What is SaaS Onboarding? 7 Best Practices For Seamless Onboarding [2022]

September 5, 2022
Ammar Mazhar
What is SaaS Onboarding? 7 Best Practices For Seamless Onboarding [2022]

Table of contents

“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” In the sense of user onboarding, this quote is true. Assuming that your user “might” can navigate through your apps and find value in them on their own is, safe to say, not the correct assumption.

Therefore, it is essential to have a SaaS onboarding process in place to guide new users on how to use your product effectively. When onboarding a user, the product's inherent value should be at the front and center of the onboarding process. This value or the “Aha” moment is what you should focus on providing to your user. 

In this blog, we will describe in detail what SaaS onboarding is, why it is essential, and the best practices you can adhere to ensure your users have a smooth onboarding experience.

What is SaaS onboarding?

SaaS onboarding is helping new product users to see the product's value at the start of their user journey. The absence of an onboarding process can increase the churn rate. SaaS companies lose about 75% of their users without effective onboarding in the first week. 

Hence, a robust SaaS onboarding process is vital for product-led companies to ensure that their users don’t churn.

Why is SaaS onboarding important?

Apart from checking the churn rate, users have pain points that can be more effectively resolved at the start of their journeys. No matter how perfect your product is, acclimatizing the user to the product is still a matter of issue. Here are five reasons why SaaS onboarding is essential:

Why is SaaS onboarding important?

1. Easier product adoption by users

A highly effective SaaS onboarding process can guide the user to quicker product adoption. It can then translate into the reduced churn and higher retention rates, which can be favorable for long-term growth and earning potential.

2. Instills confidence in users

A new user needs to be handheld and guided through your product's various features, and an onboarding process can provide a clear road map. With each task users check off, they can gain confidence and comfort with your product and become self-sufficient in resolving their pain points.

3. Reduced need for customer support

An onboarding process can help save SaaS companies the money and time they spend on customer support. When done correctly, onboarding answers the questions before they are asked and increases the engagement rate with the product. 63% of users say that the level of support they receive during their onboarding is a primary consideration in whether or not they adopt the product.

4. Increases user value

Users who find value in your product become loyal customers. They become a proponent of your product, write favorable reviews, and recommend it at no additional cost to the company.

5. Elevated growth potential

SaaS businesses can elevate their growth potential if they make the right moves and provide a seamless onboarding experience to their new users.

3 Signs your SaaS onboarding needs improvement

Onboarding flows are considered crucial by as many as 63% of users before they make a purchase. As onboarding flows are critical for a SaaS company's growth, specific user behavior can alert you to the need to improve the onboarding flow. Here are three signs that can indicate that your onboarding flows need improvement:

1. Users aren’t completing their sign up

If the users aren’t completing their sign-up on time, they will reach the Time-to-value later, and probably, some of them might never reach it and churn. Hence, measure the Time-to-value of users to see if they are completing their sign-ups. If the TTV is long, then this can indicate that onboarding improvements have become indispensable.

2. Users not upgrading to a paid account

The role of an effective onboarding process doesn’t end at the customer signing up for a free trial. SaaS companies must understand that users can continue to find value in a product during their free trial; this is where the customer onboarding experience matters a lot. 

The terms and conditions of your free trial matter a lot. Access to advanced features during the free trial can help some customers see your product's value and tell them how these features address all their pain points and improve their lives. These small changes can ensure that customers upgrade to a paying account.

3. High customer acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is also a great metric to know if your onboarding flows are working or not. A lower CAC indicates that your onboarding process doesn’t require any changes, while the opposite can imply that it can do better with some modifications. 

SaaS onboarding metrics to measure

To improve your customer onboarding experience, you need to measure metrics that can give a holistic view of what’s going on with your product adoption. Important onboarding metrics that you can measure include:

  • User login frequency
  • Time per session
  • The feature they use the most (and those they don’t)

You can dive deeper into the following metrics using the above as data points:

SaaS onboarding metrics to measure

1. Completion rate & time

The completion rate is the number of people who complete their signup process. If this number is low, then it can indicate that a low number of people are completing the signup. Concerning the low completion rate, completion time will be high, indicating an overly complex signup process.

2. Usage time 

After the user has been onboarded, the following metric to measure is the usage time. Usage time is the time that a user spends using the application. A lower usage time means that the user isn’t deriving any benefit from the application. To get the user back on track, simply send an in-app notification or a check-in email. Also, restate your value proposition and inquire about any pain points causing the user to disengage from the application.

3. Daily active users

Daily active users are the total number of users who use your application daily. This number of users, if growing, can indicate a working onboarding process. On the other hand, if the number is declining, then users are not finding your app easy to use or cannot see its benefit.

4. Churn rate

The churn rate is the percentage of people who opt out of using your app. There can be many reasons for users churning; one is an ineffective user onboarding experience.

5. Time to Value

The time to value of a SaaS product is the time users take to find the inherent value in the product. Onboarding plays a critical role in keeping the time to value short. A short and effective SaaS onboarding can ensure that users achieve value sooner without being overwhelmed by the information they don’t need immediately.

SaaS onboarding checklist

A checklist is a great way to create an effective onboarding process. But “effective” onboarding is a relative term, and certain metrics and items are relevant for one application. But here is a checklist that can cater to almost all apps.

SaaS onboarding checklist

1. Keep the process simple

Not everyone has knowledge or experience with your product. Therefore, a prudent approach is to keep things simple and allow the users with zero experience and knowledge to use your product without hesitation.

2. Make use of progress bars

A progress bar can help users keep track of their onboarding progress. This way, they can see how much of the onboarding process is left. Also another benefit of having a progression bar is that it can reveal how simple or complex your onboarding process is, thus, allowing you to make improvements in the latter case.

If users want to exit and continue their onboarding process later, then ensure that users can save their progress and carry on at a later time.

3. Supporting documentation 

Although online manuals have long been outdated as the primary source of education for users, they are still relevant in case users want to know more about the functionality of your app or certain features. Hence, provide onboarding users with supporting documentation on various features of your product.

4. Achievable tasks

Overwhelming your users with complicated details about your product, especially during the onboarding process, is a big no. Instead, break the steps needed to be taken by users to complete tasks and achieve goals into bite-sized chunks and simple tasks that the users can achieve at their convenience.

5. Provide customer support assistance

Still, after making the onboarding process as simple as possible, your users can find it challenging to complete the onboarding. So,  ensure that they have someone they can reach out to. Put easy access to your support and links to the help center on relevant pages and interfaces.

7 Best practices for streamlining your SaaS onboarding experience

You want a streamlined SaaS onboarding process without obstacles as a product manager. So, we have compiled a list of the seven best practices that can help you achieve your goal:

7 Best practices for streamlining your SaaS onboarding experience

1. Minimize friction during signup

Form fields that aren’t necessary to your signup process must not be included. It can frustrate the user and create unnecessary hindrances in your onboarding process. Therefore, the less friction your users experience, the more chances are they will complete their onboarding. 

However, some friction is acceptable in onboarding flows of highly complex SaaS products because they require many technical setups and help from customer success teams. 

2. Welcome them with micro surveys

After the signup process, don’t forget to welcome new users. The welcome screen can be your opportunity to segment users based on what they want to achieve with your product. Use micro surveys and ask questions from your users. Based on your answers, you can create different user journeys from the start and significantly reduce your users’ time to value through a one-size-fits-all onboarding flow.

3. Offer personalized workflows

Alongside welcome screen micro surveys, you can create more segments based on user attributes, specific user personas, user cases, and in-app user behavior. It will allow you to create more personalized workflows per each user's preference.

4. Use UI elements to guide the users

A great user experience (UX) is fundamental to any successful SaaS onboarding experience. UI patterns can help in guiding the users through the onboarding process. Elements such as welcome screens, progress bars, tooltips, hotspots, and checklists are used to give users a fun and engaging onboarding experience.

5. Give users interactive walkthroughs

Interactive walkthroughs require users to complete a task to move on to the next one. Compared to a multi-step product tour where the user will not remember anything after some time, interactive walkthroughs can guide users better because they will remain engaged throughout their sessions.

6. Your SaaS onboarding flow should be self-serve

Without waiting for a customer success manager to guide them, your users should be able to get through your onboarding flows. An in-app help center can help the users as it will allow them to access all the onboarding documentation by keyword and improve their user experience.

Canva’s help center is the best example of what we just advised above. Users can search topics by keyword, click on the icons below, and go to the help page they want.

Canva's help center example

7. Iterate, test, and optimize

There is no ideal onboarding flow that caters to all users. Hence, it’s prudent to create multiple iterations of your onboarding flows for different user personas and continuously test them against each other to see which ones perform the best. Optimize the best-performing ones by making the necessary changes.

6 Examples of SaaS onboarding

If you are still confused regarding how to go about building an effective SaaS onboarding process for your user, then these six examples might inspire you to create your great onboarding process.


Trello is a Kanban-style application that helps teams and project managers to make lists of tasks associated with completing a project. Here’s how Trello onboards its users:

The homepage of Trello is fairly easy to navigate. On the upper right-hand corner, you can see the CTA “Get Trello for free.” This CTA takes you to a signup page. The signup process isn’t overwhelming, and new users can set up their accounts easily. 

Trello's hompage
Trello's sign-up page

When you complete your sign-up, you will see an onboarding task list appear that you have to complete to get started with Trello. These tasks include adding a board to your workspace, adding powerups to your board like Jira and Google Drive, and setting your workspace’s visibility and permissions.

Trello's onboarding checklist

One of the tasks you have to complete is inviting members to be a part of your board. However, each member you add to your boards will be added to your billing.

Adding members to your Trello workspace

You will be then guided through to your workspace, where you can start completing the task on your onboarding checklist.

Workspace in Trello


Notion is a note-taking and project management software that allows users to coordinate between teams on objectives and assignments and set project deadlines. Notion has an incredibly smooth and easy onboarding process. Here’s how:

You can get started for free with Notion by clicking on the CTA “Try Notion Free” on the homepage of their website.

Notion's homepage

After the signup process, you will see a micro survey asking you to tell about yourself so that Notion can customize your experience. 

Get started micro survey from Notion

Subsequently, Notion will ask you whether you want to use the product for your team or individual use so that Notion can customize the experience as per your choice. You are then asked to invite members to join your team on Notion.

Notion asks you about whether you want to use the product for individual use or with a team

After you have submitted all your responses and invited team members to join your team, you are then taken to a dashboard where a tooltip will unfurl, informing you of workflow templates you can use to get started. 

Temamate invitation : Notion
Template tooltip unfurls at the start

Moreover, you will see a “get started” list that includes all the things you can do to create, edit, and modify your workflows.

Notion's "Getting Started" list

Not only that, Notion provides you with videos on how to start writing and editing your workflows and about other features as well.

Video tutorials from Notion


Calendly is a meeting scheduling software that teams use for external meetings. Calendly also has an easy and quick onboarding process. Thus, Calendly users' TTV is short. Here’s how it happens:

The Calendly homepage is super simple to navigate, and users can sign-up in no time by clicking on the “Get started” CTA or entering their email address in the “Sign Up” form field.

Calendly's homepage

Once you are signed up, you will see a form field where you can set your availability by choosing the time of day and days of the week. 

Set your availability during your onboarding

You will then move on to the next part, where you have to fill out a micro survey that asks about your position in your organization. This will help Calendly provide you with a tailored experience.

Personalize your experience in Calendly

In the Calendly dashboard, you will see on the right-hand side a list of tasks you have to complete to complete your onboarding. 

Your dashboard in Calenndly


AppFlows is a low-code email automation tool that SaaS companies can use to create customized email workflows and intercept users at any step of their journey. The onboarding process of AppFlows is straightforward:

After you sign up, you have to integrate AppFlows with your app. At the start of your onboarding, you can choose whether you want to integrate AppFlows with a web or mobile application.

Choose the App you want to integrate with AppFlows

After choosing which application you want to integrate, you move on to the next step. You will see a form that asks you to tell AppFlows more about your business. The fields in the form include the name of your product, your name, your role in your company, your website’s URL (in case of a web application,) and your phone number.

Business info form

In the next step, you have to get your engineers involved. SaaS companies need users to complete events such as registration completion, onboarding completion, and subscription upgrades to send automated emails. So, AppFlows can email the links to your engineering team, which they can then incorporate into their code base.

Send links of the events you want to your engineering team
Add the email address of your engineering team

Finally, you need to have API keys and site id combinations to send events to AppFlows so that they can run the correct automation. AppFlows provides you with both an API key and a site id which you must keep confidential. And with that, you are onboarded onto AppFlows.

API keys and Site id combination


Zoom is a videotelephony software that allows 100 users to communicate with each other, and each meeting has a time limit of 40 minutes. With a simple onboarding process, millions of users can now communicate with clients, team members, and students.

You can sign up for free at the homepage of Zoom’s website by clicking on the “Sign Up Free” CTA. 

Zoom's homepage

After completing your sign-up process, you are redirected to your dashboard, where you will be greeted with a get-started list. The tasks in the list include downloading the Zoom app and checking your device's audio and video output. Above the message, you can see a progress bar that tracks your progress. 

Your dashboard in Zoom

Zoom offers pieces of training and webinars to help guide users through their product. Below the onboarding checklist in your dashboard, you can see the pieces of training that you can become a part of. On the right-hand side, all the learning resources of Zoom are listed.

Pieces of training & webinars


With a straightforward onboarding customer onboarding process, Canva has fast become a leading SaaS product in the world. Here’s how it onboards users:

From the Canva homepage, you can signup for a monthly or yearly subscription by clicking the “Sign up” CTA. 

Canva's homepage

Next, Canva asks you for what purpose you will be using the product. This way, they can provide custom templates to particular users. You can use Canva for personal use, for your company, as a teacher, as a student, and for many other purposes. 

Select your purpose for using Canva

If you want to add members to your team, then Canva asks you to invite your team members during your onboarding process.

Invite your team members

After completing your onboarding process, you can start using Canva to create unique designs. 

Improve your SaaS onboarding experience with AppFlows!

SaaS onboarding needs to be well-planned for it to work. A long, complex, and dull onboarding process can frustrate your users and lead them to churn and never return. 

Build your onboarding process around your most important features. Reduce unnecessary friction in the signup process. And guide the users with fun and interactive walkthroughs so that they quickly realize the value of your product.


How long does onboarding last?

SaaS onboarding depends on the complexity of your product. The onboarding process of a self-serve product can last a day or less. In contrast, a high-touch product’s onboarding can last up to a week.

How can you improve your SaaS onboarding experience?

You can improve your SaaS onboarding experience by designing your onboarding process on the experience of real users.

What is the difference between user onboarding and customer onboarding?

User onboarding is about familiarizing the user with the features and benefits of your product. In comparison, customer onboarding is more about relationship building and helping customers understand the product’s value and build loyalty.

Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

Ammar Mazhar

Content writer by day and a book nerd by night, Ammar Mazhar has been writing for 3 years for B2B and B2C businesses. As a wordsmith, Ammar knows how to write SEO-optimized content that your users will find insightful, igniting results for your business.

Related Articles

Ready to get started?

Unlock unparalleled growth with powerful user journey mapping