How to do effective user onboarding

Ewan Collinge

May 19, 2021

After spending vast amounts of time and resources on marketing, sales, and nudging your prospects along the buying journey all the way to the final purchase, it’s easy to feel like your job is done.

However, the next stage is just as important and is often overlooked by companies. We’re talking about user onboarding — the process of introducing new customers to your product and guiding them through the features so they can enjoy it to the maximum.

It’s an essential step, but it’s one that notoriously leaves users disappointed. If you can learn to master the art of onboarding your users, you’ll boost your chances of retaining them, beat the competition, and grow your business much more effectively and sustainably.

In this article, we’ll show you how.

Why onboarding is so important

There are a number of reasons why onboarding is such an important consideration for businesses:

  • Your customers will appreciate it greatly, and reward you with loyalty. According to one survey, 86% of people say they’ll be more likely to stay loyal to a business that welcomes and educates them after they’ve made a purchase.
  • It’s often the deciding factor in whether a user buys your product. If someone is torn between your product and a similar one, or between buying and waiting, a well-regarded onboarding process could easily be the thing that sways them.
  • It helps your users get the most out of your platform. By showing your users how to maximize the value they get from your product, you’ll optimize their overall experience and leave them more impressed and delighted.
  • It boosts user retention. If you welcome customers to your product and give them everything they need to enjoy it and benefit from it, they’ll be more likely to stick around and even buy more of your products.

It’s clear that onboarding is an extremely important process and a sure-fire way to dazzle your users and grow your business. Which just makes it even more surprising that hardly anyone is doing a good job of it.

In fact, more than 90% of customers feel that the companies they buy from could do better when it comes to onboarding new users.

If you focus on improving the onboarding experience for your new users, you’ll surge ahead of the competition. And the best part is, it’s not even that difficult.

How to do onboarding right

Understand your users and solve their problems

As with almost everything in business, success in onboarding is dependent on you understanding your customers and delivering constant value to them. To do this right, you need to find out what pain points and problems your customers are dealing with and help them quickly solve them.

Carry out lots of market research and surveys, talk to your customers on social media and via email, always ask for their opinion and feedback, and find out what users are saying to your sales teams and customer support staff. Build detailed personas for your customers, find out who they are, how old they are, where they come from, what they do for a living, and — most importantly — what problems they want to solve with your product.

This will allow you to build an onboarding process that hones in on their specific needs and requirements and deftly guides them through the process of fixing their problems. If done right, your new user will finish the process feeling like they have finally found the product they were looking for.

Keep it simple

Your users are busy people. They don’t have time to spend hours learning how to use your product, and they’ll be turned off by an onboarding process that hits them in the face with a bunch of noise and crowded information.

Your onboarding process should cut to the heart of what your product does, guiding your users through the fundamentals step by step instead of throwing everything at them at once. Allow your users to opt-out of certain steps if they choose to, and encourage ‘learning by doing’ as opposed to just cramming information down your user’s throat.

If users are confronted with a barrage of information from the second they access your product, they will feel overwhelmed and daunted, and might simply log out with the intention of “coming back to it later”. And we all know what that means.

Test, test, and continue to test

The only way to truly understand how effective your onboarding process is is to ask users through constant testing and monitoring. Carry out tests where you collect feedback at every step of the process, asking users what they found easy, what they found difficult, what they like, and what they would like to change.

This constant feedback is the only way to understand what customers think about the process and identify areas that need change. Then, you can make the tweaks and upgrades needed to optimize your onboarding process and deliver the best possible experience for your users.

Onboarding is an essential part of making a digital product. It’s also an area where the majority of businesses fall short. By investing the time and resources into making your product easy to learn and extract value from, you’ll stand out from other brands and give your customers a rewarding experience that they’ll be eager to repeat time and again.


To find out how Crowdform can help you design an effective onboarding process and build digital products that work for all your customers, get in touch.


Ewan Collinge

Ewan co-founded Crowdform in 2015 and leads product design and strategy. He wears many hats and can be contacted at ewan@crowdform.co.uk.

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