A weak user onboarding flow can leave new customers confused. And we all know that confused customers eventually leads to churned customers.
That’s why creating the right product experience is vital. The way you design your customer onboarding experience is what leads to users reaching the “aha moment” with your product.
Reaching that aha moment quickly then leads to a positive NPS (net promoter score) — which leads to smoother product adoption, better retention rates, and a stronger growth loop.
Whether you’re a SaaS company, ecommerce company, or CRM, you need a user onboarding platform that fulfills a fundamental onboarding checklist.
Luckily, we discovered the best user onboarding software currently on the market and presented them below.
We’ll rundown 15 of the best performing user onboarding tools available today. But before we can do that, let’s clarify what we mean by user onboarding.
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What is user onboarding software?
You may be familiar with the term onboarding in reference to the process of bringing new employees into a company, training them, and making them ready for active participation. User onboarding is analogous, in the sense that the software listed below is all designed to automate the process of capturing new users and getting them up to speed with how a product or service works, so that they become aficionados.
The best software for user onboarding experience automates this process, removing much of the friction that users experience when they must learn a new app or system. Ideally, such tools decrease the churn rate of curious users who back away from full subscriptions, cancel their accounts during free demos, or simply stop using your service or product.
It’s important too — a survey by Wyzowl found that over 90% of people thought that companies they buy from “could do better” in terms of educating customers about how to use a product. We’ve probably all experienced it — being forced to hunt for YouTube videos made by random users, because the company’s in-house support is infuriating.
Fortunately, there are many pieces of software out there to ensure you don’t make that mistake. Let’s dive into our sampling of the best user onboarding tools in 2023.
The best user onboarding software of 2023
Let’s dive a bit deeper into each one.
UserGuiding helps you create straightforward, easy-to-follow product walkthroughs using a combination of annotations, graphics, text, video and audio. They boast a 72% decrease in support calls and a 25% increase in user activation rates.
UserGuiding is a no-code platform where no coding is required to get up and running, and the walkthroughs are interactive, moving at the pace of each user. Hotspots are a popular feature – highlighted portions of the screen with short explanations, which the user can read and digest before moving to the next section.
There are also pop-up boxes, in-app surveys, and banners you can integrate to advertise new products or highlight new features. Brief highlight videos can be created using text and images to provide feature detail in a memorable manner
The end-result provides a much better alternative to stopping, rewinding and replaying badly made screen-capture videos.
It’s a little more basic than UserGuiding and consequently has a lighter footprint. Userflow say it’s 5 to 10 times smaller than comparable applications, so it won’t significantly slow install times.
There are three main types of screen intervention — tooltips, speech bubbles or modal pop-ups. One useful feature is a minimizable checklist where users can tick off the features they want to explore in any order. These pop-ups have a subtle presence, and workflow is gently guided with buttons disabled until key information is entered.
You can build in if/then rules, which allow the user to take their own route through a screen. A resource center will display how much of a topic the learner has covered as well as offering customizable links to other modes of learning (guided tours, articles et cetera).
Userflow scores highly for analytics, graphically representing completion rates over time, allowing you to improve the onboarding process. You’ll also see version histories and no-code event tracking so you can customize what events you’ll record.
Userpilot boasts Adobe and McGraw Hill amongst its adopters, which bodes well. Their tool is very much focused on the conversion side of onboarding, including secondary feature adoption, churn reduction, and upselling.
By segmenting users into personas, Userpilot allows new users to experience different workflows, ideal if you have a SaaS platform which covers a lot of bases or is used by everyone from the sales team to the C-suite.
Pop-up hints and tips appear while the user browses features, whilst subtly guiding new users to the features that have proven most popular with existing customers. In this way, you can onboard and sell at once during a demo, increasing the chances of user activation.
Userpilot’s clients tend to see activation rates increase by around 10%, and knock-on effects have included less reliance on human sales teams and improved product development, since you can track which features users gravitate to, and which they tend to miss or underuse.
There are also features such as in-app A/B testing, marketing, and feedback solicitation. It’s a great tool for converting those freemium demos into subscriptions.
The free version offers tooltips and screen portion highlights, which might suffice if your app is relatively straightforward. However, Intro.js is designed to be cut and pasted into your app’s code to create onboarding functions it wouldn’t otherwise have. Therefore, you’ll still need to have built a basic onboarding workflow ready.
You’ll also need coders to install and ensure the functionality of the Intro.js elements you’d like to use. It’s worth exploring if you’re on a budget or are launching a simple product with relatively simple onboarding flows.
We’re back to no-code onboarding with Appcues, which has a neat and visual drag-and-drop functionality, allowing you to quickly create desired workflows. Like Userpilot it also has a strong focus on conversion and user retention, allows user segmentation and has a strong focus on adoption analytics.
It probably scores a little higher than Userpilot in terms of its visual styling and customization options, which are very easy on the eye. Appcues would be a good choice if you’re onboarding a design, ecommerce, or creativity tool. Among its clients are content-creation tool Writer and video collaboration platform Frame.io.
Appcues is very strong on readymade integrations, including Heap, Salesforce, Hubspot, Segment and many more. Tracking of user behavior is easy to set up and analyze, and workflows can be previewed in test mode.
Clients say it’s highly intuitive and Appcues has won ten G2 awards in 2020/21 and earned itself 4.8/5 on Capterra. It’s a premium product, however, with the basic version starting at $249 a month for up to 2,500 users.
This rather clumsily named onboarding tool describes itself as a Digital Adoption Platform, and it specializes in creating guided demo tours which seamlessly integrate with your app.
Slotting into both mobile and desktop apps, Usetiful incorporates the same types of user prompts as other onboarding platforms — checklists, tooltips, and hotspots — but incorporates a range of triggers and delayers to gently guide the user to what Usetiful’s creators call the “Aha moment.”
It's straightforward and guided approach suits less technically accomplished users, and it’s been adopted by some big names, including DHL and Konica Minolta. The platform boasts a 25% increase in user activation. It’s easy to add in-app pop-ups to offer discount codes, highlight new features and solicit feedback.
Usetiful is one of the best-value onboarding tools we’ve found — it’s premium version is just $99/month for up to 20,000 users.
Chameleon adds a couple of novel features to its suite of tooltips, modals, and hotspots, including “micro-surveys,” where a learner can give immediate feedback with a single click about how easy a feature was to use. This will help app developers improve their products, as well as better understand what new users want.
Pop-ups are key in Chameleon, and they can serve many purposes — solicit segmentation information, offer instant upgrades, or solicit feedback. Fortunately, they aren’t especially intrusive and can be cleverly tailored only to appeal to users with specified attributes.
As their brand name suggests, Chameleon want to be about product development and customer analytics as much as education or user capture. They’ve devised a workflow that tailors tours to feedback, which should prove popular both with users, for whom the experience is personalized, and app creators, who see an improved conversion and churn rate.
It’s another premium product, at $279/month for the startup version, but given its usefulness for product development, research, and user capture, this could prove a worthwhile investment.
With a focus on conversation, Intercom personalizes more of the user tour experience, including the use of mini-avatars of your employees and chatbot integration to deliver FAQs in a more interactive way. Intercom aim to bring more two-way dialogue back into onboarding, something that can be neglected in other systems.
Intercom is an engagement campaign builder as well as an in-app retention tool. You can use to it build conversion campaigns as well as product tours. You might just be able to retire another piece from your tech stack if you get your sales team using Intercom.
Intercom incorporates push messaging for mobile users, A/B testing for messaging and integrations to your human support team, if you have one. In a sense, it blurs the distinction between sales and support since both functions can help reduce customer churn.
Scottish Power, Living Spaces and Vend all swear by Intercom, which boasts customer satisfaction scores topping 90% (an important metric for business growth). Again, this is a premium product, at $67 for its small business support function then add-on options including $199/month for product tours.
However, Intercom does fulfill a lot of support and sales functions, as well as providing onboarding and research tools aplenty.
Pendo.io is designed to reduce the time taken to onboard new users, and 82% of customers have seen a minimum of 10% reduction in time and effort since implementing it. Guided tours can be built with sophisticated segmentation allowing you to drive users quickly to features they’ll love.
Pendo’s site provides some very well-argued and convincing articles on the benefits of adopting an automated approach to onboarding. They talk about the gap between perceived and experienced value and argue that leading the right users to the right features can help reduce that gap.
There are several unique features of Pendo that make it one of the industry leaders. These include sentiment analysis to help you discover what users are saying about your product and dedicated mobile app support.
Pendo comes in three product families — Engage (designed to optimize UX), Adopt (focused on conversions), and Feedback (for a product development approach). Somewhat annoyingly, although their site has a link to “view pricing tiers”, no actual prices are given, although expect this to be at the premium end of the spectrum.
Designed to onboard both employees and users quickly, Userlane provides codeless integration for product tours, user segmentation, in-app messaging, and all the usual bells and whistles of digital adoption platforms.
However, it also has a strong focus on keeping existing users and employees up to date with new features. Userlane claim to be able to reduce client support contacts by up to 50%. You can easily add GIFS, videos, and other appealing content to help keep users on target as they learn. In fact, its speedy content creation facilities are among its standout features.
With over 37 million product users trained, Userlane is a highly effective retention tool. It scores highest in staff training, with personalized training plans which can be undertaken at the learner’s own pace.
All pricing, including small to medium business options, is bespoke so, true to their ethos, you’ll have to take a product demo to find out if Userlane is worth investing in.
This platform describes itself as a “code builder” for UX, and it takes a template-based approach, although you can also build your own workflow from scratch if you prefer.
Unusually Candu allows you to embed product updates and notifications directly into pages, rather than have them appear as pop-ups. Candu has the usual checklists, tooltips, and analytics too. It has a more mobile-focused approach than other comparable platforms and allows you to customize everything from dashboards to forms, surveys and announcement banners.
If it’s not a priority to seamlessly match your support and onboarding features with your own product, Candu could be a very easy tool to get up and running with in a matter of days. The template approach could save you days or weeks of development.
It’s a very reasonably priced tool too, beginning at just $49/month per 1,000 users.
Userlist’s USP is its focus on email-led communication and onboarding, prompting users in their in-box as well as online. It’s primarily an email marketing tool for converting and retaining B2B clients for SaaS products.
With Userlist you can create sophisticated email marketing strategies, in-app messages, and behavior-based campaigns. It will segment your customer base and let you track progress with each lead. You can maintain multiple mailing lists, then time and trigger one-off messages. This is one of the most sales-focused tools we’ve reviewed, and with corporate clients in mind, it has to be.
There are plenty of readymade integrations, including Segment and Ruddestack, and Zapier integrations with thousands more. Userlist allows a “many to many” sales approach, where a support team are effectively “selling” to many users of a product at once, keeping them all engaged. Automation makes this possible, fortunately.
If your business model involves selling a product to business users en masse, and keeping them engaged, Userlist is best in class. It’s less strong on product demos though; you’ll need a different tool for that.
Back in the land of individual user onboarding, Helppier provides all the tools you might expect and adds in screen-captured video tutorials, graphics, and interactive user guides. It’ll even integrate with your Vimeo or YouTube channels to save you time updating them.
Unusually it offers multilingual support in 65 languages, perfect if you need to create subtitled versions for a global customer base. Another unique feature is its guidance for quickly creating and updating user manuals, for those who prefer reading to watching videos.
Helppier offers a host of templates so you can quickly create a suite of pop-up messages, hotspots, and product tours. There’s also support for user surveying too.
Pricing starts from $49/month for 1,000 users, although you’ll benefit from economies of scale when you upgrade — 50,000 users costs just $299 monthly.
Here’s another neat specialist product for on oft-overlooked function. Typeform helps you create attractive, easy to complete forms for customer feedback, quizzes, and other quick interactions. Their templates are designed to spur users to want to get in touch, rather than ignore or minimize pop-ups.
It’s all about the gamification of feedback and customers have enjoyed significant engagement wins. One brand (Beardbrand) gained $150K worth of leads with an embedded landing page quiz, for instance.
Quizzes are extremely quick to create, look beautiful, and come accompanied with a huge range of stock images, fonts, templates, and graphics. They can be embedded, sent as links, or launched from buttons within emails.
With over one million forms completed daily, Typeform is a fun alternative to research software like Surveymonkey, although may lack some of the more sophisticated customer behavior tracking you’d find elsewhere.
With a focus on messaging, Customer.io lets you create sales workflows around various pushes and nudges, across a range of channels. Email, SMS messages, and push notifications can all be built into an engagement campaign designed to pique curiosity.
Customer is big on integrations, since it must call upon CRM databases, email systems, and social media platforms. Including API integrations, there are thousands of integrations in its catalogue.
Audience segmentation and analytics are other strong points of Customer. You can group customers by page views, demographics, and user activity, then target them with bespoke campaigns to keep them engaged during the customer journey.
Customer is a real funnel-builder and should help convert those demo adopters into paid subscribers. Their basic plan starts from $150/month.
What is the goal of user onboarding?
As we’ve seen, user onboarding software is vital to creating a great customer experience. However, these user onboarding tools can do a lot more than just replace your customer success team. You can use any of the above tools to:
- Engage wavering freemium users
- Remind users of undervalued features
- Speed up the user onboarding process
- Reduce churn and increase conversions
- Improve your product with user feedback
- Reduce your customer support costs
- Aid sales teams and funnel leads
- Test messaging and optimize communication
For some of the above products, you’ll pay a premium, but the ROI you could obtain should make any of the above onboarding tools a worthwhile addition to your tech stack.
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