March 19 2020

Even if thousands of users have downloaded and installed your app, you should be prepared to retain them. Registration or installation does not guarantee that the user will not delete your product in the nearest future. According to the latest data, only 32% of new users return to the app after the installation 11 times or more. It all depends on:

  • how you position the development of your product
  • how you introduce new users to it
  • and how easy it is for them to achieve success with your product.

Here’s where app onboarding comes to the light as one of the best strategies to promote your mobile app.

What Is Onboarding?

Basically, onboarding is a process embedded in software that increases the user’s chances of successfully using an application. This process is automated and typically starts at the very beginning of using the app. Although with the new features or changes in the product, this process can also take place for experienced users.

Onboarding can take several forms:

  • quick review of the main functionality
  • product overview
  • account creation.

The idea is to introduce the client to the product, let them use it and understand it as quickly as possible. App onboarding quickly provides answers to the most common user questions:

  • What does this product do?
  • How can I use it?
  • What benefits can I get as a user?

Onboarding determines the user’s journey from installation to active use. Proper onboarding can increase user engagement up to 4 times, according to Align.me.

Benefits of App Onboarding

Incorrectly built or missing onboarding can disappoint users. Complex interface, poor navigation, and lots of tooltips annoy everyone. It is necessary to approach the adaptation wisely by considering analytics and testing, and not just copying the competitors’ ideas. Good onboarding can significantly improve business performance whereas a bad one can scare away users and negatively impact your profits.

  •  Quality onboarding captures attention and engages users. There is only one chance to make a first impression, and it is quite difficult to establish contact with new customers. They expect the adaptation process to be simple and straightforward. Therefore, during onboarding, it is important not only to show how to use the product, but also to explain its value.
  • Onboarding helps to reach more features. When there is no onboarding, users have to master the product on their own, relying only on their own strengths. They will be interested in learning the functions that will be useful to them. Such a “selective” approach reduces the training time but deprives the users of the opportunity to evaluate the product completely. Properly designed onboarding can demonstrate non-obvious features and suggest solutions that the customers were not even aware of. Thus, it will be possible not only to address the user’s pain points but also to show them the maximum value of the product.

What Is Onboarding Flow?

The typical onboarding flow consists of the following stages:

  1. Filling out the registration form.
  2. Welcome email.
  3. Profile creation.
  4. Using the product.

Success is measured by how many users have completed this sequence.

In order to overcome any possible challenges and create the best app onboarding experience, developers should follow certain tips from the apps that have succeeded. In this article, we are going to share with you some tips on successful mobile onboarding followed by real-life examples.

Tip #1: Be brief

New users need a tutorial, but not information overload. When backed up by visual effects, instructions are perceived better than lengthy articles. Visual demonstration answers many questions of potential customers and helps them get started faster.

Start by explaining the value (make it simple) and move on to the basic functionality. Help people stay focused on the process and make sure that they can exit the tutorial at any time.

Example: Foursquare starts the tutorial with a brief description of the product’s value and the Get Started button. As the users proceed through the tutorial, they always have an opportunity to exit it by clicking “Skip”.

Tip #2: Show instead of tell

Not all people are equally successful in the perception of textual information, so it’s worth considering another form of a tutorial. Instead of text, focus on immersing the users in the app from the start. Interactivity allows the users to fix the gestures that they need to learn, and then painlessly use the product with deep involvement.

Example 1: When you first enter Snapchat, you are offered an excellent guide on getting to know the app’s functionality, accompanied by basic instructions and at the same time allowing you to try everything yourself.

Example 2: Tumblr encourages you to give your blog a name and follow a few accounts.

Example 3: During the onboarding process of the Apple Music service, the users are shown a screen on which they can select their favorite music genres. This is necessary so that the app can generate musical recommendations. The service supports three types of interaction: single tap, double tap, and long press. The users can practice the use of these gestures while the system will collect the details about their preferences.

Tip #3: Avoid login and account creation hurdles

Logins are tricky. They lead to significant user churn, but today most apps need them. Optimizing your login and account creation methods can greatly improve your activation and return rates. The goal is to collect user data as quickly and seamlessly as possible, moving them to the next level before they become frustrated and leave.

Experiment with different login options: social media, email, etc. An extra bonus: You can get a lot of data about a user by giving them various login options, including social media integration. As a result, you can immediately get their name, photo, email address, location, name of the company where they work, and position.

It is important to connect the social network that is most suitable for the app’s audience. If the product is related to business, then it might be more logical to use LinkedIn, not Facebook.

You can also play with the timing. When is the best time to ask a user to sign in? At the beginning of the process? Or after a certain number of app launches?

Example: Instagram offers its users three signup/login options. They also give comments on why you need to provide personal information during the account creation. These steps of the tutorial ensure that the users move to the next level unnoticed while receiving answers to questions that they may have during the registration.

Tip #4: Show learning progress

Do not send users to a seemingly endless application tour. Designate each step and try to show users the number of remaining screens or steps and how far they have already gone. Seeing a “light at the end of the tunnel” will inspire further progress and completion of the tutorial.

Example: The Pocket app uses dots at the bottom of the screen in its training material to indicate progress.

Tip #5: Be human

Don’t be too salesy in your tutorial. Just communicate with them as you would with your friends or acquaintances.

Example: When a new user joins Slack, they automatically receive a message from a helpful “robot” named Slackbot. The Slackbot tells the users about the key features of the app, actually through the product itself. Such an interactive onboarding process instantly turns a beginner into a user. And it’s not just about interactivity: just answering the robot’s questions is more fun than filling out a traditional form with a name, address, etc. The Slack onboarding process allows them to quickly captivate a new user.

Slack offers a smooth, step by step immersion in the product. Instead of flooding the user with the multistep instructions, Slack gives out 2-3 key tips at a time so as not to overload the beginner.


Tip #6: Make it possible to proceed with the tutorial

Do not try to explain all the possible details of using the app during the first training. Better start with the basics. In the process of user engagement with the app, add information about more advanced features. Fix what the user has already learned and encourage them to further immerse themselves in the product.

Example: Gmail Inbox has a great revision of how different parts of the app work. Repetition may be useful to the user if they want to return to the first screen.


Tip #7: Listen to your users

Listen to the opinions of your users. Understanding the users of your app by using quantitative methods (such as testing, optimization, etc.) and qualitative research (mobile app UX testing) will help you to develop an effective strategy specifically for your product.

The Bottom Line

Introducing users to your product is a continuous process that cannot be limited only to the development of an intuitive interface or a tour of the product.

The app will stay longer on the user’s device if they clearly know why they need this product and how to use it as well as realize the advantages of the product over competitors. If a person has downloaded the app, they are already interested. Use mobile onboarding to fuel this motivation. Explore the needs of your target audience. Offer an easy solution and help the user understand your product already at the “dating stage.” 

You need to think about onboarding from the very beginning. It is the only way to make this process relevant to the user’s tasks. Of course, the development of onboarding is not the highest priority element in the design, but it is definitely worth attention at the final stage of app development.

Remember, the first impression of using the app should be not only informative but also interesting. If both these conditions are met, the user will surely stay with your product.

Moreover, you can grab your users’ attention from the very beginning by personalizing the onboarding process with the help of contextual deep linking. GetSocial Smart Links can help you make sure that each user is greeted by custom and highly personalized onboarding.