Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news first?
OK, let’s go with a downer – the odds are that 71% of your new users will churn within three months after they downloaded or subscribed to your app.
Now the good news – it’s nothing to worry about, particularly if you’re in the SaaS industry.
And one more thing: you can avoid this unpleasant scenario if your onboarding process is effective and well thought out.
But before we get down and explain how to wow your customers with your onboarding process, it’s important to discuss some basic concepts important for this topic.
Why Customers Churn?
There are many different reasons why customers decide they don’t want to use your product or service anymore and leave, but the two most prominent are:
- They don’t understand your product and how it’s used.
- They don’t get any value from it (or only think they can’t benefit from using it.)
As you can see, both these roadblocks are your responsibility and can be removed if you put an extra effort into explaining to your customers how to use your product or service and showing them how they can benefit from it.
Naturally, your product has to be awesome and perfectly tailored to meet the needs of your audience, and you need to make sure that your customers are the right fit for your product.
If both these requirements have been fulfilled and your customers still churn due to the above-mentioned reasons, then you need to roll up your sleeves and create an equally amazing onboarding process.
What Is Customer Onboarding?
A simple definition would be that it’s a process of introducing your product or service to your new customers and helping them learn how to use it properly.
The importance of a well-crafted and successfully conducted onboarding process can’t be stressed enough – customers with a positive onboarding perception and experience are less likely to churn within the first three weeks of using your product.
Moreover, if you implement this process during your free trial process, your free users will be more likely to start paying for your product or service.
63% of customers agree that onboarding and the level of support they’re likely to get post-sale is an important factor in whether they will decide to make a purchase.
So, it’s actually not only an excellent retention strategy, but it can be an effective acquisition tactic too.
Here are some tips to help you design a winning onboarding process.
1. Help Your Customers Understand Your Product
Simplicity is the key word here – make sure that all your guides and manuals are written in a jargon-free, simple, and comprehensible language.
It’s crucial to build a database with step-by-step guides that will be available for your customers so that they can find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions while they’re setting up your product and configuring it.
For example, we at Autoklose have started such a database packed with different articles which give simple and easy-to-understand tips on how to set up our platform.
And what’s more important, the number of articles in your database is growing consistently based on the feedback of our customers.
For example, our Campaigns Section recently got a visual facelift + some new functionalities in an attempt to give our users a more detailed and granular overview of every prospect.
Now you can see all the relevant information about your and your team’s campaigns, edit them, change their status, and add or delete them.
And here’s our article which explains the benefits of this upgrade as well as how to make it work:
2. Use Video
Now, no matter how clear, simple, and succinct this explanation is, many people still prefer to actually see how a procedure is performed.
That’s why a video can do wonders for your onboarding process, it’s engaging and easy on the eyes.
Even though manuals and how-to guides are important, you have to be prepared that a certain portion of your audience won’t find them too useful because they prefer to SEE how to use your product and not READ about it.
You can use our GoVideo feature to record and edit videos directly from the Autoklose Campaign Editor and show your recipients how to use your product or service.
What’s also great about this functionality, other than the fact that you can do everything in-app, is that it allows you to record your screen too. So, creating a video how-to guide has never been easier.
So, whenever it’s necessary, throw in a how-to video and show your customers how to use your product.
Just like we did for our Campaign Section redesign.
3. Leverage Empty States
Once your new user logs into your platform or app, they will notice a lot of features that don’t display any data or content. That’s because users first have to populate them first in order for data or content to be shown.
These moments in user experience are called empty states, and they’re an amazing UX opportunity to show your users how to use your product or service.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take advantage of this valuable real estate to communicate with your users and provide them with directions and roadmaps for using your app.
Fill each of these empty states with educational content and actionable tips that will explain what these features are about, what they do, how to use them, and encourage customers to start using them.
It’s crucial to demonstrate the value of each of these features so that users understand how they will benefit from using each one of them.
For example, when our users first start creating a campaign, they will see the following message in the Add Contacts empty state:
This short explanation tells them what they should do next in order to add contacts to their campaigns and lists three options for doing so.
Another useful tool for properly onboarding your new users is using feature callouts, or tip banner guides that draw attention to any important feature they should know.
However, it’s worth noting that these callouts are just introductory tips, and they can’t substitute a how-to guide or a detailed tutorial.
4. Make Use of Your Welcome Email
The first email after the sign-up or purchase is the most important one, that’s for sure.
That’s the moment when your new customers are excited about your product, and you have their absolute attention, so make sure to use it.
Your email shouldn’t only contain a thank you note – they expect something more at this point.
It’s essential to reduce customer effort!
Don’t leave your new clients scratching their heads trying to figure out how to start using your product.
Provide them with the content that they might find useful, so insert a link to your knowledge base, video how-to guides on your YouTube channel, as well as the information on how they can get in touch with your customer support.
In certain cases, when you land a really big client, it’s a good idea to take things to the next level and give them a welcome call.
Finally, an in-app message is also a nice touch, as it will show your customers that they’re completely covered if they need some help with the setup process.
Such an approach will show them that they can find a solution to any issue they might encounter.
5. Do Follow-Up. All the Time!
Staying in touch even after your first welcome email is crucial for the success of your onboarding efforts.
Namely, it will keep your new users engaged, which is of paramount importance for preventing customer churn.
You need to get them to constantly interact with your product, or as HBR calls it, make them “sticky.” In other words, we’re talking about turning your new user into a loyal, returning customer who will also promote your brand and recommend it to their friends and family.
Zapier, for example, has a winning strategy for engaging their customers and reminding them why they have made the best choice by opting for their service.
What’s their trick?
A clever invoicing process.
Namely, the company sends invoices that sum up all the benefits a particular customer gets by choosing Zapier.
Given that invoicing frequently leads to cancellations and churn, the company has found a way to eliminate the buyer’s remorse out of the process and help their customers always bear in mind why they have started using this service in the first place.
Also, regular newsletters with information about the product updates and additional helpful resources will also help you keep your customers.
6. Provide Value as Soon as Possible
By delivering that “wow” moment as soon as possible, you’ll definitely make your customers stay.
In other words, if you don’t show them what makes your product or service superb, as well as how it actually helps them solve their pain points or reach their goals, you can expect them to churn.
So, it’s essential to inform your new customers when they reach a particular success point with your product.
Be it the number of leads they managed to generate with your help, or an increase in their email open or click-through rate, what you should do is send them a message in which you’ll note this accomplishment.
What’s particularly important is that you shouldn’t make any promises you can’t keep.
Promising and failing to deliver is one of the biggest reasons for churn.
But, when you do deliver, make sure to let your customers know right away.
You can also ask your customers what their definition of success is and create customer-centric goals.
This way, you’ll be able to help them create measurable milestones and allow them to see when they reach their goals.
7. Identify Success Triggers
This refers to small steps that your successful customers take on their way to achieving the big goals they’re striving for and the role your product or service plays.
In other words, what you need to do is identify the actions your most valuable customers take.
By recognizing these success patterns, you’ll be able to figure out which features these successful customers are using and after which actions they realize the value of your product or service.
But, to do this properly, you first need to take certain steps.
- Identify different user personas
Identifying different user personas and personalizing their onboarding experience is vital for the success of your efforts.
Check out how to segment your audience into different groups based on their preferences, behavior, funnel stage, etc.
Another way of obtaining valuable insight into what your customers like is during the sign-up process.
- Monitor your users’ in-app behavior and events
These metrics can tell you how your customers are using your app, so make sure to keep track of the number of in-app sessions, how much they last, and the time when a particular user has been active.
It’s also important to know whether users activate a certain feature.
This will help you understand what features your customers find particularly useful as well as how every particular segment uses your product or service.
- Pay close attention to the first-run experience (FRE) and try to delight your users
As you probably suspect, the first time your customers use your product or service is a big deal, and if it’s underwhelming, you can bet that they will either cancel their subscription or fail to upgrade from the free trial to one of your paid plans.
Given that 40-60% of people who sign-up for a free trial use software or an app just once, it’s clear that you have to sweep them off their feet if you want them to continue using it.
To have a visual representation of how your customers interact with your app or service, you can use a heatmap tool.
It will analyze your page or app in terms of what areas your customers click the most and what areas they avoid. This analysis of clicks and scrolls will help you unearth how your users engage with your product or service and tell you what you should improve or additionally tweak.
- Ask for customer feedback
It’s a good idea to use in-app surveys to collect your customers’ feedback and get first-hand information about what they like about your product or service and what leaves much to be desired in their opinion.
By doing so, you’ll be able to improve things they don’t like, and you’ll get some bonus points for showing that you care about their experience and satisfaction.
In order for your product or service to be useful to your customers, it has to be user-friendly too. If you don’t want to scare new users off with your unintuitive user interface, make sure to create a good customer onboarding process that will help them navigate your app and make the most of it.