Customer Onboarding

All You Need to Know About Customer Onboarding (Plus Examples)

Congratulations! You’ve just gained a new customer. 

Now you’ve done the hard part of encouraging someone to sign up for your product, it’s time to wow them with how great it is. This will ensure they stay with you for a long time to come. 

To do this, you’ll need an excellent customer onboarding process.

What is customer onboarding?

Onboarding is the process new customers go through when they sign up for your product. It starts as soon as they log in for the first time and continues until they are comfortable with your tool. The amount of time this takes will depend on your product and the customer goal. 

A good onboarding experience will:

  • Encourage users to complete the setup process.
  • Guide them through complex steps.
  • Show them how to use your product to achieve their main goals.
  • Keep them engaged during their initial time with your product. 
  • Gradually introduce secondary features that provide extra value.

Why is customer onboarding important?

Customers are more likely to find value in your product if you do onboarding well. When done poorly, you’re leaving this to chance. 

This can result in one of two outcomes:

  1. Customers intuitively know what to do with your product, thus becoming longtime users without any effort on your behalf. Unfortunately, this is rarely what happens.
  2. More likely is that they try it a few times, get confused because they don’t know what to do, and eventually stop engaging with your brand.

The second outcome is a huge problem if you run a subscription-based product or if you want to encourage repeat business. You’ll struggle to grow your company, and you’ll be completely reliant on new sales to bring in revenue. 

A good onboarding process has many benefits:

  1. Convert free users into paid ones. Many products offer a free trial to encourage users to sign up. A good onboarding process is essential so customers see the value and continue to use your service beyond this time. 
  2. Increase customer lifetime value. The longer companies can keep customers happy, the more valuable they are to the business. Good onboarding helps quickly embed your product in the customer’s day-to-life, increasing the chances that they use it for a long time.
  3. Reduce churn. When customers understand your product and see value in it, they are more likely to stick with you. Your churn rate will reduce, and you’ll be less reliant on new customers to drive growth.

What should a great customer onboarding process include?

Creating a great onboarding experience doesn’t have to be complicated. Just take steps to welcome customers to your product and show them how to get value from it. 

The following features can help:

Create a personalized experience

The best onboarding experiences are personalized towards the customer’s goals. They should help each person with the specific reasons they signed up for your software.

For some businesses, the user goal will be obvious. Anyone who signs up for Instagram, for example, will need to be shown how to upload images and follow their friends. 

But things become more complicated when your software has multiple uses. 

Imagine an email marketing software provider. It may sell to a variety of types of businesses, each with very different goals. 

For example:

  • Independent publishers that want to start a weekly newsletter to keep readers up to date.
  • Software companies that want to create powerful automated sales funnels. 
  • eCommerce stores that want to boost repeat sales among their existing customer base.

Each of the above groups requires a unique onboarding process. The first one doesn’t need to be shown how to create automated funnels, while the third group doesn’t need to know how to create a weekly newsletter. At least not initially.

Personalization doesn’t need to be unique to each user. You can provide a similar experience by organizing your customers into groups and then providing a customized onboarding to each segment. 

A warm welcome 

The welcome you give customers can have a huge impact on whether they stick with you. 

Consider using a welcome email and an introductory sequence that guides users through the steps they should take to use your product.

Your first email should welcome the customer and introduce the most impactful step they can take. Later emails can introduce further features. 

Here’s an example of the welcome email from WordPress page builder Elementor. It’s a great welcome because it:

  • Confirms that the user’s payment went through.
  • Provides simple instructions about how the user can start the setup process.
  • Links to the relevant section of the website.
customer onboarding example
newsletter banner

Clear next steps

Good onboarding identifies simple next steps and informs customers about how and why to take them.

Instead of bombarding the user with an onslaught of information, break the process down into easily digestible tasks. 

One way you can do this is via a welcome tour of the software’s features. Use callouts that appear as the user navigates your software, guiding them onto the next step. 

Progress bars can also help. These show users what they still need to do to complete the onboarding process. 

LinkedIn has an excellent progress bar that guides users through the site’s setup process. It shows:

  • What the user should do to reach the next level.
  • A list of everything they have done so far.
  • Why the user should complete each step.
LinkedIn onboarding setup

High-quality support

You need to support the user throughout onboarding. The best processes provide a variety of ways customers can get help. 

Detailed product documentation lets customers easily find answers to their questions without them needing to contact your team. 

A searchable knowledge base is a great way to provide self-service customer support. Consider creating a dedicated section related to onboarding. Email or messaging support is another useful way to provide users with personalized support and guide them through difficult processes. 

Just make sure that customers know about the above resources. Perhaps by highlighting them in your emails or providing links within the app – which is what Ubersuggest does as per the image below.


Some products benefit from providing phone or in-person support during onboarding. This may be the case if your tool has a complex setup process or requires user verification. 

While phone support can be expensive to operate, it can have a huge effect on customer satisfaction. It may be worth it if your customers typically have a high lifetime value. 

Customer onboarding turns new customers into lifers

A good onboarding experience turns new customers into lifers by quickly showing the value of your product and helping them get comfortable with using it. 

To create an effective process, consider what your customers want to use your product to achieve. Then identify each step they need to take to reach this goal. 

And don’t forget – automation is a key component. Get started with automation by accessing your (free) guide to contact center automation now!


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