Complete Guide To SaaS Onboarding With Examples And Best Practices

Sakshi Gupta
April 19, 2024
15 mins


When you sign up for software, you join with high expectations as the landing page promises to solve their problems. You eagerly sign up, but confusion sets in as you navigate its features during SaaS onboarding. Frustration mounts, and before you know it, you've closed the tab, never to return.

That’s not just a lost user – but it is a loss of your customer acquisition campaign costs. For SaaS companies ranging from bootstrapped to less than $100 million raised – the CAC is around $0.28 to $1.29 to get $1 in ARR. That’s a lot of money lost if you do not take care of the leaking bucket.

Thus, SaaS onboarding isn't just a formality — it's your ticket to survival and success in your industry. It's the difference between a fleeting interaction and a lifelong relationship to growing and consistent revenues.

In this guide, we help you understand the concept of SaaS onboarding and how to implement best practices to achieve exceptional onboarding metrics.

What is SaaS onboarding?

SaaS onboarding is not just a mere sign-up process; it's the initial journey that users embark on when they interact with your software for the first time.

Think of it like a virtual welcoming handshake, the digital tour guide, and the friendly mentor all rolled into one to ensure they can get started to use your product for their goals.

For example, Notion asks for your use case for downloading Notion. It shows you only three options (which helps not overwhelm the user with choices). Based on your chosen user persona, it will curate the further onboarding steps to suit the same.

To arrive at these three personas, Notion may have conducted many iterations and taken user feedback to understand which use case resonates the most with new sign-ups. Thus, SaaS onboarding is not a one-time thing to design – but an iterative process. You consistently work on improving onboarding metrics for which you require flexible user experience software like Nudge.

Using Nudge, you can build such user segments, A/B test user onboarding flows, and check improvement in key onboarding metrics – all in a single platform and without code. 

Why is onboarding important in SaaS?

The onboarding experience sets the tone for the user's entire journey with your SaaS product. If this is not done right, they will simply drop off, or worse, opt for your competitors. Apart from this doomsday scenario, here’s how designing user onboarding helps a SaaS business:

1. SaaS onboarding reduces time to value

When you correctly onboard a new user, they can understand and align their use case with your product’s value proposition. The new user must see immediate ‘value’ else they may feel they are in the wrong place.

When a user signs up for a task management tool like Trello, they are presented with a straightforward onboarding process that walks them through creating their first board, adding cards, and organizing tasks. By completing these initial steps, users quickly understand how Trello can help them organize their projects and streamline their workflow, leading to a rapid realization of value.

Image Source: UserOnboard

2. Onboarding presents an opportunity for personalization and upselling

When you use user experience platforms like Nudge to design onboarding experiences, you can view reports to analyze engagement, completion rates, and more. This helps you make data-driven decisions to further align your onboarding process with users' unique preferences and behaviors. For example, you can deliver targeted recommendations and guidance that resonate with each user's unique context and objectives.

When your users see how well-curated your product is to their use case, it becomes easy to upsell them with additional features or services.

For example, here’s Canva, a leading design SaaS, asking its users the use case of signing up for Canva. Based on that, it will curate the design templates in the further onboarding steps. Doing so helps the user kickstart their work for their use case without having to get lost in the myriad of features Canva provides.

3. Empowers customers to use your software effectively

During onboarding itself, you can align the user by educating them about how to make the best use of your SaaS for their requirements. You can also highlight certain features or provide resources that would further help build confidence among users to troubleshoot issues independently. The earlier the user feels confident in using your product, the more they will want to explore advanced functionalities by upgrading.

For example, after you create an account on Zoom, it will show you an in-app message to further explore various features via a product walkthrough. It showcases a series of tooltips that highlight important features a user must know to use Zoom properly. 

4. Reduce customer support requests

“68% of customers are willing to pay more for the same thing to work with a company with a good reputation for customer service”
– Source: via Gladly 

Implementing contextual elements to your onboarding process, interactive walkthroughs, clear instructions, and more such strategies (discussed further in the guide) in the onboarding flow helps reduce support tickets. With such a hands-on approach to SaaS onboarding, the user can navigate and explore the product independently to get their jobs done, thus reducing the need to raise any support tickets.

Onboarding also presents a chance to solicit user feedback during the process to identify pain points, areas for improvement, and common stumbling blocks. Many of those support tickets will include insights on these, which you can further use to improve onboarding flow.

5. Reduction in churn metrics

When a user successfully onboard your SaaS application, this means they have performed the required key actions that help them get ‘activated’ into the user journey.  Higher activation rates indicate that users have experienced value early on, making them less likely to churn.

How does onboarding help with this?

A well-executed onboarding process addresses common reasons for customer churn –  such as confusion, frustration, or lack of value perception. It sets the stage for long-term engagement where the users understand how to derive value from your product and integrate it into their workflows. Such clarity means they will get their job done and hence not look for other options.

What is the SaaS onboarding experience?

The SaaS onboarding experience encompasses the series of interactions and touchpoints that users encounter from the moment they sign up for a SaaS product until they become proficient users.

Typically, the SaaS onboarding experience will include the following steps:

  1. Welcome and sign-up process: a streamlined sign-up process with clear instructions and minimal friction helps users get started quickly. A SaaS product cannot afford to get this wrong as it leads to instant drop-off.
  2. Introduce SaaS value proposition: here, you introduce the user to the core features of your product, benefits, and potential use cases. You can also show success stories or testimonials to help gain the user’s trust as they complete the SaaS onboarding process.
  3. Set up an account: may involve tasks such as creating user profiles, customizing preferences, and connecting integrations or third-party services. The more one personalizes this, the better the SaaS onboarding experience.
  4. Interactive onboarding walkthroughs: here, you familiarize users with the product's interface and functionality via guided tutorials, onboarding checklists, coachmarks, and other combinations of in-app nudges.
  5. Customization and feedback: here, you ensure the user can complete the onboarding by further educating them about the product. Then, you take feedback if they face any issues or how satisfied they are with the experience so far. For example, you can further tailor the user’s experience by suggesting relevant tutorials, feature recommendations, or templates. 

Throughout the complete SaaS onboarding experience, you must ensure proactive support at various stages.  A good onboarding experience has a clear focus on user needs, preferences, and feedback. Getting this right means SaaS companies can create a seamless and empowering onboarding experience that sets the stage for user satisfaction, retention, and growth – let us see how to do that in the next section.

How to do SaaS Onboarding? – 12 strategies to design seamless onboarding experiences

Here are twelve actionable SaaS onboarding strategies that will help you define, map, and execute an exceptional onboarding experience:

1. Define your SaaS onboarding goals 

One may think that any SaaS product manager would want the new user to complete user onboarding – and that’s an obvious goal. But as you iterate your onboarding process, you may want to tweak your user onboarding experience for specific SaaS metrics. Hence, it is important to understand where your SaaS product stands and how your users perceive it – and design onboarding goals to align.

Effective onboarding goals should be tied to measurable success metrics that indicate whether users are achieving their desired outcomes with your product.

Answer this question – What specific actions do you want users to take during onboarding that would help you achieve the goal or metric targeted?

You can consider key performance indicators (KPIs) such as improving user activation rate, reducing time to value, educating users, better customer satisfaction scores, or increasing feature adoption rate. These would help gauge the effectiveness of your onboarding process in driving user engagement and retention.

For example, let’s say your SaaS receives too many support ticket requests – and if not fixed, when you try to scale the product, it will burden your support team. For this, you got user feedback that they do not understand how their product helps a specific use case. To fix this, you will make necessary changes in your onboarding to make sure the number of support tickets raised for this request gets reduced.

2. Create user personas using user segmentation

To create a personalized experience, you must segment your signed-up users and develop comprehensive user personas. This will help you gain insights into the diverse needs, preferences, and behaviors of different user groups – and how they expect to use your product. Then, you must design your onboarding to showcase how your product can meet those needs and expectations.

Common segmentation factors include:

  • Demographics: like age, gender, location
  • Behavior: usage frequency, feature adoption
  • Psychographics: preferences, interests, motivations
  • Firmographics: company size, industry

You can also analyze user interactions within your product, for which you must opt for user experience software like Nudge. Conducting surveys or interviews and leveraging third-party data sources also help enrich data of your user personas.

Now, using this comprehensive data, conclude user personas that represent each segment. Try to capture their goals, pain points, preferred communication channels, and level of expertise when it comes to using a SaaS like yours. Then, customize your onboarding content and messaging to resonate with each user segment. Highlight key features and benefits that are most relevant to their needs and address common pain points they may encounter.

The more targeted your user persona <–> SaaS value proposition is, the better onboarding completion and app retention rates you will achieve.

For example, here Teamwork (a project management SaaS) is asking for detailed information about the new user signing up for their software. From industry, and team size to role – it uses this information to curate the onboarding flow further and adapts the product walkthrough accordingly.

3. Identify critical action points for your SaaS application

Critical action points are the touchpoints within your SaaS product where a user decides to move forward or leave the customer journey you designed for them. These are the key interactions or milestones that users must complete to derive value from your product and achieve their desired outcomes.

When you identify these points in your designed onboarding journey, you can prioritize your iteration and improvement initiatives. Here’s how to find critical action points:

  1. Map the onboarding journey: from sign-up to becoming a power user. Identify the key stages or phases users go through and the actions they need to take at each stage to progress.
  2. Fix success metrics you want to achieve: this point is covered in strategy #1 – define your SaaS onboarding goals. From these goals, select the ones relevant to your key stages.
  3. Identify onboarding hurdles: analyze onboarding data, and look for areas where users are dropping off or experiencing difficulty. These may indicate barriers to successful onboarding and must be addressed.
  4. Prioritize critical actions: once you've identified the key actions users need to take, prioritize them based on their impact on user engagement and retention. Focus on the essential actions for users to experience the core value of your product and achieve their goals.
  5. Think of strategies to push for completing critical actions: in further sections of this guide, we teach you various strategies like progress bars, badges, interactive walkthroughs, and more to help you push your users beyond these critical points. Once done, streamline onboarding by removing any unnecessary steps or distractions that might derail users from their primary objectives.

Then, you iterate around these critical points using A/B tests till you achieve your desired onboarding metrics (as described in Strategy #8 of this guide).

4. Use progress bars to drive onboarding completion

We covered in detail how the Zeigranik effect is how game elements like progress bars or steaks help push the new user to ‘complete’ the onboarding process – onboarding gamification.

In this step, you break down the onboarding process into manageable tasks and provide users with a visual progress indicator to guide them through their onboarding journey. Here’s how to design a good progress bar for your SaaS onboarding process:

  • Identify the key milestones or tasks that users need to complete during the onboarding process. Ensure these tasks align with your onboarding goals.
  • Incorporate a visual progress bar into your onboarding interface to give users a sense of their progress. It should provide users with a clear indication of how far they've come and how much is left to accomplish.
  • Celebrate users' progress as they complete tasks within the onboarding process. It could be congratulatory messages, virtual rewards, unlocking new features, or other reward-based gamification strategies.

Here’s a good example of a progress bar concept designed by Jared Gase for a fitness application. Progress bars are a good opportunity to design clever and interactive user experiences that make your SaaS application memorable.

5. Ditch linear product tours – explore building interactive walkthroughs

Designing product walkthroughs helps you avoid overwhelming users with too much information or confusion after the signup-onboarding flow. It fosters a sense of agency and ownership by encouraging users to actively participate in the onboarding process. During the walkthrough, provide opportunities for users to customize settings, input data, and make decisions to reinforce their investment in your product.

Thus, unlike static tours that simply showcase features one after another, interactive walkthroughs engage users actively. You enable users to explore at their own pace by giving them a direction to look at and interact in a hands-on manner. 

Also, static tours often follow a predetermined path that may not align with users' specific needs or preferences. In interactive product walkthroughs, as a best practice, you can consider user segmentation data collected in strategy #2 and focus on features most relevant to their needs during the walkthrough.

For example, Teamwork considers the user’s input about their use case during the onboarding flow, and then when they enter the application, they share an onboarding checklist to help the user get started. The checklist covers the most important tasks the user needs to complete to ensure they can start using Teamwork – like, creating the first project, adding team members, assigning tasks, and more.

6. Ensure your onboarding is contextual

By segmenting the users, it is possible to improve your personalization by providing a contextual onboarding experience. This means, you design the onboarding such that you anticipate their needs and provide timely assistance exactly when they need it using your product. 

You can include elements of context in your onboarding using a tooltip explaining a feature, a contextual message addressing a common pain point, or a guided tour highlighting key functionalities. Such contextual help enhances users' understanding of your product and the logic behind why you have designed your app the way you have, thus, reducing confusion.

Tip: study the concept of ‘progressive disclosures’. This means, instead of overwhelming users with too much information upfront, gradually reveal information and features to users as they progress through the onboarding journey. Do so by providing them with relevant guidance and options based on their current context and level of expertise.

For example, here’s how Google is helping its newly onboarded Google Chat user based on their use case:

It has designed three distinct use cases – sending a message, collaborating with teams on projects, and upgrading workflows. Each CTA has an actionable copy that further provides context about what will happen when the user clicks it. Thus, Google is using a combination of personalization based on the use case and copywriting to provide as much context as possible for the newly onboarded user to get started.

7. Use tooltips at relevant points

Native tooltips provide a subtle yet contextual nudge to the user in the right direction of using your SaaS. They typically contain brief explanations, tips, or instructions related to the element in question, helping users understand its purpose or functionality.

Unlike intrusive pop-ups or overlays, native tooltips seamlessly blend into your product's design. This means your user’s current state of workflow doesn’t get disrupted and yet you can capture their attention. Also, native tooltips inherit the visual style of your product, thus providing a consistent and familiar user experience.

For example, here’s how Google Analytics highlights changes in the user interface for reporting dashboard. It shows a tooltip within the app’s interface, such that the user can notice it, yet not disrupt its current activity. It also highlights where the changes have taken by placing the tooltip in the desired location. The copy is concise enough with links to the ‘Advertising’ section for the user to learn more about the changes. Thus, Google nudges the user to explore its latest changes and onboard them via the tooltip.

8. Iterate your onboarding process using A/B tests

A/B testing is a process used to compare two or more versions of a webpage, email, or in our case, an onboarding flow, to determine which one performs better.

You do that by varying elements (control or original version (A) vs variation (B)) of the onboarding process and measuring their impact on user behavior. Based on the data, you re-iterate the onboarding process design. Then, you again check the impact with respect to the original to determine any significant improvements in SaaS onboarding metrics. 

For example, you use an A/B testing tool to create two versions of the onboarding flow: Version A with a simplified, three-step process and Version B with the existing, five-step process. You randomly assign new users to either Version A or Version B and track their progress through the onboarding journey.

Image Source: Trendyol Tech

Based on your decided goals in Strategy #1 of this guide, you can check improvement in metrics and which flow helps achieve those onboarding goals.

Thus, instead of relying on intuition or guesswork, A/B testing helps you gather empirical evidence about what works best for your user’s onboarding experience.

9. Automate repetitive and tedious processes

No user likes to input data or perform manual tasks on their own. Automation will reduce this workload on the user and help with faster and more streamlined onboarding.

Here are some examples of automation you can implement for your SaaS onboarding flow:

  1. Automate account setup: a long sign-up process is an instant turn-off for anyone. Try to automate the sign-up process by using options like social login, single sign-on (SS), email login, etc. Additionally, automate email verification and account activation to ensure a seamless onboarding experience without manual intervention.
  2. Automate importing of data: one of the time and resource-intensive tasks when choosing a new software is to migrate data from older ones. If your SaaS involves data migration workflows, provide the option to automate the same. Develop tools or integrations that facilitate seamless data transfer. This could be for importing contacts, documents, or settings. Ensure provision of step-by-step guidance and automated migration scripts to ensure a smooth transition without manual data entry.
  3. Automate DIY support assistance: generative AI has made it possible to bring AI capabilities that help provide customer support and automation for many DIY tasks. They can learn from your knowledge base and provide instant solutions to customers seeking onboarding support. These chatbots make your customer support proactive.
  4. Automate user feedback collection: user experience software like Nudge helps you easily implement in-app surveys, feedback widgets, or Net Promoter Score (NPS) polls to gather user sentiments. This exercise helps analyze user feedback in real time to iteratively improve the onboarding flow and address emerging needs or concerns.

10. Update onboarding material to align with product changes

As your product evolves and scales and market conditions change, you will observe the user’s needs change too. Hence, it's essential to refresh tutorials, walkthroughs, and other onboarding resources to reflect the latest features and best practices.

Here’s a simple three-step process to go about updating your onboarding material:

  1. Monitor market and user data: analyze user interactions within your product – and these could include user paths, drop-off points, and feature adoption rates to pinpoint areas that may require adjustment. Also, you may be aligning with the market demands and changes – observe how they impact your user interactions and personas as you make changes to your SaaS product to adapt.
  2. Conduct user tests: user testing sessions with the new and existing users will help your product team gather insights into the effectiveness of your updated onboarding material. Using data in step–1, experiment with different approaches to see which yields the best results.
  3. Communicate changes to the users: transparently communicate updates to your onboarding material to users using in-app nudges, emails, or other communication means. Do highlight the benefits of the changes and guide how to navigate the updated onboarding experience.

Here’s an example of LinkedIn alerting its existing users about its latest feature of ‘Catch Up’. To introduce its new feature, it has designed a new onboarding flow that the user can enter by clicking on ‘Get started’. 

11. Celebrate user achievements

Everyone appreciates being celebrated – and as a SaaS business, including acts of celebration in your UX, is a great opportunity to reinforce positive behaviors, boost user motivation, and foster a sense of accomplishment.

You can use onboarding gamification tactics to increase user engagement by celebrating users’ achievements with the onboarding flow. We have already discussed the use of progress bars, here are some more to help you get started:


Implement a badge or trophy system to recognize users for completing key tasks or milestones during the onboarding process.

For example, if your SaaS product is a project management tool, you could award users a "Task Master" badge for creating their first project or a "Collaborator" badge for inviting team members.

Congratulatory messages or actions

It’s a good practice to have some UX element to share a personalized congratulatory message to users when they reach significant milestones or complete challenging tasks.

Here’s an example of the ToDoist app showering confetti when a user completes the first task that they set up during the onboarding.

Prompt to share achievements with their friends or network

Your SaaS can provide a nudge to share their onboarding achievements with their social networks or one-on-one as a message. This helps amplify their sense of accomplishment and potentially attract new users to your product.

Strava's onboarding flow prompts users to share their first workout or run location with friends. By sharing their achievements of kickstarting a run with friends and followers, users celebrate their progress and inspire others to get active and join the Strava community.

Image Source: Beebom

12. Follow-up after onboarding

Once the new user has completed the onboarding process, you have a chance to either push for social sharing (provided they had a good onboarding experience) or solicit feedback. Explore using in-app surveys, email surveys, or feedback forms to gather insights into what worked well and where there's room for improvement. 

You can also check up on the onboarding metrics, and see which users are critical to churning out. You can specifically design workflows where the ones with bad onboarding experience are taken care of via personalized support or discounts.

For example, you can use collected onboarding data to segment users based on their level of engagement with your SaaS product. High-value users who log in daily and utilize advanced features receive personalized follow-up emails with tips for optimizing their workflow. While inactive users may receive re-engagement campaigns encouraging them to explore new features or attend training sessions.

Either way, whether good or bad experience, it is important to follow up to maintain a proactive relationship with the user.

5 best SaaS onboarding examples to learn from

Here are five distinct examples of SaaS onboarding and we have highlighted the strategies used:

Airtable user onboarding flow

Airtable is a no-code database and application builder. Its onboarding process focuses on helping users understand the versatility of the platform and how it can be customized to meet their unique needs. 3 key strategies employed by Airtable include:

  1. Multiple sign-up options:

Airtable is offering to sign up only for work emails – which helps them avoid casual users who may not lie in their target audience. Apart from that, you see multiple sign-up options via SSO, Google, and Apple ID – all trusted sources of users.

  1. Gathering use case information and onboarding teams

Airtable asks its users about which teams they belong to. In the very next step, Airtable encourages collaboration from the outset by inviting users to invite team members to join their workspace during the onboarding process. This emphasis on teamwork is seen with providing ‘$10 credit per invite’. It reinforces Airtable's value proposition as a collaborative database tool that facilitates cross-functional collaboration and communication.

For single users, it provides a ‘skip’ option to exit this section of the onboarding flow. The screen also includes a ‘progress bar’ to highlight how many steps are left in the onboarding flow to complete.

  1. Templates customized to your use case

Airtable offers a wide range of customizable templates for various use cases, such as project management, event planning, and content calendars. These templates serve as starting points for users, demonstrating the versatility and adaptability of the platform.

But when one selects a use case during the onboarding process (and in this example, we selected marketing) – it curates the template suggestion relevant to ‘marketing’ only. This showcases the personalization aspect where a marketing professional can quickly get started as per their use case.

Zoom user onboarding flow

Zoom has become synonymous with remote communication and virtual meetings, thanks in part to its user-friendly onboarding experience.

3 key strategies employed by Zoom include:

  1. Seamless sign-up process that focuses on value propositions:

Zoom's sign-up process is quick and straightforward, requiring minimal information from users to create an account and start hosting or joining meetings immediately. It also provides multiple options across social, Google, SSO, and Apple ID. This frictionless onboarding process reduces barriers to entry and encourages rapid adoption.

On its left panel, it highlights the list of features it offers under its free plan. Their copy also focuses on ‘benefits’ rather than mere feature descriptions. Doing so reduces any anxiety or confusion a user may have about getting started to try the product.

  1. 3-point checklist to help newly onboarded users 

Zoom provides a simple three-step process to help its new user join or launch a new meeting. It also has a small two-step progress bar below which helps further customize Zoom for users who require the same. This demarcation of onboarding doesn’t overwhelm the user with too many tasks or information.

  1. Updates on features and UI to signed-in user

When a new user signs in, it showcases any changes in the user experience or interface using native tooltips. This avoids disrupting the user’s workflow while also giving them a heads-up about important changes.

Shopify user onboarding

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows businesses to set up and manage online stores. Its onboarding experience focuses on guiding users through setting up their online store, adding products, and configuring their store settings to start selling successfully.

Three key strategies by Shopify for effective SaaS onboarding include:

  1. Before signing up, Shopify tries to know the user

When you click on Shopify’s CTA on its landing page to sign up, it doesn’t take you to the typical signup process of adding email addresses. Instead, it tries to know your background and use case. It does provide you the option to ‘Skip all’ and ‘Skip’ – which can get confusing. The progress bar at the top does help anticipate how long it will take for the signup process if not ‘skipped’.

  1. Automatic location detection

Many SaaS platforms that try to know the user’s location do so via dropdowns or typing the location name. Shopify automatically detects the location of the user during onboarding – but still includes it for any correction from the user’s side for double checks. If correct, the user can simply proceed without making an effort to add a location, thus making onboarding easier.

  1. Shopify uses an onboarding checklist

After gathering the user’s information and use case, Shopify completely curates the further steps in the onboarding process. During signup, we mentioned setting up an online store, and each step is curated for that. On clicking each step, Shopify automatically kickstarts a set-up walkthrough to perform the tasks.

Calendly user onboarding

Calendly is a scheduling tool that simplifies the process of booking appointments and meetings. It allows users to share their availability and let others schedule time with them. Its onboarding experience focuses on guiding users through setting up their scheduling preferences and integrating Calendly with their calendar and communication tools.

Here are three key onboarding strategies you can take note of:

  1. Ask for a team or individual use case

Calendly is a product used by both individuals and team members. In this first step of user onboarding post signing in, it is upfront asking the user about their use case. There are different onboarding steps for each. It also shares a simple two-step progress bar on the top right.

  1. Personalization based on the new user’s job role

Calendly further asks the new user about their job role in the second step of the onboarding process. You can see various key user personas that Calendly has narrowed down based on their onboarding data.

  1. Calendly automates calendar integration and personalizes the onboarding checklist

If you sign in via a Google account, it automatically integrates with your calendar and video conferencing settings. This automation removes any burden on the user to manually do these tasks  – and is also highlighted in its onboarding checklist. Furthermore, the onboarding checklist mentions other key tasks the user has to perform to get started with Calendly. Any task that helps them make the most of Calendly is shown separately and optional.

10 SaaS onboarding best practices checklist

Now that you’ve learned how to design SaaS user onboarding, ensure you save this checklist of best practices to make it right from the start:

1. Design onboarding that is user-centric

User-centric design places users' needs, preferences, and goals at the forefront of product development. It helps create an intuitive and enjoyable onboarding process that resonates with your target audience.

For example, a typical strategy would be to keep the onboarding process simple and clear. Simplifying the onboarding process reduces cognitive load and minimizes user frustration. Further, clear and concise information helps users understand your product quickly and effortlessly – which is important to highlight your SaaS’s value proposition.

Another example would be to design personalized onboarding from the start. This is especially important if your SaaS has multiple user personas or use cases.

2. Include onboarding elements that nurture community building

When a new user is adopting a new SaaS tool for their workflows, one indeed wants some social signals to help them reinforce their belief in choosing your brand. Having an active community dedicated to your SaaS users is a great way to nurture long-term trust and advocacy.

A simple way to do this is to:

  • Establish online forums: Salesforce and Bubble have online support and discussion forums for product announcements, DIY help, and general conversations around the tool.
  • Host meetups: Atlassian and Adobe host multiple meetups, workshops, and conferences across the world. 
  • Encourage user-generated content: GitHub, the world's leading platform for software development and collaboration, thrives on user-generated content. Whether it's submitting code contributions, reporting bugs, or sharing insights through blogs and tutorials, GitHub users actively contribute to the collective knowledge base.

Like the above examples, you can incorporate elements of signing up for such interactive activities during the onboarding process to foster community building.

3. Provide multi-channel support 

When a user wants support, they want the resolution fast. With multi-channel support, you meet users where they are and deliver timely assistance through their preferred communication channels. You can consider live chat, email support, knowledge base content, video tutorials, phone support, social media messages, or community forums.

Being across channels helps you provide proactive support while also collecting user behavior data for further onboarding optimization.

4. Implement triggers based on user behavior

Analyze users' interactions, preferences, and historical data to deliver personalized recommendations. You can do so by suggesting relevant features, content, or actions that would help them achieve their goals. A step further for this would be to anticipate the user’s needs within your product to deliver timely and contextually relevant nudges.

For this, consider using user experience platforms like Nudge that help design UX via various in-app nudges.

For example, you can identify users who have exhibited signs of disengagement or present a churn risk. To avoid losing them, you can deploy targeted re-engagement campaigns to recapture their interest and encourage continued usage. 

5. Create an intuitive user experience

Users do not prefer SaaS tools with huge learning curves that require them to spend time making the most to achieve their goals. Your onboarding process must feel intuitive else they might get confused and drop off.

For example, you can offer guided learning paths or tutorials that walk users through common use cases and workflows. This helps users learn by doing, thus helping them conquer the learning curve of using your SaaS.

The best way to reduce the learning curve is to empower users to continue learning and improving their skills long after the initial onboarding phase.

Hence, you must include multiple touchpoints even after onboarding. For this, you can consider investing in comprehensive support resources, including help articles, video tutorials, webinars, and user forums.

6. Provide onboarding assistance

Assisted onboarding is a personalized approach to guiding users through the initial stages of their journey. Here, you either invest in a human to provide personalized onboarding or use the latest Generative AI agents to do so. You can either provide complete assistance or include touchpoints for tailored assistance, training, or troubleshooting support.

This strategy is good for bridging the gap between self-service resources and hands-on assistance – and is good for users who have moderate technical expertise.

A good example of such onboarding is HubSpot, a leading provider of inbound marketing and sales software. It offers assisted onboarding to new customers through its Customer Onboarding Specialists (COS) team. The Customer Onboarding Specialist conducts personalized onboarding calls with the user, during which they assess the user's goals, challenges, and existing processes. Based on this assessment, the specialist develops a tailored onboarding plan that aligns with the user's objectives and timelines.

7. Design a 30, 60, and 90-day follow-up after the trial period

As mentioned in the guide, you must follow up with the user post onboarding to nurture customer relationships. But you also must not bombard the user with feedback forms or re-engagement emails. Instead, consider a strategic and structured follow-up plan at key intervals – such as 30, 60, and 90 days post-trial.

During this period of follow-up, you can:

  1. Seek feedback: ask about their likes, dislikes, pain points, and suggestions for improvement.
  2. Reinforce value proposition: based on feedback, highlight how your solution addresses their pain points, streamlines their workflows, and helps achieve their goals.
  3. Provide relevant content: for example, you can include case studies, best practices guides, or advanced feature tutorials. Try to showcase how other users have achieved success with your SaaS solution for their use case.
  4. Share discounts or upsells: based on feedback, incentivize users to convert to paid subscribers by offering exclusive discounts or limited-time promotions upgrading during the post-trial period. If your SaaS receives good feedback, introduce them to premium features, add-on services, or subscription plans that align with their evolving needs.

8. Speak to prospects before signing up

You can consider having a product onboarding tour experience for the user instead of having a direct way to sign up for your SaaS platform. You can also consider a consultative approach which involves actively listening to prospects, asking probing questions, and offering expert advice based on their unique circumstances.

For example, Deel is a human resource management software for global teams – and it offers a demo request only and no signup. Their demo form emphasizes teams and work email – thus further helping them filter demo requests and avoid casual or users outside their target persona.

9. Align your game plan with sales

It is a good practice to consider feedback from sales teams before re-iterating your onboarding flows. This is even more important if you have a sales-intensive process for acquiring new customers (typical for B2B SaaS products).

A way forward could be to align onboarding metrics that both sales and product teams are accountable for. For example, consider defining target numbers for customer acquisition, retention rates, and revenue growth that both should collaborate to achieve. 

Another area to work together is for mapping customer journey – where you identify critical points for a seamless handover between teams. This helps maintain continuity and provide a consistent experience.

10. Ensure product tours are actionable

Product tours are a way to implement a ‘learning by doing’ approach to onboarding. Hence, they should guide users through specific tasks or actions within your software. By the end of it, the user should feel empowered to immediately apply what they've learned and experience the value of your product firsthand.

At Nudge, our user experience software is tailored to help you deliver personalized onboarding experiences. 

For SaaS platforms, the more aligned you are with the user’s needs, the better completion rates. Our in-app nudges, gamification, and analytics tools help you design unique onboarding flows that align with target persona requirements – book a demo to get started.

Sakshi Gupta
April 19, 2024