product adoption.

Pretty scary, right?

granular user adoption journey map
Source: Userpilot

On the other hand, a shorter TTV means low friction in the user journey, which results in an easier path to experiencing value.

This helps you deliver a better customer experience, which will, in turn, help you build product stickiness, drive word of mouth, and grow your sales revenue.

Besides, a shorter time to value can drive customer success, and thus reducing churn.

How a better user onboarding experience can reduce time to value

Most SaaS businesses will focus on an initial product tour that shows the users all product features in one go.

But let’s face the truth!

Product tours are boring and irrelevant at times. No wonder everyone HATES them!

A better approach is to focus on the different stages of user onboarding and deliver contextual and personalized onboarding experiences at each stage across the customer journey.

This is when tools for building interactive walkthroughs come in handy.

user journey stages
Source: Userpilot

Here’s what each stage of the onboarding process means for your users:

  • Primary onboarding: New users get to experience the core functionality value of your product.
  • Secondary onboarding: Users get repeated value by interacting with more advanced features.
  • Tertiary onboarding: Users become loyal customers and Customer Lifetime Value increases as they upgrade and make your product an essential tool in their tool stack.

Multiple types of time to value means you need to tailor your approach for each of them. This makes sure that your approach will be specific and focused on helping the user engage with relevant parts of your product and deliver continuous value faster.

This is when tools for building interactive walkthroughs come in handy by helping you guide users inside the product and experience value faster.

11 tactics to reduce time to value for SaaS

Your efforts to reduce time to value are most effective when you can tailor your customer onboarding process effectively.

Here are 11 tactics you can use to reduce TTV and drive product adoption and customer retention.

#1 – Make the signup flow relevant and remove friction

The signup flow is often the number one reason that causes friction and users to leave.

So why overcomplicate things?

If your goal is to shorten time to value, you need to ask users relevant questions only. Limit the questions to only those needed to create an account., you’ll be able to collect more data after the user is inside the app.

If you go the other route and ask multiple questions, then use them to personalize the first interaction and replace empty states with personalized content.

Take Asana, for example. Even if they ask multiple questions, each of them is relevant.

While this might look like a lot of screens, the process takes less than 60 seconds as you can get through them fast. Not to mention the instant value when it ends.

asana signup flow
Source: Asana

You also get to experience the value of the app right after you finish signing up, as you have already created your first task.

This is how it looks once you’re done. You get to see the product in action – fast and with your own data.

asana completed sign up flow
Source: Asana

#2 – Remove empty-states for a shorter time to value

Personalization needs to be done from the very beginning. If users land in an empty dashboard with zero instructions when they log in for the first time, it’s not a very inspiring situation.

Users can freeze, not knowing what to do, which means they don’t get value from your product.

To prevent users from freezing, you need to replace these empty states with personalized content. This not only helps you welcome your users in a better way but also helps them get value from your product faster – reducing time to value.

We’ve seen how Asana does it, but you can also use standard content that showcases how your product works.

Here’s how Todoist reduces TTV by offering personalized content and instructions to get started while also showcasing their product.

This makes sure that users know what to do next and how the product fits their use case.

Todoist personalized content
Source: Todoist

#3 – Shorten time to value with demo content for complex Saas products

While an empty state can be filled with content that showcases the app’s use, demo content can offer more functionality and reduce time to value by allowing users to test the product without having to add their own data.

This is a great approach when you need a good volume of data to show how your product works.

Not every user will want to trust you enough the first time to add their data.

In such cases, using demo content generated from dummy data is a great way to shorten the path to value.

Here’s a great example from Mixpanel, an analytics tool where it’s hard to get the value out of it without setting up a lot of custom integrations to start data collection.

Instead of asking users to connect their datasets, it uses demo data to show the product in action. This helps users realize the value of the tool better and faster, despite its steep learning curve.

mixpanel dummy data demo
Source: Mixpanel

#4 – Use welcome screens to customize user onboarding based on needs

Your welcome screens can do more than just welcome your users.

You can add a micro survey that will help you understand more about user needs. This allows you to personalize the onboarding sequence to get them to experience value faster.

Here’s how BacklinkManager, a tool for collaborating and keeping track of backlinks, segments their users based on their needs by using a short survey in their welcome screen.

backlinkmanager welcome screen survey
Source: BacklinkManager

This allows them to customize the path for each user type. Since their use cases are different, they will need to engage with different parts of the tool first to experience value.

This is where checklists work best in reducing time to value.

#5 – Get users to experience the core value of your product with in-app onboarding checklists

You can use onboarding checklists to drive customers to engage and adopt your product.

For example, a customer onboarding checklist can help you to drive users to the activation point. This is the specific point in the journey where users get to experience first-time value.

Make sure you’re focusing on only the key tasks in your checklists.

This doesn’t mean you need to leave important steps out. You can simply create multiple checklists for each point or milestone in the journey you want to drive the user to.

Here’s an example from Postfity, a social media scheduling tool, using a primary onboarding checklist.

This is a great way of making sure that users get to experience the core value of your product contextually.

checklists reduce time to value saas
Want to build checklists that reduce the time to value? Get a Userpilot demo and get started!

#6 – Guide users and shorten the learning curve with interactive walkthroughs

While customer onboarding checklists help users by telling them what to do, interactive walkthroughs actually show them how to do it – one step at a time.

Here’s how Rocketbots, a messaging CRM, uses interactive walkthroughs to help users get value faster.

They used a checklist that included four key tasks that would lead users to the Aha! Moment. It starts with users setting up the “space”, after which they are shown a tutorial that was created using Userpilot.

Users are shown around the space they created using tooltips. Then they move on to the next item – “Connect A channel”. This is the Aha! Moment.

rocketbot interactive walkthrough
Source: Rocketbot

Rocketbot’s brilliant combination of interactive walkthroughs and checklists helped them reduce the time to value for their users greatly.

#7 – Improve time to basic value with a customer success team

Efficient support will always be a crucial factor when you’re trying to improve time to basic value, as the user gets human guidance for any issues they face.

For SaaS products, you should try and offer this guidance early on using a customer success team.

Customer success managers are skilled at ensuring that users have all the necessary resources to use the product and make sure that they get to experience immediate value by being there when the customer needs it, using tutorials or 1 on 1 personal help.

At Userpilot, we do both.

Here’s one example of an email our customer success team sent out to new users.

customer success email for basic value - time to value
Source: Userpilot

This ensures that our users have access to the resources they need to get familiar with our product while also knowing that they can contact us if they run into an issue.

#8 – Offer in-app self-service support

A great way to ensure a better user experience is by offering help where the user is and needs it.

Contextual self-service support using an in-app resource center helps you do exactly that.

You can host a knowledge base inside your app, which will help you reduce friction and shorten the learning curve for users.

Adding your in-app guides here is also a great idea. You can also link to your documentation articles and add widgets like a 1-click get in touch chat launcher and more.

Here’s an example of Postfity, including a guide that uses tooltips to create walkthroughs that guide users to use their new features, such as posting on Instagram. Users can launch this directly from inside the app’s resource center without wasting any time.

in app guide postfity
Build an in-app resource center with Userpilot. Get a demo now!

This helps Postfity ensure their users don’t have to wait around for support staff to show them the value of a newly released feature.

#9 – Identify and remove friction with micro surveys

If you’re looking to collect user feedback easily and measure customer satisfaction, in-app micro surveys are the perfect tool for this.

You can use the quantitative and qualitative data obtained from micro surveys to:

  • improve your product’s features and usability
  • discover and remove friction points
  • help customer success teams understand where users struggle
  • offer better customer support, and much more

It doesn’t have to be generic.

You can use different customer satisfaction surveys at different stages of the user journey.

For example, once users have engaged with a new feature, you can find out their overall experience with a simple micro survey.

microsurvey userpilot
Source: Userpilot

This helps you understand whether or not the feature is clicking with the users and if they have realized the value the feature offers.

#10 – Gamify your SaaS trial onboarding experience

When you’re deciding on the length of a free trial, it will always depend on your product and how much the user needs to use it before getting to value.

A 14 free trial is ideal if you want more customers to understand the core value of your product. But if your product is a monthly budgeting tool to track personal finances, there’s no way the user can get to experience value in 14 days.

Does that make sense?

The point is, try to keep it as minimum as necessary.

Apart from having a shorter trial duration, you can double down and gamify the onboarding experience for trial users.

This worked out great for Prodpad, whose team found out that even in a 30-day free trial, customers take 9 days to realize the value of their product. So they took that timeframe and gamified the onboarding experience.

gamify trial for new customers prodpad
Source: Prodpad

The gamification allowed users to get more days in their free trial if they engaged with the product. This helped Prodpad get its users to invest more time and better realize its value.

#11 – Bring users back inside the app with onboarding emails

Value happens inside the app. If users are not in the app, they can’t experience value.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can also stay in touch on other channels instead of narrowing your focus solely on in-app marketing.

This is where onboarding emails come in. They are the best way to bring users back inside the app.

But to accomplish this, you need to focus on creating insightful email copy that showcases specific benefits for each use case. This will give users a compelling reason to engage with your product.

Use a digital adoption platform to implement a smooth onboarding process

As you can see from the 11 tactics to reduce time to value that we covered, most of them happen inside the product.

Of course, a great UI helps shorten the TTV.

But for everything else, you can use a digital product adoption tool and build in-app guides and flows to bring users to realize the value faster.

userpilot user onboarding flow
Start driving users to value and increase your product adoption rates with Userpilot. Get a demo and see how.

With Userpilot, you can build welcome screens and other micro surveys without writing a single line of code.

It doesn’t stop here.

You can then segment the users based on the responses you get.

Userpilot also allows you to build different checklists and in-app interactive walkthrough guides based on each segment and personalize the onboarding path for users efficiently.

You can A/B test different experiences and use goals and analytics to test what helps shorten the TTV for your product.

userpilot experimentation
Source: Userpilot


For SaaS products, reducing the time to value is a continuous process. But a great start puts you right on track for success.

This is why you need to focus on improving user onboarding experiences, which ensures that users get to see the value of your product faster.

The 11 tactics we’ve discussed in this article will help you direct your focus beyond the primary onboarding stage and take an all-around approach to reduce TTV.

Want to reduce time to value by creating product experiences code-free? Get a Userpilot Demo today!

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