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User Onboarding: Getting New Users to That ‘Aha’ Moment

Updated: May 9

User onboarding is one of the most crucial moments for your SaaS product. Done well and it will go a long way toward determining whether your customers are successful and satisfied in using your product, which will in turn influence how loyal they are and how likely they are to recommend you to others.

SaaS User Onboarding

What is User Onboarding?

User onboarding is the process of educating new customers to find value in a product or service. Think of user onboarding as a way of welcoming your new customers, so they feel at home. Just as you would never dream of opening your home’s door to your guests and then turning your back and ignoring them, don’t open your business’s door to your new customers and then give them the cold shoulder. And don’t open the door and immediately give them an exhaustive tour of the entire house.

Invite them to sit down, ask if they’d like a drink, show them where to find the bathroom.

Once your guests have settled into the sofa with a cold beverage in hand and are treated to the delightful conversation at your party, they will hopefully think to themselves, “I’m so glad I dragged myself out of the house for this!”

The Goal of SaaS Onboarding? The ‘Aha’ Moment

Helping SaaS customers reach it quickly should be the central goal of your user onboarding process. Likewise, you want your new customers to get to the point where they feel something click with your product. It’s what Pulkit Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO of Chameleon, a platform for better user onboarding, calls the “aha” moment.

“The ‘aha’ moment is the time when a user internalizes the value your product provides. It’s the moment when they’re ready to buy (especially if they’re on a free trial) or deepen their relationship with the product (become a fan/share with friends/give access to more data/etc.).”

So, what creates this special moment when your users feel a glow of appreciation for what you’re offering? The answer to that will be as unique as your product.

At the very least, it will involve educating users on your product’s purpose, showcasing your product’s features, and helping them take action using your product, according to Yohann Kunders, product marketer at Chargebee.

However, the specifics will look different for each company and each product. You can figure it out by trying various things until you get it right.

For instance, consider the dynamics of switching costs and prioritizing application discovery – always focusing on value to promote customer loyalty.

Start by making a hypothesis and testing it. What differentiates your product? Where does it add the most value to customers’ businesses? What do your fans report finding most important or getting most excited about?

Conduct surveys or user tests to gain insight into what really clicks for your customers.

Can Users Find Value in Your Product?

Educate Users to Find Value in Your Product

Once you’ve gotten a sense for where you need to direct new customers to help them find value in your product, ask yourself whether the path there is clear and whether they will arrive quickly enough. If the process takes too long or is too confusing, analyze how you can smooth it out and help them through more quickly.

“Modern onboarding requires you to understand your user’s definition of success and break down the barriers to get them there,” says Des Traynor, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Intercom.

It’s a process of figuring out what your customers are really looking for, trying things out until your customers are thrilled with it, and then… changing it up as soon as your product changes, which is likely all the time.

That’s why nailing down user onboarding is a constant, iterative process. And there’s no one method that will work for every company.

As Traynor says, it’s tempting to look for a silver bullet, but what you need — in user onboarding and most other aspects of running your business — is “a shitload of normal bullets.”

Keep talking to your customers, asking questions, and really listening to the answers. Keep testing options and watching the results. Once you see new customers consistently reaching that “aha” moment when they’re off and running with your product, you’ll know you’re providing the best kind of welcome.


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