11 Great Onboarding User Flow Examples For SaaS Companies
Onboarding user flow for SaaS is an intricate journey that commences even before users sign up and extends beyond the point of activation. It cannot and should not be a generic experience for all users. As a Growth Product Manager, your responsibility is to personalize the onboarding process for each individual user, recognizing their unique needs and preferences, so that new users can derive maximum value from your SaaS product.
In essence, the crucial moment lies when a new user realizes the value offered by your product for the first time. To create a lasting impression, you require a well-designed onboarding user flow. Placing more emphasis on user onboarding has a significant positive impact on revenue, contract renewals, and referrals throughout the duration of the subscription. Developing exceptional SaaS onboarding experiences is not only essential for attracting new users but also for fostering loyal customers. It is an essential component of every SaaS business.
Now that we have established why we need a high-quality onboarding experience, let’s dive into this article where we examine the onboarding experiences of 11 distinct SaaS companies and extract valuable lessons that you can incorporate into your own onboarding processes. Let’s delve into the details!
What is a user onboarding flow?
User onboarding refers to the process of introducing users to your product. Achieving a seamless onboarding experience can be challenging as it takes time for new users to grasp the main features of your product. Without understanding these features, they cannot fully recognize the core value it offers.
The turning point is known as the ‘Aha! moment’, is when a customer starts to derive value from your product. To expedite reaching this moment, you should design an onboarding flow that reduces the time it takes to reach it, accelerating the time to value. The sooner new users experience the value and comprehend the key benefits of your product, the more likely they are to remain loyal customers.
Many SaaS companies overlook a crucial aspect – user onboarding for SaaS products is an ongoing process. There is no definitive endpoint for onboarding user flow, and it is inadequate to address it merely through UI design or product tours. Instead, SaaS onboarding necessitates a multi-channel system that guides users on how to succeed with your product.
Importance of onboarding user flows
In order to thrive in today’s competitive market, products must possess a distinct value proposition and prioritize a user-centric experience. An integral aspect of achieving this is developing a well-crafted onboarding user flow.
Onboarding user flows serve multiple purposes:
a. Introducing and acquainting new users with the user interface of your application through a product tour.
b. Demonstrating the fundamental value proposition of your product via in-app messaging.
c. Educating new users on the functionality and operation of your application using nudges and product knowledge communication.
d. Facilitating the completion of all necessary account setup and registration procedures for new users to set them up for success.
How to map your user onboarding journey?
In order to gain insights into user behaviour throughout the onboarding process, we can employ lifecycle segmentation to identify significant milestones indicating product success. Progressing through each stage of the customer lifecycle entails guiding them towards discovering value through effective user onboarding.
1. From ‘Preview User’ to ‘First-Time User’
The customer journey commences as prospective users “preview” your product. Typically, they first encounter and form an impression through marketing materials such as landing pages, blog posts, and social media, which convey the value they can derive from the product.
To encourage preview users to transition into first-time users, it is crucial that they have a clear understanding of your core value proposition and the potential use cases for your product.
2. From ‘First-Time User’ to ‘Committed User’
After successfully acquiring users for your product, the subsequent challenge is to ensure that their initial experience lives up to the promises made in your marketing messages. This is the opportune moment to engage in user onboarding and demonstrate the genuine value your product offers to potential customers.
Consequently, the key to transforming a first-time user into a committed user lies in comprehending their expectations and aligning those expectations with appropriate educational resources and actionable steps that lead to customer success.
This is precisely why the concept of dynamic user experience (UX) holds immense power. By delivering targeted in-product experiences that provide relevant information precisely when users need it, you can minimize unnecessary distractions and avoid intrusive pop-ups that tend to frustrate rather than educate users.
Once users become adept at using your application, they begin to develop habitual patterns around it.
3. From ‘Committed User’ to ‘Power User’
The factor that distinguishes a committed user from a power user lies in the presence of customer love. Power users are individuals who develop habitual usage of your product and possess a deep understanding of its features. However, the extent of their usage is not the sole determinant; it is the quality of the relationship you establish with them that truly matters.
Nurturing customer love and fostering genuine loyalty and evangelism requires providing them with compelling reasons to care about your product. This encompasses various efforts, such as building a community around your product, actively engaging and responding to users across different platforms, and going the extra mile to demonstrate your sincere concern and investment in their personal success.
Tips for designing a successful self-service onboarding user flow
Although SaaS onboarding is an ongoing process, it is crucial to establish clear milestones along the way. It is essential to carefully outline the specific actions that users must complete in order to reach their “aha!” moments. To create and execute a successful onboarding experience for your product, you can follow this four-step approach:
a. Clearly define the pivotal moments (also known as the Aha! moment) to realization for each user profile
Do not overlook the fundamental step in the onboarding process, which is to understand your customers’ objectives. Avoid assuming that the training of customers on every feature of your product is the ultimate goal. Although you may not currently have a precise definition of the “aha!” moment, you can begin by formulating and testing a few hypotheses. Begin by identifying the core value proposition of your product (such as the most frequently used feature or the features that have garnered positive feedback). The “aha!” moments will vary depending on the user persona and should be explicitly defined and measurable.
b. Chart the necessary steps for users to reach those moments
After gaining confidence, chart the steps that users need to take in order to reach those pivotal moments (or aha! moments) and determine the typical time frame required. This process doesn’t have to be intricate; in fact, simplicity is preferable. The crucial aspect is to comprehend user behaviour and assess the duration and ease of the path for each user.
c. Continuously collect user feedback through Microsurveys
Typically, only 4% of dissatisfied users go through the trouble of reaching out to a company. That’s why it’s crucial to gather feedback consistently, covering the entire product and user journey, rather than just during the initial design phase. Throughout the onboarding process, Micro surveys can be employed to obtain continuous feedback and gain insights into the objectives and motivations of various user personas.
d. Streamline the journey to the “aha!” moment
After validating your hypotheses and collecting feedback through Microsurveys, it’s time to address the following two questions:
a. Is this the optimal path? Are there any unnecessary steps along the way? Which steps contribute to the highest drop-off rates? What is the most efficient route to create a wow factor?
b. Do users have a clear understanding of how to progress? Is there a distinct guidance on the next actions to take (and the reasons behind them)? What are the user requirements (motivation, ability, triggers) to advance to the next step?
What makes a good onboarding user flow experience?
Each SaaS product adopts a unique approach to user onboarding, recognizing that what proves effective for one may not be suitable for another. Factors such as the distinct offering and user segments must be taken into account. However, there exist fundamental principles that underpin all successful onboarding experiences.
The primary objective of any product’s onboarding experience is to guide new users seamlessly through its key features. This facilitates not only a rapid understanding of how to navigate the product but also enables users to minimize the learning curve and quickly realize its value. Crucially, all onboarding experiences should prioritize the needs of the user, leveraging data and insights from user testing to continuously iterate and improve the onboarding process. In addition, there are several other principles to follow, including:
a. Prioritize the user over the product itself. Directly guide users to the aspects that provide them with value, without overwhelming them with a lengthy and tedious product tour that showcases every feature simply because you take pride in their development.
b. Customize the onboarding experience for each user by offering branched pathways. Allow users to choose their own journey and identify the parts of the app that are most relevant for them to learn about.
c. Integrate various UI patterns to create comprehensive experiences. New user onboarding doesn’t have to follow a repetitive process. Utilize modal windows, tooltips, checklists, and other innovative visual designs to adapt the flow based on the user’s interaction with your product.
d. Embrace a test-and-learn approach. Iteration is the catalyst for innovation. By focusing on testing concepts with your users and adapting the onboarding experience accordingly, you enhance the chances of success for your product.
e. Emphasize simplicity. Conciseness is vital. Avoid lengthy and meandering messages or product tours and get straight to the point.
f. Avoid overwhelming your users. Onboarding is a multifaceted process, so don’t burden users with multiple activities simultaneously. Create an onboarding experience that focuses on one step at a time.
11 Best SaaS Onboarding User Flow Examples
Are you prepared to explore a selection of our preferred onboarding examples? We will delve into each onboarding instance meticulously, elucidating its exceptional qualities and the objectives it accomplishes.
Slack has gained a reputation for offering one of the most impressive onboarding experiences available, and here’s just one compelling aspect of it. The aim is to provide customers with a seamless experience while avoiding overwhelming them. That’s why Slack’s initial onboarding user flow is kept brief, with only one question posed to the user at each step.
Additionally, Slack periodically reinforces its value proposition to ensure that users are consistently aware of the benefits it offers.
Once users have completed the initial onboarding steps and created their workspace in Slack, they are prompted to take a comprehensive feature tour. The amiable Slackbot plays a crucial role throughout the customer lifecycle and onboarding flow, providing a narrative element. Users are greeted with helpful tips and tricks to maximize their success with the tool and can seek assistance from Slackbot whenever they need it. It’s like having a company wiki integrated into the app. In conclusion, Slack’s onboarding experience is meticulously designed to minimize the time required for users to derive value from the platform.
To ensure the successful activation of new users, it is essential to effectively steer them towards finding value in your product. Failure to do so can result in customer churn. This is where an onboarding checklist becomes invaluable, as exemplified by Zendesk.
Zendesk’s onboarding checklist provides new users with a clear path to follow, streamlining the onboarding process and minimizing confusion. Moreover, the inclusion of a progress bar serves to highlight the remaining onboarding tasks, encouraging users to engage with the onboarding flow and manage their expectations effectively.
Canva offers an onboarding user flow that is both simple and personalized, featuring an appealing user interface.
This streamlined process consists of only three steps, one of which focuses on understanding the user’s “Goals.” This strategic approach allows Canva to gather valuable information that helps tailor the experience and create a positive initial impression for users.
Additionally, Canva employs engaging copy to captivate users and entice them to explore a feature that encourages interactive experimentation. This approach proves highly effective in acquainting users with the tool. From the moment of sign-up to the creation of original designs within a few steps, there are numerous valuable insights to be gained from Canva’s onboarding experience.
Fullstory adopts a simplified approach to its onboarding user flow, aiming to avoid unnecessary complexity. They employ a straightforward persona-based user survey to collect essential information. This survey enables FullStory to gain insights into the goals and potential use cases of each new user, enabling them to provide a more personalized and relevant onboarding experience.
Notably, there are two standout features in Fullstory’s onboarding process:
a. Personalized user greetings are employed to actively engage users throughout the onboarding flow.
b. The inclusion of a progress bar in the signup flow proves to be a valuable addition, increasing the likelihood of users completing the onboarding process.
Notion initiates its onboarding flow by collecting essential user data, allowing for a personalized and tailored experience.
Following that, users are presented with a screen displaying a checklist directly within the Notion interface. This serves as a foundational step towards achieving the coveted ‘Aha!’ moment, where users gain a clear understanding of the tool’s purpose. Although brief, this concept proves remarkably effective in onboarding users.
When aiming to lead users towards value, the live demo often serves as the initial step. However, overly intrusive prompts can be bothersome. In this regard, Customer.io successfully accomplishes the objective of encouraging users to participate in a live demo by utilizing a non-intrusive side-pop modal which is also visually more appealing. This approach ensures that the modal does not obstruct the user’s navigation and maintains a straightforward nature, conveying the message concisely without wasting any words.
Productboard takes a concise approach to the signup process, ensuring that users are not overwhelmed with providing excessive information. By employing welcoming language, they establish a positive tone for the onboarding flow. Instead of burdening users with a lengthy process, Productboard strategically requests only a few key pieces of information at a time, maintaining a short and efficient flow. Recognizing that users desire swift access to value, Productboard limits the information they ask for to just two pieces, seamlessly creating their workspace. The engaging welcome screen promptly equips users with everything they need to commence their journey immediately.
Establishing an effective onboarding process at the beginning is crucial, but it is equally important to maintain this process throughout the customer journey. This ensures both expansion and retention. In the case of freemium or free trial products, there may be users who have already undergone a positive onboarding experience and recognize the value of the product but have not yet converted. In such situations, a gentle push can encourage users to upgrade to a premium plan. Baremetrics employs a trial upgrade prompt that serves as a subtle reminder at the bottom of the screen, displaying the remaining days in the trial period, and offering an incentive for conversion through a discount.
Heap offers a visually engaging onboarding process that enhances the customer experience by providing a seamless journey. They employ a visually attractive modal to gather relevant user data, such as the company’s goal or area of work, allowing users to select their user segment themselves.
Heap presents a Welcome Screen with explicit prompts to encourage action, guiding users to create their first dashboard. Additionally, they incorporate a series of tooltips that users can trigger when they require specific guidance, ensuring clarity on the steps needed to create a new dashboard.
To gather valuable insights and enhance future onboarding experiences, Heap concludes with an onboarding survey, demonstrating to users that their feedback holds significance.
Like Baremetrics, Sendgrid also prioritizes upselling and customer retention through its user onboarding strategies. One effective method to empower users is to engage them in the feature development process. This can involve inviting them to beta programs or conducting exclusive pilot tests to gather feedback. By involving users in this way, they become enthusiastic advocates for your product. SendGrid incorporates a dedicated section within their product for running feature experiments. They openly invite users to participate as testers for new features through informative tooltips. This approach fosters a sense of involvement and connection between users and your company, ultimately strengthening your relationship with them.
If you have a product that can leverage network effects, such as a meeting scheduler, each user interaction has the potential to attract new users. For example, whenever Mixmax users receive meeting invitations, each recipient becomes an opportunity to initiate the signup process.
Once users accept the calendar invitation through Mixmax, a signup modal appears, clearly emphasizing that it is free and communicating the value of Mixmax. This approach assists in converting prospective users into first-time users, maximizing the chances of user acquisition.
Want to get started with creating an onboarding user flow? Talk to our user onboarding expert to create a unique onboarding experience that will best fit your business and enhance your customer experience!