3 Actionable Ideas for Better New User Onboarding on the Web

Getting new users fully onboarded onto products can be a frustrating task. No matter how easy we think the process is, there are still new users who never finish setup, never login a second time, and/or never devote the time to find that great feature that would have generated value for them and kept them around.  Given that your job is to focus on building your product (not reinventing the user onboarding wheel), the goal should be to get them up and running with as little work needed from you as possible.

To that end, here are 3 ideas for improving user onboarding rates that I’ve seen work that are broadly applicable to the web and Software as a Service:

1. If I don’t finish setup within a few days, send me an email offering to help

Proactively reaching out to offer to help users complete sign-up can be a good way to re-engage customers who are legimately interested but are stuck or got distracted. The viability of doing this depends on how much your product costs, but the great thing about sending emails like this is that customers self-select – if they aren’t interested, they won’t email you back.

2. Send Users who Don’t Convert from Trials a Follow-up Based on Usage

While you probably can’t reach out to every trial user who didn’t convert, the users who actively used your product but still didn’t convert are a unique set. At a minimum, they likely have valuable feedback for you on why they didn’t see the value.  Equally importantly, they may also be a group that actually would convert with a bit of prodding – showing them more features, giving them an extra couple of days, or potentially giving them a discount if they are too small or early stage.

3. Encourage Users to Try Features Based on what They Haven’t Done

Rather than send generic emails to users highlighting your features, try targeting users with different messages based on what they are actively doing.  I recently got an email from a recently installed web app asking me to install their browser plugin – which I’d already done.  They missed an opportunity to send me a valuable email, and made me just a bit more likely to perceive future emails as a waste of time.


Smart, tailored and relevant emails are not a substitute for a well-designed product that generates value for users – but thinking through a personalized marketing and onboarding strategy for our new users can go a long way.


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