SaaS Onboarding Guide | A Detailed View Into the World of Onboarding

We all know the saying: You only get one chance at a first impression. Well, first impressions are instrumental to the success of any business, so you have to make them right. But, fret not. First impressions have never been easier, thanks to SaaS Onboarding.

Onboarding will help your customers understand what your product does and how it can help them satisfy their needs. Thus, it would be best if you made it right. It will provide you with the unique opportunity to get your customers hooked on the spot and transform new customers into loyal ones.

SaaS Onboardign Guide
Photographer: krakenimages | Source: Unsplash

In this article, we will cover all the basics and then some about SaaS Onboarding. So, if you want to learn how SaaS Onboarding can benefit you and what are the ways you can onboard customers, you're in the right place. Also, we will provide some excellent examples and best practices for your newfangled journey.

So, let's dive in!

What is SaaS Onboarding?

Let's start with the basics. SaaS Onboarding is when a Software as a Service (SaaS) company introduces a new customer with its product or service. Also, it serves as a way to bring customers up to speed on how everything works. It does so by providing documentation, video tutorials, written tutorials, or any other kind of help to its customers.

What is SaaS Onboarding?
Photographer: Towfiqu barbhuiya | Source: Unsplash

So, the SaaS Onboarding process entails every part of a customer's journey with your product or service. From the initial sign-up to the moment they become regular customers. The goal of the onboarding process is to transform customers from newcomers to habitual users of your products. And you will do so by providing them with assistance every step of the way.

How Can a Good Onboarding Benefit You?

A good onboarding experience is almost synonymous with increasing a customer's lifetime value. Increasing your value in the minds of your customers is one of the things that you should focus on as a business. And, if a SaaS company does its onboarding right, it will gain appreciative customers that will stay on for life.

Another benefit that you will receive is instilling confidence. Your onboarding process will help your customers be confident while using your software. Also, they will be sure that what they're doing is correct and that they are correctly using your software. What's more, since your users will be confident in your software, they will come back and use it more often. So, it's a win-win no matter how you look at it.

SaaS Onboarding Benefits
Photographer: Andy Kelly | Source: Unsplash

Apart from instilling confidence, having good onboarding will help your users adopt your software faster. So, your users will have a product that helps them achieve their goals, and they can learn how to use it fast and without the need to consult third-party tutorials or guides. Thus, your SaaS Onboarding process will make it more likely that users will adopt your product into their everyday routines.

You can rest assured that having an onboarding process will reduce the need for customer support. Since SaaS Onboarding involves tutorials, guides, videos, and other materials that will help users learn about your software, your users will have almost everything they need to start their journey with your product. So, you will reduce the need for constant customer support by a lot. And if that wasn't enough, reducing the need for customer support will also lower your overhead and administrative costs. And if that's not music to your ears, I don't know what is.

Ways to Do SaaS Onboarding

Now, let's see how you can go about creating your onboarding process. There are a few ways to successfully onboard users, so let's look at them individually. We will talk about three different ways which have proven to be very effective. We will start with product walkthroughs, then continue with chatbot support, and finish with customer follow-up.

Onboarding Customers Through Product Walkthroughs

One way to make your SaaS Onboarding excellent is through product walkthroughs. Product walkthroughs are pretty self-explanatory. They are interactive walkthroughs that you can have on your website that provide information and step-by-step guides about your products or services.

Product walkthroughs can help integrate your customers and help them realize the value of your products or services, or in this case, software. They will show all the steps users need to take and why they need to take them. Also, users will be able to see how your software functions, what it's suitable for, and the best ways to use it.

Onboarding Customers Through Product Walkthroughs
An Interactive Walkthrough made with Userguiding

Also, product walkthroughs are simple to make. Especially if you receive the right help, for example, Userguiding can help you make your onboarding process a lot easier and better. They can help you make the perfect product walkthrough in no time.

All in all, product walkthroughs can give your users everything they need to get started with your software. Also, if they ever stumble upon an obstacle, they can quickly go back to the product walkthrough and see how they can resolve their issue.

Chatbot Support

Chatbots can help your business with just about anything. That also includes customer onboarding. Chatbots will work as a personal AI assistant to your users, tending to their needs and questions.

Doing your SaaS Onboarding with Chatbot support will provide more convenience to both you and your users. Not only are chatbots available 24/7, but they are also bots that do not require any breaks and rest time. So, they will be there to support users at any time, all the time.

chatbot support
Ideta’s support chatbot enables you to see the userguide, watch video and ask directly for an agent help

Using a bot will make the need for live agents doing everyday tasks obsolete. Namely, you will be able to automate many repetitive and straightforward tasks. Thus, your agents will be able to focus on other tasks and be more productive. So, chatbot support will reduce your costs. Also, if a user has to leave mid-conversation and come back later, it can simply pick up where he left off with your Chatbot.

On the other hand, if the user were talking to a live agent, they would have to call again. And when they call again, they usually have to start the process all over again. Thus, onboarding via chatbot support will save time for you, your agents, and your users.

A great example of such a Chatbot is Ideta's. It can provide all the support you need in your Onboarding process and more. Also, Ideta's team will help you get started and assist you every step of the way.

SaaS Onboarding Through Customer Follow Up

The third way to get your onboarding up and running is through customer follow-up. Customer follow-up is when you call or message your customers to ask about their experience and gather the information you need.

It can be done via email, phone call, or using any social media platform. The main point of customer follow-up is gathering data and letting newcomers know that you will be there for them for whatever they need.

 Customer Follow Up
Photographer: David Hahn | Source: Unsplash

Another way to do customer follow-up is via Chatbots. A Chatbot's automation capabilities, 24/7 availability, and the many other features it offers are perfect for onboarding users through customer follow-up. The onboarding, in this case, happens through constant communication and reaching out to your users frequently.

Also, when conducting your SaaS Onboarding through customer follow-up, it is pivotal to ensure your customers that you will respond to their every question and problem. Thus, your process will be foolproof, and you will be onboarding many users in no time.

How to Create a Great SaaS Onboarding Process

Now we've made it to the hardcore tech stuff. Or have we? Creating an excellent onboarding process involves four essential steps that we will go through in detail. And don't worry, it's not as difficult as it might sound.

Step 1: Identifying Critical Actions Points

Critical actions happen inside your software every day. They can be both positive and negative. Realizing where your onboarding flow is breaking, namely where your customers are meeting obstacles is essential to your Onboarding process. It will allow you to fix the issues, and those issues need to be the first ones you fix.

On the other hand, realizing at which point your customers are starting to understand what you are trying to tell them is a tremendous advantage for improving your onboarding flow.

step 1
Photographer: Nejc Soklič | Source: Unsplash

During this step, you need to find the moments when your users realize the value of your product and start to believe that your product is the right choice for them. The first realization moment that users have motivates them to continue to use your product. Also, it will set the tone for the rest of your user's journey.

For this step, you can use tracking tools that are available online. They will help you see if your users deviate from your Onboarding process, and if they do, which part do they choose to ignore. Another thing you can discover with tracking tools is which features make your customers try your product and what part of your product they deem most valuable.

Step 2: Customer Welcome Series

Not only is welcoming customers the best thing you can do during your Onboarding process, but they expect you to do it. Technology sure has increased everyone's expectations, am I right? Welcoming emails makes the start of your users' journeys more memorable. Also, they allow you to guide your users through certain features, educate them, and show them that you are always here even when they don't log in for a while.

Also, to make the welcome experience even more memorable, you should welcome users both inside and outside your platform. In this step, you can use welcome modules to greet users. They have an attention-grabbing overlay and can show the user what deserves their attention first.

customer welcome series
Photographer: Solen Feyissa | Source: Unsplash

Another thing you can do in this step is to have someone from your company film a video that welcomes users and introduces your software. You can post that video on your website and make it pop up when someone enters it. The video will give users a more personal and embracing feel and make their journey even better.

Making first impressions is vital in everyday life, and it is essential for SaaS Onboarding as well. If users don't feel welcome, the likelihood of them finding a better replacement for you will increase. So, make sure that your company's first impression is one that you would like to get.

Step 3: Pick an SaaS Onboarding Model

Now is the time to choose how your users will go through your user flow. Namely, now you decide what your user flow will look like for your users. There are three different models you can choose from, so let's see what they are.

The first model you can pick is self-service onboarding. The self-service model works well for simple products and doesn't require much explanation for users to get up to speed. It is a more hands-off approach to onboarding, so if your software is not very simple, you should move on to the next model. If you choose this model, you will only need to set up a basic onboarding flow, for instance, a start guide or walkthrough. After that, your customers will handle the rest on their own. The self-service model is typical for social media networks and mobile apps.

step 3
Photographer: Marvin Meyer | Source: Unsplash

The second model is called low-touch onboarding. The model features onboarding elements such as in-app product tours, checklists, getting started tutorials, and step-by-step interactive onboarding walkthroughs. Here, customers have the option to receive human support. It is suitable for mildly complex products that require several steps to get started, but users don't need a very detailed guide through the steps. Companies like Shopify, Zoom and Mailchimp use the low-touch onboarding model in their SaaS Onboarding process.

The last model is high-touch onboarding. The high-touch onboarding model is suitable for complex products that require multiple steps to set up. Also, it is ideal for products that take a significant amount of time to understand. If you want to meet your users' needs in a personalized, one-on-one way, then this model is for you.

Step 4: Measure, Repeat and Improve

The last step of your onboarding process is equally as important as the first three. Namely, testing and improving your strategy is essential to your procedure. You can test your process with qualitative and quantitative data that you will gather from the measuring part of this step.

step 4
Photographer: Diana Polekhina | Source: Unsplash

This step is a continuous one, as there is always room for more improvements. The more you improve your onboarding process, the more satisfied your customers will be. You can use surveys and talk to users daily to collect the necessary data that you need. Continuous feedback and analysis will allow you to make the improvements you need for your Onboarding process.

Best Practices for SaaS Onboarding

The first item on our best practices list is minimizing friction during the sign-up process. You can do that by only asking your users the essential questions needed to get them started. Leave all the other questions for later. So, you need to think about what information you need from your users to make their first experience run smoothly and quickly. For instance, if the only things you need to know about users are their name and email initially, do not put any additional fields on your sign-up form. You can ask about their job status, gender, age, or whatever else you need after the user has completed their first steps.

saas onboarding signup form field
A study by Hubspot on over 40 000 landing pages.

Another thing you should do is front-load your product's value. If users know that your product can solve their problems or help them reach their goals, they are more likely to use it and buy it. So, it would be best to focus on showcasing your product's value immediately so that users are hooked right away.

Best Practices for SaaS Onboarding
Photographer: Gilly | Source: Unsplash

Also, keep your onboarding as simple as possible. Your users will be delighted with a straightforward onboarding that will help begin their journey with you. So, your guides and instructions should be short and to the point. Also, do not over clutter and put explanations to multiple features in one step. Instead, divide your onboarding process into various stages, and your users will be ever so grateful to you.

Last but definitely not least, keep communication open. Make sure your users know that they can contact you at any time about anything. For this, you can use a live chat, it will answer users basic questions and handover the conversation to a support agent when necessary.

Also, try to gather as much user feedback as you can. It will help you find which part of your product needs improvement and which doesn't.

Examples of Excellent SaaS Onboarding Experiences

Everyone does things differently. There is no rule book on the exact things you need to put into your SaaS Onboarding that guarantees success. However, there are examples that you can use as guides to building your own onboarding process. Let's take a look.

Flourish

Flourish is an excellent example of a simple onboarding process. What's best about Flourish's onboarding is that it is quick and does not take much time to get through. Also, it showcases their value right away, leaving no doubt in users' minds that Flourish is the right choice for their needs.

Flourish’s welcome modal and quick product tour made with Userguiding

CuePath

CuePath is the perfect example of the self-service onboarding model. They provide medication-monitoring services, which are simple to use. Therefore, they opted for the self-service onboarding model, and they were successful.

We can observe their success by the fact that they have reduced their support calls by 72% since making their onboarding model. Their onboarding model works because they have automated their user experience and made interactive guides and in-app messages. Their goal for their onboarding service was to decrease the workload of their customer support and decrease it they did.

You can use hotspot to give additionnal, but secondary informations

Also, they wanted to show their users that anyone can use their services, and they achieved that with their self-service onboarding model.

Vieworks

Vieworks is a video marketing and customer engagement platform. The company saw the need for creating an onboarding process when they noticed that users were getting lost when trying to use their services. Essentially, their customer support needed a boost.

Their onboarding process consists of guide elements and in-app messages. Also, their onboarding process is great because they use tools to trace users' steps and work on their service on the go. That means that they immediately catch where a user is having problems and fix it right away.

onboarding saas vieworks
An Onboarding Checklist so users can have a quick overview of what they need to learn

Also, Vieworks use analytical tools which enable them to keep track of their creations are performing, namely, whether their users use them or not. They do all of that with the help of Userguiding, and you can do it too!

CitizenShipper

CitizenShipper is an online shipping services marketplace. With their onboarding process, they managed to fix and improve their users' in-app education and make the experience on their site and app more efficient.

Userguiding enables you to create onboarding experience even on mobile apps

They achieved that by making an interactive onboarding experience for their users and adding an in-product element to their onboarding process. Their in-product feature allows their users to access additional resources quickly and conveniently. So, if you are also having problems with users not knowing how to use your services, this example gives you a great way to educate them.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a social media platform where users can save, share, and search for pictures. Right of the bat, new users select five or more interests to get a more personalized dashboard. And, as we mentioned, doing that will improve the chances of the user finding something that they like right away.

pinterest onboarding questions
Pinterest Onboarding Flow

Pinterest's walkthrough is brief and straightforward. Also, the walkthrough contains a checklist that clarifies to new users what their priorities on the platform should be. The option to choose five or more interests is an excellent start to a long-term relationship with new users. By selecting interests right away, their dashboard (or feed) will immediately be filled with pictures they might like and save, which will, in turn, increase users' interest in using Pinterest more and more.

GhostwriterAI

GhostwriterAI is an AI-based platform designed for marketers trying to find and engage their target audience. Their onboarding is excellent because it is creative, engaging, and highly interactive.

If you feel like your users might get bored with your product or service, GhostwriterAI's example will hit home. Namely, the people at GhostwriterAI were aware that people lose interest quickly, so they developed their onboarding process to be attention-grasping and one of a kind.

They did so by educating their users with a high level of interactiveness. Also, they have added many onboarding elements to keep things fresh and exciting. What's more, they are constantly improving and adding innovative features to their SaaS Onboarding. In that way, they keep their users on their toes and offer them a unique and ever-changing experience.

Metrics You Can Use to Track Your SaaS Onboarding Process

As we mentioned, tracking and improving your onboarding process is essential for its success. Thus, there are a few metrics that will help you track the progress of your SaaS Onboarding. So, we will share those metrics with you in this segment of the article.

1. Free to paid version conversion rate

Number one on our list is the "Free to paid version" conversion rate. Almost every business out there has a free version or a free trial for their products or services. They offer them to get a glimpse of their products or services and figure out how they work. A low free trial conversion rate indicates that you failed to help users discover how your products or services work and how they can use them to achieve their goals. So, this metric will give you a sense of how much your onboarding process actually helps users.

Metrics You Can Use to Track Your SaaS Onboarding Process
Photographer: UX Indonesia | Source: Unsplash

2. Time to value

The next metric you should track is time-to-value. The time-to-value metric shows how much time a user needs to spend to discover the value of your products or services. It's pretty straightforward. Namely, the less time a user spends to realize the value of your products and services is, the better. So, if your time-to-value metric is low, that means that your onboarding process is successful, and vice versa.

3. User engagement

The last metric we will mention is user engagement. A high user engagement indicates that your onboarding process is doing a great job. The higher the user engagement, the better. User engagement is a broad topic, so if you want to measure it, you can do so by calculating the percentage of daily and monthly active users.

Final Words

Well, that was a long ride, huh? But, we hope you feel like it was worth it. This article can serve as your completed and detailed guide to creating your onboarding process. And, as we can see, creating an onboarding process can bring you many advantages and benefits.

So, if you were second-guessing the power and value of SaaS Onboarding, you've probably made up your mind by now. In my modest opinion, having a good user onboarding process in this day and age is the bread and butter of a SaaS Business and almost every other type of business, for that matter.

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Written by
Bruno Mircevski

Bruno is an Entrepreneur and Marketing Enthusiast. He has extensive experience with SEO, loves how Google works and the potential it has to offer.

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