14 User Onboarding Best Practices for SaaS

14 User Onboarding Best Practices for SaaS

Adopting user onboarding best practices for your brand is a failproof way to leave a great first impression.

A strong onboarding process is like helping people navigate a new terrain without struggling to find their way. It helps users get the most value out of your product within the shortest possible time.

However, with a range of user personas and attributes, it can be overwhelming to know which best practices you need to fuel your brand for success.

This article discusses user onboarding best practices to help you offer an intuitive experience – and attract more adoption of your product and brand.


  • User onboarding is a process that shows users how they can derive value from your product.
  • Effective user onboarding drives new users to the activation point and improves adoption rate.
  • Align your onboarding process with your branding to reduce user friction.
  • Collect customer data with your welcome screen to personalize the experience for potential customers.
  • Send a welcome email to introduce your product, offering, and brand.
  • Use an in-app banner in place of a verification email with a call-to-action to help users get started.
  • Use an onboarding checklist to update users about upcoming tasks and guide them to the activation point.
  • UI patterns like tooltips, modals, banners, interactive tours, checklists, and progress bars can guide users through the customer journey.
  • Gamify the user journey by using the challenge and reward system to drive engagement.
  • Use an online webinar to walk users through your onboarding process and drive customer success.
  • Monitor customer behavior and conduct surveys to identify friction points.
  • Use win-back emails to reengage inactive users.
  • Let your onboarding be a continuous process.
  • Userpilot is the best user onboarding software with powerful features. Book a demo to discover how you can improve your user onboarding experience.

What is user onboarding?

User onboarding is the process of getting users accustomed to your product, helping them adopt and experience value from the product.

It involves helping them make use of your product to solve their problems in the most frictionless way possible.

Why is effective user onboarding important?

Here are the key benefits that come with effective onboarding:

  • Improve the new user onboarding process and help users derive value from your product: Onboarding completion rates indicate whether users are finding your product helpful and useful. With this information, you can tweak the onboarding process to increase product adoption.
  • Drive new users to the activation point: It gets more users to the “Aha!” or “Wow” moment.
  • Improve user adoption rates: It increases engagement, boosts conversion rate, and keeps users motivated.
  • Improve retention rates and customer loyalty: Customers with a positive onboarding experience will likely return and stay loyal to your brand. Retention increases customer lifetime value (CLV) and boosts revenue.

14 Onboarding best practices for new users

Ready to get started with your user onboarding process?

Here are 14 best practices to create an effective onboarding experience.

1. Design your onboarding experience to align with your branding

Brand alignment describes the efforts of a company to ensure all of its visuals, interactions, and communications fit its brand message and identity.

Your onboarding experience is the perfect time to set the tone for your brand. Creating a clear path helps to reduce user friction during the onboarding process. It minimizes the chances of potential users feeling lost, stuck, or confused along their journey.

user onboarding best practices
Align your onboarding experience with your branding.

2. Use a welcome screen to collect customer data

Creating a welcome screen allows you to create a good first impression, provide in-app guidance, and give users the motivation they need to engage with your product and brand.

user onboarding
A personalized welcome screen example.

The primary goal of your welcome screen should be to understand your users’ pain points and needs. The easiest way to show users the value of your product is by clarifying how it will solve their problems.

Your welcome screen should request information that can help you make users feel more connected to your product and brand. From basic information like name, email, company, and job title, to more specific questions like “How would you like things to look?”, your screen can set the foundation for personalized onboarding.

3. Use collected data to create a personalized user onboarding experience

All of this data can be used to segment users according to their behavior and the actions they take in your app.

You can create user segments automatically based on the data you’ve collected. With this data, you can show them the features that meet their needs, and personalize the onboarding flow.

user onboarding best practices
Segment users easily with Userpilot. Book a demo to learn how.

You can send users toward a path that addresses their specific needs, activate users early in their journey, and minimize early abandonment.

user onboarding best practices
Guide users through a journey that addresses their specific goals, pain points, and needs.

4. Send a welcome email with educational materials

A personalized email is a great way to welcome new users.

Your users should receive a personalized welcome email when a user first sign up. You can also send an automated email if a user logs in after a period of inactivity.

You can take this one step further by providing educational materials as part of the welcome email. A welcome email gives you a chance to introduce your product or service, increasing your up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.

effective user onboarding
A welcome email lets you introduce your product and brand to your users with a warm and appealing copy.

5. Replace a verification email with an in-app banner

A verification email adds another layer to the onboarding process and can increase noise and friction.

As a customer-centric brand, you want the onboarding process to be as frictionless as possible when users sign up for your product.

onboarding best practices
In-app banners with a clear call to action make the user journey frictionless.

An in-app banner that welcomes users with a clear call to action is a great replacement for a verification email. Placing the welcome banner at the top of your app’s screen can help users get started with their onboarding tasks and make the user journey frictionless.

6. Use an onboarding checklist to guide users to the activation point

One way to create a seamless SaaS onboarding experience is to give users a sense of accomplishment while completing onboarding tasks and using your product.

Onboarding checklists and progress bars give users an idea of what to expect, as well as the thrill and satisfaction that comes with completing a task.

When they complete these tasks and are rewarded with success banners, points, or animated checkmarks, they reach an “Aha!” moment where they understand the value of your product.

If they adopt your product at this point, they are more likely to stay loyal to your brand.

new user onboarding
Create a code-free checklist with Userpilot.


How to create and publish a checklist – Userpilot
A thorough walk-through of how to create and publish a Checklist


How to create and publish a checklist with Userpilot.

7. Use different UI patterns to guide users through the customer journey

Here are the different UI patterns you can use to guide users through their onboarding journey:

  • Tooltips: Tooltips display informative text when you hover a cursor over an icon, hyperlink, or other elements in the product UI.
  • Modals: A modal is a web page element that can be used to welcome users and introduce them to your product. You can use words like “Welcome, {user’s first name}, or “Welcome to {your product name} to draw the user in.
  • Banners: Banners are small in-app notifications with a variety of functions. They can be used to attract a user’s attention without disrupting the onboarding flow.
  • Interactive product tours: Product tours, like physical tours, walk users through your product features using videos, images, and animations. You can show users how a product works and which elements they can interact with.
  • Checklists and progress bars: Checklists are lists of to-dos for users to complete as part of their onboarding. Progress bars are visual elements that show users how much progress they are making with the promise of a reward if they complete certain tasks.

8. Gamify the user journey to drive user engagement

If you are yet to gamify your onboarding process, you are missing out on a ‘secret weapon’ that can place you ahead in the race for user retention.

Onboarding gamification is a way to introduce fun game elements and tactics to trigger specific user behavior and incentivize engagement.

A gamified onboarding experience drives engagement by setting challenges and rewards to keep users motivated. Ultimately, this increases interactions and engagement with your product.

user onboarding best practices
Gamification example.

9. Drive customer success with online webinars

Using an onboarding webinar is one way you can help potential customers realize the true value of your product and offering.

It is a great way to hold the hand of your users through the onboarding process, providing an engaging experience from the first user point of contact with your brand.

Webinars can lay the foundation for a long-lasting relationship with your users and set your brand up for success.

great user onboarding experience
Use webinars to show users the value of your product and service.

10. Monitor customer behavior to spot and fix friction points

Conducting customer behavior analysis provides invaluable insights into your target audience’s preferences, needs, and motivations.

Moreover, with analytics, you can discover which features are not being adopted and prompt users to check them out.

user friction fully engaged users
Monitor feature usage with Userpilot.

Keep in mind that customer behavior analysis isn’t something that you do once and forget about it. It’s an ongoing process as your product changes and new customers learn about it.

11. Survey existing customers to identify friction points in their user onboarding experiences

Surveys can help you track the happiness level of existing customers through your product and identify friction points along their journey.

user friction user onboarding best practices
Build in-app surveys code free with Userpilot.

Depending on your desired insights, you can use a range of in-app surveys to collect customer feedback. Welcome surveys, NPS, CSAT surveys, and churn surveys all collect relevant feedback.

To increase the chance of a customer completing them, you want to trigger them at the right moment within your product contextually.

12. Reengage inactive users with win-back emails

Inactive users usually “sit on the fence”, so making the right moves can draw them back in.

When you discover this segment, use win-back emails to prompt activity. Let your re-engagement offer value – an incentive to return to the app. For instance, you may offer a reward for using the app regularly.

product analytics customer needs
Use win-back emails to prompt inactive users to take action.

13. Turn user onboarding into a continuous process

Your user onboarding process cannot be successful if you treat it as a “set it and forget it” business. As your products and services constantly evolve, it only makes sense that your onboarding process does the same.

Keeping customers in the loop when new products and features are released, providing ongoing support, and helping them navigate changes to your interface gives them the feeling that they are not alone.

Continuous onboarding guides ensure fully engaged customers. Once they have reached the “Aha!” moment, continue to show them new features and benefits and offer real-time product support. This way, they will continue investing in your product and offerings.

14. Use the right user onboarding software

Using the right user onboarding software is essential for businesses looking to effectively onboard new users or customers. It can significantly impact user engagement, retention, and overall success.

Here’s why it’s important and a list of necessary features to consider when choosing such software:

  • Efficiency: User onboarding tools streamline the onboarding process, reducing the time and effort required to get users up and running.
  • Analytics: User onboarding software provides valuable insights into user behavior during the onboarding process. Analytics allow businesses to identify drop-off points, bottlenecks, and areas that need improvement, enabling data-driven optimizations.
  • Feedback Collection: Effective onboarding tools often include features for collecting user feedback. This feedback can help you understand user pain points, gather suggestions for improvement, and address issues promptly, leading to better user satisfaction.
  • Personalization: User onboarding software should allow for personalized onboarding experiences based on user profiles or behavior. This personalization can enhance engagement and increase the likelihood of users adopting your product or service.
product adoption user onboarding best practices
Onboarding tools.

How to create a great user onboarding experience with Userpilot

Userpilot is a powerful product growth platform that provides you with the tools you need for your new user onboarding process.

Let us discuss some of the platform’s best offerings.

Benefit from advanced onboarding elements

When it comes to product adoption, you cannot go wrong with Userpilot. From tooltips and modals to slideouts and checklists, Userpilot lets you create a range of UI elements.

There are loads of options for segmenting users, including through user attributes and in-app behavior.

Userpilot provides best-in-class tools to build a great user experience.

Create different flows for different segments

With Userpilot’s audience settings, you can trigger flows for particular user segments or users that meet specific conditions. For instance, if you want to target new users for your onboarding, go to the Audience settings in the settings tab once you are done creating your content.

Userpilot lets you target all of the app’s users, a specific segment, or even create a new segment with specific conditions.

in app experience customer onboarding
Create flows for specific user types with Userpilot.

Create a resource center to provide users with self-support

You can create a robust resource center with lots of interesting options with Userpilot’s resource center editor. It is a no-code editor, and you can customize each element to reflect your brand’s image.

Userpilot lets you add multiple content resources like FAQs, interactive walkthroughs, surveys, flows, and videos.

Userpilot’s no-code resource center editor lets you customize your resource center to fit your brand image.

Analyze customer journey with advanced analytics

Userpilot is a product analytics platform that lets you track product usage and analyze data to extract insights. It also lets you use the in-app guidance feature to act on the extracted insight and drive engagement.

user journey onboarding best practices
Track product usage with Userpilot.


Your onboarding process can spell the difference between success and failure for your business. Your process should be as natural as possible for your product and brand. So, before you start structuring your onboarding experience, think about whether it can help users achieve the desired goals with your app.

Are you looking to get started with user onboarding for your product and brand? Get a demo to find out how you can fill any gaps in your onboarding experience.

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