7 Steps to the Ultimate Mobile App Onboarding Strategy

It’s a cliché, but you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. In business – regardless of your industry – your mobile user onboarding strategy is key to providing a great first brand touchpoint.

Apple’s saying ‘There’s an app for that’ points to the reason why mobile app user retention is so difficult. There are millions of different apps, that do millions of different things, so you need to convince your users that your app is the best for their needs.

A clear, focused and engaging mobile user onboarding strategy can help with this. In this article, we’re going to break down the ultimate mobile app onboarding strategy into 7 simple steps:

Here’s what we’ll cover:

1. Create a simple sign-up form

As you probably know, mobile user onboarding begins with gathering the customer’s information. And, while it would be great for you to find out everything about your new customer – from their age to their income – most people won’t tolerate this.

People want signing up to be as easy and quick as possible, while also sharing as little personal information as possible.

Here’s an example from the social media management company, Hootsuite:

Note that the above sign up screen doesn’t ask the user for a long list of details. Instead, with the click of a button, users can sign up with their existing accounts. Giving customers this option makes it easy for them to continue through your onboarding process and has been proven to increase sign up rates by at least 8.5%.

When users sign up, it is also important to ask them for their preferred communication channel. This is because consumers today use an average of almost six different touch points, with 50% regularly using more than four.

And, in order to create a seamless customer experience, you need to make sure you’re available on all of them.

2. Send a timely welcome message

Soon after a user starts their mobile onboarding journey with you, you should greet them with a welcome message. Very soon, in fact! According to a recent study, 74% of people expect to receive a welcome message immediately after subscribing.

Your welcome message acts as a friendly, first touchpoint and allows you to showcase more of your brand personality. As mentioned above, more and more customers prefer an omnichannel approach to messaging, so it is important to send your welcome message to the channel they use most.

58% of millennials say that email is their preferred way to be contacted by a brand, and so a lot of companies send their welcome messages via email (and then move onto different communication channels further into the relationship).

Here’s an example of a straight-forward welcome message from the banking app, Monzo:

This simple message doesn’t ask too much of the new customer, it just invites them to record a short video to verify their identity. This is definitely not what you would expect from a banking app, and nor are the colorful illustrations – but customers are looking for this kind of helpful ‘disrupt-ivity’, especially from new apps.

If you’re sending a welcome email, in addition to an in-app welcome message, it’s really important to make a great first impression because the open rate is, on average, 50% – making them 85% more effective than standard newsletters.

3. Provide a clear tutorial

It’s important to offer your users a tutorial that shows them how to get the most out of your app. This should pop up when they log in for the very first time – but it should also be skippable. Not all customers will feel as though they need it, and by making it mandatory you could lose them before your relationship even starts!

Video tutorials are also great for engagement. Take a look at this video by Uber that covers the features of their app for new drivers.

Studies have shown that 72% of people prefer using video to learn about a product or service, so a video tutorial is a good way to help customers feel more comfortable with your app – and ensure they get the most from it!

4. Tailor the experience

After users have completed the tutorial, give them the opportunity to personalize their experience by answering some questions.The meditation app, Headspace, does this to create a tailored meditation routine for new users:

Tailoring experiences like this will make it easier for users to slot your app into their daily routine and make it a part of their lives – increasing the chance of retention!

5. Go beyond incentives

Once customers have been properly introduced to your company with a warm welcome and a clear tutorial, you need to increase loyalty by offering discounts, gifts, and a little bit more of an incentive for them to start using your app.

This doesn’t need to be a big gesture. A small offer will help to get the ball rolling:

Alternatively, go for a grand gesture, like this offer:

This big price discount for a limited time only could evoke a sense of urgency among customers and encourage them to make a purchase. Emails conveying a sense of urgency are reported to have 14% higher open rates and 59% higher click-through rates than standard marketing emails.

However, it’s important to note that there is a thin line between useful information and spam. You should segment your audience and send them personalized information so that none of your customers receive information that is not relevant to them.

Personalized offers are proven to increase loyalty, with 50% of customers agreeing that they would be more likely to purchase again from a company that presented them with personalized offers.

6. Ask for feedback

If people have downloaded your app but aren’t using it, touch base and ask them how you can help.

It’s important that you don’t do this too soon because the consumer may feel overwhelmed if they receive too many messages from you at once. However, if a customer has been dormant for a little while and they’re simply stuck in your funnel, send them a message that asks for feedback. Here’s an example:

You can also ask for feedback from customers who have been engaging with the app. This will help you to find out what your customers like so you can do more of it to impress them in the future. Here’s an example:

Gathering feedback will help you to determine your Net Promoter Score (NPS) which is an excellent barometer of customer satisfaction.

7. Gather and analyze data

When you collect feedback from your customers, you are gathering data that you can use to improve your future messaging efforts. Along with feedback, there are many other data points that you can track in order to create the ultimate mobile user onboarding strategy.

A great place to start is studying the open-rates and click-through rates of your welcome messages. If the rates are lower than you would expect, then this is a sign that you should update your welcome message to evoke more of a response from customers.

To do this, you should A/B test different versions of your welcome message to see what works best. A/B testing is simply the process of creating different iterations of the same message (or whatever you are specifically looking to test) to find out which one performs better. Take a look at these examples…

Version A (with an image):

Version B (without an image):

After a test period, you can measure the success of each version to see which performed best. You can then roll this version out the rest of your customers.

You should be continuously collecting data in the background so that you can build a solid customer knowledge base that informs you of your customers’ likes, their dislikes, how they like to be communicated with, and when. This is vital for creating an amazing customer experience – something that’s becoming increasingly important to customers. According to a Salesforce study, 78% of millennial customers have moved their business elsewhere after just one poor customer service experience.

Optimizing your mobile user onboarding

Creating a clearly defined mobile user onboarding strategy is the first step towards ensuring your app has a special place on your customers’ home screens. It also helps you nurture new leads, turning them into loyal customers that return to do business with your company time and time again. To find out more about how to delight your customers, download our free eBook: The Ultimate Guide on Messaging.

Jun 5th, 2019
6 min read