Digital Onboarding – 5 Ways to Make it Easier

Digital Onboarding – 5 Ways to Make it Easier

Onboarding is the process of acquiring new customers, accelerating the customer onboarding journey by automating the end-to-end process in a simplified and streamlined manner. In this article we will try to explain the Digital Onboarding process, its benefits compared to other onboarding methods.

We all have all been somewhere before that made us feel confused, frustrated, unwelcome, or lost. Sometimes, it’s even hard to describe what it is that makes us feel this way. When we travel online from site to site, our brain reacts, and we can feel the urge to escape and retreat to comfort. 

On a shopping site, it’s as if we’re not meant to find the product or service we’re looking for. While installing an app, we notice a glitch, and our first impression is fixing something that’s broken. 

We may eventually find what we want, but initially, we feel disappointed. Sooner or later we get over the disappointment, but the experience remains in our memory, influencing our behaviors in the future. This negative new user experience is a result of a poorly designed customer onboarding process

Let’s turn the tables now. What if you aren’t a customer but a company, a small business, or a startup? Are your customers happy with your store, your product, or your services? Is your business growing, or is it a touch-and-go situation, and are you struggling with user retention? And if the answer is yes, have you calculated your customer churn rate recently? And do you know what churn rate is and why it’s important?

Let’s take a look at this simple formula: 

Churn Rate = Customers Lost During Period/Customers at Beginning of Period

Churn is the most basic formula that doesn’t involve the percentage of customers lost or the value of monthly recurring revenue lost. Still, no matter which method you use, you should keep monitoring your churn rates because when it increases, it shows how many customers or subscribers stopped using your product or service within a particular time.

The overwhelming majority of marketers seem to be very concerned about attracting new customers. Lots of marketing blogs keep updating relevant information, making us believe that the conversion rate is the most important thing. User activation is very important, but it’s not all there is. 

Churn rate optimization is equally essential to long-term success and profitability. Reducing the number of customers who abandon your product or reject your service is extremely important for your business.

According to Bain and Company, a global management consulting firm - it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. On top of that, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. 

Another statistic from Marketing Metrics tells us that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60–70%, while the chance of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.

If you aren’t convinced yet, look at this calculation from Salesforce. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more than their first purchase. 

It definitely makes sense to try and understand why customers abandon using your products, leave your website, and discontinue subscriptions to your channels. 

The onboarding process is the beginning of your relationship with a client, and it starts before a customer makes the first purchase. It begins when your potential customer appears on your website for the first time and is making a decision about what to do next. So, let’s talk about what you can do to create a successful onboarding process. 

First, you should analyze the current situation and think of an ideal onboarding experience regarding your product. Always remember - you only get one chance to make a good impression with a new visitor. 

Use analytics to have a clear picture of what users are doing after landing on your product’s page. How long do they stay? Where are they going next? If they leave too soon, you know your onboarding process is nothing but tedious. 

1. Make sure that your onboarding is customer-centric, not product-centric

Customer focus is crucial for software products, but it applies to online store and service agency onboarding as well. You need good copywriters to create better onboarding content, and you need UI designers to rethink and redesign a user interface. Chances are very high that you need a third-party to create top-notch videos for educating new users. 

If your onboarding isn’t introducing people to critical features and tips of your product or services in an appealing way, they will be more likely to find another product, another store, or another agency. 

2. Inspire your customers

If your user doesn’t get this feeling while onboarding: “Hey, this is awesome!” - it needs lots of improvement. There's no proper onboarding without this “wow!” moment. It makes sense to give your users this feeling of excitement even before they sign up. 

Your marketers may disagree with that because they are stuck with the conventional approach: Sign up for trial - Wow - Convert to a customer, but it’s an outdated strategy. Wow! First, Register Later is a better strategy to follow.

If your product targets different audiences, you should design a few “wow!” moments for different groups of customers. One size doesn't fit all. The user in each group must get an easy way to identify themselves at the beginning of the onboarding process. After this happens, you should lead them through a different guided experience. 

3. Engaging videos are crucial for creating a great onboarding experience 

As we have mentioned above, top-notch videos are supposed to be an excellent onboarding tool because people prefer interactive content and eye-catching visuals that evoke much more excitement than simple text could do alone. As they say, if an image is worth 1,000 words, a one-minute video is worth 1.8 million

According to the latest statistics, 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. Meanwhile, 84% of people say that they decide to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video. 74% of people say they choose to buy or download a piece of software or app by watching a video. 

It’s even better if the explainer video is embedded right into the product, so your customers don’t have to go to your webpage if they need to refresh something in their memories while using the software during the trial period. Customers who are taught in an engaging way how to use the tools effectively, instead of having to figure it out on their own, are more likely to purchase the product after the free trial is over.

4. Customers should understand the value your product can offer

Communicating the value of your product to your new users is essential in onboarding. Post Funnel reports that 30% of user churn is a direct result of customers not seeing the value in the product. If your potential customer doesn’t understand the purpose of your product, there is no reason for them to stick with it. 

Lack of use-case is another reason for moving registration further along in the funnel. People should see the benefits, and they should be able to try the product before making any commitment. If your service is excellent, a commitment-free trial will significantly boost retention, and if it isn’t - don’t blame users for not liking your product and abandoning it. 

In today’s world, authenticity means a lot. Your customers should know how your product makes their lives more comfortable and meaningful. 

If you don’t want your customers to abandon your product, don’t abandon your customers in the first place.

Let’s assume now that your potential users liked the product and decided to invest in it. Proper onboarding is responsible for preserving new customers who have just committed.  Probably, you are familiar with the term post-purchase dissonance. 

As the digital marketing glossary states, Buyers’ remorse is a feeling of regret after purchase. It tends to be more pronounced after purchasing an expensive item that can’t be readily returned or exchanged. We all know that sinking feeling, which is especially bad when we don’t get any support or encouragement from the seller.

How can we make a customer happier and ease this post-purchase dissonance? The window that we have for that is minimal. One of the best ways to enhance the customer’s experience right after the purchase is to send them an email, more than just one. 

It’s not enough to welcome your customer aboard with a “Thank You” note. You should organize an ongoing email sequence for further educating your customers about your product’s features and benefits. For example, create a simple PDF guide explaining in-depth how everything works. 

Going back to the first email, it would be a great mistake to “support” your new user with something formal, non-exciting, boring, and, therefore, disappointing.

A friendly tone is a must, and beautiful images could add an appealing touch, but optimizing your customer’s experience with a warm, welcoming video would be even better. Combining video with an email provides you with a robust onboarding tool for creating more fun and engaging with customers.

Famous video hosting company Wistia conducted an experiment aimed to assess the effectiveness of using videos in email. So they conducted a split test “using two identical emails with identical content, except one had a video as the top piece of content, and the other had an illustrated graphic.”

They discovered that a video with a graphic at the top had a clickthrough rate (CTR) of only 12%, while the email version with a video at the top earned an impressive 38% CTR. 

If you need information on how to embed the video in email or link a static image to your video content, we recommend reading this article with some handy tips on this topic.

5. Bonus: a few more ideas on how to use videos for winning onboarding strategy

Undoubtedly, email is a fantastic way to welcome a new customer on board, help them understand how to use product or service, explain all the potential benefits, demonstrate how to access certain features of the product, or introduce new features. 

Still, there is a downside to email onboarding, and it’s the same as the downside to all email marketing: some people do not open emails regularly, and some people read their emails without watching the linked video content. Considering the existence of such people, it’s not a bad idea to use video while onboarding new customers in different ways, including the followings:

  • Incorporate an onboarding video introducing your product or your service on the landing page
  • Welcome new users with a video that’s embedded directly into your software and use the same video as a comprehensive guide to the product’s settings and features
  • Enhance new users’ onboarding experience by incorporating a short video in tooltips - the overlays that appear when a cursor hovers over a particular element  of the interface such as a button or an icon
  • Make explainer videos a part of your onboarding tutorials. Some people still enjoy reading illustrated instructions, but the vast majority prefer descriptive videos.
  • Don’t forget to add videos to your FAQ section. Make them as user-friendly as possible. Keep in mind that these videos are capable of providing users with better technical support than support center specialists.


Onboarding isn’t a simple process. With a lack of well-written content, clear explanations, helpful video instructions, and interactive tutorials, your potential customers will not understand the meaning of your product or services and abandon it for something more appealing. 

On the other side, there is a chance that you can overload new users with information. It’s common to cause cognitive overload with too many modals (including pop-ups, slideouts, and alerts), too many coach marks, or too many tooltips. There should always be a balance. Stay user-centered and analyze customers’ behavior. Use social media platforms for building a direct relationship with people. Value authenticity over conventional money-oriented approach. And don’t forget to measure key marketing metrics regularly, and you’ll be on the path to achieving sustainable growth.

Darya Jandossova Troncoso is a photographer, artist, and writer working on her first novel and managing a digital marketing blog - MarketSplash. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, creating art, and learning everything there is to know about digital marketing.

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