SaaS Onboarding – Definitive Guide: Examples, Checklist & Metrics

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Masooma Memon
April 20, 2021
9
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SaaS onboarding is walking users through your product until they experience the –so-called– eureka effect and start getting value from your solution.

You show customers around like a real estate agent shows you around a property – it’s plus points and how you can turn XYZ areas into your cozy space.

With your SaaS, you introduce product features. More importantly, you show customers how to use those features – the same as helping people visualize how they can turn a space into their cozy spot.

But, why bother?

Because if property agents and SaaS owners didn’t chaperone the first tour, interested parties would quickly lose interest since self-exploring is, well, mostly never helpful.

In fact, leaving users to themselves could mean they possibly never discover their ‘aha moment’ or the moment they realize your product is what they were looking for.

Eventually, they end up becoming one of the 40-60% of users that only log into a new product once.

So in this guide, let’s help you help users discover their aha moment easily and quickly so they turn into loyalist (even paid) users.

We’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of SaaS onboarding including all the metrics to measure, SaaS onboarding best practices as well as a checklist to keep you on track. We’ve also got some great examples for you.

Dig in. 

What is Customer Onboarding in SaaS?

Customer onboarding in a SaaS company is the process of guiding users on using your product to show them how it can improve their life and achieve their goals.

Like we discussed, it’s speeding users’ way to their aha moment instead of leaving them to explore around until they eventually stumble to their aha moment – or not.

What is Customer Onboarding in SaaS? – Froged

Measuring your SaaS Onboarding Process: KPIs & Metrics

The ultimate goal of SaaS onboarding is retaining free sign ups well beyond their first log in and, eventually, converting them into paying users.

To see if you’re hitting the nail on the head, you’ll want to measure your conversion rate (yep, you guessed it right!) and customer engagement. 

The former tells how many free trial users are converting into paid plan users. So it helps to pay attention to: 

  • Conversion rates from free-to-trial freemium models 

This tells how many users are finding your free version helpful enough to take the full product trial for a spin. The higher number denotes interest in your product, suggesting the free model onboarding process is successfully pushing customers to try the paid version. 

  • Conversion rates from trial-to-paid in both freemium and free trial models

This number gives an overview of how many users are converting to paid customers after having used your product for a trial period. Again, the higher it is, the better.  

As for conversion rate, it gives you granular details of how users are interacting with your product. Knowing how users are engaging with your product helps tell you:

  • How often users are logging in and for how long
  • How many features they’re exploring and
  • Which features are engaging them and which aren’t

Track the following SaaS onboarding metrics to get an in-depth look at customer engagement:

  • Usage time

The metric indicates how long a new sign up uses your product. Ideally, you’ll want users to log in more often and for longer durations – indicating they’re successfully transitioning toward using your product in their workflow.

  • Daily active users

This number shows the total number of people logging in and engaging with your product. It needs to be growing so you can maintain a healthy pipeline of leads.

  • Completion rate and time

Completion rate and time answer how many users are completing your onboarding process and in how long, respectively. A low completion rate paired with high completion time indicates your onboarding process is a complex one that needs revising.

  • Time to value

Time to value is the time it takes for users to log into your service and see its value. In other words, TTV is the time between a user’s first login and aha moment. A small value here denotes your customer onboarding process’s effectiveness. 

  • Churn rate and time

Lastly, churn rate and time determine how long it is that customers use your product. If it’s a short duration, chances are your SaaS onboarding process is failing to retain users. However, if it’s longer, say 13 months, you can say that your customer onboarding process isn’t the culprit.

How to Improve your SaaS Onboarding Flow: Best Practices

Let’s get to the meat of the matter now as we dive into each element that perfects SaaS onboarding:

1. Pricing page

Product onboarding starts with impressing prospects when they’re considering your solution. It’s why you need to do three things with your pricing page:

Address pain points immediately

This is critical for telling interested users that getting started with your product won’t add work to their plate (or a dent in their wallet).

ActiveCampaign, for example, understands migrating data can be expensive. So they address this point right off the bat with a bold ‘Simple pricing with no setup fees’ header.

 

Address pain points immediately – Customer Onboarding

 

Make it easy for users to take their decision

A comparison table listing payment plans and features is an instant help – one that makes it easy to call the shots.

Use lots of whitespace in your design to create a clear, easy to navigate, clutter-free page that aids, not abets, decision-making.

Here’s ActiveCampaign doing the same:

 

Make it easy for users to take their decision – Customer Onboarding

 

Provide chat support and answer FAQs

The aim with these pricing page essentials is to keep users on your page by answering their questions right away.

 

Provide chat support and answer FAQs– Customer Onboarding

 

2. Product Sign up

There’s just one principle here that ensures sign up success: simplicity.

Think of it, really. Don’t you love it when you’ve signed up for something in just a few clicks? All the more better if it’s a one-click process, isn’t it?

Your customers love the same. Don’t leave them to fill out long forms. In fact, taking out just one form field in a sign up process can increase conversion by 27%. The takeaway? Ask only for what’s necessary. In the start that usually means the user’s first name and email.

 

 


Oh and since simplicity is the game plan here, give users the social signup option – same as Vidyard does.

Product Sign up – Vidyard

 


And, to keep users from getting distracted, throw in some social proof as well – perhaps a customer review (see above) – that serves as positive reinforcement. 

Pro tip: Immediately after sign up, don’t leave users hanging on a bland thank you page. Take them through a product walkthrough or personalization questions to set them up. It’s best if you can show them how to accomplish a task using your product.

3. Welcome email

Here’s where you formally greet users. But instead of writing out a long, easy-to-forget-letter – detailing the exciting features you’ve worked on – type out a short and sweet email. 

Buffer sends out a short email with an actionable goal: get the user to try the product for scheduling a post. 

Note the detail of the email being signed by their Customer Success team.

 

Welcome email – Buffer


Here’s what to add in your welcome email: 

A welcome note and recap of the value proposition

Greet users and tell them how they’re going to achieve great things with your product (the value proposition). Bonus points for taking the community-building approach here and welcoming users to your family of users. 

Set expectations

Tell them what’s to come next. For instance, a series of emails. The team at Buffer, for example, writes they’ll be emailing tips in the coming days. 

Link to resources

Never forget to link to resources that can help users get started with your product.

All in all, keep it short and focus on one thing. And, again, resist the urge to share more. You wouldn’t do that on your first date with a stranger, would you?

4. First valuable experience

If you already haven’t shown users around your product after sign up, a product walkthrough is in order now. 

Remember, this is the first time a user logs into your app. So make. it. count. 👏

A successful first valuable experience is one that takes users through one thing at a time so they can learn things stepwise – without getting overwhelmed with information overload.


 

First valuable experience – Customer Onboarding
Source

That said, be sure to give users an exit route so they can take their product tour (or answer personalization questions) at their convenience.

 

First valuable experience

5. Lead nurturing sequences

Lead nurturing sequences are training sessions that help users adopt your product better. The aim, you ask? Convert them into loyalists by getting a grip on using your solution.

Some resources to nurture users are:

  • Online manuals. User guides that enlist steps to take to accomplish something in your product.

 

  • Walkthrough videos. These help show your product in action so users can easily replicate the steps to get things done. Visme, for instance, shares short videos to answer how-tos.

 

  • Webinars. Like videos, webinars are great for visual learners. And, here’s the kicker: webinars help you build relationships with users. Either run pre-recorded webinars or host them during selected time slots as Miro does.

 

Miro Webinar – Customer Onboarding

 

  • In-product messages. Since onboarding never ends, in-app messages engage users both at the start and for as long as they use your product. Leverage them to share new or popular features, tips for using your product, or user progress as Todoist does:

 

Todoist In-product messages – Customer Onboarding


Pro tip: Don’t flood users with tutorials for all features. Prioritize tutorials for core features that’ll help them take first steps. Train users to become pros later on.

6. Follow-up call

This last step in your SaaS onboarding involves checking-in with users. You’ve an excellent opportunity to add human touch here. 

Case in point: Respona asks users to jump on a quick call for feedback. Not only does this humanize the process, but it proves that they’re focused on providing value, therefore, strengthening their relationships with uses.

Follow-up call – Customer Onboarding


Not to mention, you should jump on any chance to talk to your users as it helps you gather meaningful feedback directly from the horse’s mouth. It’s a win-win.

User Onboarding Checklist for your SaaS

Now that you have the rundown of essential SaaS onboarding best practices, here’s a handy checklist to reference as you work on your product onboarding process.

The goal of this checklist is simple: to make users’ journey from sign-up to their aha moment fast and easy.

Let’s go:

✔ Consider visualizing user progress

Include a progress bar or checklist (meta, I know! 😄) to show users how far they’ve come along achieving what your product promised.

ConvertKit, for instance, has an onboarding checklist. And, they take things to the next level by giving users an incentive (free T-shirt) to complete it. 

✔ Create a resources reserve

So you can answer frequently asked questions and how-tos. Mailchimp, for example, has an extensive knowledge bank. Notion, on the other hand, offers templates to make it easy to use their product.

Create a resources reserve – Mailchimp Knowledge Base


Editor’s Note: If you’re looking to build a Knowledge Base to help your customers, you can get started free by using FROGED Knowledge Base feature. Create a Knowledge Base Now

✔ Focus on one thing at a time

You don’t learn karate in one day, right? You prep your mind and body first. Perfect your push-ups, reverse push-ups, leg lift, and so on.

The same is true for teaching people how to master your product. Resist the urge to show everything your product can do at once. Instead, give bite-sized tasks at a time like Dropbox does – it also pairs a checklist with the tasks to help estimate progress. Bingo!

Dropbox – Customer Onboarding

✔ Humanize the process

Wherever possible, introduce human touches to build your relationship with uses. An intro video, accessible support, welcome email from the CEO, and a check-in call invite are some ways to humanize your SaaS onboarding.

✔ Gather feedback

As harsh as it sounds, but you won’t get your onboarding process right the first time you create it. Instead, it’ll take trial and error to reach a point where your SaaS onboarding is simple, fast, and effective. The road to it: customer feedback.

Learn from the metrics you’re monitoring and talk to customers to understand how to make onboarding easy for them. After all, they’re in the best position to answer this for you.

Best SaaS Onboarding Software & Tools

You’ll find the following software indispensable to creating an effective SaaS onboarding process:

  • Product tour tools like Userpilot and Chameleon.
  • Lead nurturing tool, Drip for setting up drip email campaigns.
  • Product analytics tool to keep tabs on metrics including Pendo and Amplitude.
  • Help desk software that automatically guide users to human support and your resource bank such as Zendesk and Help Scout.
  • All-rounder software, Froged, complete with customer support and user retention offering.
Editor’s Note: Make sure to check out FROGED tools, you can get started for free and improve your user onboarding experience.

 

World-Class SaaS Onboarding Examples from Top Companies

Before we wrap this up, let’s now share some more onboarding examples:

1. Grammarly

Their sign-up process requires minimal details and is followed with a few personalization questions (with the option to skip).

Once you’re done, you can take a quick tour (or not). But the main onboarding magic is in their demo draft on the dashboard. Once a user clicks on it, they can understand how easy it is to use Grammarly.

Grammarly Customer Onboarding


Besides, Grammarly leverages emails to make their SaaS onboarding more exciting. These emails share weekly insights into how much you’ve written and areas where you’ve improved.

For users who stop using the app, Grammarly encourages them by sending out emails like the one below:

Grammarly Customer Onboarding Step 2

 

2. Biteable

Like Grammarly, Biteable also has a quick sign-up process, followed by 4-5 personalization questions. Once in, you see a tutorial front and center. 

But that’s all. Within seconds, a demo inviting banner pops up and a support box (human touch) shows up next.

 

Biteable Customer Onboarding


Just below that is a template gallery – helping users get started.

Their welcome email comes up a few minutes after sign up — focusing on two action steps: either make a video or watch the tutorial. Popular template sharing email follows the same day.  

3. Podia

Podia’s sign up is pretty simple – no questions for personalization unlike the SaaS onboarding examples above. 

In fact, starting is as simple as signing up and landing on the dashboard where you’re given the option to take a tour or get started if you already know what to do. 

Podia Customer Onboarding

 

What’s the most impressive in their onboarding flow, however, is their resource bank. It starts with a search bar, dives into articles, guides, tools. Plus, there’s a jump-to-what-you-want-to-learn section.

In short

SaaS onboarding isn’t an impossible nut to crack. Focus on your user and what’d make it easy for them to understand using your product. Most of all, remember to take them feature by feature – slowly but smoothly.

Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS who has worked with awesome publications like Hootsuite, Vimeo, Trello, and Databox among others. You’ll usually find her writing in-depth content, making to-do lists, or reading a fantasy novel.