According to a study done by Intercom, “40 to 60 percent of users that register for a trial of your online services will use it just once and will never return.”
The problems which lead to these results generally are: a) the user does not understand technically how to use our service or b) the user does not come to understand what is the benefit that will be gained from interacting with our application.
The worst of these facts is that surely, in order to attract these potential clients we have spent all the money that was designated for publicity and now we don’t know what to do. This is not an unusual situation; on the contrary, it is the first thing I learned in these previous 8 years while working on 14 different online projects.
In order to avoid this reality, we should focus ourselves on designing a process for taking in clients known as “User Onboarding Experience.” This consists of working in order to improve the chances that a new user will successfully adopt our product and begin using it consistently.
1) What is the final goal?
What we want to do in this process is to be able to arrive at that “magical moment” where the client understands what it is that we will solve for them and says: “Incredible, this is just what I needed!”
However, let’s take a minute and ask ourselves how many times we have tried out a new online software on which we, unfortunately waste time and never come to understand how to use it or what purpose it serves. Especially in today’s generation of services where there is little or no customer service offered by the seller.
An excellent example of a successful implementation of this process is Optimizely, where, in less than 5 minutes, one can begin to modify their web page as if they had access to the code or had the abilities of a programmer. All it takes is registering, adding the website address, and ready to go, one can begin to make the necessary changes in order to improve for example a landing page and do trials:
Here we arrive at the “magical moment” where the user understands how our tool works and additionally they perceive completely the benefit that we create for them.
It is important to understand that an onboarding process is not simply about putting together a long stream of steps to follow for the user to complete (registration, video, explanations with an example, etc.). This process is designed with the idea of avoiding all these barriers and going straight to the goal: having the client experience first-hand the value that we create.
A learning point that we utilize greatly in our own business before designing a new onboarding procedure is: “we always keep in mind that what is important is not the number of users that register, but the number of those who continue coming back on a daily basis.”
2) How should it be implemented?
For each business, the onboarding process will be different; however, there are concepts or essential pillars that are the same for all of them.
The first thing that we should do is study the actions of successful users, that is, those who frequently use our product, what it is that differentiates them from those that try it out once and never return again. Here, most assuredly, is where we find exactly what our onboarding process should achieve with each and every new user.
To make this more clear, we will take as a reference Twitter, where according to that indicated by their leader Josh Elman, “when we analyzed our usage data, we realized that once a user follows at least 30 people, they’re more or less active forever. But those that follow less than 30 in their first interactions with the platform will likely never return again.”
For this reason, during the onboarding process for new users we see messages like the following where, in 1 click we can follow 30 or more people:
Note: An excellent onboarding process has the least resemblance as possible to those old printed manuals that came in the boxes we bought years ago and more similar to a personal trainer. We do not focus ourselves on explaining how each button of our software works, we concentrate on showing our user what will be achieved at the end of the road, the added value that we have for them.
3) First in manual form, later we automate it.
An error I frequently see is wanting to do the onboarding process automatically from the very beginning. Unfortunately, this is not the best strategy for a start-up.
First we should do it ourselves, the founders. We should be the ones who carry out the onboarding process with the client in a direct way, be it through an online chat on our website or using other communication methods such as Skype or even personally, face to face with the user.
In this way, we will spend more time learning from the interactions with the client, from their needs. Additionally, we will put all of our focus on our product, in efficiently resolving a real problem that the user has and not in developing an onboard procedure for something that perhaps no one needs!
Lastly, the product over time (and more in the beginning), will change and constantly be altered, and in consequence, if the onboarding process was already created, we will be forced to dedicate time in updating it without much sense.
But when is it time to automate the process? For each company it can vary, but as a reference, I would say that the right time is when the number of paid users or the number of frequent users completely exceeds the amount of time that the founders have available in order to talk with each one of the new clients that come to our online project.
For example, a start-up that now has an automated process is CoSchedule, an editorial calendar for WordPress that takes each new user in the onboarding process to schedule the redaction of an article:
When a user arrives at our website, we should understand that this is due to the fact that they are full of frustrations and that they need our product in order to solve a specific problem. The onboarding process will be responsible for showing the user that we understand their situation, to indicate the path to follow, and to take them as fast as possible to the solution that they were looking for. It is our job to connect all of these dots in the process.
For example Duolingo does this well, because being a site for learning languages, the first thing that each user does is translate a sentence in the language of their choice, even before asking them their email or that they register. Before we realize it, in less than 5 seconds, the process already began! We are already sensing value, that is, we are already learning!
We should never forget: for an onboarding procedure to be successful, it should first make our clients successful!
These learning points were transmitted by the Director of Design of MT, Mr. David Carreras. In charge of mobile development for the platform in Latin America.