Tactical Onboarding During a Pandemic

3 minutes

Even during the best of times, convincing your users to become loyal (paying) customers means engaging them with strategic onboarding. It’s easy for online businesses to think that after the customer signs up, the work is done, but onboarding following sign-up can actually make or break the loyalty of your users.

Now more than ever, during a global pandemic, there are small changes you can make that could increase your monthly recurring revenue significantly. We recently hosted a webinar with Wes Bush, founder of the Product-Led Institute, who shared some great ways to create an effective and effortless onboarding experience that will turn users into happy, long-term subscribers.

During this challenging time, it’s best to be product-led, Wes emphasized:

“People are thinking twice before making any buying decisions. Let them experience the value of your product and you are essentially de-risking the whole buying process.”

Product-led growth is successful because the customer can try out the product, see if it works and if they like it, and then feel comfortable buying it. But it’s not just “try before you buy.” Wes pointed out three additional areas for businesses to hyper-focus on supplying in their onboarding experience during this crisis: time-to-value, easy goal attainment, and targeted follow-up communication.


With the many distractions and pivoting made necessary right now by COVID-19, having your product deliver value quickly for your customers is key. The longer it takes, the more it hurts you in your success journey with them. Make it easy for users to try it and experience success, so they feel risk-free to graduate to paying customers.

Ironically, Wes points out that 40 to 60% of customers never even use the product after signing up, and simply drop off. How to prevent this?

  • Eliminate unnecessary onboarding steps. Make the visitor journey to their business goals and desired outcomes as quick and easy as possible, not just signing up for your product, but getting the results they need. Even removing one extra step from the initial onboarding (like letting them activate their email confirmation later, for instance) can lead to a 20% boost in monthly recurring revenue.
  • Delay onboarding steps. Serve your customers what they came to you for. You promised them something—it might be quicker checkout, Wes points out, or creating a form in a software product—so deliver on that promise. Don’t just show them around and overwhelm them with all the possibilities the first time they visit your product.
  • What are the most important steps? Some products are absolutely useless unless you do one particular step,” said Wes. Every business has these mission-critical steps, but they don’t necessarily understand and address those in their onboarding. If you can create an onboarding experience made up exclusively of these mission-critical steps, it will be really simple for users to see the value.

Easy Goal Attainment

Give your users a manageable and memorable introduction to your product.

Supply product tours or include visual tutorials in your app or platform, letting them choose the tours or tutorials that suit their own business goals the best. Include checklists of steps they need to take to reach those goals.

Give them onboarding tool-tips but keep it simple. If you do this first introduction right, your customers’ experience with your product will be positive, give them immediate value, and make it easy to see they should sign up.

Targeted Communications

Communicate with users where they are in their journey during this challenging time. Provide the signals they need to make the next steps to maximize your product. For example, when the user signs up, send them a welcome email that includes a usage tip that will trigger them to use your product right away to reach their goal(s). Let them experience the value and their desired outcome immediately.

Following up on this first victory, share case studies of successful customers via another email to further convince these free users of the value of a subscription. Stick to the mission-critical steps for new clients in their first months of usage; this will make it nearly impossible for them to balk at a paid subscription.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global business is unavoidable, but according to Wes, it can be seen as an opportunity to narrow your focus, improve your onboarding experience for your customers, and ultimately maximize your recurring revenue.

Watch the entire webinar with Wes Bush and learn more about how to optimize your onboarding experience during the pandemic and beyond.

How to Convert Users into Paying Customers in a Pandemic - Onboarding Webinar

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