How to Create a Successful Customer Onboarding Plan

With the world slowly but steadily moving towards a subscription economy, the role of customer support, and customer onboarding, in particular, has increased in importance. Of all the post-sales, customer-focused functions, customer onboarding is the most critical of all and determines how fast you will grow.

Irrespective of how proficient your sales team is, if they can't provide value to your customer, they will most likely churn. As the familiar marketing adage goes, the “seeds of churn are planted early.” Organizations should do well to remember this because churn leads businesses to fortify their acquisition efforts, a move that is anywhere between 5-25 times more expensive than retaining customers.

Properly onboarding your customers will provide you with many benefits. Customers will feel satisfied with their first engagement with your company and leave them coming back for more, thus creating loyal customers in the process. Inducing loyalty among customers also means free word-of-mouth marketing of your product and constricting the avoidable churn.

The future of your customer relationship starts with the inception of the onboarding plan. For businesses involved in creating or redesigning their customer engagement process, here are a few ways they can go about it to create instant value for the customer and boost your bottom line subsequently.

1. Map the customer onboarding journey

In order to help potential customers understand the value and need of your product, you need to first create your ideal user persona to create a journey map and guide them through it. Mapping the customer journey will also help you prioritize customers and accordingly organize your message. However, all of this is dependent on creating the ideal user persona.

After creating the customer avatar, you can focus on the three main stages of the customer's journey, namely awareness, evaluation, and conversion. Connect with customers at every stage and try to capture their email address so that you can make them aware of your product. At each of these stages, address your typical customer onboarding flow, which more often than not looks like:

  • Sign up: Reduce barriers and make the process as intuitive as possible.
  • Welcome email: Welcome the customer and make it clear where they should turn to when they need help.
  • Account set up: Make the act of setting up the account effortless and diminish the number of inessential fields.
  • Product demo: Demonstrate the product's salient features through training videos, product tours, and embedded training modules.

2. Knowledgebase

A knowledgebase is the best solution for frequently asked questions and allows users to solve their queries quickly. A chatbot is another great alternative since it helps visitors or users to solve their problems without them having to search your website for an answer.

3. Show immediate value

The success of a customer onboarding plan depends on how soon the customer can find value within your product. Showing immediate value to your customers, typically in the first five minutes of their interaction with your product, can increase their lifetime value by up to 50%. That's why it is important to show customers value within their first transaction, something which is led by a compelling value proposition: a clear illustration of what makes your product unique.

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Take Basecamp, for example. An online project management platform, Basecamp, keeps new user onboarding very effective and very simple. Its value proposition is about assisting its users in managing their daily projects efficiently and quickly. Basecamp achieves this with its welcome board. By offering users onboarding tools, it shows them how its product works, thus helping them find value immediately.

4. Use Progressive Profiling

From the perspective of the user, every part of the onboarding journey should be easy enough so that they have a reason to partake in it. Keep this in mind while designing the onboarding plan and keep it as smooth as possible by eliminating the friction-causing areas.

There are many ways to do this. You can offer a social login for the user as it gives them the option to join without going through the hassle of creating a new account. Another area where you can improve with regards to profiling is by soliciting the minimum amount of essential information by the user.

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Etsy, an American e-commerce website focused on vintage and handmade craft supplies and items, is a brilliant example of this. They have a straightforward sign-up form, but apart from that, they give the user to sign up with their Facebook account as well. This act helps them avoid customer churn by keeping the initial request short and gives them the chance to gradually build the customer profile through progressive profiling whenever they interact with the product.

5. Use Brief Tutorials and Customize the User Experience

After you have eliminated friction-causing areas in the sign-up form, continue to reduce it and better the user experience by helping the customers find out more information about the product in a succinct manner.

This part calls for educating customers by showing less and providing more. Teach them how to use your product through the help of tutorials that show the commonest actions. This is essential because most products out there have some sort of tutorial on a channel that introduces the user to the product.

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Bird, an electronic scooter app, achieves this perfectly. In fewer than five steps, it effectively educates users on how to use their app while being both helpful and easy to understand. After the users have got the hang of your product, you can move to customize the UX for them.

Put the user into the driver's seat. Always provide them with alternatives to do something and don't restrict their experience. This lets them determine their journey and leaves them to decide their onboarding flow, resulting in a seamless experience.

6. Utilize Email Marketing to Educate

Email marketing is the most effective way to educate your customers about your product. This is evident because, in the U.S. alone, almost 85% of adults read or send emails every day. In terms of return on investment, customers who purchase products through marketed emails spend 138% more in comparison to those who don't and fetch an overall RoI of 4000%.

This is why it comes as a no-brainer to include email as an essential part of your user onboarding program. Use it as an effective means of engagement, something that is used to further the product and ensure that it supports your onboarding process. Make sure to include a clear CTA in all of your marketing emails and provide a direct link to your landing page with the CTA, leading the prospect to undertake that specific action on your website or app.


Once you have nailed your customer onboarding plan, you have learned how to provide value to your customers and create the basis for a sustainable relationship and a profitable venture. Once your customers have signed up for on your website or app, it is all about continuing to build a satisfactory relationship with them and helping them win big so that you can win too.


Author’s bio:

Srushti Shah is an ambitious, passionate and out of the box thinking woman having a vast exposure in Digital Marketing. She is working as a Digital Marketer and Content writer at Acquire. Her key focus is to serve her clients with the latest innovation in her field leading to fast and effective results. Working beyond expectations and delivering the best possible results in her professional motto. Other than work, she loves traveling, exploring new things and spending quality time with family. Reach out to Srushti Shah on Twitter or LinkedIn

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