Growth Hacking, Retention, Acquisition, Conversion: Growthmint

Day 16: Onboarding

Onboarding is the process of introducing your product to a new customer. Many products are too complex to just throw a new customer into without educating them about using the product.

If you don’t have a good onboarding process, customers are less likely to really engage with a product. If they never learn how to really use it, they're less likely to stick around.

You want to use your onboarding process to generate value as early as possible for your customers. Brand new customers are motivated customers and the earlier you inroduce a customer to a certain feature, the more likely it is that they'll use it.

Pro Tip

Don’t throw your customers into a blank interface. Many products are designed as if the product has been used for several months and don’t take into account how it looks like when it’s new and blank. Products like this can look very uninviting with no activity.

Find ways to pre fill data during the onboarding process or even put in fake information to demonstrate it’s value to new users.


Tutorials can be a great tool for onboarding new customers. When someone first signs up, they are most eager to learn about your application and an automated tutorial helps you scale that education process.

A good tutorial will take your customer through several steps that show them the most important features (emphasis on most important - there are probably many things you can show them). It collects only the most vital information from the user for them to get value out of your product.

Before you build your tutorial, you should identify what actions your best customers do and encourage new customers user to commit those actions through the interface.

Open to forced tutorials

There are different forms of tutorials that operate along the open to forced range. Completely forced tutorials can be frustrating because they take away all control. Some customers may have their own agenda when they log in. At the same time, you’ll end up with less customers making it through the tutorial if you leave it completely open.

We suggest finding a balance that works for your customers and product. Create a guided tutorial, but require an action by your user to get through each step. This gives them control and allows them to quickly skip through it if they want, but ensures your less anxious customers complete the tutorial.

Pro Tip

Many applications can do a better job by having more information about their user (and marketing always loves having more information) - onboarding is a great time to ask for this information. But don’t over do it!

Optimizing your process

We’ve talked a lot about the common actions your best customers perform. Try encouraging these actions in the onboarding process.

After you've collected enough data, look at your conversion rates for areas that need improvement. When you work on optimizing your onboarding process, keep in mind that’s it’s basically another funnel.


I worked with a SaaS client on their onboarding process for their free plan. I started out by looking at their customers’ behavior on their paid plans. This included those who converted from the free plan and those who started with a paid plan. I then compared their behavior to those on their free plan and noticed a key difference.

Our client’s product allowed customers to connect it to their Google Analytics accounts. 100% of the customers on paid accounts connected their accounts whereas about 15% of those on the free plan did.

We found other common actions among the paid users such as the number of videos uploaded (this was a video hosting product) and redesigned the onboarding process and user interface to encourage more free plan customers to hit these milestones.