The building blocks of a successful user onboarding process
Lesson # 1
The building blocks of a successful user onboarding process
In this first lesson, it’s important to establish a direct link between delightful in-app onboarding experiences and improvements in both user activation and overall product adoption.
The goal of this lesson is to help you understand the importance of providing users with the right product experience at the right stage of the journey. Whether it’s a new user trying to find that initial moment of value, or an existing user hoping to find more value in the product — the goal is always the same. Be there for your users when they actually need you, and keep driving valuable actions to push them along the journey.
Better Onboarding Experience = Better Activation %
The initial contact between a user and your product is extremely crucial. In fact, most users will never come back if they get too frustrated during their first-run experience.
For this reason, the initial user onboarding experience can often be the difference between activation and churn.
Do it right, and users will be able to find value in the product. This will increase their motivation to keep going and explore the product further, and will ultimately increase their motivation for activation.
Think about it, your marketing and sales teams have spent a significant amount of effort to drive leads through the funnel and into the product. The prospect is now well aware of the problem and is actively seeking a solution.
It is your job to demonstrate that your product can indeed solve the problem.
Successfully doing so will ensure that users have the motivation to continue moving forward in the journey to adoption.
Remember, the goal of the initial onboarding experience is not to explain your product or even help users become proficient at it. Instead, a great onboarding experience focuses only on one thing:Driving meaningful actions that will trigger the initial Aha! moment, and ultimately driving users to activation.
What Does Great Onboarding Look Like?
For the initial onboarding experience to be considered effective, it must end with user activation.
This almost always means that great user onboarding focuses on the initial Aha! moment as opposed to educating users on how to use the product as a whole.
The initial Aha! moment is the moment a user realizes value in the product, or is convinced that it will be a solution for a specific pain they have.
Therefore, a good onboarding experience focuses on driving the initial Aha! by driving valuable actions related to one or two key features.
This will ultimately demonstrate the required value to the user and give them enough motivation to continue the journey of activation.
- Forces users into generic experiences that are annoying and not at all helpful.
- Shows information that’s irrelevant to the persona and the situation they are currently in.
- Doesn’t drive meaningful actions, and doesn’t set clear goals for the user.
- Values teaching the user about secondary features more than solving the actual problem.
- Doesn’t set clear metrics to evaluate success.
- Contextual based on the user persona and the stage they are currently in.
- Takes advantage of the native UI (e.g empty states).
- Helpful without forcing the user into anything.
- Makes the goals crystal clear, and doesn’t try to confuse the user with too many choices/options.
- Consistently drives Aha! moments by focusing on the problem the user is trying to solve.
- Clearly defines success metrics, and continuously evolves to optimize for them.
- Continues even after the user has successfully adopted the first couple of key features.
A Great Onboarding Experience Never Ends
It might be tempting to think that user onboarding ends once a user starts actively using the product.
In fact, user activation is just the first step in the overall product adoption process.
While the activation process was more focused on driving that initial value for the user, the product adoption stage helps them get more acquainted with the product.
This will mean pushing them to discover secondary features in the right context, and ultimately extend their use case by activating more features.
Good onboarding also helps existing users keep up to date with the latest features and changes in the UX.
This is exactly why onboarding is a continuous process that your team must consistently be iterating on.
Who Should Be Responsible for the User Onboarding Process?
Every organization is structured differently based on their product, market positioning and strategy.
Therefore, it’s entirely normal for the user onboarding process to vary based on the nature of your team.
Yet, it’s almost always true that onboarding must be ingrained at the core of the product development process.
Usually, it starts from Product, UX or even customer success teams.
The perfect candidate to take on building such a process needs to be a bit technical; someone who can work with engineers and understands the product fluidly.
They must also have a deep knowledge on how to analyze product usage. How do successful users behave? How do we define our success metrics? And, most importantly, how do we detect and fix user journey dropouts?
The analytical ability to map successful user journey patterns will be key to understanding where actual problems happen, and ultimately hypothesizing and testing various solutions.
We’ll dive deeper on how to establish this correctly in the next lesson. But for now, it’s important to understand that you must get the relevant teams involved and in sync to streamline the process.
Lesson 1 Key Points
- An effective user onboarding process is the key to better activation and an overall increase in product adoption.
- Onboarding experiences must always be relevant and aiming to drive value for the users.
- The onboarding process is a continuous one that must always be improved and iterated on.
- Onboarding is all about teamwork. Get relevant teams involved to lay a sound foundation for the process.
It should be clear to you by now that establishing an effective onboarding process will have a direct positive effect on success metrics such as user activation.
It is your job now to influence your team to integrate the onboarding process into your product strategy.
Start by clearly defining your success metrics, and slowly integrate a process where onboarding experiences are built and iterated on to optimize for such metrics.