First impressions are more critical than ever for your online presence, and for businesses looking to thrive, the journey begins long before a customer clicks ‘sign up.’ Yaakov Carno’s insights shine a light on the common misconception that customer onboarding starts with a sign up. That’s false. The true starting point of customer onboarding happens when they discover your product. That’s why it’s critical to have an effective customer onboarding strategy.
But how can you ensure that your customer onboarding strategy is not just good, but great? How do you know it effectively guides potential users from initial discovery to becoming active, engaged customers?
The cornerstone of successful customer onboarding is clarity. When a prospect lands on your homepage, they’re not just looking for your product, but what it can do for them. Let’s dive deep into how you can optimize your customer onboarding strategy and test your homepage for maximum engagement and conversion.
Begin at Discovery: Where Customer Onboarding Truly Starts
Imagine this: A potential customer hears about your product. Curiosity piqued, they visit your homepage. This is where the magic begins, or where opportunities are lost. The key is to capture their interest and make it abundantly clear what your product is about. They assess your value proposition at this critical juncture, trying to decipher if you can solve their problem. This is when your onboarding strategy kicks into gear—not when they sign up, but when they first discover you.
Communicate Clearly: What Problem Do You Solve?
When you outline the problems your product can solve, you’re connecting with your visitor’s needs. It’s not about boasting your product’s features right off the bat but about addressing pain points. This targeted communication helps prospects understand why they should consider your product as the solution they’ve been searching for.
Features Are Your Friends: Tell Them What It Does
Once you’ve hooked them with a solution to their problem, it’s time to reel them in with what your product does. Detail the functionalities that make your product not just unique but essential. This is where specificity is your ally; vague promises won’t do the trick. Allow prospects to visualize using your product with real-life scenarios and tangible benefits.
ROI Can Wait, Don’t Jump the Gun
Discussing the return on investment (ROI) prematurely can be a misstep. While it’s crucial, it’s not the leading message that will resonate with someone just getting to know your product. The immediate goal is to encourage sign-ups and trials, not to overburden with metrics and forecasts.
The Landing Page Goal: Sign Up and Experience
Your landing page must do more than inform; it must entice. For Product-Led Growth (PLG) products, the aim is to get visitors to sign up and immerse themselves in the product experience. Make the process seamless, from learning about the product to becoming an active user. A compelling call to action (CTA) is not just a button; it’s an invitation to a journey where the customer is the hero, and your product is the trusty sidekick.
Other products may need more time to educate potential customers or users. Instead of product-led growth, there is a sales motion that drives revenue. Another homepage call-to-action could be to sign up for a weekly newsletter, download an industry report, or subscribe to the company podcast. In each example, the customer onboarding journey continues.
Testing Your Strategy: Is Your Homepage Up to Par?
To test your homepage content strategy, you must evaluate several key areas: comprehension, sentiment, and behaviors. You can use tools like Helio to gather data on how well visitors understand your landing page, their emotional response, and the actions they take as a result. Here’s how:
- Comprehension: Do They Get It? Ask test users to explain your product in their own words after visiting your homepage. Your message is clear if they can accurately articulate what your product does and the problems it solves. If not, it’s time to refine your content.
- Sentiment: How Do They Feel? Measure the emotional response. Are visitors excited, intrigued, or confused? Positive sentiment strongly predicts engagement and conversion, so adjust your content to evoke the right emotions.
- Behavior: What Are They Doing? Analyze visitor behavior. Are they clicking through to sign up? Are they exploring your site further? Behavior will tell you if your content is compelling enough to move them down the funnel.
Customer Onboarding Case Study: OpenAI
Crafting a landing page that enables a smooth customer onboarding journey is no small feat. That’s why we developed a survey template that can help structure your approach.
Using this landing page test template, you can measure participants’ reactions to your product at the earliest stage of their onboarding experience, like we did with OpenAI’s social media presence. OpenAI’s ChatGPT may seem like a powerhouse in the market, but there are still opportunities for the tech company to improve its user experience.
We decided to explore OpenAI’s customer onboarding strategy through a Helio test with an audience of marketing and design managers, user research designers, and UX designers. Here are some of the key takeaways:
Comprehension of social media messages was good, but could be better
Comprehension starts with understanding how potential customers receive your social media offers. OpenAI’s offer of an AI research tool was apparent, but some terms in their post confused participants. In our test, we prompted participants to imagine they saw this post in their social media feed:
Then, we asked, “How well do you understand what this post is offering?” More than 84% of participants responded they either understood the message very well or mostly understood OpenAI’s offer of an AI research tool, but some terms in their post confused participants.
“Seems like a job offer, but it could be about learning something new? Doesn’t say what I am applying for.”Helio Participant
Participants were most likely to navigate to the OpenAI homepage as a next step
When visitors follow through from a social link to your landing page, matching their expectations with relevant information is important.
OpenAI’s landing page seemed to match all participants’ expectations. After all, nearly 50% of respondents indicated they would explore the company’s homepage. However, it didn’t do a great job enticing visitors to search deeper into their site. Nearly 20% of visitors would leave the site after seeing the landing page. This learning can be used to reinforce the idea of updating this landing page to be more enticing to users.
Homepage behavior showed users weren’t ready to engage without learning more
We anticipated navigating to the homepage would be the most likely next step after the landing page, so we showed participants the OpenAI homepage and asked them what they would click on first. A click test showed 32% of visitors gravitated toward OpenAI’s ‘Learn More’ CTA in the hero section.
However, one of their other primary actions, ‘Try ChatGPT’ in the top nav, received very little attention (only 6% of clicks). This indicates that, despite interacting with 3 pieces of content from OpenAI, visitors still aren’t convinced enough to engage with the product without learning more.
OpenAI’s onboarding path provided compelling information, though it faltered somewhat regarding comprehension and follow-through from the homepage. A clearer message on their social media posts, and a stronger push for adoption rather than education on the homepage, may be the key to greater success.
See all the data from this Helio survey.
By incorporating this testing on elements like your homepage and landing pages, you can ensure smooth customer transitions from the earliest stages of their onboarding experience.
Additional Onboarding Activities to Consider Before Signup
Onboarding begins long before a user signs up, so it’s crucial to consider several elements that can shape the user’s journey and perception of your product or service. Here’s what to focus on during the pre-sign up phase of onboarding:
Educational content helps bring clarity to why your product is important, how it can be used, and what, specifically, it does.
- Awareness: Create educational content that increases awareness of the problems your product solves. Blog posts, whitepapers, social media posts, e-books, and webinars can provide value to potential users before they even consider signing up.
- Use Cases: Present case studies and examples related to your target audience. It helps prospects see how your product can fit into their workflow or solve their specific issues.
Social Proof and Trust Signals
Seeing social proof reduces buyer risk because it signals that because it worked for someone else, it could work for them, too. Social proof builds trust. Here are some examples of using social proof to strengthen your customer onboarding:
- Testimonials and Reviews: Share testimonials, user reviews, and stories to build credibility and trust with prospects.
- Certifications and Partnerships: Display any industry certifications, partnerships, or security badges to reassure visitors of the quality and reliability of your product.
Communities are powerful for companies because they can provide qualitative research and feedback on new ideas. Here are some examples of how you can use communities in your customer onboarding strategy:
- Forums and Groups: Foster a community around your product with forums, user groups, or social media communities where potential users can see how others engage with your product.
- Events and Meetups: Hosting events or meetups can introduce potential customers to your product and company culture in a more personal way.
Making Every Second Count in Your Customer Onboarding
Remember, the onboarding journey starts the moment prospects learn about your product. Your homepage should be a beacon, guiding them through the noise of the digital world straight to your product’s door. With a clear, targeted content strategy that prioritizes the user’s experience from discovery to sign-up, you’re not just selling a product but starting a relationship.
Get started today by analyzing your homepage through the lens of these strategies. Refine, test, and transform your customer onboarding journey into a pathway that leads to customer acquisition, loyalty, and growth.
When does the customer onboarding process start?
Some people claim the customer onboarding starts with a sign up. That’s false. The true starting point of customer onboarding happens when they discover your product. That’s why it’s critical to have an effective customer onboarding strategy.
How can businesses measure the success of their onboarding strategy?
Success can be measured through various metrics such as activation rate, time to first value, user engagement, retention rates, and feedback collected from customers about their onboarding experience.
How can businesses optimize their onboarding process for better results?
Optimizing involves continually reviewing and improving the onboarding process based on customer feedback, analytics, and industry best practices. It also includes simplifying steps, providing self-service options, and offering ongoing support.
How long should the onboarding process ideally be?
The duration of the onboarding process varies depending on the complexity of the product or service. It should be long enough to ensure users understand the basics but not too long to overwhelm them. Iterative, ongoing support after initial onboarding is also beneficial.
Challenges include information overload, lack of clarity in instructions, the complexity of the product or service, and ensuring a consistent experience across different channels or devices.