12 Proven Strategies to Improve User Onboarding
Written by
Dhruv Pandya
Dhruv Pandya

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12 Proven Strategies to Improve User Onboarding

Published : July 14, 2023 | Updated : May 20, 2024

User onboarding is a critical stage in the customer journey – it’s a first impression, a welcome party, and an initial training session, all wrapped up into one.

Keeping users engaged, whether in the short or long term, can be quite a challenge. Just take a look at the app onboarding statistics out there – they tell an interesting story.

Did you know that 90% of users simply abandon apps after just one use within 30 days? It’s like a one-and-done situation. This should be an eye-opener for marketers who have a goal of retaining their customers for the long haul. If your onboarding process is ordinary, keeping them on your app will be a bigger challenge.

User Onboarding Process - Netcore Cloud

If you want your app to excel and stand out from the crowd, implementing good onboarding practices is a must. It’s like building a solid foundation for success. By making a great first impression, guiding users through the app’s features, and showcasing its value right from the start, you’re setting the stage for a positive and engaging user experience.

It’s the beginning of a new relationship between your brand and a new customer.

An optimal onboarding experience familiarizes customers with your product, highlights key features and handy shortcuts, and navigates them seamlessly through the user interface.

Why is the user onboarding process important?

User onboarding is really the unsung hero in a product’s journey. It’s the first date that sets the stage for a long-term relationship between your users and your product.

It’s your chance to showcase the value, the uniqueness, and the magic of your product. You want to create an experience that leaves them excited, intrigued, and eager to explore more.

But here’s the beauty of onboarding: it’s not just a one-time thing. It lays the foundation for a lasting relationship. It’s the beginning of a journey where you guide your users, help them navigate through the app’s features, and provide them with the support they need to succeed.

It’s about building trust, fostering engagement, and delivering on the promises your product offers.

importance user onboarding process - Netcore Cloud

Let’s understand the importance of user onboarding in more detail

1. First Impressions

The onboarding experience is often a user’s first interaction with your product, and we all know how crucial first impressions are. It’s similar to welcoming someone into your home; you want them to feel comfortable and know where everything is.

The onboarding process ensures that users feel familiar and comfortable with your app right from the get-go, setting a positive tone for their ongoing relationship with the product.

2. Quick Learning

User onboarding is more than just introducing users to the app; it’s about making them proficient in its use quickly. This process helps users understand the core functionalities of your app/product and how they can use it to their benefit.

It’s similar to learning a new language. The faster you learn the basic phrases and grammar, the quicker you’ll become fluent and comfortable in it. The same applies to users mastering your app.

3. User Retention

A well-executed onboarding process helps retain users. It quickly transitions them from beginners to regular users who feel comfortable navigating your app.

How to increase user retention - Netcore Cloud

It’s like having a personal trainer who guides you at the gym; they ensure you know how to use the machines properly and are comfortable with the exercises, thereby making you more likely to continue going to the gym.

In a similar way, a great onboarding experience plays the role of a digital personal trainer for your users. It equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate your app effortlessly.

4. Showcasing Value

User onboarding is an opportunity to showcase your product’s value to the users. It’s not just about telling them what the app does; it’s about demonstrating how it can solve their problems or improve their lives.

Instead of bombarding users with a laundry list of features, onboarding allows you to focus on the core value proposition of your product. You can highlight the specific pain points it addresses, the challenges it helps overcome, and the incredible results it can deliver.

Imagine it like a captivating product demo tailored specifically for your users. Through the onboarding process, you have the power to convey the unique benefits and advantages of your product directly to them.

5. Building Strong Bonds

Ultimately, the onboarding process is about building a strong, enduring relationship between your product and the users. This process establishes trust and understanding from the start, similar to the way trust and mutual understanding are built in any successful relationship.

By setting clear expectations and demonstrating value, onboarding fosters a positive user-product relationship that can lead to long-term commitment and engagement.

12 tips to improve the user onboarding flows

Netcore Cloud provides a no-code user onboarding tool designed for your convenience. Creating your user onboarding process is as straightforward as piecing together a presentation. We understand the constant hustle of developers, and that’s why our user onboarding solution is here to help boost your conversion rates effortlessly.

User Onboarding Flow - Netcore Cloud

1. Make the registration process easy and brief

The signup process is kind of like a handshake, the first real interaction your users have with your product. Just like the rest of the onboarding journey, it should be as smooth as butter, with no hiccups.

User onboarding journey - Netcore Cloud

Aim for simplicity. Ask only what’s really needed – name, email, password – you know, the bare minimum. Remember, less is more. And don’t forget to add the SSO (Single Sign-On) feature. It’s like an express lane, speeding up the signup process. Simple and fast, that’s the sweet spot.

Want to ramp up customer engagement? Consider infusing a dash of gamification into the mix. Turning it into a gaming experience

2. Don’t let activation emails become user engagement spoilers

Imagine walking into a store and being told you can’t browse until you give all your details. Bummer, right? That’s what it feels like when users can’t dive into your product until they’ve clicked through an activation email. And a good percentage who leave for activation never come back. You don’t want your user engagement to end before it even begins.

So, why not let your users play around with your product straight away? Get them hooked by experiencing the real value your product offers.

Now, you may be thinking, “But what about activation?”

Here’s a tip: use a subtle in-app banner. It’s a gentle nudge for verification that doesn’t interrupt the fun. That way, you’re reminding them without getting in the way of their product exploration. Enjoy now, and activate later. It’s a win-win.

3. Capitalize on the empty states to teach your users something new

You know those empty spaces that appear when users first log in, waiting for some input? They’re like a blank canvas, full of potential. You can use these spaces to show off your product, take the edge off any user frustrations, and help users find value faster. Show them the tips and tricks to navigate your app in the fastest way possible. Small additions like these are rolling out the red carpet to higher retention rates. It’s all about turning that empty space into a friendly guide.

higher retention rate - Netcore Cloud

4. Share essential resources via your onboarding emails

So, your welcome email – think of it like a goodie bag. It’s the perfect spot to tuck in resources like how-to videos, helpful links, and more that you couldn’t fit into the onboarding flow.

Customer Onboarding Emails - Netcore Cloud

This way, you don’t overstuff the onboarding process but still make sure all the good stuff gets delivered. It’s like having your cake and eating it too, keeping things slick and simple without missing out on any essentials.

5. Start personalizing the user onboarding journey right from the get-go

Personalize the user onboarding to their aha moment right from the start.

Personalized Customer Journey - Netcore Cloud

To make it happen, start by collecting data about each new user. You want to get to know their roles, understand their challenges, and discover the jobs they need to accomplish. It’s like cracking open a treasure chest of insights.

Once you have that valuable info, you can create customer segments for different user groups. And here’s the best part: you can personalize the user journey and onboarding process for each group. It’s like tailoring a perfect suit – everything fits just right.

6. Utilize onboarding checklists to provide impactful quick wins

Here’s a cool trick to keep your customers engaged right from the start: Onboarding checklists.

So, how does it work? These checklists are like a matchmaker, connecting the new user’s goals with the perfect features and actions that will help them achieve those goals. It’s like having a personalized roadmap to success.

Utilize Customer Onboarding checklist - Netcore Cloud

By using onboarding checklists, you’re ensuring that your customers hit the ground running and stay on track to accomplish what they set out to do. It’s all about giving them that extra boost and guidance they need to unlock the full potential of your product.

Motivate more users to follow the list by automating item completion, incorporating a progress bar, and integrating gamification elements.

7. Replace the lengthy product tour with an interactive walkthrough

Let’s talk about product tours for a moment. While they have their advantages, let’s face it, they come with some limitations. They can be long and boring. Plus, they often bombard you with tons of information in a lengthy video that can be overwhelming and may or may not be relevant to you.

Interactive walkthroughs are a better solution to deal with this. These walkthroughs are shorter, more personalized, and way more engaging. Instead of sitting back and watching, you get to experience the product firsthand through learning by doing.

Interactive Product Walkthrough - Netcore Cloud

Here’s the thing about product tours: they tend to throw every feature at you, whether you need them or not. With interactive walkthroughs, you’ll only learn about the features that actually matter to you. It’s like a customized experience tailored to your unique needs.

And the best part is you’ll tackle one task at a time, unlocking the next step as you go, like a fun adventure where you’re the hero making progress at every turn. This interactive approach not only keeps users engaged but also boosts your activation rate.

8. Grant users the freedom to “Skip” and proceed at their own pace

Long onboarding flows can be a real buzzkill, increasing the risk of users abandoning your app and ultimately churning. Some users just don’t want to be held back, itching to dive into the app right away.

Onboarding process flow - Netcore Cloud

That’s why we suggest waving goodbye to those never-ending static or dynamic walkthroughs and tutorials. Sure, they have their purpose – introducing the app and showcasing its value – but they can unintentionally hinder users from doing what they actually want to do. That’s not what we’re aiming for!

Now, here’s our little secret to leveling up your user onboarding: add a “Skip” button. By giving users the power to skip the walkthroughs, you’re putting them in the driver’s seat of their own onboarding journey. After all, not every user wants to be hand-held, right?

9. Place emphasis on the necessary elements

What information is absolutely necessary from users before they can get started?

Sometimes, it’s not just about what information you need but also about when you need it. Imagine you’re working on an ecommerce product. Asking for payment information right off the bat can be time-consuming and presumptive. After all, you haven’t even had the chance to establish the value of your product to the customer yet.

Instead, why not prioritize essential information like a username and password upfront? This way, customers can quickly move toward their critical retention event. They can add items to their cart and proceed to checkout.

When they’re invested in your product and understand what it can deliver for them, they won’t mind filling out their payment information to complete the purchase. It’s all about timing and building that trust.

As for less important but still desirable demographic or personal info, it’s best to gather those later in the onboarding process—ideally after the “aha” moment. Once users have experienced the value your product provides, they’ll be more inclined to share additional details.

10. Keep the conversation flowing with your customers

Even the most effective process may experience a few bumps along the way, with some users dropping off. But there are ways to bring them back on track.

One approach is to monitor your customers’ behavioral data during onboarding. By keeping an eye on their progress, you can identify those who have hit a roadblock and need a gentle nudge in the right direction. Another option is to send them surveys directly, asking for their feedback on what caused them to wander off.

To refocus customers on their “aha” moment, gentle nudges can work wonders. In-app notifications can remind them to complete essential tasks. However, for customers who have stopped using the product altogether, a different tactic is needed.

That’s where email comes into play. An email reminder can reignite their initial spark and remind them why they started using the product in the first place.

A perfect example of this strategy is sending an “abandoned cart” AMP email. It’s a clever way to reconnect with users who left items in their cart without making a purchase. While these emails can be sent at any point in the customer lifecycle, they hold special importance for those who abandoned their first purchase.

Customer onboarding Flow - Netcore Cloud

11. Continue onboarding your users as your app keeps evolving

As time goes by, you’ll naturally make updates and modifications to your app. So ensure you extend the onboarding experience for your users as your app evolves.

Why not seize this opportunity to introduce them to new features and options? Use other elements like feature flags or spotlights to show users what’s new in the app and give them a walkthrough of the new features. By keeping users in the loop, they’ll stay informed and make the most of those fresh, shiny features you’ve worked so hard to create.

How to improve onboarding experience - Netcore Cloud

And you know what’s even better? Users will appreciate the attention to detail, especially when a new feature is designed with them in mind. Remember, onboarding isn’t just for new users. Long-time users can also benefit from continued onboarding practices. It’s a way to show them that you care about their experience, even as your app grows and changes.

12. Offer users the freedom to customize their own onboarding journey

Allowing users to tailor their own onboarding journey to match their unique demands and preferences puts them in the driver’s seat right at the start. This is effective for tech-savvy users who know how to make their way in the app from past experiences.

Every user is different, with their own set of needs and preferences. So, why not make your app more user-friendly and attractive by offering customization options? This way, users can shape their onboarding experience in a way that suits them best.

Customize onboarding journey - Netcore Cloud

There are more than a dozen ways to customize the onboarding process. For example, you can let users decide which features or functionalities they want to learn about first. It’s like giving them the freedom to choose their own learning path. You can also offer alternatives for different levels of complexity and detail during the onboarding journey. After all, not everyone wants to dive into the deep end right away.

But customization doesn’t stop there. You can take it a step further by allowing users to customize the app’s settings or user interface. By giving them control over their app experience, you’re boosting their satisfaction and fostering a deeper connection. It’s a way to show them that you genuinely care about their needs and are committed to delivering an effective user experience.


User onboarding is the crucial first step in implementing a product-led strategy. It sets the tone for your app’s success, and if you have these onboarding essentials on your checklist (if not, it’s time to prioritize them), you’re off to a fantastic start.

But here’s the exciting part: Netcore’s Product Experience platform can take your onboarding experiences to the next level without any development or engineering effort on your end. Yes, you heard that right! We’ve got you covered.

Imagine creating delightful onboarding experiences that leave a lasting impression. With our platform, you can deploy contextual nudges and walkthroughs from Day 0, ensuring a seamless journey for first-time users. We’ll guide them through critical app features, driving faster user activation and helping them unlock the core value of your app right from the get-go.

So, if you’re ready to take your onboarding game to new heights, let’s connect. Together, we’ll create an exceptional onboarding experience that sets your app apart. Say goodbye to complex development and engineering efforts – we’ve got the tools to make it happen effortlessly.

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Written By: Dhruv Pandya
Dhruv Pandya
Product Marketer at Netcore Cloud