How to onboard users effectively

Users aren't as interested in the product as they are in striving for the best result for their goals. Effective onboarding, easily and efficiently, guides users to their desired outcomes as quickly and as effectively as possible - so let us find out, how you can best onboard your users!

How it works

The onboarding phase creates constant associations with your brand and product and sets the mood for the entire upcoming customer journey. Onboarding trial users is a lot more than simply creating a user-friendly environment that is easy to master. Successful onboarding involves different stages that help with specific goals:

  1. Product learning curve

  2. Product engagement and habituation

  3. Product success enablement

  4. Product value realization

In this article, you will learn what main tasks arise from these stages and how to master them.

What you need to do

Stage 1: Product learning curve

Main task:
Make your users understand and use your product in the most efficient way to ensure that they realize its full potential.

How to do this?

  • Enable your users to sign up and move on to the actual interface quickly

  • Take full control over the initial steps your users take to make sure they achieve some quick-wins

  • Make your users familiar with key elements and features within your application and ensure that their attention is focused on the feature they're currently learning

  • Clarify the workflow's structure and how to integrate other solutions

  • Prevent users from leaving your platform by showing them the most efficient way to get from A to B

  • Let your users follow a specific checklist of tasks and guarantee that they know where they are in the onboarding process

Stage 2: Product engagement and habituation

Main task:
Create habit-forming patterns, so that your users keep using the product 

  • Build the basis for engagement and activation

  • Make your users accomplish actual tasks immediately so that they directly see results

  • Motivate your users and reward them for their progress and completion of onboarding guides

  • Block advanced features to ensure that your users interact successfully with basic functions first.

  • Create a smooth experience to prevent churn caused by delays and frustration

  • Set a positive mood for future relationships and make them feel excited to continue working with your application

Stage 3: Product success enablement

Main task:
Make product success easy to achieve and repeatable by knowing your customer's objectives and enabling them to reach them effortlessly

  • Make your users understand the extent a software can help them reach their goals

  • Eliminate confusion and insecurity

  • Segment your users, address them personally, and adapt the onboarding as well as the user experience according to their needs

  • Follow and monitor your users' behavior and use the collected data to provide adequate information as well as support when insecurities arise

  • Interact in real-time with users that get stuck and guide them to the next step

  • Continuously train users and surprise them with new functionalities based on their feedback

Stage 4: Product value realization

Main task:
Make clear what the actual value of your solution is by showing them the results they can achieve with your product

  • Point out what the product is designed for, what its benefits are, and what makes your solution unique

  • Show the personality of your brand, be authentic and real

  • Ensure that your users find a way to reach their goals as soon as possible

  • Prove that you can actually meet your customer’s expectations and over-deliver

  • Show the user the value proposition of your solution

  • Sell your solution as if you were pitching it directly to the user

This, and actually much more, needs to happen fast. Very fast! People’s attention span is limited and you need to continuously offer variety as well as novelty elements and draw the attention of trial users to their roadmap towards their goal. You need to start with small steps presenting major and basic features but quickly allow users to reach full proficiency within your product. You need to eliminate any frustration points and allow users to feel good about their choice.