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7 user onboarding tools to increase customer activation, reduce churn

It’s exciting to see a lead convert into a user, but that doesn’t mean you’ve crossed the finish line just yet. If you don't get them to their ‘aha moment’ fast enough, you may see your new customer drop off just as quickly as they signed up. That’s where user onboarding tools can help. 

But user onboarding software is not one-size-fits-all, and for these tools to be effective, you first have to determine your goals and whether they relate more to onboarding support or product experience (PX) insights.

Last updated

11 Oct 2022

This article gives you a list of the seven best user onboarding tools, each with unique use cases, to help you give your users the best possible onboarding experience. Find exactly the right tool to get your customers to value quickermeaning delighted users and less churn.

See firsthand how your users experience onboarding

Use Hotjar to gain key insights into your users’ behavior and learn how you can make their onboarding experience better

7 best user onboarding software + tools for SaaS businesses

You need a selection of tools to help you onboard users, but the solution that’s right for you depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Do you need deeper product experience insights? Are you looking for help with email automation or video onboarding? Or do you want to perform A/B testing on your user onboarding flows?

Different types of customer onboarding software give you:

  • No-code user onboarding flows to help you map out a frictionless onboarding process

  • Product experience insights to get a better understanding of how your users experience their onboarding

  • Tooltips and tours to make it easier for users to learn about your product and adopt new features

  • Onboarding analytics to get a closer look at where exactly in the onboarding process users tend to experience friction and drop off

  • Customer support to give your users extra guidance when they need it

  • Video onboarding to provide visuals that help explain more complicated or advanced features to users

  • Email automation to automate onboarding email flows and get the right information to your users at the right time 

  • A/B testing to experiment on different aspects of your onboarding flow so you can optimize the process

Take a look at our recommendations for each of these types of user onboarding software tools so you can find the solution that fits your specific needs. 

1. Appcues for no-code user onboarding

Appcues is a simple, no-code solution that helps you increase customer activation and drive down churn rates.  

Appcues lets you create product tours, user onboarding checklists, and seamless onboarding flows without the need for in-depth coding knowledge or experience. You can also segment and target different user personas, so you know each user is getting exactly the experience they need. 

Imagine one user segment drops off at a more complex step in your onboarding process because it’s not relevant to them. Appcues lets you identify your product's friction point and customize the onboarding process for this customer segment, eliminating irrelevant information and leading them to value quicker. 

Use the Appcues analytics features to measure how quickly users reach their ‘aha moment’ and where they may be dropping off to optimize onboarding flows for each type of user. 

Appcues’ features include:

  • Product tours

  • Onboarding checklists

  • User segmentation

  • Onboarding analytics

  • An easy-to-use, no-code onboarding flow builder

#Appcues makes it simple to envision and design an intuitive onboarding flow, no coding knowledge required.
Appcues makes it simple to envision and design an intuitive onboarding flow, no coding knowledge required.

2. Hotjar for PX insights and user feedback

Hotjar (hi there👋) is a product experience insights tool that helps you truly optimize your user onboarding flow with quantitative and qualitative data that shows you how your users interact with your product as they’re getting to know it. Get important insights on Hotjar's Dashboard, which presents website metrics like page views alongside insights from session recordings and user feedback.

Understanding when and how your users get value from your product is crucial. Once you know that, you can work to reduce the time-to-value by removing any obstacles and unnecessary steps between your users and the benefits your product gives them.

Alessio Laiso
Senior Product Designer, Hotjar

Use Recordings to get a firsthand view of the way your users move through your onboarding flow. Identify if there’s a moment they tend to get stuck at, or if there are parts of the process that most users skip. 

Take a look at the way Hotjar Recordings helped one user make things easier for his customers and minimize friction: 

With Hotjar Recordings, I saw that people were just getting confused. It looked like there were too many steps in the process. We were asking people to do too much just to check out.

Andrew Haehn
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Materials Market

While this particular user runs an ecommerce business, the same could certainly be true for optimizing a SaaS onboarding process. Session recordings help you uncover whether your onboarding process has too many steps, or if one of its steps is too complicated. 

And to understand what your users really think of your onboarding process, use a Hotjar Feedback widget to get their real-time opinions about your product and how easy (or difficult) it is to use. It’s an excellent way to understand what your users like and don’t like about your product and onboarding flow. 

Hotjar’s features include: 

  • Real-time analytics

  • Session recordings

  • User segmentation

  • On-page contextual feedback

  • Page comparisons

  • Heatmaps

  • Surveys

  • Integrations that allow for A/B testing and deeper analytics

#Hotjar’s non-intrusive, collapsable feedback widget allows your users to share their thoughts on your onboarding process, only when they need to.
Hotjar’s non-intrusive, collapsable feedback widget allows your users to share their thoughts on your onboarding process, only when they need to.

3. Userflow for tooltips, tours, and onboarding analytics

Tooltips are valuable nuggets of information that guide users through onboarding, not unlike hints in a scavenger hunt. Userflow helps you create these helpful tooltips and comprehensive tours.

The software makes it easy to design intuitive user onboarding flows, implement a user onboarding checklist to track task completion, create in-app product guides, and include feature highlights to drive adoption. But one of Userflow's strongest points is its analytics capabilities

When it comes to analytics, Userflow shines, providing a visual representation of completion rates over time that can be used to refine the onboarding procedure. In addition to being able to select which events to record, you have access to version histories and no-code event tracking.

Joe Troyer
CEO and Growth Advisor, ReviewGrower

Let’s say your users keep dropping off during onboarding, but you don’t know when or why. Userflow’s analytics help you pinpoint which step in your onboarding process causes the most friction and user frustration so you can improve it. 

Userflow’s features include: 

  • Tooltips

  • Guides and product tours

  • Feature highlights

  • Onboarding checklists

  • Insights and statistics

  • Individual user tracking

  • Drop-off detection

#Userflow’s checklists help your users see the light at the end of the onboarding tunnel, and its analytics capabilities show you where they’re dropping off in the process.
Userflow’s checklists help your users see the light at the end of the onboarding tunnel, and its analytics capabilities show you where they’re dropping off in the process.

4. Zendesk for customer support

No matter how many resources you give them, it’s inevitable that, at some point, some of your users will reach a fork in the road: seek and receive guidance, or drop off and stop using your product. Make sure your users take the first path by providing them with strong customer support. Enter: Zendesk

Zendesk helps you guide users through their onboarding with convenient chat support. AI bots save your team time while still giving your users the option to speak with one of your representatives if they need to. Zendesk also lets you build a help center and community forum, so users can get immediate answers to their onboarding questions.

So, if a user gets stuck during the onboarding process and doesn't know how to use one of your key features, they can turn to your help center. If they don’t find their answer there, Zendesk lets them reach out and quickly find the help they need. 

Zendesk’s features include: 

  • Messaging across various channels

  • 24/7 chatbot support

  • Help center and community forum

  • A centralized workspace 

  • Proactive messaging 

#Use Zendesk to guide your users through the steps in their onboarding process.
Use Zendesk to guide your users through the steps in their onboarding process.

🔥Pro tip: use the Hotjar and Zendesk integration to cut your response time to customer feedback. Follow up quicker and keep your users happy throughout their onboarding process and beyond.

5. Wistia for video onboarding

One of the principle guidelines of storytelling is ‘Show, don’t tell’. Wistia helps you guide your users through their onboarding process by showing them exactly how your product can improve their lives. 

Video tutorials can be a key element of your user onboarding process, and they help create trust with users by putting a face to your business and product. Wistia lets you create and edit videos to demonstrate your product in action and get your users to their ‘aha moment’ quicker

Say you have a somewhat complicated feature that many users ignore during the onboarding stage and fail to adopt—use a video to better explain this feature and walk your users through it, in turn increasing feature adoption and customer engagement. 

Wistia lets you see where your users pause, rewind, and fast forward in your videos, so you can create content that’s even more valuable to their onboarding experience. 

Wistia’s features include: 

  • Seamless video creation and editing

  • Customizable branding

  • Closed captions

  • Video engagement tools

  • Video analytics

  • A/B testing

#Wistia gives you insights into which videos users watch and which they skip so you can give them more helpful content.
Wistia gives you insights into which videos users watch and which they skip so you can give them more helpful content.

6. Userlist for email automation

Userlist is an email automation tool designed specifically for SaaS brands, which makes it an excellent solution for your user onboarding needs.

Not only individual users, but entire corporate teams, can be onboarded with Userlist, which is a significant advantage not offered by any other service in its class…You are able to monitor user activity, divide users into groups, send emails and in-app notifications based on user behavior, and do much more with Userlist.

Lachlan de Crespigny
Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Revelo

Userlist lets you harness data about customer behavior to create onboarding campaigns that give your users the information they needjust when they need it. You can also customize messages and deactivate irrelevant messages, meaning your users won’t be bothered by messages they don’t want to see. 

Userlist lets you segment your users for optimized onboarding. Let’s say you have a variety of user profiles: individual users, small companies, and large organizations. Create different company segments, and see the progress of each of your users on a centralized dashboard. 

Userlist’s features include: 

  • Company accounts

  • Many-to-many relationships

  • Segmentation 

  • User management

#Design onboarding campaigns based on your users’ behavior and needs with Userlist so you know they’re getting guidance at the right time (without crowding their inbox).
Design onboarding campaigns based on your users’ behavior and needs with Userlist so you know they’re getting guidance at the right time (without crowding their inbox).

7. Optimizely for A/B testing

If you want to know what’s working (and what isn’t) in your user onboarding flow, use Optimizely to carry out A/B testing and get actionable quantitative insights to improve your onboarding experience.

For example, if you can’t decide whether a certain tooltip in your user onboarding is helpful, set up a test to run multiple experiments on the same pageone version with the tooltip, one without, and one with an alternative tooltip. This lets you see which users are more likely to continue their onboarding and which are more prone to drop off, depending on the different versions of that page. 

Optimizely also lets you run A/B testing when you roll out new features, so you can discover if the way you present these updates is helpful or confusing to users. 

Optimizely’s features include:

  • A/B testing

  • Split testing

  • Multivariate testing

  • Data visualization

  • Performance metrics

  • Statistical analysis

#Just like you would use A/B testing to try out different CTAs on your website, you can use Optimizely to test different aspects of your user onboarding flow.
Just like you would use A/B testing to try out different CTAs on your website, you can use Optimizely to test different aspects of your user onboarding flow.

Pro tip: use Hotjar with Optimizely for data-guided decision making. This integration allows you to dig deeper into the user experience with session recordings and feedback, helping you further understand the results of your split testing. 

Get your users to value quicker with the right user onboarding tools

Creating a user onboarding flow is easier with a powerful toolkit: when you get help from user onboarding software, you can build a process that brings your customers to value fast. 

So, when you create a user onboarding flow, identify your goals and user pain points, and use software solutions to get your users to move smoothly through the onboarding process and activate quicker. 

See firsthand how your users experience onboarding

Use Hotjar to gain key insights into your users’ behavior and learn how you can make their onboarding experience better.

FAQs about user onboarding software