Why In-App Onboarding Deserves a Spot on Your Roadmap

If you work for a SaaS company, you probably regard in-app onboarding and training the way many software product managers do: They’d certainly improve user experience, sure, but they require a lot of development resources that risk delaying or even displacing some of the “must have” features already on your product roadmap.

But this no longer holds true today. You no longer need to view user onboarding as a time-intensive, resource-hogging initiative that limits your ability to pursue other strategically valuable opportunities.

With the recent emergence of automated, code-free user onboarding tools such as Pendo, Userlane and Appcues, you can now include a robust, in-app onboarding experience without having to set aside extensive development resources for it.

The way we see it, this means three things for you as a software product manager:

  1. No more pushing out versions of your product without a user-friendly onboarding tool to help users get up to speed
  2. The opportunity to collect data to learn what’s working and quickly adjust what isn’t
  3. One less difficult decision about which upcoming features to prioritize

How Code-Free User Onboarding Supports Agile Development

One of the cornerstones of smart agile development is to leverage what’s already out there, so your team doesn’t have to spend cycles building tools that third-party providers have already built.

Would you want to spend extensive resources and effort developing an analytics platform to track how users interact with your site? Probably not. Much simpler to leverage Google Analytics or other existing tools.

Well, just as you wouldn’t want to waste your company’s time recreating the Google Analytics wheel, you also wouldn’t want to create a comprehensive onboarding suite from scratch—or worse, not include one at all because of the effort involved.

But now that you know you can include plug-and-play in-app onboarding in your product, why wouldn’t you?

Here are just some of the strategic benefits of leveraging code-free user onboarding.

5 Benefits of Including Onboarding in Your Product

1. Happier, More Satisfied Users

The strongest and most obvious benefit of prioritizing onboarding initiatives for your product is that you can easily teach your new users as they go, right from the moment they first fire up your app.

In other words, you can help guide brand new users through those first few (possibly overwhelming) moments and show them the best and fastest way to start gaining value from your product.

This creates a far better experience for new users than if they had to fumble around, even for just a couple of moments, and find the functionality they needed by trial and error.

2. Better Visibility Into Your User Experience

The data collection and analytical insight offered by in-app onboarding tools will help teach you and your team what’s working with users and what needs work.

This can help you continually tweak your app based on real-world evidence coming straight from your user base. And that means an always-improving product.

Our UX designer here at ProductPlan recently shared our own customer journey map on our blog. The map acts as a great example for how in-app data can be used to inform decisions that will improve our users’ first time experience.

3. Greater Customer Retention

Let’s consider this third benefit in light of the first two. When your users are able to get up and running with your product the right away, thanks to your helpful in-app walkthroughs and tips, they are more likely to continue using the product.

Also, since in-app analytics tell you where users might be having trouble, your communication efforts can be improved. Consider tweaking your messages (or the product itself) to continually make the overall experience easier to understand.

As both research and common sense would suggest, the more comfortable your customer is using your product, the more likely they will continue to use it. A simple onboarding guide can go a long way toward making this happen.

4. Reduced Load Placed on Support Team

By adding a basic onboarding flow into your product, you can solve problems and answer common questions within the product itself—meaning you will have fewer customers contacting your support team for help.

5. A More Effective Way to Roll Out New Features

Finally, one of the greatest advantages of establishing an onboarding program is it creates an easy channel for you to introduce your existing user base to newly released functionalities.

And because many code-free onboarding providers allow you to easily create new in-app messages, tips, or entire walkthrough flows, you can build new features knowing that you’ll be able to let every user know about them as soon as they are pushed live.

This ability to easily update your product’s in-app onboarding suite, and to create new components for it whenever you have something new to share, will prove invaluable for user adoption of new features. Not to mention, it will help establish your company’s reputation as being transparent and accessible.

And that’s a vital part of your ongoing relationship with your customers—because as you probably know, onboarding never ends.