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How to Optimize Your User Onboarding Funnel for Maximum Conversions

 The user onboarding funnel is a great way to get visibility into the steps your user takes from signing up for your product and converting into a regular user. Here’s how you leverage user onboarding software like Usetiful to optimize your onboarding funnel.

What is a user onboarding funnel?

A user onboarding funnel is a map of the journey a new user takes from signing up for your product to becoming a competent and loyal user. Typically structured as a set of steps, the onboarding funnel is geared toward helping users understand why your product is valuable, how they can use it, and experience the early wins that will keep them coming back for more. 

How user onboarding funnels can drive conversions

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User onboarding funnels help you get granular about onboarding. While a holistic view of onboarding is essential, it also helps to drill down into each stage. Breaking the user onboarding journey into discrete stages opens up a lot of benefits, which you need to optimize your conversions.

Identifying friction

One of the biggest advantages of a user onboarding funnel is that it helps you pinpoint areas of friction. By understanding the concept of user onboarding as a set of steps, you can identify problem areas and make targeted improvements.

Data-driven decisions

Another reason why funnels are such a popular way to measure the customer journey is because they generate a lot of data. Each step of the user onboarding funnel has its own KPIs or metrics, which means that any decisions you make are backed up by measurable data.

Revenue insights

A user onboarding funnel can help you understand the financial impact of improvements and changes and, in particular, how they affect revenue.

Understand user behavior

However, perhaps most significantly of all, an onboarding funnel brings you closer to understanding user behavior, which means you can optimize your product and your customer journey.

Mapping out the user onboarding funnel

The user onboarding funnel is a subset of the broader customer journey. The customer journey takes in every touchpoint a user has with your product, from initial awareness all the way to advocacy. However, the onboarding funnel has a tighter scope that starts with their initial signup and moves towards your users integrating your product into their workflow.

Another way to think about the user onboarding funnel is that the product team owns it. In contrast, the customer journey is the responsibility of sales, marketing, and customer success. So, while user onboarding has a big effect on conversions, it’s more concerned with user experience than customer acquisition.

Steps of the user onboarding funnel  

The particular steps of a user onboarding funnel are highly dependent on your product and business model. However, we can provide a rough guide for you to change and adapt around.

Stage1️⃣: Sign-up

When users sign up for your product, they are in a very particular mindset. They have a pain point they want solved. As such, the signup process should be as frictionless as possible. 

However, as you well know, customers come to your product with different goals and interests. Onboarding is an opportunity to gather vital user information to personalize the onboarding experience.

User onboarding tools like Usetiful help you build a customer onboarding survey that displays within your app. You can use these questions to find out things like:

  • User role within their organization

  • Why the user is interested in your product

  • What problems your product can solve

  • Level of experience

  • What features do they need

It’s a fine balance. You don’t want to get in your user's way, but a few choice questions delivered via an in-app survey can help you tailor the onboarding experience and onboarding content.

The popular communication app Slack has an excellent user onboarding process that every team can learn from. It offers:

  • Social login/signups

  • User segmentation

  • A streamlined approach.

Read this article for tips on Slack's elegant onboarding process.

Stage2️⃣: Welcome message

A welcome message is an essential part of the user onboarding process. There are four main goals with a welcome message:

  • Make a positive first impression by welcoming the user

  • Briefly explain your product's key features

  • Add an onboarding checklist to gamify the onboarding process

  • Share a link to a brief product tour


Canva is an excellent example of what you can achieve during this stage of the funnel, thanks to its simplified communication.

User onboarding software like Usetiful is a great choice here. You can use Product Banners for an in-app welcome message and feature education while also including a short and snappy product tour to show how your product can solve the user’s pain points.

Stage3️⃣: Aha moment

Good onboarding flows are designed to direct users toward the aha moment — a point where your users realize the value they can achieve from your product. While you will typically have many supporting features, this is the time to share the core functionality of your solution.

In-app walkthroughs are a great way to show how your product solves user pain points. Usetiful helps you create seamless in-app walkthroughs with a no-code, drag-and-drop editor. Best practice dictates that your walkthrough is easy to follow, snappy, and focused on delivering value.

Of course, as your user engages with your product, there is a good chance they will encounter some roadblocks along the way; but Usetiful has your back because it lets you:

The idea here is that by including easy access to support, users can stay within the flow of your product. Collecting onboarding data to see where your users get stuck is essential. Analyzing this data will give you the data-driven insights you need to make changes or alterations to your onboarding flow.

Stage4️⃣: Feature discovery 

It’s easy to overwhelm users with all your product features. But you need to strike a balance between deepening user engagement with your solution and throwing too much information at them. That’s why step #3 calls for a focus on your product’s core selling point, with other information coming into play once your users have mastered core functionality and reached your user activation point.

Timing is essential here. Your user onboarding checklist really comes into play here because it offers a structured way for users to explore and learn more about your product. Again, a lot depends on the specifics of your solution, but you can tie feature tours and walkthroughs to various checklist steps. This kind of setup allows users to take things at their own pace.

Stage5️⃣: Adoption

The final stage of the user onboarding funnel is when users have adopted your product into their workflows. It’s important to remember that loyal, deep engagement takes time. It also requires several touchpoints, including things like education drip campaigns or in-app messages with tips and tricks to help users achieve more from your product.

Usetiful helps you unlock the many benefits of using a DAP to achieve customer success. In-app banners are a great way to ensure your users engage with your communications. What’s more, you can also take advantage of in-app surveys to get helpful feedback that will help you improve and optimize the onboarding process.

Analyzing the user onboarding funnel

Each funnel stage produces data. For example, you can measure how many users have moved from initial signup to using your product. These data points are essential if you want to optimize the onboarding funnel.

Here are some ways to use and generate the data you need to perfect your user onboarding funnel.

#1. Checklist completion

Checklists help guide users towards activation and feature adoption. If you collect progress data, you can see where friction occurs.

#2. User feedback

You can strategically place in-app user feedback surveys after each stage of your user onboarding funnel. This data will help you identify any issues.

#3. Track activation via product analytic tools

There are a range of product analytics tools that can help you track how users engage with your solution. These tools help you identify any drop-off points or bottlenecks that hinder conversions.

What to do with user onboarding funnel data

Depending on the results of your analysis, you may need to address some problems. Some common fixes include:

  • Streamline onboarding: If users are getting stuck, lost, or bored, it could be a sign that your onboarding process is too complex and needs to be streamlined.

  • Add self-service in-app support: Tooltips are a great way to guide your users subtly but also consider links to help articles or your knowledge base so users can get the help they want when they need it.

  • Segmentation: Look out for particular user segments that struggle to move through the funnel. Consider personalized and tailored onboarding for these cohorts.

Final thoughts 

The user onboarding gives you the granular breakdown you need to improve SaaS conversions. By working in clearly delineated stages, you can quickly collect data to identify friction points. 

Of course, identifying problems is one thing; solving them is quite another. Usetiful is built to help teams remedy their user onboarding through a mix of in-app walkthroughs, tooltips, checklists, self-service in-app reports, and surveys that help you gather all-important feedback. Start free for today.

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