User Onboarding Personalization – the Best Way to Boost Engagement Early On

In a land far, far away, there was a young student named Claire who was on a mission to find the perfect project management software to help her with her school project.

All she wished was to collaborate with her classmates on an online platform…

But instead of helping her, the app bombarded her with irrelevant recommendations, feature guides, and integrations.

Frustrated, she searched for other options but couldn’t find the perfect tool.

Just when she thought all hope and bliss was lost on earth, a fairy appeared and blessed her with a personalized onboarding experience. From that day forward, Claire always remembered the fairy’s blessing and the power of personalized onboarding.

Wanna learn the tricks of personalization that saved Claire?

Let’s jump to the content!

TL;DR

πŸ‘‰ Personalization is a process of tailoring user experiences according to the needs and preferences of certain user categories. 

πŸ‘‰ Thus, onboarding personalization is the process of customizing onboarding materials and content to meet the needs of different user personas. 

πŸ‘‰ Personalization increases conversion rates of trial users, improves product adoption and user engagement, enhances brand reputation, and boosts user satisfaction.

πŸ‘‰ Personalized onboarding ensures a smooth and successful product experience. Thus, it prevents users from feeling overwhelmed by the UI and the wide range of features. 

πŸ‘‰ One effective approach to embracing a new perspective on onboarding and implementing personalization is to shift your mindset to that of the user and use the “Jobs to be Done” framework to guide your efforts. 

πŸ‘‰ Identify your users’ pain points, which are the reasons why they need your product or service, and then emphasize the key features that address these issues. Show your users how they can easily obtain value by using these features.

πŸ‘‰ It’s important to avoid overwhelming users by over-explaining irrelevant features that may not be useful to them. Instead, focus on the features that address their specific needs and show them how to use them effectively. This will ensure that users are able to get the most value from your product.

What Is Personalization?

Personalization refers to the process of tailoring user experiences, content, or product/service to meet specific needs, requests, and preferences of individuals by collecting user feedback and data, such as demographics, interests, behaviors, etc. Personalization is a concept that has many use cases and thus appeals to a wide range of industries. 

For example, while an e-commerce company can gather user data to offer personalized search results and product recommendations.

πŸ‘‰ A language-learning app can utilize personalization to customize the learning journey of a user based on their interests and proficiency level.

πŸ‘‰ A streaming platform such as Netflix or Spotify can make suggestions based on a user’s previous viewing/listening habits.

πŸ‘‰ An online banking tool can provide financial advice and automation service, depending on a user’s financial goals and history. 

Then what is meant by user onboarding personalization?

Onboarding personalization is the process of customizing users’ onboarding experiences by offering different onboarding elements, educational content, and follow-up emails that align with different users’ needs and preferences to boost user engagement, product adoption, and customer retention rates.

Onboarding personalization can take various forms.

Here are some of them:

βœ… Personalized welcome messages that involve ratings/comments of users from the same industry.

βœ… Tailored tutorials and guides that show how to use the key features based on a user’s main purpose.

βœ… Personalized content and educational material recommendations based on the industry a user works in.

βœ… Targeted email sequences and reminders about the core benefits a user can obtain from your product to decrease the drop-off rate.

Benefits of using personalization in user onboarding

Having a personalized onboarding approach can have a multitude of positive effects, such as boosting conversion rates for trial users, increasing product activation rates, improving user retention rates, and overall customer satisfaction scores. 

But how does it really work?

What happens when you personalize your onboarding processes for individual users? 

Let’s first take a user-centric approach and analyze the case from the users’ perspective πŸ‘‡

πŸ‘‰ Personalized onboarding creates a feeling of exclusivity for users.

They feel like they’re receiving a private palace tour, which can make them feel important and valued.

πŸ‘‰ By asking users about their goals, preferences, and needs, personalized onboarding shows that the company cares about their individual success and is willing to listen to them, which helps to build trust.

πŸ‘‰ Personalized onboarding can prevent users from feeling overwhelmed by too much information.

By tailoring the onboarding experience to the user’s specific needs and use cases, they can quickly see how the product can help them achieve their goals.

πŸ‘‰ Seeing tailored onboarding content for their specific use cases and needs can make users feel understood and supported.

This can create a sense of loyalty and help build a long-term relationship with the company.

In short, the onboarding experience is crucial to your users’ first impression of your company and product. It’s not just about the signup process or onboarding tasks; it’s about making your users feel valued and cared for -which is a key factor if you want them to become loyal customers later on. 

⚑ According to research, 69% of online shoppers state that the quality and relevance of a company’s message play a crucial role in shaping their perception of the brand.

Now you know how personalizing your user onboarding flows and overall user onboarding experience can help you. 

Yet, let’s list the benefits just to make everything clear: 

βœ… Increased conversion rates

βœ… Higher product activation and feature adoption rates

βœ… Improved user retention

βœ… Increased customer satisfaction scores 

βœ… Enhanced brand reputation 

βœ… Increased user referrals 

βœ… Stronger and deeper relationships with customers 

Examples of Personalization in User Onboarding

#1 Crunch 

Crunch is a UK-based accounting software that helps contractors, freelancers, and businesses by assisting them with their invoicing, payments, and other financial needs.

user onboarding personalization

In order to simplify first-time users’ jobs and provide them with a smooth app experience, Crunch welcomes them with a quick interactive walkthrough around the UI and a short onboarding checklist that highlights the key features. 

user onboarding personalization crunch

But what I really like about their user onboarding experience is that they offer different onboarding content to different types of users πŸ‘‡

onboarding personalization crunch

And they show how freemium users can get more value with different add-ons. 

user onboarding personalization crunch

If you don’t give freemium users a glimpse of what you offer, how can you expect them to see the value your product can bring to their business πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

#2 Canva

Canva is an Australian graphic design platform that helps users to create presentations, custom brand logos, social media posts, brochures, infographics, and many other visual projects. 

canva user onboarding personalization

Canva takes the personalization issue very seriously. They do not only ask about your main purpose in using the tool but about specifics, too. 

canva personalization

They know every student from 6th grade to university cannot use the same templates. That’s why they ask follow-up questions:

user onboarding canva personalization

And they use the user data to tailor their template recommendations to help you start!

canva personalization for user onboarding

#3 Typeform

Typeform is a SaaS product that helps its users to create dynamic forms and surveys. 

user onboarding personalization typeform

Similar to Canva, Typeform asks a bunch of questions to get to know you better and make more relevant suggestions later on. 

typeform personalization for user onboarding

First, they ask for what purposes you’re planning to use the tool (individual, school, work). If you choose “Work”, they ask questions related to your position and the company you work in πŸ‘‡

typeform user onboarding personalization

The questions don’t end with the industry you’re in. Next questions: the company size, your job title, and the main purpose of using the tool!

typeform personalization

#4 Duolingo

Although it’s a relatively young company, Duolingo has quickly become of the most popular and loved online language-learning platforms of all time.

user onboarding personalization duolingo

Now, as there are tens of different ways and reasons to learn a language, personalization becomes even more important. That’s why Duolingo tailors each language learner’s user journey delicately. 

user onboarding personalization duolingo

First things first, you need to specify your purpose for learning the language and then how much time you’re willing to spare for studying, as well as your current proficiency in the language so that Duolingo can create lesson plans accordingly. 

personalization duolingo

 Moreover, Duo sends personalized onboarding emails, such as follow-up emails and push notifications based on your activation -or in my case, inactivation…

Getting Started with User Onboarding Personalization

1 – Create user segments: Use micro surveys on your welcome page

When I say suggest personalization for the onboarding process of your product’s trial users, I do not mean you need to sit with them and create user checklists, app messages, feature tours, or a unique sign-up process for each of them. 

You don’t have to create onboarding screens and processes for each and every individual user manually, ofc.

You just need to know who uses your product for what purposes and then categorize them into different user segments

You can segment users based on various criteria:

  • Demographic information, such as income, education level, occupation, etc.
  • Firmographic information, such as company size, annual revenue, industry, job title, etc.
  • Technographic information, such as the devices, software, and other tools that are used by the users
  • User behavior -a.k.a. how users interact with your product (feature usage, frequency, depth of engagement, etc.)
  • Customer lifecycle stage -a.k.a. where users are in their product journeys 

πŸ‘‰ You can use micro surveys and ask a few questions on your welcome page to collect the necessary data for the segmentation. 

Afterwards, you can then make informed decisions about which onboarding checklist or feature guide to show to each user segment, making it easy to master personalization!

2 – Adopt Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) mindset

Up in the beginning, we talked about the benefits of personalization by adopting a user-centric approach to onboarding and analyzing the process from the users’ perspective, remember?

Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) is a very similar business framework that mainly focuses on customers’ “jobs” that need to be dealt with rather than services, products, and cool features that companies offer. 

In other words, it suggests that for a company to truly succeed and stand out in the marketplace, a company must take that extra step of identifying the key actions that its target audience needs to perform and then develop features that cater to those needs. 

Once you understand the specific needs and goals of your users, as well as the challenges they face -a.k.a. the reason why they use your product-, you can create contextual onboarding experiences that speak directly to their pain points and attract their attention. 

⚠️  Keyhole, a social media management platform that is preferred by big companies such as Google, LinkedIn, and Amazon, says once they’ve highlighted some use cases for the users focusing on brand monitoring, they’ve seen insane improvements in conversions. I mean, insane, like 550% more likely to buy the product insane. 

Here’s the famous checklist:

keyhole personalization user onboarding

πŸ‘‰ And here’s the rest of the success story. 

πŸ‘‰ Try UserGuiding for FREE πŸ‘ˆ

3 – Find the core features in your product that bring value to certain user segments 

Well, sometimes, it’s not enough to personalize in-app onboarding experiences, such as product tours and interactive step-by-step guides. 

To ensure product adoption and stronger customer-company relationships, you may need to reach out to your trial users outside of the product, too.

Prepare core value propositions and remind yourself to inactive trial users! 

– Customize your user onboarding flow

Well, we already talked a lot about the significance of tailoring onboarding flows with different step-by-step guides, checklists, and onboarding tasks for different user personas to boost your users’ product experience and steer them to their “Aha!” moments

Yet we haven’t talked about how.

Hint: No, you don’t have to bother your product team or developers every time you want to make an announcement to active users, create a new onboarding material or update an existing one!

You can use UserGuiding, instead. 

userguiding user onboarding personalization

UserGuiding is a no-code tool that helps companies to improve user engagement by creating interactive walkthroughs, guides, checklists, hotspots, in-app surveys, and more. 

With UserGuiding, you can;

βœ”οΈ Create user segments

βœ”οΈ Collect all the necessary educational material into your in-app resource center 

βœ”οΈ Customize the onboarding content and make it compatible with your brand

Here’s how Opinew, a review management tool that allows its customers to import reviews and feedback from various platforms and display them on Shopify, creates customized and interactive onboarding guides with UserGuiding:

opinew user onboarding personalization

– Appreciate email onboarding 

You cannot show all of your educational material that can be useful to the users, such as e-books, webinars, walkthrough videos, podcasts, blog posts, survey results, etc., all at once during your product tour. 

That would be a little bit overwhelming. 

However, you can strategically use your knowledge base and educational resources to facilitate user acquisition in the early stages of onboarding. 

Start by choosing the most relevant statistics, success stories, blog posts, or podcast episodes from your resource center that match the user segments you created earlier. Consider focusing on industries and job titles to better tailor your content. Once you have selected the appropriate resources, you can create personalized onboarding email sequences to deliver them to your users.

⚠️ According to a report, 82% of marketing professionals found that emails that were personalized to the recipient’s interests and preferences had higher open rates.

Don’t be afraid to send emails!

To Wrap Up…

As you can see, user onboarding has a direct impact on customer satisfaction and happiness, thus, on your business. 

Successful companies know that designing feature-rich products is crucial, but polishing these features and promoting them to the right people is even more crucial!

Make sure you provide a personalized user onboarding experience, especially if your product appeals to a wide range of people. 


Frequently Asked Questions


Why is personalized onboarding important?

Personalized onboarding is important as it ensures a good first impression of the product, building a base for strong relationships with customers. A tailored onboarding experience increases customer satisfaction and leads to customer loyalty and retention. By offering personalized onboarding content, such as interactive guides and checklists, companies can make sure that each customer tries the core features that are related to their specific use cases and improve product adoption and feature engagement. Lastly, demonstrating that you care about your users’ needs and pain points, personalized onboarding helps to build trust between the users and the company, which can lead to greater customer loyalty and advocacy for the product/company. 


What is the best way to personalize an onboarding flow?

Although there are various personalization techniques that can be used for different companies and products, some of the key actions you must take regardless of the industry you work in include identifying user personas and user segments, identifying core features of your product that meets the specific needs of these personas, creating short and logical onboarding content, such as how-to guides, walkthroughs, checklists, tutorial videos, etc., that help users to use these features, categorizing these onboarding content into different groups to match them with the user personas and segments, showing the interactive tours/ checklists/ walkthroughs within the app, providing additional educational content (blog articles, support guides, tutorial videos, etc.) via email sequels throughout the trial period of users, collecting support articles, videos, how-to guides, and all the necessary educational material in resource and knowledge centers.


What are the tools that can be used to personalize UX?

There are many tools that can be used to personalize overall User Experience (UX). For example, A/B testing tools, onboarding tools, in-app messaging and notification tools and others.


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Ceren Kurban

Ceren Kurban

Ceren is a Creative Content Writer at UserGuiding. She writes about the latest development in SaaS and product. She decided to pursue a career in journalism and content upon seeing The Bold Type. When she is not writing, you can find her gossiping with stray animals or listening to the Alvin and the Chipmunks covers of random songs