How to turn your free trials into paying customers, onboard them to your product effortlessly.

Sharon Oni
Jul 8 - 5 min read

If you think about the customer journey, it starts with you & your team working hard to make the product a success, they’re focused on methods to constantly acquire new customers, developing new features… you find that something isn’t working so well, you’re not getting any new customers, you’re not retaining your new sign-ups & too many free trials aren’t converting into paid accounts.

User onboarding shouldn’t just exist when someone signs up to use your product. Many startup owners fall into the trap of only considering onboarding as part of the user sign up process. Your user onboarding should consider the fine lines of the customer journey, it should be considered as a long term strategy and you should be guiding your users to completing steps within your web-app, which would give them every reason to stay and to want to activate premium features.

These are some things that you could use to optimize your onboarding flow.

Video onboarding

Video can explain complex ideas quickly and easily, add the human touch, alleviates effort, and frustration associated with lots of text and users’ attention span even 97% of people think that video is an effective tool to welcome and educate new customers. Wyzowl.

Wistia does this really well, you can watch a video while you wait for your first project to upload, Wistia also prepares a video for you to experiment with if you haven’t got one to use there and then.

Wistia’s video onboarding

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This allows a new user to quickly become an activated user. They are less likely to leave your app if they have a project in progress and they are more likely to finish the project or, come back with their own video to work on, either way, they will become familiar with the main features of Wistia and qualify whether it meets their needs.

They may enjoy using the free features initially and they find it makes their everyday lives easier so they may choose to unlock premium features thus upgrading their accounts.

Web Overlays

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Product Tours

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Feature Tours

Outlook’s new feature tour

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To do’s/ checklists

Outlook’s Todlist for user activation action

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Notifications and prompts

Notifications and prompts help to bring users back to your site if they get distracted on other tabs.

Customer success manager

Adding the human touch to the onboarding process and keeping regular contact with key accounts and to perform personalised demos (this is industry-specific and CSM are not for all SaaS this is entirely dependant on the growth stage of your company)ie. if you are a start-up with 3 members on board then chances are that you will be doing the customer onboarding.

Each process you include in your flow is getting your customer closer to activation.

Obviously, if you have a product aimed at developers and super technical people onboarding may be a little different, companies shouldn't take a one size fits all approach.

Why onboarding is important for SaaS products

Users are constantly finding new value in products they use every day, which helps them make their lives a little bit more simple.

Our customers can drop off at any point through this journey into the pit of never returning to use your product. This is what is called customer churn.

The better your onboarding flow the smarter your users are with using your product & the better you’ re guiding your users into discovering the true value of your product thus increasing the longevity of each paying customer.

A lot of wasted opportunities occur when people who would have used your product and would have actually gotten a lot of value out of it churn, but because they didn’t understand the product quickly enough, and were unsure what to do next to get them, to their desired results fast so, they went away with a bad impression…

So how do we make it simple?

If your user experience that contains too many steps, too many pop-up modals this makes indecisive users overwhelmed.

To Summarise the ways you could improve your customer onboarding flow, retain your new and current users,

1.Make it clear what action specifically do you want them to do to achieve the main value from your product at the earliest stage do you want them to add a project, start a course, submit a receipt, build a team? These are examples of activities that can activate a user.

2.Include a competitive element to completing these steps ie. points, leader boards and so much more.

3.Achieve viral growth

Not sure how or where to start? Get in touch with me


Prefer to watch instead? Here’s a video made summarizing these points.

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