The Importance of Customer Onboarding: How to Get It Right

Did you just realize the importance of customer onboarding in your business? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to design and implement your very own customer onboarding program.


A successful onboarding makes customers happy and engaged, which helps you build a solid base of loyal customers. If you want to offer or improve your organization’s customer onboarding experience, this article is right for you.


We’re here to discuss the essential customer onboarding strategies and best practices. We also include practical advice and examples to ensure you can implement them right and get outstanding results.


Before diving into the specifics, let’s find out what customer onboarding is and why it matters.

What Is Customer Onboarding?

Customer onboarding often refers to the process of helping new users to familiarize themselves and get comfortable using a product or service for the first time. 


The process covers the entire customer journey, including the sign-up process. Look at the image to understand the concept of the customer onboarding process.

Importance Of Customer Onboarding - Process

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This is only one example of the many successful customer onboarding frameworks. You can personalize the experience by adding your target audience’s needs, pain points, goals, and expectations.


Adding your business goals is also vital to improve customer retention rate and reducing churn rate.

Why Does A Great Customer Onboarding Matter?

Customer onboarding is important because it helps you set your customers for long-term success. It ensures that your customer will have the most satisfactory journey while getting the actual value of your product/services.


They will only achieve success once they fully understand the following:


  • What the product or service does
  • How it works
  • And what problems it can solve


It’s also important to anticipate all potential challenges your customers might experience while using your product or service. It prevents surprises and gives you ample time to develop the right solution.


Attracting new customers is one of the hardest challenges in building a successful business. So, ensure to consistently meet and exceed their expectations once you persuade them to choose your business.


If you still need convincing about the importance of customer onboarding, you can check out the statistics compiled by HubSpot. It will show you the real-life impact of the onboarding process on the consumers’ behaviors and expectations.

How To Create A Successful Customer Onboarding Process

Are you ready to build or improve your customer onboarding program? If you answer yes, here’s a list of strategies, best practices, and practical advice to help create a positive experience.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Like most marketing strategies, understanding your target audience should be your top priority. It helps you gather in-depth information and identify:


  • What piques their interest
  • What they want from your business
  • What are they looking for in a product/services
  • And what problems they are trying to solve (including their ideal solution and outcome)


You can use all the information to create a meaningful and personalized experience for every individual customer. It will make your customers feel that you are guiding them every step of the way.

Best Practice: Create A Customer Persona

If you’re wondering how you can understand customers better, you can use plenty of methods. The standard option is painting a picture of your potential customer by:


  • Geography
  • Demographics
  • Psychographics
  • Buying behavior


Assuming you successfully identify everything, you can start analyzing the patterns and create customer personas. It’s a research-based profile used by marketers and business owners to understand their target audience and market more effectively.


You can add more elements to get accurate insights and make your personas realistic.

customer persona

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Customer persona often represents your ideal customer based on your market research data. But you can also use your data from competitor analysis to identify their marketing strategies’ strengths and weaknesses.

2. Conduct Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a critical step in customer persona creation. It collects non-numerical insights to give you a deeper understanding and context of the customer’s experience, needs, and wants.


Qualitative research comes in many forms, but the most popular option is the customer survey. People, in general, enjoy sharing their opinions and experiences. So, it wouldn’t give you a hard time persuading them to participate.


All you need to do is make it easy for them to accomplish the online survey.

Best Practice 1: Clear & Short

As a general rule, the survey questions should be clear and short. Once people read them, they should immediately understand them and their purpose.


Creating open-ended questions can capture what people think about your product/services using their own words. You can mix it with closed-ended questions if you want a specific or straightforward answer.

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Regarding its length, it should also be short. Create a customer survey with less than 30 questions.


You can add more, but ensure that it will only take your customers 5 minutes or less to complete. Remember to create a survey relevant to your customer’s interests and needs.

Best Practice 2: Offering An Incentive

Not everyone is a fan of participating in a survey. Offering an incentive is an excellent way to entice your customers into participating.

3. Establish A Goal

Now that you clearly understand who your customers are and what they need, you can start setting up your goals. The primary goal of the onboarding program is for customers to use your product and services continuously.


Therefore, you can focus your goals on educating your customers on how they can effectively use the product. Here are some methods you can implement:


  • FAQ section
  • Knowledge base
  • Product walkthrough
  • One-on-one/One-to-many training


Some brands also provide a dedicated blog to create a community for their customer base. Take LuxuryModo, for example.


The owner understands how difficult it is for others to research and book an excellent hotel for their trip. As a solution, she created this travel website and listed all the recommended hotels per destination.


She includes all essential details that can influence the customer’s decision, such as:


  • Location details
  • Property highlights
  • Breakfast information
  • Direct links to the online travel agencies
  • Social proof (customer reviews and star ratings)


No matter what you choose to provide, ensure to add interactive walkthroughs to keep the customers engaged and keep the momentum going. According to Wyzowl, 97% of consumers see video as an indispensable tool to educate new customers.


It isn’t surprising because videos are accessible, flexible, and easy to digest. So, ensure to add educational content via video to keep your B2B clients or B2C customers happy for the entire period of the onboarding.

Best Practice: Personalize & Build Excitement

When creating a video, make it bite-sized to prevent boring or overwhelming your viewers. Also, personalize your videos to make them relatable and memorable.


You can also build excitement by adding a mysterious effect to pique your customers’ curiosity. Adidas did this when they launched their new ultra boost running shoes.


4. Create An Effective Customer Onboarding Journey Map

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Eliminate the guesswork from your onboarding program using a detailed customer onboarding journey map. It uses storytelling and visual elements to illustrate the customer’s relationship and experience with your brand, product, or service during the onboarding period.


When creating a customer onboarding journey map, ensure to develop milestones and turn them into small actionable tasks to break down the process. It will help you monitor the customer’s progress and uncover all friction points on the crucial steps of your onboarding process.

Pro Advice: Offer Communication

Customers may experience different emotions as they explore your product/service. One way to maintain a positive onboarding experience is to provide direct customer service support via live chat or self-service support like the help center.


Mapping your customer journey can be intimidating, but there are plenty of tools (free and paid) you can use to help you build it. UXPressia and Lucidchart are two popular go-to options.

5. Optimize The Sign-Up Process

The sign-up process is the first step of the customer onboarding journey. Make it short (single page) and simple to save time. 


If you want to collect lots of information, it’s recommended to divide them into multiple pages. It will make it look less overwhelming.


To increase your conversion rate further, add 2 to 3 fields (maximum of 5) for every step. Also, organize the questions in the most logical way to have a seamless sign-up flow.


Everytalent, a dynamic online recruitment tool, sets a good example.

It only shows one question at a time. After completing the 10-question sign-up form, it will instruct you on the next step – wait for their representative to reach out and discuss how their product can help your business.


There are different types of sign-up forms, and email sign-up forms are the go-to option. It’s proven effective in persuading your prospects to engage in informational exchange.


A newsletter is a popular digital asset you can exchange with your customer’s information. It allows you to interact with your customer base and inform them about your company, products, or services in a meaningful way.


It’s also well-received by most people because it’s informative and has nothing to do with hard selling. Aloa, an outsourcing software development platform, is one of the many brands that provide this type of sign-up form.


I won’t be surprised because the tech industry constantly evolves and has so much information to share. 

Once the prospects complete the form, they will automatically receive the latest news in the startup and technology industries. Other educational email content is also accepted, like step-by-step guides and how-to articles.

Best Practice: Exclusive Offer

Sending informative and relevant content is beneficial to your customers. However, it isn’t enough reason for them to interact actively with your brand.


Promoting a loyalty program is one effective way to encourage them to come back and engage with your products. Offer exclusive promotions, credit points, and other perks every time they hit an important milestone in your website.


Green Supply, a KN95 face mask wholesaler, is one of the eCommerce sites that offer a loyalty program. You can expect exclusive access to all its incoming promo deals and new products when you sign up for its newsletter. They make you feel you’re in for something special with the line: ‘Be the first to know!’. 

6. Welcome Onboarding Email

First impressions last. So, ensure to make your customers feel valuable and guide them once they successfully sign up for your email list, free trial, or purchase your product.


You can use the welcome email to set their first experience as a positive one.

welcome email

You can start by sending a thank you message to show appreciation to them for trusting the product.


Some brands also provide a perk to reward their customers. Other elements you must add to your welcome email are listed as follows:


  • Compelling subject lines
  • Add a prominent call-to-action phrase and button
  • Provide direct links to the customer success team and tech support
  • Offer support by sharing helpful materials (interactive product tours, introductory videos, product tutorials, etc.)
  • Add an unsubscribe option (required by law)

Pro Advice: Be Concise & Relevant

A welcome email is a great strategy to get your customers to familiarize themselves with the product. So, send only relevant and helpful content based on your customer’s goals or onboarding progress.


It would be helpful to send the content in stages to prevent overwhelming them with too much information.


A welcome onboarding email creates a long-term impact on your customer base and revenue retention. Ensure to continue engaging them and add more personal touch to increase the open rate.

7. Measure Your Customer Onboarding Program Effectivity

After carefully developing and implementing your customer onboarding program, you may wonder how well it performs. Here are the key metrics you need to watch out for to measure the success of your onboarding efforts:

I. Customer Churn Rate

customer churn

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It measures the number of customers who stop using your product/service. You can lower the churn rate by making the initial stage of the onboarding a customer-centric and seamless experience.

II. Time To First Value (TTFV)

TTFV is a critical metric for customer engagement. It measures the amount of time your customers take to first see the value of your product/service.


There’s no specific timeframe set for TTFV. But it will be more beneficial for your business if they see value soon after they start the onboarding phase.


You can help them achieve that by offering a comprehensive onboarding guide. Let’s take a DataOps platform building real-time data pipeline architecture as an example.


You can deliver your SaaS product’s value by creating educational content via knowledge-base articles, videos, and blog posts. A few topics you can discuss are the data pipelines’ architecture patterns, processes, and more.


It will also help if you include real-life examples. It will help them quickly grasp your products’ core values and concepts.

III. Free Trial To Paid Conversion Rate

This metric is a must-watch if you offer a free trial period as part of your marketing efforts. Converting your free trial users into paying customers is a powerful sign that your onboarding efforts are a success.


Do it right; it will be the quickest way for customers to find your product’s first value. One good example is Recruit CRM, a single platform where you can source resumes of qualified candidates and track application statuses.

The free trial includes all the features and templates available. The only restriction is the limited candidate to source and contacts to save (up to 50, both).


The company also never requires credit card details. Therefore, the customers can try out the free version risk-free.

IV. Average Response Time

Consumers will stay longer and spend more on a product/service if the company responds quickly to their inquiries or concerns. They feel that the company respects their time and shows their dedication to helping them resolve issues.


According to SuperOffice, the average response time ranges from 10 minutes to 12 hours.

customer service response time

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V. Average Conversion Rate

Conversion rate measures how many of your prospects complete a specific action. The action can range from free trial signup, a new purchase, and so on.


The average conversion rate percentage depends on the industry you belong to and the online platform you use. If you’re measuring the average conversion rate for your website or online store, 1% to 3% is acceptable.


The good news is that you can calculate the conversion rate without special tools. Here are some simple formulas you can use to calculate your conversion rate:


  • Shopper: Unique visitors ÷ number of new customers
  • Subscriber: Unique visitors ÷ number of new subscribers
  • Total: Unique visitors ÷ number of visitors with any conversion

Wrapping Up

Customer onboarding can make or break a business. That’s the simplest way to explain the importance of customer onboarding.


Customers are what keep the business alive and running. Keep them happy and walk them through every step of the way, and they will be glad to use your amazing product for a long time.


An increase in revenue, retention and customer lifetime value are only a few benefits you can enjoy. The strategies, best practices, and expert advice above can help you make that happen.


Customer personas can help you understand your target audience and market. It’s a plus that it can help you craft content that resonates with your customers and identify opportunities for sales and product improvement.


A customer onboarding survey can help you gather the information you need. If it doesn’t work for you, you can always choose other forms of research:


  • Read discussion forums
  • Ask for customer reviews
  • One-on-one interviews via phone or in-person
  • Use sentiment analysis to identify if the data is positive, negative, or neutral


People’s demands and needs are evolving. Ensure to keep up with the latest onboarding and digital marketing trends to stay relevant to your industry and target customers.


Start improving your customer onboarding program. If you have more strategies to share, leave them in the comment section.