5 Signs Your User Needs to be Onboarded

5 Signs Your User Needs to be Onboarded

Scary as it may seem, there’s data to suggest that around 60% of SaaS owners don’t have an onboarding process. Can you imagine that?

It’s almost as if these people think the users signing up for their service all turn into long-term customers who are addicted to their product and there’s no potential for increased profits.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re a SaaS owner, probably one who’s heard about onboarding and how it boosts your activation rate, user life time value (LTV) and generally makes your SaaS more successful.

But do your users really need onboarding? Do they understand how to get the value from your SaaS or are they sitting there scratching their heads and other parts of their anatomy?

To answer these questions, we first need to understand how the signals generated by your user base can tell us what needs fixing to create happier customers and, consequently, a more profitable SaaS.

Quantity of grey hairs on customer support manager’s head

One of the key metrics to measuring the health of your SaaS, perhaps even more important than the LTV, is the number of grey hairs on the head of your customer service manager.

Naturally, it’s important to offset this metric with the employee’s age, as the slow passage of time also tends to make contributions of its own. Let’s focus on some SaaS-oriented factors:


  • Common support ticket problems
    If you get at least one support ticket for the same issue daily, it’s easy to just think “well, people seem to get stuck at that point”. But this is actually a cry for help from your user interface (UI) begging you to do something about the problem.
  • Telephone walkthroughs
    If you spend more than 30% of your phone calls guiding your customers through your product, you’re in serious need of onboarding. Customer calls like this can equate to thousands of dollars in salaries over the year. You need to automate your onboarding!

listen to your customer support manager


Okay, hair dye may well be a solution here, but let’s see some steps that will have a positive impact on the KPIs of your business:

  • Collect all customer questions and frustrations in one place
    Make a full list of frequently asked questions and top frustrations experienced by users and make it shareable with all members of your team. That will allow you to understand and prioritize all issues and start fixing them as soon as possible.
  • Redesign your product
    The best way to create a killer onboarding experience is to design it from scratch. There are some great examples such as Slack. But since you already have your product up and running, and customers won’t wait around for a new one to be made, you can guide them and answer all questions with the help of on-screen tutorials.
  • Create interactive on-screen tutorials
    Find the nearest awesome service that lets you build customized on-screen tutorials without any coding (so you can add this feature without overloading your development team), and sign up for any free trial that may be offered.
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Make sure whichever awesome, fully customizable tutorial service you opt for offers built-in analytics. That way, you can test out different ideas to make tutorials more efficient and increase your KPI’s further. This idea of testing, measuring and tweaking is something we’ll address throughout the article and discuss it a little more at the end, too.

You can’t answer the question: What is your “Aha!” moment?

If you can’t answer this question, you know you’re in trouble. By definition, a SaaS must deliver value (i.e. the service) via software. Consequently, the “Aha!” moment where people receive said value from your product is just about as mission-critical as it gets. Here’s a list of important questions to ask yourself when you consider what that specific moment is for your users:

  1. What’s the mainvalue of your service?
  2. Why you are different from your competitors?
  3. Why should someone care about your product?
  4. If your product vanished from the face of the earth, would anyone care? Why?

Once you’ve arrived at the answers to these questions, it’s likely you’ll figure out what your service’s “Aha!” moment is. Once that’s determined, it’s time for action.

guided tutorials

Sit down and brainstorm your product flow for newly registered users. Once that’s done, put together a tutorial that grasps your user gently by the hand and guides them lovingly towards that special moment.

More than 50% of your clients log in once and never comeback

Look, naturally, this kind of thing will happen sometimes. But if roughly 50% of your clients log in just one time and never coming back, it’s not a simple case of untargeted traffic or possible inebriation. There’s something very wrong. Here are some action steps to follow:

  1. Set up a tracking tool such as Mixpanel or Intercom.io (You can read more about these two services here).
  2. Start tracking your user’s behavior to measure when they signed up and see how many log in for a second time.
  3. If 50% of newly registered users never login for a second time, you’ve got a problem.

Pay attention to your user retention
These first three action steps will best determine where things stand. Once you’ve got that base covered, it’s time to do something about it:

  1. Grab a pen and paper and describe both your “Aha!” moment and the flow to reach it.
  2. Implement a step-by-step tutorial after the first login, guiding users right to the “Aha!” moment. This will help them understand your product faster and stay with you longer (hey, we promised increased LTV, right?).

Once that’s done, it’s time to measure the results once per week, improving matters until this enormous and completely unacceptable user login figure comes down.

Your customer’s click flow looks ridiculous

Ridiculous things tend to go down pretty well on the Internet, but your customer’s click flow is not one of them. How can you tell what your users are doing? Here’s how:

  1. Use Google Analytics to see visitor flow
  2. Research what steps your “Power Users” go though.
  3. Compare this with the most common flows seen in your product.
  4. If they’re very different, implement on screen tutorials to guide people through a flow which is more congruent with both your Power Users and your business goals.

If you suffer from the symptom in subheading No.3, you’ll take our excellent advice and review the results at the end of each week. While you do that, make sure you review any changes in the click flow data at the same time.

Client pokes around and makes random motions of the mouse

When your user’s sitting down, looking at your product and trying to figure out how to get the value that you promised in your marketing material, it’s normal for them to be a little confused. Sure, guided tutorials and other onboarding strategies are great to remedy this, but another symptom to watch for is your user making random mouse motions.


These are typically signs of confused or irritated users and, as we all know, customer success is an important aspect of the healthy SaaS. Here’s what to do.

  1. Install software such as ClickTale or UXCam.
  2. Let some time pass to record user data.
  3. Review the percentage of users displaying random mouse motions, on which pages, and in which locations on the screen.
  4. Implement on-screen tooltips and tutorials at any roadblocks or problematic points highlighted by the data.

Once again, a SaaS suffering from this symptom requires proper measurement of the results once you’ve implemented the above solution.


Good user onboarding is an iterative process. Whether you use some of these strategies or all of them, create a schedule whereby a certain time and day is set aside to analyze the metrics from the previous seven day period.

When new strategies are formulated and put in place, wait for another seven-day period to unfold before you sit down to analyze the previous week. As the months race by, in the frighteningly rapid way they seem to do these days, you’ll slowly start to see your KPI’s improve, and bank balance increase.

And if this testing process sounds familiar, it’s because it’s referred to as “The Scientific Method” and is largely responsible for nearly every technological advancement the human race has ever achieved. So it’s safe to say that it’s a pretty effective approach.

Your SaaS user base gives you signals. If you listen to them and implement the strategies here, you can sit back, watch your KPI’s go up and assure your customer services manager there will be a lot less grey hairs in store for 2015. Happy testing!

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