Yann Sarfati Co-founder @Userled
by Yann Sarfati Co-founder @Userled

Table of Contents

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is introducing new users to your product and helping them understand how to use it effectively. 

It is the bridge between a state in which prospects are aware and interested in your value proposition to one in which they start engaging with your product and realize the value that it can bring to their organization. 

As a product designer or developer, your ultimate goal is to create a seamless onboarding experience for your users as they navigate through your product or service for the first time, while highlighting the value your product can provide in solving their business challenges. 

Recently, as more and more SaaS companies have started realizing the potential of Product-Led Growth (PLG), onboarding has become even more central to their success. 
Companies adopting a PLG strategy use the product as their main driver of revenue growth, thus offering a free trial or tier of their product to prospects to experience first-hand the value it can bring to their organization. 

For PLG companies, it is mission-critical to create an onboarding experience that enables users to discover the value their product can bring while nudging them to convert to paid plans. Onboarding in PLG companies should be treated as a live product demo that shows the offering in the best possible light! 

But let’s be real, onboarding can be a bit of a headache. 
Way too often, startups spend months perfecting their products and pour time and money into an awareness campaign to introduce the world to their product and explain its value. 

Users are convinced and excited about using the product…until they stop halfway through the onboarding flow, no longer engage with the startup’s re-marketing campaigns, and disappear from its radar altogether. 

Tips and tools for successful onboarding 

Creating a powerful onboarding flow is trying to teach someone how to ride a bike for the first time. You have to explain all the steps, demonstrate how to do it, and then hope they don’t fall off and give up. 

So how do you create a seamless onboarding experience that keeps users engaged and excited to use your product? 

Here are some tips and tools to help you out:

Start with a clear value proposition

Before you even begin onboarding, ensure you have a clear value proposition for your product. This is essentially the “elevator pitch” that tells users why they should use your product and how it will benefit them. This will help set the tone for the rest of the onboarding process and give users a reason to stick around.
For example, at Userled, our value proposition is to “create no-code journeys to push in-product experiences that grow revenues”. Therefore, our onboarding journey is centered around enabling users to publish their first journey, and our messaging reminds users of the revenue impact they will unlock through the process.

Use interactive tutorials

Static text-based tutorials can be a bit dry and boring. Instead, use interactive tutorials that allow users to try out different features and see how they work in real-time. 

Tools like WalkMe and Appcues allow you to create interactive tutorials and walkthroughs that guide users through your product.

Provide personalized recommendations

One of the most effective ways to keep users engaged is to provide personalized recommendations based on their interests and behavior. 

For example, if you have a music streaming app, you could recommend new artists and albums based on the user’s listening history. 

Tools like Intercom can help you create personalized user recommendations and messages.

Offer in-app support

Sometimes, users need a little extra help to get started. That’s where in-app support comes in. 

Tools like Intercom and Zendesk allow you to provide live chat support or offer help articles and FAQs directly within your product. This way, users can get the assistance they need without having to leave your app or website.

Use onboarding emails

Onboarding emails can be a great way to introduce users to your product and provide them with additional resources and support. 

Use tools like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor to create a series of onboarding emails sent out over a few weeks. These emails can include tips and tricks, success stories, and links to helpful resources.

Get engaged users to subscribe to paid plans

Leverage your onboarding experience to convert engaged users to paid plans.

For Product-Led Growth organizations that introduce users through free trials or freemium versions, it is key to use a seamless onboarding experience as a hook to convert users to paid plans. 

Tools like Userled enable you to create personalized journeys for the most engaged users that leverage in-product prompts to nudge them toward self-serve conversion or encourage them to contact sales to learn more about the paid plan.

Enhance the onboarding experience continuously

Utilise product signals and customer feedback to continuously refine the onboarding experience. If you are serious about creating a world-class product, you know that listening to the customer’s voice is key. Onboarding is no different. 

There are several ways through which users can provide insights on how they are navigating their onboarding experience. 

First, you can track their product interaction with product analytics tools like Segment to understand its performance and identify pain points. 

Secondly, if you have identified a funnel leakage during the onboarding page, you should assign someone from the product team to shadow and support the customer during the onboarding stage. 

This could be seen as incredibly time-consuming, and there is no beating about the bush, it is! However, it is time well spent, which allows your team to get a clear view of the customer in action and get real-time feedback on the steps that don’t meet their expectations and risk driving them off the platform. 


In conclusion, creating a seamless onboarding experience requires clear communication, interactive tutorials, personalized recommendations, in-app support, onboarding emails, a clear strategy to nudge engaged onboarded users to convert to paid plans, and a continuous improvement process based on product signals and customer feedback.

Using the tools and tips outlined above, you can set your users up for success and keep them engaged with your product. A culture and mindset shift is also required to fully understand and grasp the importance of this step in your customers’ experience and the long-term prospects of your business. If your onboarding inspires your customers, it will serve you well in the long run.

Happy onboarding!

Suggested mentors to help you make sense of Onboarding

John Ostrowski

Product Growth Consultant | I help you prioritize and make data-informed product decisions.

My mission in Growth Mentor is to guide product leaders in the journey of experimentation, from 0 to 1, for better decision-making. In exchange, I get exposure to different business challenges and learn from growth-minded leaders, a positive win-win.

Rob Turlinckx

Rob Turlinckx Product Design Consultant for B2B SaaS | Strategy, UX & Visual Design

Over 10+ years of experience in designing software products that are easy to learn and use. My mission is to help (B2B) SaaS companies deliver stellar product experiences that drive growth and scale revenue.

Vidya Dinamani

CPO @ lash.live | Product Coach @ ProductRebels | Partner at Ad Astra Ventures

I’ve coached product teams all over the world, from startup to Fortune50. I have had executive roles leading product, customer experience and design in leading companies such as Intuit. I love helping founders and product leaders rapidly getting to product-market fit.

Vincent Guittet

Product & Growth consultant | No-code Evangelist 🔥

Helped top tech companies, early-stage startups, influencers and artists to grow. Worked in various environments: from 8 figures budgets to limited budgets using creativity, no-code tools, and knowledge from top companies to help you reduce cost, automate teams and optimize your business.

Nick Schwinghamer

Former Director of Growth, Operations and Partnerships at Shopify

I’ve got a wide range of leadership experience across product, growth, partnerships, operations and engineering teams in companies large and small. I co-founded a company that was acquired, was an early employee at a now public company, and helped Shopify grow into a world leader.

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