Great news: People have discovered your website and signed up for your free software as a service (SaaS) trial. However, you find that many of them use your product once and never come back, and you essentially dug a hole in your pocket in the process of acquiring these users. In fact, the median annual churn rate for SaaS companies ranges of 8.5% for private SaaS companies making more than $10 million per year to 60% for some startups.

You can never retain all of your customers and control all of the reasons that cause them to leave. Fortunately, there are plenty of reasons that are in your control and that you can affect through a robust customer onboarding flow and a compelling first-time experience.

Let’s look at how SaaS companies can streamline their customer onboarding process to increase acquisition and lower churn rates.

Step 1: Choose the Right Tools

You know something is vital to your company’s growth when there’s an entire industry built around it, which is the case with a good customer onboarding process. Before creating a strategy, though, it’s important to learn about the tools available to support your strategy: the ones that will help you set up, implement and monitor your customer onboarding process. Here are some that are worth checking out:

Product Tours

It’s natural for you to think your product is easy to set up and understand, but that’s not always the case. Even if your product is fairly easy to use, it never hurts to show new customers what it can do.

Product tours have swiftly become one of the most widespread customer onboarding tools for SaaS businesses. They make it easy for users to get to know the ins and outs of your offering without having to schedule complete demos. They can also be an excellent way to amplify user engagement and ensure that customers can extract more meaning out of your offering.

Customer Messaging

When you’re onboarding clients, communication is a critical element that can make or break the deal. Be with them throughout the process to make sure they receive answers to their questions right away and that they don’t feel lost or confused.

Customer messaging tools enable you to send a series of emails to users throughout their entire onboarding experience. By leveraging this feature, you can help customers start the setup process and become better acquainted with the  product.

Help Desk

Once your customers start learning how to use your product, they will have questions. Unless you want to have your team spend all day answering these questions, consider using help desk software. Ideally, you want one that includes a knowledge base where users can go to find answers to common queries and a support system, so that your company’s inbox isn’t flooded with support emails. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available for this purpose on the market today.

Step 2: Create a SaaS Customer Onboarding Process That Works

Now that you have a good overview of the tools you can use to support your customer onboarding strategy, it’s time to learn how to set up your process. Of course, not all SaaS companies onboard customers the same way — but if you can nail these five elements, you’ll have a winning recipe for an exceptional customer onboarding experience.


Some people may argue that onboarding doesn’t begin until after a user signs up. However, your sign-up process is a golden opportunity to begin on the right foot. Immediately after signing up, users at many SaaS companies are directed to the dashboard or main screen of the application or to a generic thank-you page. However, this tactic is only forcing users to wander around the website aimlessly.

The workaround is simple: Immediately after they sign up (or within the sign-up process itself), guide users through the setup process. This approach enables you to understand who your customers are and to personalize the experience for them.

Welcome Email

Another important component to include within your onboarding strategy is a welcome email, which should go to users immediately after they sign up. This email should push them back to your product.

This step is particularly important if you don’t have an in-app welcome sequence in place. The message should focus on making new users feel like they’re part of a growing community. Try including a few of your company’s achievements and customer stories (without being too pushy, of course).

First Login

Even if you think your product is intuitive, you shouldn’t assume everyone will be able to jump in and use it correctly the first time. During customer onboarding, be a “tour guide” for your product when users first log in, using a product tour or a video walk-through.

Support Center

Documentation is one of the best ways to let customers find support for any questions they might have. The more thorough and detailed your product documentation is, the less time your customer support team will spend answering the same questions over and over.

Every SaaS company should have a help center of some sort where customers can find answers to the most frequently asked questions about your product. However, a knowledge base isn’t useful if users can’t find it; display it somewhere on your home screen, or make it easy to find.

Workshops and Webinars

Different people like to learn in different ways. Some like to watch videos, while others like to read articles and others prefer audio content. The same applies to customer onboarding. Some of your users will prefer watching a three-minute overview of your product, while others will want to dive in and learn as they go. Some will want read through the help desk articles on your site, and others will look for workshops or webinars. For customers who prefer to be onboarded by watching experts walk through and discuss products, webinars are a great option. They can also build community, if your webinar is live.

Once you determine how you want to conduct your workshops or webinars, the next step is promoting them, which you can do that via newsletters and emails. Make sure to follow up after a webinar or workshop, especially after a customer has signed up for and used your product.

After a month or so, a lot of companies assume that customers have a good grasp of the product and will reach out if they have any issues. But in the SaaS business, it doesn’t pay to be passive. Reach out to customers throughout their time with you to check in and keep the onboarding process going. Patience, determination and a team effort will bring more business your way!