How To Build And Optimize An Onboarding Funnel

Using Woopra - April 10th, 2013 by Natalie Issa.

Funnel AnalyticsThe onboarding funnel is one of the key analytics reports for any SaaS company. It allows you to identify areas of friction in your onboarding process and ultimately optimize your conversion rates.

However, in order to see this value, you must build your Funnel Analytics report correctly so that it provides the right insights for your team. Below we evaluate four steps to doing just that.

1. Track key onboarding milestones

The first and most crucial step for building your funnel is to track your key onboarding milestones. These milestones will make up the goals in your funnel, enabling you to see the conversion rate between each step.

If you’re not sure what to track, consider the steps every customer must take in order to start using your product (and also stay tuned for future posts on what to track for SaaS companies).

For example, Pinterest would want to track the following onboarding milestones:

  1. Click sign up button on homepage
  2. Complete sign up form
  3. Complete “follow 5 boards” prompt
  4. Pin first item

Pinterest Example

These are just the big milestones, but the more granular you get with your milestones, the more insight you’ll have. For example, step 3 above may be broken down further. Perhaps customers follow one board, but don’t receive any sort of confirmation message, then get confused and give up. Sometimes lost conversions can be attributed to a small step or confusing layout that you may have overlooked.

2. Identify the major drop offs

Now that you’ve set up your funnel, you need to spot your problem areas. Funnel analysis is built precisely to help you do just this.

In the fictional example screenshot below, we see the lowest conversion rate at the “Follow 5 Boards” step:

Pinterest Onboarding Funnel Example

With a conversion rate under 20%, compared to 83% and 39.4% at the other goals, this is clearly our user onboarding problem area.

3. Optimize the problem areas

Identifying the problem areas clearly isn’t enough. You need to understand the cause and fix it.

In some situations the cause of the problem is obvious, such as a step that requires quite a bit of time for a user to complete. However, there are often situations where you can’t understand what is causing users trouble. This is where granularity becomes very helpful as it helps you avoid overlooking something that may be intuitive to you, but confusing from the user’s perspective.

Sometimes even going so far as to split up one step into two or more can help you diagnose the cause of a problem. For example, if you notice many users begin filling out your signup form, but then abandon it, you may want to separate the different sections of the form into several pages in order to see which section is causing users trouble. You may very well find that it is the requirement to add credit card information to start a free trial that is causing users to abandon.

There are many methods you can follow to fix a problem area, but of course it will depend on the exact situation. Below we’ll explore a few examples that have been proven to work for Woopra clients.

Marketing Automation

Many Woopra clients use marketing automation to re-engage users who fail to complete a key onboarding milestone. For example, by integrating Woopra with their marketing automation system, a SaaS accounting product is able to automatically email new users who sign up but don’t add their bank accounts to the accounting application.

Email Marketing Example

Hide Product From New Users

A SaaS group chat product for businesses hides all the features when users sign up for a free trial and displays only a window prompting the user to invite their colleagues. There is no way their users will get any value out of their product if they fail to invite colleagues, so it makes sense for this company to block out everything else until this milestone is complete, thus improving their onboarding conversions.

In-App Tool Tips

A SaaS product offering A/B testing identified a large drop-off at their “set up first A/B test” milestone. To help guide users through the process, they incorporated in-app tool tips.

4. Hone in on key customer segments

It should come as no surprise that different customer segments may have varying conversion rates through your funnel.

For example, users coming from larger companies may have a harder time completing a certain milestone if it requires them to gain access or approval from other departments. This is especially true for products that are used by non-technical departments, such as marketing, but require implementation by a technical team.

Retargeting products require you to put a snippet of code on your website so that people who visit your site will be shown your company’s ads on other websites once they leave, thus keeping your brand fresh in their mind.

While retargeting products are used by marketers, they require site administrators to implement the code. For startups and smaller businesses, this is generally done much more easily and faster than for larger corporations. Consequently, a SaaS retargeting company saw much higher conversion rates for its small business segment than for its enterprise segment, which usually required much more direct involvement from a salesperson.

Many customer segments will behave differently when moving through your funnel. It’s important to analyze each one – especially your key segments – in order to understand the full picture.

Optimizing Your Funnel

Share your onboarding optimization experience below. Or, for assistance building your funnel, contact our support team at support@woopra.com.

Disclaimer: Some of the examples above reflect stories from Woopra clients and have been included with the consent of those clients. Others are fictional examples used purely for illustrative purposes.

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