SaaS User Flow Optimization Guide: Different Flows & Strategies

SaaS User Flow Optimization Guide: Different Flows & Strategies cover

How do you conduct SaaS user flow optimization to increase the effectiveness of your product-led growth initiatives?

This is the main question that the article tackles, so if you’re after the answer, I’ve got you covered.

Ready to dive in?


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What is a SaaS user flow?

A user flow in SaaS is a sequence of steps that the user goes through within a product to achieve a goal.

For example, the diagram below illustrates a banking app login flow. It shows all the possible actions that the user may need to take to log in.

User flow diagram
User flow diagram.

Different types of user flows in SaaS

Examples of user flows at different stages of the user journey include:

How to create user flows to deliver a positive user experience

Ready to start creating and analyzing user flows for your SaaS product?

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide!

Perform user research and define your user personas

The process starts with user research. After all, you need to know who you’re building the flows for.

What tools can you use to gather the necessary data?

Typical sources of insights include:

The outcome of user research should be a list of user personas, along with their JTBDs, pain points, goals, benefits of using the product, company details, and team collaboration information.

User persona
User persona example.

Map user journeys for different personas

Some of the user flows, like the sign-up flow, will be identical for all user personas, while others, like the onboarding flow, might be tailored to their unique needs.

That’s why the next step involves mapping out the user journeys for each user persona.

This includes outlining:

To help you create user journey maps and user flow diagrams, tools like Miro or Canva are priceless.

Customer journey map example.

Analyze user behavior to identify drop-offs and friction points

Once you have the maps ready, you can start the analysis to find areas for optimization.

It’s good practice to start with a high-level analysis to identify the main areas where users experience friction.

Funnel analysis is the tool to use as it allows you to visualize where users drop off in the user journey and how long it takes them to convert. If you can see a massive drop-off rate or delay at a particular stage, that’s where friction is.

Next, conduct a more granular analysis of user behavior to find the root causes using techniques like path, heatmap, or session recording analysis.

Funnel analysis
Funnel analysis in Userpilot.

Optimize user flows with analytics insights

So you know why users experience friction in their journey?

Excellent! Just need to optimize the flow to increase the completion rate.

How you do it depends on the cause or the kind of flow you’re optimizing.

For instance, if you’ve just introduced a new feature, like our new Dashboards, but users are struggling to activate it, you can create a walkthrough guiding users through its functionality.

Interactive walkthrough
SaaS User flow optimization with an interactive walkthrough.

Best practices for optimizing different user flows

How else can you optimize user flows? Here are a few ideas.

Simplify the sign-up process

Make the sign-up as simple as possible to allow users to start using the product as quickly as possible. The more you delay the moment, the longer it takes them to experience value, and the more likely they’re to churn.

So, remove all unnecessary steps. For example, you don’t need email confirmation at this stage. Instead, ask for it later, once the user is already taking the product for a spin.

Another strategy:

Enable Single Sign-on (SSO) so that user can use their existing social or email accounts to log into the product.

Sign-up flow
Userpilot sign-up page.

Make the user interface intuitive

One thing that can stop users from completing flows is poorly designed UI.

How can you avoid it?

  • Keep the design simple – focus on core features and eliminate anything that doesn’t add value to avoid overwhelming users. Canva’s dashboard is a perfect example.
Intuitive UI design
Intuitive UI design.
  • Make sure that the layout and navigation are consistent – so that users know what to expect no matter which screen their viewing.
  • Organize information and features logically – so users to find them easily.
Logical menu design
Logical menu design.
  • Make the design inclusive and accessible for users with unique needs, like disabilities. Check out Asana’s color palette, which was simplified for this very reason.
Asana color scheme change
Asana color scheme change.

Tailor user flows to their end goal

One reason why Canva’s dashboard I mentioned above is so effective is that it’s personalized to user needs.

When you first join the product, you complete a short welcome survey that asks you about your role and your goals. Based on that, Canva customizes the dashboard by adding shortcuts to the most relevant templates.

What else should you personalize for different use cases?

User onboarding is an obvious one. As each user persona has different goals, they need different features to achieve them. To help them discover the features in less time, create a unique flow for each of them and trigger them based on their responses to the welcome survey.

SaaS user flow optimization: User segmentation for personalization
User segmentation for personalization.

Use checklists to guide users through the activation flow

Checklists are excellent means of user activation. They’re clear, easy to follow, and tap into our strong psychological need to complete tasks we have planned. And the further down the list you make it, the stronger the desire to crack on.

Again, you may need different checklists for different user segments.

Let’s take a fitness tracking app, like TrainingPeaks, which is used by both athletes and coaches.

To start using the app, an athlete needs to connect their fitness device to the app and synchronize workouts.

The coach, on the other hand, needs to invite athletes to connect their accounts and create a dashboard.

SaaS user flow optimization: Onboarding checklist settings
Create an onboarding checklist code-free with Userpilot.

Optimize the user journey based on user feedback

Collecting user feedback allows you to gather valuable insights on how to improve the user flows.

Especially, in-app surveys are a good tool for the job because you can trigger them at the very moment a user completes a flow – or drops off.

When designing your survey, include both closed- and open-ended questions to collect quantitative and qualitative data.

For example, you can ask users to rate the onboarding experience on a scale first, and then follow up with a question, ‘How can we improve the onboarding experience for you?’.

Make the open-ended questions optional, though. Otherwise, the response rates may not be high enough.

SaaS user flow optimization: In-app survey
In-app survey created with Userpilot.

Couple new feature announcements with interactive walkthroughs

A new feature announcement is not much use when it comes to feature activation.


Because it doesn’t show how to use the feature.

Unless you back it up with an interactive walkthrough.

Have a look at this modal announcing the Trends Report Builder feature. It provides information on how to start using the feature, but it’s the CTA button at the bottom that matters the most.

SaaS user flow optimization: New feature announcement
New feature announcement in Userpilot.

Clicking on the button triggers a walkthrough made up of tooltips that show users where to find the feature.

SaaS user flow optimization: Interactive walkthrough
Interactive walkthrough.

The tooltips also contained information about the benefits of the feature to bring them closer to the Aha! moment.

SaaS user flow optimization: Interactive walkthrough
Interactive walkthrough.

Understand user interactions with main features to effectively prompt secondary onboarding flow

To avoid overwhelming users, introduce your features gradually. Start with the essential ones necessary to activate users and only then introduce more complex ones.

How do you know that users are ready for more advanced features?

Track their engagement with the basic features.

This may be a bit tricky if they have to use the feature a few times to adopt it and use it competently though. If that’s the case in your product, creating custom events made up of multiple user actions can help because you can track them as one.

Once the user completes the adoption event, you can automatically trigger secondary onboarding flows to introduce new features.

SaaS user flow optimization: Feature & event analytics
Feature & event analytics in Userpilot.

Deliver contextual upsell prompts

Another great application of event-based triggering is for upsell messages.

These work in a very similar way to secondary onboarding:

  • Users complete a series of actions indicating they’re ready to upgrade.
  • This triggers a message highlighting the benefits of upgrading and prompting them to do so, like the Asana modal below.
SaaS user flow optimization: Upsell modal
Upsell modal example.

Automatically trigger an offboarding flow and offer alternatives

And what if the user decides to cancel their subscription?

There are two things you can do here:

  • Collect feedback on their reasons.
  • Offer an alternative solution, for example, a cheaper plan or a discount.

And guess what? These flows are also triggered contextually when the user hits the cancel button.

SaaS user flow optimization: cancellation flow
Cancellation flow in Userpilot.

How to optimize user flows with Userpilot

Userpilot is a product growth platform built for SaaS user flow optimization. It offers powerful analytics and feedback features, as well as the user engagement layer.

Let me explain how you can leverage its capabilities.

Userpilot analytics dashboard
Userpilot analytics dashboard.

Create user flows with different UI elements

With Userpilot, you can create 6 different UI patterns you can use to engage users:

  • Tooltips – a rectangular message that appears when you click on a feature or hover over it, used for contextual guidance, either individually or as a part of interactive walkthroughs.
  • Modals – larger than tooltips, pop-up windows, great for announcements.
  • Banners – ribbon-like messages at the top or bottom of the screen, handy for notifications and announcements.
Chrome extension
Userpilot Chrome extension.
  • Hotspots – used to attract user attention to a particular feature or UI element.
  • Checklists – to drive user activation.
Checklist settings
Userpilot checklist settings.
Resource center
Resource center in Userpilot.

Use advanced product analytics for analyzing user behavior

When it comes to product analytics, Userpilot isn’t a pushover.

Here are the main features:

  • Path analysis – allows you to visualize all user interactions leading up to or following an event, which is perfect for user journey mapping and in-depth user conversion analysis.
Path analysis
Path analysis in Userpilot.
  • Feature tags and heatmaps – you can tag features for tracking from the Chrome extension without any coding and visualize feature usage in heatmaps.
Feature tag settings
Feature tag settings in Userpilot.
A/B tests
A/B tests in Userpilot.

Collect and analyze user feedback

While analytics can help you understand what users do, you often need their feedback to understand why. Fortunately, collecting feedback with Userpilot is dead-easy.

  • Thanks to the template library, you don’t have to create surveys from scratch. Just customize them in the visual editor.
Survey template library
Survey template library in Userpilot.
NPS dashboard
NPS dashboard in Userpilot.
  • Survey analytics – even more granular survey analytics.


User flow optimization in SaaS products is essential to create a positive user experience and enable users to achieve their goals. This leads to higher customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. And loyal users tend to spend more during their lifecycle.

To learn more about SaaS user flow optimization with Userpilot, book the demo!

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