3 min read

When a new customer tries out your service, you have a few moments to show them how you are solving their problem, or else they will leave your service and go to your competitors to fulfill their needs. A well-designed onboarding experience increases revenues through higher conversion and creates happy and engaged customers.

Poor onboarding happens when the business focusses on building functionality first and pushes onboarding back as an afterthought. But neglecting onboarding means that all that effort and money is wasted when customers drop off before using your service.

Two common onboarding experiences that don’t work

Sliders and guides are two common patterns that fail to meet the needs of your customers and increase the likelihood of drop-off.

Sliders: although they offer a great visual aesthetic, sliders and guides don’t do much to improve recall (Image credit: Ilya Tsuprun via Dribbble)
Guides: LiveJournal presents new product features in a guided tour format (Image credit: UI-Patterns)

Sliders and guides suffer from two main issues: recall and irrelevancy. The recall issue is based on research that people are not that good at remembering things. By the time users get to the last slide it’s unlikely that they can remember the first slide.

The irrelevancy issue goes a bit deeper to why people are trying out your service to begin with. People are looking to solve a problem in their lives, and the hook that got them as far as your onboarding needs to be aligned with what they were originally looking for. But what if the feature that drew them in was on the first slide of your onboarding sequence? It’s unlikely they would remember what it was, think that your service doesn’t cater to their needs and leave.

Doing is better than telling

Your potential customer came to your software wanting to solve a problem they have. Helping them as soon as possible with their problem will make them feel like you are giving them some value. This perception of value exchange is the foundation of trust that will convert the user into a paying customer.

It’s like going into a hardware store and asking the assistant for a hammer, and they tell you about everything they have in the store. Not helpful and you are likely to leave pretty quickly.

Customer: ‘I’m looking for some golf balls.’
Assistant: ‘Let’s first look at this range of golf clubs.’

Smart onboarding: Tailored journeys that starts to solve customer’s problems earlier

Lynda.com makes use of a persona to ease the onboarding experience for users (Image credit: UI-Patterns)

Persona based onboarding like at Lynda.com enables tailored onboarding for specific user tasks. With user-focused onboarding you are more likely to give a potential customer some value and convert them into a paying customer.

Uber motivates potential drivers through onboarding by getting them to upload their driver’s license early on (Image credit: Uber)

Get people to take action towards their goal early on. It gives them a feeling of progress that helps them continue through the barrier of signing up. They will also be investing their valuable time. They will want to see a return of their investment and are more likely to continue through their journey.

Great onboarding leads to happy paying customers

Good onboarding increases completion rates and generates a perception of valuable service which users come back to. Tailored onboarding journeys get customers to start solving their unique problem and so lowers drop-off and increases revenues. It’s an investment that has guaranteed returns.