Product-led onboarding
best practices

Product-led user onboarding is a powerful way for SaaS businesses to scale trial conversion and retention.

Learn best practices from Userflow on how to build product-led onboarding.

What is Product-led Onboarding?

Userflow co-founder Esben Friis-Jensen explains what product-led onboarding is, and why it is an effective tool for SaaS businesses.

Onboarding fit for the modern users
Product-led onboarding is fit for the modern end-users, who wants to be able to self serve.
Sell and retain with your product
Product-led onboarding drives growth and retention by having users realize value via the product itself.
Automate to scale
Through product-led onboarding, you can scale fast without hiring a lot of people.

Setting your onboarding goals

The first part of building product-led onboarding is really to understand and align on what you want to achieve with building it. This ensures focus and gives a way to measure success.

Choose the most important goal
Stay focused and keep things simple by not focusing on a ton of different goals.
Make it measurable
To track if you are successful or not, it is important that your goals are tied to a metric.
Correlate to onboarding metrics
The metric(s) for your goal should be tied to onboarding metrics, to track if onboarding is impacting the goal.

Identifying your Aha moments

After knowing your goal you need to identify the key Aha moments for your product. Aha moments are the value realizations a user needs to experience for them to become and/or stay on as a customer.

More than one Aha
A product typically has more than one Aha moment, and the Ahas might differentiate per user type.
Speak with your customers
A qualitative way to identify an Aha moment is to speak with customers who just bought.
Analyze via analytics tools
Do a quantative analysis by using analytics tools, but don't overengineer it.

Start from your public facing content

Product-led onboarding starts before the user actually signs up for your product, by attracting the user and setting the right expectations though the public facing marketing material and website.

Clearly explain the problem solved
To attract the right users, make sure you highlight the problem solved as clear as possible.
Show your actual product
Show your actual product in screenshots, videos, or clickthrough demos.
Transparent pricing
Show your pricing transparently, so users know what price point to expect before signing up.

Give users free access to your product

By giving your product away for free as a public demo, freemium or free trial, you can use Product-led onboarding to convert customers through the product experience. This is the essence of a product-led growth model.

Convert customers via your product
Use a free option of your product combined with product-led onboarding to get customers.
Decide on your method
You can decide to use a public click-through demo, freemium or free trial or all of them as the method.
Potentially limit the free version
For a complex product consider limiting functions in the free version to avoid information overload.

Welcome your users to your product

The first impression matters. Thus the first time a user signs into your product in either a free trial or post-purchase it is key to give them a warm welcome and drive them to a key Aha moment.

Welcome message
Welcoming your users to your platform with a message incl. a video or a question is a great way to start.
Guide them to a key Aha
An in-app guide that drives the user to a key Aha moment gives them a great first experience.
Avoid boring next, next, next tours
Informational guides that highlights all menu items can be boring. Make it action-driven instead.

Use an onboarding checklist

Having an onboarding checklist creates a task-by-task structure for your users to learn about and engage with your product.

Focus on Aha Moments
Each checklist task should ideally drive towards an accomplishment and Aha moment.
Make it action-driven
Make sure that your checklist tasks are action-driven to ensure engagement, show don't tell.
Don't make it too long
Lengthy checklists makes it harder for the user to complete and you might lose engagement.

Build action-driven flows that drives towards Aha!

Informational next, next, next onboarding tours can become boring for the end users. Instead try to make your tours/flows action-based and driven towards the Aha moments.

Make it action-driven
Make sure that your flows/tours are action-driven to ensure engagement, show don't tell.
Be clear and concise
State the action you want the user to take in a clear and concise way to avoid confusion.
Focus on Aha Moments
Each flow/tour should ideally drive towards an accomplishment and Aha moment.

Remove unnecessary friction

Unnecessary friction in your onboarding can lead to users leaving your product before experiencing the value. Therefore one should analyze the onboarding process and remove friction where you can.

Remove non-value adding friction
Friction that adds no value should be completely removed. Analyze your onboarding in detail to discover this.
Park setup friction for later
Some friction is needed to fully setup a product, but park it for later and ensure the user experience value first.
Keep positive friction
Some friction helps speed up the value realization for users, and can therefore stay.

Never stop onboarding

You cannot retain users by just doing an initial onboarding. To keep them around you need to continue the onboarding for new or unused features and use cases, as well as new customer users joining a company.

Onboard new team members
If you have a B2B application, make sure new customer team members are properly onboarded.
Announce and nudge
Announce and guide to new larger features, and give friendly nudges to smaller or unused features.
Segment to personalize
Segment who you nudge via in-app or email to make the ongoing onboarding more personalized.

Don't forget about support

You can significantly reduce the need for support if you improve your onboarding, but there will still always be a need for supporting your users.

Knowledge base
An in-app support widget and a knowledge base are great ways to allow customers to self-support.
Real person chat
Always have a possibility for your customers to reach a real human e.g. via a support chat.
Improve based on support
Use the frequently asked support questions to improve your onboarding and product UX.

Start building product-led onboarding today

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