Customer Onboarding: Steps, Examples, and Best Practices
Customer Onboarding: Steps, Examples, and Best Practices
The customer onboarding process is probably the most important stage of the customer lifecycle. While it comes right at the start of their journey, it sets the tone for their whole relationship with your product and company.
Customer onboarding has a significant impact on whether a customer keeps using your product long term or churns after just a few months. Done well, it sets your customers up for success and clearly demonstrates the value of your product. Done poorly, it leaves customers questioning why they signed up in the first place.
Below, we’re diving into six crucial steps of your customer onboarding process. You’ll find actionable best practices to help you set your newest customers up for success, plus examples from companies with really effective onboarding at each step to inspire you when looking at your own onboarding process.
Customer onboarding is the process that new users go through to get set up and start using your product. It covers the whole journey: from initial sign-up to product activation and first use. Customer onboarding aims to deliver value to your customer as early as possible — in their first use, if possible.
Why is customer onboarding important?
Customer onboarding is so important because it sets the tone for the ongoing relationship your customer has with your product.
A good onboarding process will:
Keep your customers engaged. Helping them clearly understand and experience the value they’ll get from your product will mean they start using it successfully, but more importantly, it’ll give them a reason to log back in and use your product again and again.
Improve trial conversions. If you offer a free or discounted product trial, customer onboarding is where your trial users get to experience the value of your product. If you can demonstrate real value in the onboarding process — right at the start of their trial — you’ll make it more likely they’ll convert into paid customers.
Good customer onboarding sets your customers up to get value from using your product immediately and repeatedly for as long as they continue using it.
The customer onboarding process: Steps, best practices, and examples
Here are six important steps of your customer onboarding process with best practices and tips for each to help you set your newest customers up for long-term success with your product.
1. Sign-up process
It’s tempting to think that customer onboarding doesn’t start until a customer has actually signed up for your product. But we believe the sign-up process is the first step of that journey.
Heap conducted a survey of 79 SaaS companies and found that the average conversion rate for their sign-up process was 36.2%.
While every company is different, if you’re seeing a higher than average drop-off rate (where users start signing up but don’t complete the process), it suggests you’re asking for too much information too soon.
Sign-up process best practices
Keep your sign-up process as short as possible. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for your product. How much of the information you ask for is nice-to-have rather than essential? Ask for the information that you need to get the customer set up and using your product, then ask for more information later when it’s needed.
Need a lot of information to sign up? Split it over multiple pages rather than asking for everything on one. Heap found that asking for sign-up information across multiple pages correlated with a modest increase in conversion rates. So if you need a lot of information from your customers when they sign up, make it feel like less by splitting it across multiple pages.
Make it easy to sign up with a service they already use, like Google, Slack or social media. This removes almost all the friction from the sign-up process and means new customers can sign up in a single click, which is a huge benefit, according to Heap: “When people have the ability to sign up with one click using a service they already use like Google or Slack, the signup rates improved by 8.2 percentage points.”
Example: Twilio’s sign-up page
Twilio’s sign-up page
Short form: It doesn’t ask for lots of information before customers can try out the product.
No credit card required.
Short, scannable bullet points alongside the form, reminding customers of the value they’ll get when they sign up.
Example: Trello’s sign-up page
Trello’s sign-up page
There’s just one form field to fill out to get started, keeping it as short as possible.
It also gives customers the option to sign up with other tools they already use.
2. Welcome email
After a new customer signs up, the next step in your onboarding process is to send them a welcome email. This email should direct them straight back to your product so they can start using it and getting value from it.
Welcome email best practices
Say thank you! They’ve taken the time to sign up for your product, so it’s important to let your new customers know that you value them.
Share resources that’ll help them get started. This could include a product tour video, links to help center articles, or product FAQs.
Send them back to your product. While it’s helpful to share additional resources, the main focus for your welcome email is to get your new customer to click through and log in to your product. This should be the most prominent link and call-to-action in your welcome email.
Example: Luminary’s welcome email
Luminary’s welcome email
Source: Really Good Emails
Keeping it short and simple.
A single, prominent call-to-action button to get customers back into the product.
Example: DocSend’s welcome email