User Onboarding: Where Does User Onboarding End?

User onboarding is a very delicate process. Recognising where it begins is easy because the very first step is for a new user to signup, but where exactly does user onboarding end?

When can you consider a user to be onboarded?

Let’s start by considering what we actually mean by user onboarding.

What is user onboarding?

According to User onboarding academy by Appcues:

User onboarding is your user’s initial experience with your brand, product, and people.

It spans from the moment someone starts to sign up for your product, until the moment they realize how your product is going to improve their life, or their “Wow moment”.

According to User Onboard:

User Onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product.

The problem with aha or wow moments is that they’re difficult to identify because they don’t really exist.

It’s not like your user is sitting there, using your app, actually saying “Wow!

The onboarding goes like this:

  • your website promises something to the user
  • user wants it and signs up
  • user needs to go through a few steps
  • user receives what was promised to him

User onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that a user receives what you promised him from your app (aka the ‘aha’ or ‘wow’ moment).

What is your promise?

Keeping this definition in mind, when looking to define where your user onboarding ends, the best place to start is your website.

What is your website promising to your users?

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Buffer: A better way to share on social media

At Buffer, the onboarding process ends when a user is able to share their first bit of content through Buffer.

At that moment she can decide if the initial promise of “share smarter” is true and if it helps her.

Slack: A messaging app for teams

The onboarding process at Slack ends when a user manages to communicate his first message to his team.

That means the user will probably need to add team members, send them a message and also hear back from them.

It’s at this moment that the user can judge if he wants to give Slack a chance or not.

Freshbooks : Small Business Accounting Software

The onboarding process at Freshbooks ends when a user issues his first invoice.

It’s at that point that he can see how much of an accountant he does (or doesn’t!) need to be to use the product.

GetResponse: World’s easiest email marketing

The onboarding process at Get Response ends when a user sends his first email campaign.

It’s at that point that he can decide if it really was easier than what he was using previously or, if this is his first time sending a campaign using any platform, if it felt easy for him.

Inbound: Where smart marketers hang out.

Identifying where the onboarding process ends at Inbound is a little trickier because ”hanging out, staying current and connected” can mean different things for different users.

However, for any community to exist, users need to share so, for Inbound, the user onboarding process ends when users share at least one bit of content with the community, be it a comment or an article.

At that point they can decide if the community is for them, and if it’s worth staying around.

Onboarding > Retention > Revenue

The reason companies put a lot of effort into user onboarding is because onboarding is a mandatory step before converting the user into a customer.

In fact, the onboarding experience will have a direct impact on converting users to customers.

That’s why, when dealing with and reporting on the performance of the user onboarding process, it’s important not to focus solely on the funnel that users go through while onboarding.

A very important question is: how many of the onboarded users come back to the app?

Users created an account because they wanted what was promised to them.

They went through every step that they needed to in order to receive what was promised from the app.

Whether he decides to return (or not) is an indication of whether he believes you have delivered on your promises.

And now it’s your turn: Take a look at your own website and tell me in the comments where you think your user onboarding ends. I’ll gladly offer feedback.

Author: Claudiu Murariu

InnerTrends' founder and lead analyst Claudiu Murariu is also the author of DataDiary, a newsletter about and for companies that use data in their business decision making process. You can follow him on Twitter @cllaudiu.