What User Onboarding Metrics To Track and How To Use Onboarding Analytics To Optimize Them?

What User Onboarding Metrics To Track and How To Use Onboarding Analytics To Optimize Them? cover

What user onboarding metrics should you track if you want to evaluate your onboarding processes?

We all know that successful onboarding is especially important for SaaS companies since they depend on a subscription-based business model. It should be able to make users understand your product’s value so that they continue using it by investing their money.

Tracking the metrics helps you improve your onboarding process and retain more customers.

So let’s see what these metrics are and how you can leverage user onboarding analytics to optimize them.


  • User onboarding is the process that users undergo to adopt your product or service.
  • User onboarding metrics are quantitative measures that allow you to understand better, evaluate, and improve your onboarding process.
  • Tracking user onboarding metrics gives you a bird’s eye view of your onboarding efforts so you can make data-driven decisions.
  • The 10 key onboarding metrics and KPIs are: time to value, user activation rate, time to complete onboarding, the number of support tickets, trial-to-paid conversion rate, product adoption rate, product stickiness, customer retention rate, customer effort score, and customer satisfaction rate.
  • Here are some ways to collect data and track user onboarding metrics:
  • Use welcome screens to collect user data right from the start and use the data to segment customers based on common characteristics.
  • Create checklists to make it easier for customers to reach activation milestones quickly and track their progress toward these milestones.
  • Track in-app feature usage to identify and remove friction points.
  • Provide in-app self-service support with a help center and discover where users get stuck.
  • All methods can be accomplished with Userpilot. Book a demo to learn how.

What is the user onboarding process?

User onboarding is the process customers undergo to become accomplished product users. It starts with the initial experience with the application and extends to goal-setting, online/offline training, and the company’s customer success efforts.

Even though onboarding typically refers to educating new users, it can also be used to drive continuous value for existing customers. Thus, user onboarding should be an ongoing process throughout all stages of the customer journey.

Here are the different onboarding elements you can use to guide users on making the best use of your product and gaining value.

Customer onboarding process.
Customer onboarding process.

What are user onboarding metrics?

User onboarding metrics are quantitative measures that help you better understand, evaluate, and improve your onboarding process.

Why should you track customer onboarding metrics?

First of all, user onboarding metrics help you get a bird’s eye view of your onboarding efforts so you can make data-driven decisions.

Therefore, you can retain more customers starting from day 1 retention, which is tricky since you have to make new users see enough value in your product to return the next day.

The learning aspect of onboarding keeps customers engaged. Here, the metrics help you understand what features lead to greater engagement and higher activation rates. This lets you prioritize features and allocate resources efficiently.

Moreover, the metrics enable you to understand your customers’ journeys from initial sign-ups until they convert into loyal brand advocates.

Tracking customer onboarding metrics also uncovers friction points in the onboarding flow. Removing the friction wherever possible will reduce your users’ time to value, which we’ll discuss soon.

Key metrics and KPIs to measure user onboarding success

Let’s look at the 10 key metrics and KPIs you should use to measure the success of your user onboarding process.

Time to Value

For SaaS companies, time to value (TTV) is the time taken by a user to recognize the value of your product. This happens when a user reaches the Aha! moment (i.e. realizes your product’s expected value and starts experiencing that value).

TTV is a subjective metric since you have to first define what ‘value’ means to your customers.

So before you track the time to value, you should identify the value your product can deliver. Understand why users have decided to try your product and understand their goals. The answer is the Aha! moment your primary onboarding should focus on.

Your time to value should be as short as possible. A short TTV suggests there’s little friction in your primary onboarding, thus creating a good first impression on new users. Your trial-to-paid conversion rates will improve as a result.

Time To Value (TTV).
Time To Value (TTV).

User activation rate

The user activation rate is the percentage of users who have reached the predetermined activation points within a specific period. These activation points are key indicators of long-term retention.

Every product has its unique activation milestones, so decide on yours based on the features new users have to interact with to ‘get’ your tool.

To calculate the activation rate, divide the number of users who reached the activation point by the total number of users within a specific period, and multiply the ratio by 100.

Tracking this metric allows you to understand how effectively your onboarding flow can help users navigate your product and achieve their goals. The better you optimize your product to help users reach these milestones, the more users you’ll retain.

The formula for calculating the user activation rate.
The formula for calculating the user activation rate.

Time to complete onboarding

Onboarding should focus on demonstrating value and getting the results as quickly as possible. Users will remain in the onboarding phase until they are able to apply your product in their workflow independently.

To measure the time to complete onboarding, calculate the number of days it takes a user to complete the process. This metric will give you an overview of your performance.

You can improve your completion rate by collecting customer data upfront to provide personalized onboarding.

Product adoption rate

The product adoption rate measures how often and effectively your customers use your product. To calculate this metric, find the ratio of the number of new active users to sign-ups, and multiply by 100.

Product adoption is the end result of the user onboarding process. You can think of it as the opposite of churn because adoption takes place when customers stick to you and stop searching for alternative solutions.

Therefore, it’s crucial to look at the product adoption journey to segment customers according to their level of adoption. Early adoption signifies your onboarding is effective. Similarly, poor product adoption is a sign that you’re not doing something right.

Product adoption rate
Product adoption rate.

Product stickiness

As mentioned earlier, customers who have adopted your product completely are more likely to stick with you longer. Thus, product stickiness can be defined as the tendency of customers to keep coming back to your product because they find it valuable and engaging.

(If you’re wondering, adoption precedes stickiness – customers have to use your tool first and find its value before deciding to become regular users.)

You can measure the stickiness metric by dividing the number of daily active users by the number of monthly active users.

Product stickiness ratio
Product stickiness ratio.

A more engaging onboarding flow makes users interact with your product more actively, increasing stickiness. High product stickiness helps businesses use their product as a selling point and achieve product-led growth.

Furthermore, high stickiness means it will be easier to offer even more value to customers through cross-sells, upsells, and add-ons. This, in turn, will increase your monthly recurring revenue.

Number of support tickets

The number of support tickets tends to increase as businesses scale up and gain more customers.

People generally think of two solutions when support tickets begin to rise: hire more support reps or automate customer support. While both options can work, a better alternative is to reduce the number of tickets you’re getting.


Begin by understanding a huge number of tickets indicates the presence of friction points. So, dig into the support tickets and try to categorize them. Pinpoint and address recurring complaints through in-app messaging or a resource center. For instance, if customers keep complaining that they can’t use a specific feature, you could create and embed a tutorial that helps them (and incoming users) do that.

Trial to paid conversion rate

The trial-to-paid conversion rate, also called the free trial conversion rate, is the percentage of free trial users who become paying customers.

To measure this metric, divide the number of free trial users who converted in a given period by the total number of trial users during that period and multiply the result by 100.

Trial to paid conversion rate (CR)
Trial to paid conversion rate (CR).

An effective free trial run should leave users realizing that they can’t afford to go back to doing things without your application. For that, the free trial offerings should be completely aligned with the users’ goals.

This is where onboarding has a crucial role to play. As long as the onboarding succeeds in making users see a match between their expected value and your product offering, you should be good to go.

Customer Retention Rate

One of the best indicators of your onboarding’s success is the customer retention rate. The better your onboarding is, the more customers are likely to renew their subscriptions.

To measure the retention rate, first, find how many users you acquired during a given period and subtract it from the number of paying users present at the end of that period. Then divide this number by the number of paying users at the period’s start, and multiply the value by 100.

User retention rate
User retention rate.

The retention rate is a critical metric because SaaS businesses are heavily reliant on the subscription-based model. Together with the customer churn rate, this metric offers visibility into the renewal rates of your business.

Furthermore, the retention rate enables you to make better predictions of the renewal rates and earnings of your business. A low figure suggests a poor customer satisfaction rate.

Customer Effort Score

The customer effort score (CES) is a metric that tells you how easily customers can interact with your product. Such interactions can include engaging with a feature for the first time, reaching a milestone, or contacting customer support.

Onboarding should smoothen the customer journey so that users can find value easily. If users need to put in a lot of effort in using your product, they are less likely to convert to paid customers or renew their existing subscriptions.

You need to conduct a CES survey to find your customer effort score. This is where you ask customers to rate their perceived effort in completing an activity on a scale from 1 to 7 or from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’.

Your CES is the number of ‘agree’ responses (ratings of 5, 6, or 7) divided by the total number of responses, multiplied by 100.

Customer effort score (CES)
Customer effort score (CES).

Customer Satisfaction Rate

You should track customer satisfaction regularly, but it’s particularly important during the onboarding process. Ultimately, your onboarding efforts will be in vain if they fail to satisfy customers.

Therefore, you should collect user feedback from a variety of surveys, such as the customer satisfaction survey, CES survey, and more. These are microsurveys to be sent after completing onboarding to learn about your customers’ experiences.

These surveys will give you a clear picture of what your onboarding flow lacks and improve them accordingly.

To find your customer satisfaction score, divide the number of happy customers by the number of customers asked.

Customer satisfaction rate.
Customer satisfaction rate.

How to collect user onboarding analytics to optimize your onboarding flow

Here’s how you can collect user onboarding analytics to improve your onboarding process.

Use welcome screens to capture customer data from the beginning

Welcome screens are your first step in collecting user data for analysis. You can use them to not only greet customers but also gather information on their goals, jobs to be done, company size, and more.

This information allows you to segment customers based on shared characteristics and personalize their onboarding experience.

Kontentino’s welcome screen.
Kontentino’s welcome screen.

Create checklists and drive users to the activation point and track progression

Build onboarding checklists containing a simplified breakdown of the most important tasks that users need to perform to reach activation. You can then access analytics to know which customers have completed all the activities and how much the rest of them has progressed.

Checklists let you personalize onboarding. If customers are stuck at any step or skipped a task, you can trigger the checklist once more to encourage them.

Analyze the onboarding process.
Analyze the onboarding process.

Track in-app feature usage to understand where the friction comes from

Tracking user interactions allows you to focus on what makes customers stick to your product.

For example, tracking in-app feature usage will reveal your most popular features and highlight the weak ones so that you can try to understand the underlying issues.

With Userpilot, you can track actions like hovers, clicks, and text inputs to gain more insights.

Track in-app feature usage.
Track in-app feature usage.

Combine all that data to analyze how your onboarding process impacts the overall product usage. For instance, the image below gives an overview of power users for one month.

Analyze the onboarding process via Features & Events
Analyze the onboarding process via Features & Events.

Offer in-app self-service and detect where customers get stuck

One effective way of reducing support tickets is providing self-service support to customers so that they can solve repetitive or simpler issues on their own. A help center, including a link to the knowledge base, will allow users to get quick solutions to their problems.

Make the help center visible to users by emphasizing it across all touchpoints. What topics do users often browse through when they need the most help? Who is visiting the knowledge base, and how often?

Use detailed analytics to answer these questions and understand how users engage with each module. This way, you can figure out the types of support people use in different circumstances and try to automate some of them.

Userpilot’s in-app resource center.
Userpilot’s in-app resource center.

Wrapping it up

You should know how your onboarding efforts are panning out so that you retain more customers and don’t waste money on the wrong resources. Successful onboarding is critical to making your product a selling point and growing your business.

Want to start optimizing the key user onboarding metrics? Get a Userpilot demo and improve your user onboarding strategy code-free.

previous post next post

Leave a comment