On the 1st part of this guide, we analyzed why onboarding is important along with a number of tactics you should adopt to create an adequate strategy for your product took place. Now, that we have been over with this part it’s time to take it to the next level. The level which it has become a realization that onboarding is a never-ending work in progress.

If you have already set up even a basic onboarding funnel it’s time to take a minute to revisit your stats. Pay particular attention to the number of users that converted to paid. Even if it is a smaller percentage than you would expect, it is a number to be proud of.

Don’t make the mistake though, to ever consider that your work here is done. On the contrary, the second part of your onboarding process has just begun. The part where you educate and nurture your user — by showing him every trick on your playbook.

Your objectives here are multiple:

👉To achieve a high level of retention and product upgrades

👉To create the right context around your brand — and to your product as an extent so that there is immediate awareness to people’s mind when they come looking for a solution like yours.

👉To use a unique set of onboarding practices to reactivate users that got to know your product but have never been converted to paid.

I know it sounds overwhelming as a process. It most probably is. But think it as a process that evolves hand in hand with your product.

How to achieve retention and product upgrades via onboarding

Before we dive into this, bear in mind that the SaaS funnel is divided into two parts. The user acquisition and its retention. The latter is the source that brings the more revenue.

Stats claim that 86% of customers will pay more if they are about to receive exceptional customer service.

While research published by Harvard Business Review found that customers who had sufficient experiences spend 140% more compared to those that did not.

So how you achieve high-levels of retention via onboarding? Besides creating a long-term relationship with your user that is. Well, there is not a single answer to this one.There are numerous ways to achieve that — and depending on the status of your business the resources that need to be spent to cover your bases may vary a lot.

For starters, try to act as an advisor, or even more as a mentor towards your customer when it comes to how he can get more when investing repeatedly time and money to your service. Put it simply your customer success consultants should your user’s go-to person when he seeks to improve his business results — of course, we are only talking about those related to your product directly.

You can even try to reward them in more than one ways so that you can keep them motivated. The reward can vary from a simple funny approach your customer is experiencing when he is using your product — like Mailchimp does below when a user sends a campaign-

to an engaging customer success strategy which will train your user as to how he can apply your solution to its business practices. For example, customers who have reached a certain level of commitment to your business could be offered free one-on-one consultations that you would charge normally.

Furthermore, consider — if you haven’t already- to embrace your content strategy by publishing course product training material. Product training has multidimensional goals. Besides supporting a smoother implementation of your product and helping in reducing churn it also helps you upsell new features and enable your user to go one step further when it comes to taking your product’s use to another level.

Analyse this…

Don’t forget to revisit your analytics occasionally and map the pattern your users have. Find exactly where your A-ha moment lies. Which features do they use exactly and what amount of time they dedicate to each one of them within a unique session. What milestones do they achieve? Are they synced with your KPI’s? Then embrace that. Make it all about them and how they can improve their results over time.

It is only natural that no matter the awesomeness of your product your user will feel stuck at some point — this is exactly why you create an agile onboarding strategy in the first place that will be able to adjust to your users’ needs!

It is better to come to this realisation sooner than later. Only then you will be able to deal with its complications and avoid churn which will arise undoubtedly if you choose to neglect it as a fact.

(b) How to create the right context around your brand

When we are talking about how to create the right context we can dedicate a whole lot of books, guides or posts as to how useful it is for any brand and how it could be achieved. And still, this issue wouldn’t be exhausted.

Besides educating your users on how to break down your product’s features’ functionality and analyze all the extensions it can have, you need also to become more personal. To know what message to send to each user and to be able to receive and interpret the messages he gives back to you. Don’t forget a relationship — no matter the form of it- it always goes both ways.

For example, each time you are about to introduce a new feature take some time to think how you will introduce it. Showing users everything at once about your product is a terrible way to onboard them. After all, it doesn’t make sense to expect them to make advance use of all your features at once. Just consider the fact that your product’s function may be advanced for a new user, so it doesn’t worth to become a part of their onboarding. On the other hand, the same feature would make perfect sense for an advanced one. So, don’t just add it to your interface and move on to creating the next one. You will risk to making your user feel lost — not to mention frustrated.

Try to segment which audience you should educate and in which way, for your product’s added function and pass the information over. Take advantage of the channels you have at your disposal and make a webinar about it, or even create a guide that will explain how can someone get the best out of it.

A successful onboarding is not being measured only by mere number results. It is being measured from whether or not it has successfully created the right context for your user- no matter his familiarity with your product. So, do that.

If however you have tried all of the above and your results are still somewhat disappointing then you should take a few steps back and consider what is missing. If you are a marketer, you have — most probably- already figured it out.

If for any reason you have failed to answer what your brand’s story is and how the user is part of it, no onboarding strategy will ever be enough.

So if you fall into this category just consider that your story should be articulate. It should be consisting of a beginning, a middle, and an end.

👉The problem that is being called to solve

👉What solution it provides to the problem of question.

👉WOW Factor or how you have successfully produced the solution

Having said that, I don’t really mean that via your onboarding should evolve your brand’s story. Not at all. I only mean that your onboarding strategy should be the extent of it. At the end of the day, your customers must feel that they buy part of your story and that they actually are important for it to keep evolving.

How to get back users that did not convert.

We all know them. We are aware of where they hang out, what they like and most probably what they despise. If you are a SaaS owner most probably you have created personas out of them too. Your sales team call them cold qualified leads and they substitute the most tricky category of non-paid users. They can be divided into many subcategories too.

They are those that did not convert because they did not get your product’s value — meaning that your onboarding did not apply to them.

Those that actually did not see the meaning into adopting your product — so they don’t fit into your personas and you don’t actually need to be bothered to bring them back.

And finally, the ones that are dedicated to your competitors’ products — even if yours is better- and who had a taste of your solution but eventually they didn’t convert.

👉 Bonus Tip: A special note here, into this last category fall users that do not have the time to migrate from one product to another. So, it would be wise to start wondering if you need to refine this process or not.

First things first you should land a survey — by using a simple tool like Surveymonkey– for all your users and try to figure out who is falling under which subcategory. To have better completion rates easier you can try and motivate them with a bonus — like a month free of charge to get to know you better.

If by getting back the survey’s results you realize that different user segment needs a different onboarding approach go ahead and create one. It makes sense actually, that at this point your funnel will get more and more complicated than the one you had in your early stages. Also, by making that kind of breakdown per user category it shows that you are ready to think as your user does. Thus, you are creating a better experience for him.

Now, let’s dive a bit more into how you should approach users you wanted to “seduce” from the very beginning. Since, in essence, they are those to prove that your product can be really competitive. Those users are well educated — regarding your product category that is- and they are on the competition’s side for so long now. They are open to experimentation but they rarely switch products.

You don’t need me to say to you that this user segment needs special treatment. Try to reach out to them in the most personal way possible. Make them feel that it is essential for your product to become better for them and always listen very carefully to their suggestions.

If this kind of users did not convert because for example, you are missing on a specific feature, try to create a bond with them. In that way, it would be easier to inform them about your new features and cool integrations, in the future. Of course, you cannot satisfy all of them at once. But by trying to create a form of constant communication it shows that you value them as much as your paid users.

Wrapping it up

Your onboarding’s ultimate goal — besides welcoming your user — should be to create a worthy clientele base that will bring more revenue via retention afterwards. To achieve that you need to create a context into which your brand, your product and your user will fit in.

A successful onboarding has actually nothing to do with your product per se. It has to do with the user’s psychology towards it. How he comprehends and engages with it. What additions you would have to make to it in order to use it better and to a bigger extent.

The ideal onboarding strategy is not something you create once and forget about it. You must think of it as an agile process that relies upon your constantly evolving data and to successful segmentation — to the extent that it will make each user feel unique and not part of a big bucket. Only in that way, you will create a funnel that truly converts on the long term.

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