Effective User Onboarding: How to get people to actually use your product

15/02/2023 | By Willem Hoogslag
Effective User Onboarding: How to get people to actually use your product
Summary points:
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of user onboarding - it can make or break your product.
  • Provide clear and concise instructions on how to use the product.
  • Use visual aids, such as screenshots and videos, to guide users through the process.
  • Allow users to try out the product with a limited, but functional, set of features before asking them to sign up or make a purchase
  • Personalise the onboarding experience based on the user's preferences and needs.
  • Offer support and assistance throughout the onboarding process, including live chat, email, and phone support.

One of the most shocking statistics that most marketers are not aware of (or are actively ignoring) is that the average app will lose almost 80% of its DAUs just 3 days after installing.

Every day, companies that are excited to finally launch their product must face the grim realisation that almost no one is using it. People are interested enough to sign up and download the app, but then - at the very start - something turns them off.

When this happens, look no further than your onboarding experience for answers. In the majority of cases, the process is riddled with problems that can make it difficult for users to get started and engage with the product.

Lack of clear instructions, an overwhelming amount of information, and difficulty navigating the user interface are some of the blockers that can ultimately result in abandonment of the product altogether. By identifying and addressing these common issues, you can greatly increase your chances of product adoption.

There are a few key steps you can take to improve the user onboarding process and get more people to actually use your product.

Radical Friction Removal

User friction is any obstacle or frustration that prevents users from easily and effectively using your product. Much like a child with a new toy, even the slightest distraction or confusion can permanently turn a user off. To remove friction, make sure your interface is user-friendly by providing clear instructions and tutorials. Remember that users know nothing about your app or product, so they will need consistent hand holding throughout. You can also reduce the number of choices a user has to make by showing intelligent default settings and/or templates.

Most social media platforms do this really well. When you start using TikTok you don't need to do anything. It works instantly, and the more you view the more the algorithm learns and you start getting better and better content. But even before that happens, TikTok already knows the content that most people would enjoy, so they show you that immediately.

Personalised Preferences

Another key step is to personalise the onboarding experience. This means tailoring the onboarding process to each user's needs and preferences, based on factors like their role, experience, and goals. For example, a new user who is an experienced tech-savvy professional will likely have different needs and expectations than a first-time user who is not very familiar with technology.

Quora is a great example of a company that caters to the individual needs and preferences of its users. The questions and answers site provides users with a personalised timeline to match their preferences and also supplies interesting questions that align with those preferences. So this solves a big part of the activation churn, because people that were lost on a new platform before, are now immediately engaged with their personalised version of Quora.

Wow Moments

Good onboarding gives users immediate and uncomplicated proof that the product is suitable in solving their problem. A great way of doing this is to insert ‘wow’ moments into the onboarding process that get people to experience the value of the product and its features. These moments can come in many forms, such as video teasers, 3D product views, results photos, etc., which ultimately drive people to use your product.

ChatGPT delivers a wow moment before you are even inside the product. When the site is at maximum user capacity, the loading screen displays a selection of cool prompts you could try. This small feature highlights the speed and quality of the AI, which actually increases the user’s desire to try it for themselves.

Calming Anxiety

During the user onboarding process, it is common for users to feel anxious or overwhelmed. This can happen when they are faced with a new product or service that they are not familiar with, and they may be unsure of how to use it or whether it will meet their needs. It is important to address these anxieties by providing a supportive and welcoming environment that helps users feel more comfortable and engaged during the onboarding process. Starting them off with less complicated tasks and clear demonstrations of product value will help build the user’s confidence. Leave any stress-inducing, difficult tasks, such as payments, choosing a plan or filling in profiles, until they’ve properly settled in. With the broad range of services Mailchimp provides, it would be easy for users to feel overwhelmed and stressed by creating an email campaign. Mailchimp makes the experience as painless as possible by providing easy-to-follow prompts, set designs and templates, to get users started creating the emails themselves, before introducing the next layer of options, such as analytics and segmenting tools.

Support Systems

In addition, it's also important to provide support and assistance when needed. This could include things like live chat support, email support, or a dedicated customer support team. Convertkit does this well. If you want to switch from another marketing platform, an expert gets in touch with a migration plan of what you can expect and a walkthrough of your account once it is set up. There is a clear path laid out for new users and expert support is a key feature of it. Overall, user onboarding is an essential part of the user experience, and overlooking it could be the death of your product. It is not enough to create something great, you have to make it accessible, effective, and enjoyable to use as well. By following the steps outlined above, your users have a much better chance of sticking with it.

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