successful customer onboarding strategy

Successful customer onboarding strategy

AUTHOR: Kenda Macdonald

As a dedicated consultant, I specialise in elevating businesses through top-tier consultancy, fueled by a deep understanding of buyer psychology cultivated over years of experience. My expertise lies in crafting marketing and sales strategies that propel businesses to new heights by leveraging insights into the buyer brain. As a bestselling author, public speaker, and strategist, my passion for decoding human behavior drives me to innovate and deliver unparalleled results. I've designed a methodology adaptable for all types of businesses, ensuring transformative customer journeys and experiences.

Customer onboarding is one of the easiest ways to ensure you have happy consumers that come back for repeat purchases.

That repeat purchase is what we’re all chasing as business owners - happy customers that want more!

Onboarding helps you achieve this in a simple and efficient way. It works by helping your clients and customers finish the end stages of consumption cycle:

1.  Prove

You help them prove to themselves that they made the right choice

2. Own

You help them own their product or service

3. Enjoy

You help them enjoy what they have just invested in

If you manage to get a successful transition through these 3 steps, you’ll have a happy customer that is ready for more.

In this blog we’ll walk through what customer onboarding is, the advantages it brings in helping you solve a raft of issues before they appear, why and how it works, the steps you need to take to make your onboarding awesome, as well as examples of both B2B and B2C onboarding emails.

What is customer onboarding anyway?

Onboarding is simply nurture for new customers.

When a customer or client buys from you, your steps to getting them up and running are your onboarding.

Overall, an onboarding campaign is a structured  series of emails or automated actions that you send out to new clients to get them started on the right foot. It is hand holding - automated.

Your onboarding is a way to educate and inspire new customers. It keeps them happy with their purchase.

But good onboarding does more than keep them happy… It also helps get them into a consumption routine. Helping them actually use what they have purchased. Usage increases retention rates.

The advantages of customer onboarding

One of the biggest draws for setting up customer onboarding is to decrease churn rate.

Like most SaaS products, HubSpot had a problem retaining users of their plugin Sidekick. When they analysed their churn issues they found the top two reasons customers churn were:

1) They don’t understand your product

2) They don’t see any value in your service 

By focusing on good onboarding HubSpot was able to increase retained users - out of 8 experiments, onboarding was the only thing that made a significant difference.

However the benefits of onboarding don’t stop there. It also increases 2nd and 3rd conversions. One of our star clients, New Zealand Natural Clothing converts 16.8% of their new clients into a second sale simply with a great onboarding campaign. We then convert 10% further into a 3rd sale.

The continual focus on nurturing customers leads to great customer lifetime value. Your consumers feel valued, have a positive relationship with your brand and are warm and ready for the next step. This means a healthy and engaged list that is always open to new sales, offerings and the next step.

And of course, awesome onboarding gets better testimonials. These happy and engaged clients are happy to share their positive experiences for their peers.

Clearly onboarding can be a phenomenal strategy when used in the right way. But why is it so powerful?

Why customer onboarding works

Customer onboarding taps into the consumption journey. This is the part of the journey where your new customer gets their hands on what they have bought, or experiences your service for the first time.

Google calls this the second moment of truth, the point at which the consumer gets to use their product. In reality there are actually 5 parts to the consumption journey:

  • Research
  • Implementation (usage)
  • Proving
  • Optimisation (owning)
  • Enjoying

We want to get them to enjoying the thing they have just bought from you. But we need to take them through each of those 5 steps first.

Taking them through these steps, and helping them be conscious of it means you also avoid post purchase apathy.

This is the point after purchase in which the consumer gets buyers remorse. The little dopamine high the brain has had for purchase is wearing off, and your customer can feel vulnerable. They can feel like you’ve duped them.

Apathy is a conversion killer. Having a customer that doesn’t care about the product or service they have purchased means no second sale, no happy reviews.

Worse is that they were excited before they purchased, and now they feel let down. Let’s avoid that, let’s take a look at what you need to do to achieve amazing onboarding.

How to increase customer lifetime value with amazing onboarding

By leaning on the consumption journey that we know all customers will go through, we can anticipate what they need at each stage. It should be noted we can plan out what we should include in our onboarding campaigns.

1. Research

What do they need to know?

What information is really important for them at this point in time. This can be as simple as next steps, and go all the way through to detailed plans, instruction manuals and time scales. Set their expectations and make the next steps very clear for them.

2. Implementation (usage)

What do they need to do to get it implemented?

Could there be any hurdles? What actions need to happen? How do you get them in a consumption routine? Remember that customers who use the product are the ones that tend to value it, and they are the ones who stick around

3. Proving

What are their goals?

How do you get them to prove to themselves that this was the right decision? Can you get them to attain success? Are there quick wins you can help them see? Fitness apps do this very well by helping people physically see their progress - how can you help them do the same?

4. Optimisation (owning) 

How can you help them make it theirs?

Often simply explaining how they can get the best out of being a client/ customer, means you can help them own your product or service better. Help them see how they can get more out, squeezing every ounce of value.  Show them how they can level up and enhance their own experience.

5. Enjoyment

Finally, when your customer is in the throes of using your product or service, mirror their enjoyment. Inspire them with other people who are also doing awesome things.

By taking your clients and consumers through amazing onboarding you can bag yourself customers for life.

Take these steps and plan out how they would be relevant to you and your product and service. What does your audience need at each step along the way?

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Further resources:

6 ways to enhance user experience