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SaaS User Onboarding: 15 Ways To Drive Your SaaS Business Now

So you’ve created a great SaaS product or service, customers have signed up and you are ready and raring to go. Now’s the time to make sure their first experience is as good as your marketing and sales process has promised them.

How do you ensure a seamless user experience as customers start their journey with your business? The answer is to use an excellent customer onboarding system.

Read on to learn more about SaaS customer onboarding best practices and how to use these to drive your business forward.

What Is SaaS User Onboarding?

User or customer onboarding refers to introducing and familiarizing customers with your products or services. A complete SaaS user onboarding will cover the entire journey your customers will take from the moment they sign up until they’re regular, paying customers.

This process includes guidance and support through elements such as videos, documentation, tutorials, and customer service. These all help to move your customers from being novices to experienced users.

However, onboarding flows must consider your new users’ goals — what they want to achieve and what success means for them. Customers care about outcomes and reaching their goals as quickly and efficiently as possible.

SaaS Customer Onboarding: An Example

Let’s use a simple example to explain the concept in greater detail: Think of the SaaS user onboarding as introducing a new habit into a person’s life.

You decide to learn a new language. To achieve this goal, you download an app and sign up for a free trial. You resolve to practice every day and persist with it for a few days. Then life takes over, and work becomes busy.

So, you focus your attention elsewhere and make excuses for why you haven’t logged back on. Eventually, you delete the app and forget about learning French.

Sound familiar? In many ways, this scenario reflects the SaaS user onboarding experience. When someone adds a SaaS product into their daily routine or workflow, they need to develop a habit of using it consistently and effectively.

Making this a habit can be challenging (remember those French lessons?), which is why it’s best to support your customer as much as possible during the first few weeks.

The Importance and Benefits of User Onboarding for SaaS Businesses

The earliest experience your user gets during their onboarding experience is vital, helping to set the tone for all future experiences and interactions. Remember, first impressions last.

According to a PWC report on customer experience, one out of three customers will stop interacting with a brand they love after just one bad experience. This doesn’t leave a lot of margin for error when it comes to customer onboarding.

Customers need to quickly learn how to use your service and understand why it will be valuable.

If they find the initial setup process easy and meaningful, you’re more likely to retain them as a customer. And since many SaaS businesses rely on monthly recurring revenue, keeping them couldn’t be more critical.

If your onboarding experience is comprehensive, you’ll experience less churn (the rate at which you lose customers) and increase your product’s lifetime value. Your first-time customers could very well become loyal, long-term users.

A good SaaS customer onboarding will also keep customers engaged. If they’re learning new things, they’ll remain interested in logging back in and using your software. And, with a bit of luck, they might even become brand advocates.

SaaS businesses often have high marketing and sales bills. If your onboarding isn’t working, you’re essentially pouring money down the drain. On the flip side, improving your onboarding process will lead to more revenue and growth.

If there’s a free trial process, successful onboarding flows are even more critical. You’re aiming for the shortest time to value and only have the duration of the trial period to impress these users.

A good SaaS onboarding will mean you’re more likely to convert trial users to paying customers.

Finally, when you effectively guide customers through a well-thought-out onboarding, you’ll need to do less customer support at a later stage. Again, this can translate into savings.

Fine-tuning your onboarding system can be inexpensive and quick to implement. And you’ll enjoy a quick return on investment. So, this is a great place to start when you’re looking to take your business to the next level.

The 8 Elements of a SaaS Onboarding Process

It goes without saying that your SaaS business will need to develop its own unique onboarding processes. However, most successful onboarding journeys will include the following elements:

1. Sign-Up Process

This is the first step of the onboarding flow, even though your users haven’t quite signed up yet. Here you’ll collect some of their details (it’s crucial to only ask for information that’s absolutely necessary).

You can also add a further step at this stage, where you guide them through the setup process.

2. Welcome Email

This Email is a simple one that pushes potential customers further along the onboarding journey. It can welcome the user, introduce the business or product, or speak to customer pain points or desires.

The message needs to include a strong call-to-action, prompting the potential customer to continue through the process. Focus on the following action you’d like your user to take.

3. First Login

When a user logs in for the first time, they must never be greeted by an empty user state; in other words, they shouldn’t see a screen that contains no information.

This can make them feel lost and leave them unsure of where to go or what to do next. Instead, welcome them and lead them to your self-guided product walkthrough.

4. Product Tutorials

Product tutorials are where users get to know your SaaS product and the value it offers. The product tutorial is a vital step in the onboarding experience because it’s here where new users can become loyal customers.

Make sure this is in the form of an interactive product tour. Keep things simple and only walk the users through the essential features and tools they need to get value from the product.

Consider giving the user a task that can give them practical experience in using the product. They should be able to see its value for themselves.

5. Support Center

Support can come in the form of a customer support center or helpdesk software. You can also create a knowledge base that users can access for information.

Here, customers will get answers to common questions about your product. The knowledge base should, at a minimum, include “Getting Started” and “Frequently Asked Questions” documents.

6. Webinars and Workshops

Webinars are great for visual learners, as some people enjoy watching experts explain different features rather than just reading about them.

They can also work to build connections and a community. This is particularly true if these online sessions are happening live. However, webinars don’t have to be live — you can pre-record them and make them available on-demand.

7. In-App Notifications

Onboarding doesn’t stop when the introductory tour ends. For example, every time you make changes or updates to your product, you’ll have to keep users up-to-date too.

A great way to do this is to use in-app notifications. You can use these notifications to introduce new and unused features, upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and help keep users engaged.

8. Follow-Up

Once a user has signed up, businesses often stop onboarding. However, it’s most effective to check in regularly with your users.

Try to get feedback from them, offer them new products, features, or services, and provide them with unique learning opportunities every so often to help them continue to achieve customer success.

Unlock our 15 pro SaaS user onboarding tips to create a lasting customer impression and drive your company’s business growth on PayPro Global’s blog.

How to implement marketing automation?

ActiveCampaign is a marketing and sales automation platform that helps growing businesses meaningfully connect and engage with their customers. Its SaaS platform enables businesses to create optimized customer experiences by automating many behind the scenes processes and communicating with their customers across channels with personalized messages.


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