Product Led Growth Research

Product Led Onboarding & Growth Metrics

Data & Insights Derived From The Practices Of 40 SaaS Organizations

Product Led Onboarding

As a business function, the magnitude onboarding has for SaaS organizations renders it more critical by the day. Especially now that customer experience needs to be stellar and user satisfaction established in the early stages of the customer lifecycle. When effective, user onboarding helps new users become proficient, and customers grow within a service. A poor onboarding experience, on the other hand, disappoints buyers, infuriates users, and eventually leads to churn.

Being subject to the GTM practices at play, onboarding changes attributes with the ease a chameleon adapts to a new environment.

Through a Self Serve onboarding strategy, it is fast and to the point, camouflaged behind scalable practices. On a Human-Assisted strategy, it becomes a thorough systemic process embraced by the handholding Customer Success provides.

Depending on its design, onboarding includes basic setup help, training, and leads to experiences that create proficient and habitual users. When executed correctly, it becomes a scalable and tailored educational framework, enabling accounts to grow by moving them down the customer lifecycle. When executed wrong, it delivers out of context messages, creates friction, and encourages drop-offs.

The multivariate nature onboarding has enables it to replicate Sales practices. The ongoing feature releases discourage the iconic sales funnel taxonomy. Every time a new release is launched, the onboarding process is reactivated to deliver initial value, lead to upgrades, and further account expansion. This process abandons the traditional sales model archetype, ending onboarding prevalence during activation.

Being a continuous process, onboarding needs to be evaluated at every stage of the customer lifecycle. The sales funnel has evolved into a circle where onboarding stands in its epicenter waiting for the next feature release to be triggered again.

The industry’s transition to Product Led practices, also plays its part in this evolution. As a process, onboarding no longer includes invasive, out of context in-app interactions presented at large in front of users.

Product data exploitation overrules the assumption implying product engagement activations cannot supplement the systemic process humans deliver. On the contrary, onboarding becomes the connective tissue between the two.

As a process, onboarding no longer includes invasive, out of context in-app interactions presented at large in front of users. Product data capitalization overrules the assumption implying product engagement activations cannot supplement the systemic process humans deliver. On the contrary, onboarding becomes the connective tissue between the two.

Product Led onboarding (PLO), a term coined by ReinventGrowth, is a set of data-driven product engagement practices, that consider behavioral notions and users’ proficiency. Strategically, it avoids random feature introduction to users. Instead, it exploits historic data and considers prospects’ proficiency level when exploring a product for the first time. Contextual guidance constitutes its main pillar and enables product experience to double down on users’ workflow early on by following their progressive route to excellence.

Previously, even when a tailored experience was provided, the work was not done. A viable monitoring process following users’ progression effectively could not be established. Marketing Led practices may have introduced the use of analytics to monitor prospects’ online behavior but failed to provide organizations with an extensive analysis of in-product behavior.

Product Led organizations already capitalize on product-led onboarding practices and combine insights from prospects’ online presence with those derived from the product itself. Product managers are at the forefront, able to pinpoint which features are sticky and where drop-offs occur. Onboarding is finally able to be measured end-to-end and pinpoint where growth lies or churn lurks.

In a SaaS world, where stellar customer experience is now synonymous to optimized product delivery, user onboarding acts as the Jack of all trades. It takes users by the hand, helping them accomplish what needs to get done. Product Led practices transform onboarding in a data-driven force that fills in the gaps humans are unable to, by eliminating confusion and sustaining engagement.

Eventually, it all comes down to what game is at play. The one ruled by humans, or the one led by machines.

Evaluating the Product Onboarding Experience

To make products competitive and an investment reflecting customers’ expectations, product teams ship feature changes and improvements constantly. The word “agile” is part of their DNA, a quality following the onboarding process too. In-app educational practices introduce those changes on time, flawlessly by providing the right context. Product management should measure those interactions on a day to day basis to reassure they yield the necessary results.

Each department holds a different set of business metrics accountable for the productivity and input to the customer journey. Following this logic, product metrics need to be established and add value to existing KPIs by measuring activation, retention, and engagement levels.

Capitalization on product data, make this possible and delivers insights on every move a user makes in-app. The learnings derived can give a better indication on which user interactions the human involvement is necessary, or the product can pave the way.

On the always online era where the power of a sole user may jeopardize an otherwise “done” deal, onboarding is no longer a process measured insufficiently or lacking personalization. On the contrary, it becomes the single source of truth when referring to products’ capabilities and predicts the anomalies caused by multiple users lacking context or proficiency.

In the foreseeable future, new terms will rise to describe the intimacy levels of the User-Product relationship. The first associated term established so far is the Product-Qualified lead (PQL), referring to prospects that signed up and demonstrated buying intent based on product interest, usage, and behavioral data.

The PQL term is limited to the point where a paid conversion is made. Product managers, need to create unique benchmarks directly associated with onboarding interactions to effectively measure product engagement levels.

Product-led onboarding having as a mission to deliver both initial and repetitive value needs terms like Product Onboarding Efficiency (POE) to measure and calculate the effectiveness of its activations. Those calculations can accurately monitor and guide onboarding efficacy on the customer journey.

Product Led Onboarding Engagement Variables (POE)

Breadth of Use

An alternate form of (team) activation, product breadth helps product managers realize the extent a product is being used on an account level. As a product metric, it monitors account health and helps product managers and data owners proactively manage churn.

Depth of USe

How extensively product key features are utilized is something that constantly troubles product managers. Onboarding should enable users progressively exploit a product’s features to their maximum extent. Depth of use is about adoption, both on a user and account level.

Efficiency of use

The difficulty level to complete common tasks is a critical evaluation of the onboarding flow. For efficiency to be measured accurately, product teams need to be aware of the total number of users per account who begin a task, versus those who complete it.

Frequency of use

Frequency of use is concerned with how frequently and for how long users engage with a product’s features. Reminding users why a specific feature is there in the first place and how it may further optimize their workflow is also something reliant to onboarding activations.

Key Takeaway

All things equal, Breadth, Depth, Frequency, and Efficiency of use form an adoption circle.

The circle’s implementation is viable when the maximum number of an account’s users exploit a product by using its features extensively in an efficient manner and repeating those actions frequently. Again, the decisive role initiating this circle of events is (team) activation. But for the adoption circle to be consistent, on every stage of the customer journey, all four metrics should be considered. Depending on the onboarding strategy at play, the circle is being supplemented by additional business KPIs and parameters.

Up Next: Onboarding Benchmarks

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