SaaS Onboarding: Strategies for User Engagement and Retention

When it comes to SaaS - onboarding is one of the most vital aspects. Often new users will pop in and hop right back out. Having a solid onboarding process nurtures new visitors into not only staying longer - but improving the likeliness that they become paying customers. If you’re looking to keep users hooked - then this article is for you.

What exactly is SaaS onboarding?

Simply put, it's the process where new users learn to navigate and find value in your software.
Sounds straightforward, right? It is..kind of.
Just like everything, it’s about execution.

We’ll break down strategies that make users stick around, and engage with your SaaS product.

The Importance of User Onboarding in SaaS

A Bonboarding Perspective

User onboarding is crucial for SaaS businesses, and it's more than just showing users around your product. At Bonboarding, we know it's key to building customer loyalty and helping them get the most out of your software. Statistics back this up.
For example, Wyzowl's data1 shows that 86% of users stick with brands that offer helpful onboarding content. And considering 80% might ditch an app if it's hard to use, first impressions with your software really matter for keeping users.

When users first try your SaaS, they're looking for solutions to their problems. Your onboarding needs to quickly show how your service fits their needs. It's a race against time, especially during a trial period.

At Bonboarding, we focus on leading customers to that moment when they realize just how valuable your product is. For more on this, check out our blog post on effective user adoption strategies.

Crafting the "AHA Moment" in SaaS Onboarding with Bonboarding

At Bonboarding, we specialize in elevating SaaS businesses through meticulously crafted onboarding experiences. We understand that there's no one-size-fits-all strategy, and each product demands a unique approach. However, our journey in automating user onboarding has taught us valuable lessons. We've explored various strategies and are eager to share these insights with our readers.

For instance, consider our approach detailed in “Best Practices for Onboarding SaaS Customers”, where we outline the importance of understanding customer needs and tailoring the onboarding experience accordingly. This customer-centric approach is a hallmark of Bonboarding's philosophy.

Successful SaaS Onboarding Strategies

A Bonboarding Guide

SaaS onboarding is a dynamic process, involving the presentation of crucial product information in an engaging and user-friendly manner. This process is not static; it requires ongoing testing and improvement.
Over time, SaaS companies, including ourselves, often experiment with and refine various onboarding methods.

However, some tried-and-true approaches have proven successful. Let's explore these strategies, keeping in mind that regardless of the method chosen, it's essential to allow users the flexibility to close or skip educational content to avoid frustration.

Product Tours: Simplifying Complex Solutions

Product tours are a popular choice, with about 35% of SaaS businesses opting for this method. This approach is particularly effective in introducing users to a new product and clarifying initial interactions with the software. After signing up, customers receive concise instructions on using the application's features.

In our experience, as detailed in our blog post on “10 Features to Look for in a User Onboarding Tool”, product tours are invaluable for complex or niche products. For instance, when we developed our onboarding process for platforms like accounting or law firms, we focused on simplifying intricate processes through well-designed product tours.


  • Efficient communication of crucial information
  • User-friendly and straightforward
  • Cost-effective development


  • Potential information overload
  • Risk of providing obvious or redundant details
Google Data Studio guided tour (source:Data Studio)

Tooltips: Contextual Guidance at Its Best

Tooltips are excellent for guiding users through an application, providing hints and information exactly when needed. They draw attention to specific elements, offering pop-up descriptions of their functions.
This method aligns with our philosophy at Bonboarding, as we believe in delivering timely, contextual assistance to enhance user experience. For more insights into effective onboarding techniques, check out our piece on “How to Announce New Features”.


  • Timely, relevant user assistance
  • Easy integration into user interfaces


  • Risk of annoyance if the information is too obvious
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Demos: Showcasing Your Product's Capabilities

Demos offer a hands-on experience, acquainting new users with your software's interface and demonstrating application usage. This method is particularly effective for visually showcasing your SaaS's advantages in a concise format.
We've seen how demos can facilitate a seamless and engaging onboarding experience.

For further exploration of this strategy, our blog post on “User Onboarding Tools for SaaS Companies” provides additional insights.


  • Visually engaging and intuitive
  • Demonstrates product utility effectively


  • Limitations in showcasing complex product features in a single demo

Gamification: Making Onboarding Fun and Engaging

Incorporating game-like elements into the onboarding process can significantly boost user engagement and motivation. Rewards, statuses, and virtual benefits not only make the learning process enjoyable but also encourage users to explore your product more deeply.

Our insights on gamifying the onboarding experience, as detailed in our blog post on “Automating User Onboarding with Bonboarding”, highlight how this approach can transform the user experience into an enjoyable journey.


  • Enhanced user motivation and engagement
  • Encourages prolonged interaction with the product


  • Requires careful planning and a substantial budget

Enhancing Your SaaS Onboarding Experience

The best onboarding strategies are those that are tailored to your product and your customers.
And it's never truly finished.
It's an ongoing process that requires constant testing and improvement.

There are numerous articles2 and books3, 4 on the topic, but the best way to learn is to experiment with different approaches and see what works best for your product.

With Bonboarding's rich analytics you can measure your onboarding success and make informed decisions to tweak your strategy.

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