Editorial 14 Jul 2021

SaaS onboarding to increase retention

Ever signed up for a SaaS and were overwhelmed with all the features, buttons, screens, tabs and pages? You aren't the only one. Even the most well-designed products see a high amount of churn, if there customers are not guided well enough.

Photo by Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash

As a SaaS company you can beat the overwhelming feeling some new users might have. As I researched what it means to have sound user onboarding for Seos, I’ve rewritten my notes to this article. Read on!

Why spend (developer) time on customer onboarding?

A great customer onboarding flow not only helps your customer with getting the most value out of your product, but when done really well, will more likely turn them into a brand ambassador. This is really valuable for your Word of Mouth Marketing. Lay the foundation for them so they experience the “Aha-erlebnis” early on. This will help increase retention, thus decrease churn.

When onboarding is done really well, customers will more likely turn into a brand ambassador.

What equals a great onboarding experience?

Building the onboarding is not a project you do just once and forget about. The more mature your company is, the more you learn about your customers. Adept the onboarding to what you learn. Also your product continues to improve, and so your onboarding should match this.

Things to keep in mind when buiding or tweaking your onboarding workflow:

You understand your customer. You know their struggles, challenges and prospects. This helps you customise the onboarding to their needs. In our article about delighting customers, I wrote about Fomo who does just that.

Match what they expect. They sign up with certain expectations. Maybe their eye caught a specific feature or workflow. If you then go about onboarding them listing all kinds of new or lesser known features, because you want people to know about them, you will leave your customer confused.

They can skip the onboarding. Not every customer is the same. Maybe they have used your product before. Forcing them to go through the process without the option to quit is annoying. Always have an option, except for a few critical steps, to quit the onboarding or to skip a certain step. Some just like to explore your app on there own terms.

It is concise. Think really hard what kind of input you need from them. Do you truly need their phone number, address and pets name or is that something you can ask at a later stage maybe? Also keep it concise in the the size of the form itself and, if you split the onboarding in multiple steps, show how many steps they need to go through. Keep that “aha-erlebnis” top of mind!

It is not limited to your (web) app. Onboarding is not only the first steps in your app. It’s also the sequence of emails you send, teach about some features, send some valuable content or maybe ask a question or two. Can you come up with other delightful ideas that sets you apart? Maybe these ideas will inspire you.

Remember it’s not about your product. It’s about their experience with your product, and along that your company.

It’s not about your product, it’s about their experience.


In conclusion

The irony of Seos not having any proper onboarding, as of publishing this, isn’t lost on me. Before I spend some time on building a great onboarding flow, I’d a fair amount on reading, research and testing out other onboarding workflows. That’s how also this article came to be.

But, it’s on the list! As Seos is in early access, I get away with any onboarding, as I demo’ed and then helped set up every customer myself. And this is a trade-off you can make when you are in a similar position. I would argue having this set up beforehand, does help you build the best possible onboarding as you personally set up many different accounts. You will have a perfect understanding what your customers deem most important and valuable.

Have you recently gone through a perfect onboarding workflow? I’m still collecting inspiration!

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