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The Best Definitive Guide for SaaS Customer Onboarding

Written By CXcherry Marketing

Are you confused while deciding SaaS Customer Onboarding strategies? Do you want a definitive guide for SaaS customer onboarding? Then this is the right place.

When is customer onboarding necessary in SaaS? Do you have a product that is so self-explanatory & simple that your customer would adopt it at ease? When we say onboarding, in-context, we mean how frictionless your product is for new customers.

SaaS Customer Onboarding is the process of helping new customers get started and stay engaged. What is a good or bad or even worse onboarding experience for SaaS customers?

The straightforward answer to this is: Your onboarding practices must stay aligned with that - First Valuable Moment.

You skipped your assessed step - and you might lose the flow, customers might get clueless about what to do. Then bad or worse becomes a clueless consequence in onboarding experiences.

What are the perfect practices for a successful customer onboarding program? There are no perfect templates or steps that you can imply that will work - It is like a continuous improvement process. You follow a plan - stay in touch with your customers - take note of friction points - and improve!

Especially this guide is for SaaS companies to improve their customer experience, identify customer churn, and increase retention rate through the proven customer onboarding methods with tools to personalized SaaS Customer Onboarding.

If you get inspiration or this blog raised any questions regarding your onboarding, here is your free guide for your late whiteboard sessions.

A Definitive Guide for SaaS Customer Onboarding

Use the table of content to navigate the guide.

  1. What Is Customer Onboarding?
  2. Why Is Customer Onboarding Important for SaaS?
  3. How To Implement Right Customer Onboarding? (Tools + Methods)
  4. How To Create A Customer Onboarding Process For SaaS?
  5. Conclusion

What is Customer Onboarding?

Customer Onboarding is like a seed, you nurture it with the right amount of water, air, and sunlight & it will flourish. Similarly, you nurture your customers by introducing them to your products & services, making them comfortable in their initial journey.

When any new customer sign-up to use your product, it means -Customers stimulated an idea in their head about how it would be with your product! It could be your technical setup, your product benefits, your features, or even your UX that might have attracted them to join.

But, if customers are clueless to find what they are looking for as a solution, no matter how easy-to-access or attractive dashboard you have, customers will churn off.

So, your entire efforts must stay aligned with manifesting ideas of the customer to become a living experience for them.

E.g.:- Twitter (content consumption app) makes it so smooth sailing for new users by mapping an image of what kind of journey they desire.


Twitter Onboarding Metrics:-

Twitter Onboarding Metrics

Twitter allows users to choose their path of interest even before the sign-up - this process creates a space for users choice as in how do they want their journey to start using the application:

  1. Follow your interests.
  2. Hear what people are talking about!
  3. Join the Conversation.


Why is Customer Onboarding Important for SaaS Companies?

It is a Sunday morning & you excitedly planned to head out for a coffee. While sitting near the window of the coffee shop, your attention drew towards two men humping with a large acrylic-on-canvas pop art painting across the street for an art exhibition.

As your interest pursued you to visit the fine art- you stepped in & found yourself surrounded by everything related to art. You are clueless about whether to roam around or keep staring around - unless you are an art connoisseur!


Now, the question of the story asks:

How Do You Think Your Software Relates To Customer Perspectives?


Essentially, which stage of your software positions your customer best value? Remember, It is not about mapping each step in detail - It is about staying in close touch with your customers on the macro level.

To initiate any new customers about your products and services - you must use the power of storytelling.

The Power of Storytelling! (SaaS Onboarding Method)

Everyone loves stories! It is like, you visualized all those characters and storylines within yourself for that duration - And after a while, it becomes a personal journey for you at the end. Does it happen to everyone?

But what is so special about a story? The real magic lies in the hook & the promise!

What is a Hook?

It is that heroic character, that struggling situation, that winning story end that explores ideas & imaginations of the witnessing mind - it sets a clear picture of the journey since the start.

What is a Promise?

It is like connecting dots or a puzzle with each character & situation according to the delivered hook.

Similarly, when you think about how your software can relate to customers, you realize you need a story for your product.


How To Create Your Product Story Framework? (Using Hook & Promise Method)

Like stories involve characters and situations, you need a hook and a promise to start with new customers.


What is the Hook for SaaS Companies?

It is the what of your company - What does your software do?

Now, if you happen to notice the topmost publicly traded SaaS companies in Montclair250 & SaaS1000.com list, you will observe the most successful SaaS companies follow a pattern - It is the hook (what do you do?)

The World Most Successful SaaS Companies - Montclair SaaS 250


And the promise (how you do that?) method in each of their onboarding metrics.

For an e.g.

On the homepage of Salesforce, they use the hook & promise method to communicate with new customers & even engage with old ones to explore their features.

Learn Salesforce use the hook & promise method


And they say it right underneath the hook step -  a promise of how to do it. (Features & Benefits)

Salesforce Features & Benefits

Once you get into their footing with this approach - it becomes a communicative expectation for your customers - That is why being thoughtful and intentional with the language is a must-thing because customers will be looking for evidence of what you said on the homepage.


“Onboarding was and is the one truly universal problem every piece of software has.”

When customers find a hook in your story, it is time for you to onboard them smoothly so that they do not feel lost after signing up.


How To Create A Smooth Customer Onboarding Process For SaaS?

Customer Onboarding does not have to be the next big marketing project for your company - that you start considering after realizing the importance of customer participation. Onboarding is like a function of your company - the more you feel the friction that customers are getting, the more you improve & grow.

So, to create a personalized customer onboarding framework, you need to establish a customer-centric approach:

  1. Identify Success (Customers).
  2. Map Milestones.
  3. Find the Friction.
  4. Clear the Path.
  5. Measure & Iterate.

1. Identify Success (Customers).

When your customer starts using your product, they expect a visual - their first win. So, delivering specific goals according to unique customer solutions creates an achievable environment.

Let us take an example,

You are a startup owner looking to explore your services through social media - Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest in its trial stage allows a handful of customized features that can take you forward

  • Access to their SEO tool
  • Daily rank tracking
  • Seo training & support
  • Personalized Seo suggestion

It does two things from the customer’s perspective: solves the daily ongoing SEO problems & shows them the bigger picture to achieve organic growth for their website.

2. Map Milestones.

You don’t need to map the tiny steps of the customer at the very beginning. Keep your focus on the macro-level output & stay in the loop with the customer’s journey while tackling their ongoing friction points.

3. Find the Friction.

Customers using your software for the first time and customers finding their first success, your efforts is to find that point where you are losing them on a macro level - it will give you enough space & time to improve their ongoing journey.

What was the issue?

The hypothesis tested and excluded:

  • Is the Customer Unhappy? No, they love it! (High NPS)
  • Is there a cost that causes churn? (No, there’s a free trial!)
  • Is it too hard to set up? (Actually, it’s pretty easy.)

Real Explaination!

You might have missed out on a big chunk of customers’ churn while testing & evaluating by yourself. Try out some quantitative analysis. Use these available tools to find out the links between customers’ churn.

Effective analytics tools you can use:


4. Clear the Path.

Once you found the friction, now it’s time to find ways to solve it. There are mainly two ways to solve any friction point in SaaS onboarding:

  1. Technology:  Enhance the UX, add a new platform, assist 24/7 chatbots. (Basically, ease off the friction points)
  2. Talk to your customers: Whether it’s a one-to-many or one-to-one conversation about what to do, it is a very unscalable process, so pick up the phone - Ask them! Then try to resolve them in a more scalable manner.

5. Measure & Iterate.

Maintain to keep yourself on the customer’s foot, remember - improving customer onboarding isn’t a project. So, when suddenly improving onboarding pops up again, then it’s probably not why you should do it.

It is a function of the company. It is a continuous process of improvement. So, never stop, find the next friction - improve - find the next friction - improve!


How to Implement Right Customer Onboarding?

 1.  Welcome email.

Your new customers need to feel reassured and confident about their decision to invest in your product - To make them experience instant gratification or a rewarding experience.

A welcome email can provide access to their instant gratifications (bonus, lucky prize, added features, or even free services)

Mira Welcome Onboarding Mail


Miro has enhanced its presence in the SaaS industry like a storm with its easy-to-use and interactive whiteboard sessions.

And Miro has a very creative yet simplistic sense of onboarding new customers with emails. It brings out a “Tips & Tricks” mode for customers during their focus whiteboards and also manages the workflow with a not-so-stressful user interface.

The key ingredients to every compelling Email Onboardings:

  1. It is super easy to read.
  2. It went straight into the customer’s inbox.
  3. It includes a helpful video (What to do next? Or even starting bonus)
  4. It came from the real person. (whom a customer can reach out to query!)
  5. It provides a helpful CTA.


2. Product Walk-through.

A welcoming message at the initial stage is a great way to initiate new customers about - how to get along with the product overview. You can attach a small snippet video about ‘how-to’ start off using your product, or you can use different ways to present product tutorials:

  • Using Video Tutorials
    • Demo/Explainer Video
    • Mini-Movie Walkthrough
    • Lively Instructions for Complex Products
    • Friendly Tips for First Use
  • An in-app learning section or a small product tour.
  • Tutorial buttons or pop-ups alongside different features.


Canva makes it fun! Your product tutorial can be simple, fun, and guiding. Take an example of Canva - their growth process is simple & proven in work.

You are free to choose your specific design templates:


And then Canva uses animation to guide you through the first design & will remain a guide throughout the process.



While you use or create design templates - Canva assists along the way with welcome pop-ups and infographics to assist you with features and specific areas of application.


The simple, fun, and personalized product tour resulted in a 10% boost inactivation for the company.


3. Messaging (In-App)

In-app messaging is there to introduce your product or services to customers, especially those who had been using your product for the first time. By delivering welcome pop-ups and brief product tours - you engage with your users right from the start.


Like, take this as an example built with Helppier on Salient Demo. In addition to just onboarding email & messages, they included a specific video & resource for first-time customers to go through before getting started.

Build with Helppier on Salient Demo


Now there are chances that your customer is in a hurry and tries to skip every onboarding step - That’s why try to keep your onboarding In-app messaging as simple & beautiful as these top SaaS companies:

Trello - Keeps it Simple & On-point!


Hubspot - Simple, relatable, and actionable!


Slack -  Informative, Direct, and Solution-based.


Customer Onboarding is a function of SaaS companies. Once your customers sign-up, they need you as a guiding buddy on each step of their journey. Because once the customers are lost or feel churn to move ahead with your product without any assistance - they won’t come back!

So, if you want to increase customer retention and LTV, improve your customer onboarding process and reduce customer churn. We hope that this definitive guide for SaaS customer onboarding helps you.







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