How we improved our on-boarding process & increased conversions by 3x

Here is how we improved our on-boarding process for Apptuse. We moved from a complex multi-step process to an extremely focused signup process. You can apply similar steps for your startup and optimise your on-boarding.

The background

To explain why an on-boarding overhaul was important for Apptuse, I have to give a little background about it. Right of the bat, Apptuse is a complex product.

Apptuse: The platform

There are two main aspects:

1. Platforms (Input)
These are the platforms/software (inventory management systems like Shopify, Kartrocket etc.) we can import data from. What’s more, if you do not have a platform, we also provide our own platform (to manage inventory).

2. Channels (Output)
This is what Apptuse does. We import data from different platforms and provide an output either as a mobile app, a website and/or point-of-sale system. Note: The channels available depend on the platform selected.

So for example, if you have a Shopify store (or Kartrocket or any other), we can import the data and provide a mobile app (and some more channels in the near future).

If you do not have anything, we can provide you with an inventory management system, a mobile app, a website and a point-of-sale system.

The existing on-boarding process

Screen 1:

Let us go through our existing on-boarding process. The first screen asks the user for his project name.

Screen 1: Enter your project name

Screen 2:

The second screen asks the user for their name, number, email, password as well as timezone (auto-detected).

Screen 2: Enter your personal details (including time zone and phone number)

Screen 3:

Once you click “Sign Up” in the previous screen, you are taken to the admin panel. Notice the complicated navigation on the left hand side. The user must now find his way to the “Customize App” section and then click on “Go to Marketplace”.

Screen 3: Go to “Customize App” section

Screen 4:

In the Marketplace, the user must now find his platform (e.g. Shopify) and then add it to his project.

Screen 4: Find your platform and add it from the marketplace

Screen 5:

Once he enters the required keys, he needs to find his way to “App Preview” and then preview his project by downloading our app on his mobile phone.

Screen 5: Find the preview section on the left side panel and then download the app to see the preview

Screen 6:

Finally, once the user is satisfied with the demo, he is expected to go to the billing page and subscribe. Phew!

Re-envisioning the entire on-boarding process

The first step to re-building our on-boarding process was to go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves some tough questions. Once we had answers to those, we started working on re-building the flow.

Ask the right questions

What is your aim?

Unless your startup is doing something wildly different, the aim for your on-boarding process will be to get customers to subscribe.

For Apptuse, we believe we have a good product which can be immensely useful for companies. However, when we dug deeper we realised that we were able to get the user to signup but not to subscribe. The single aim of our on-boarding process, like most startups, is to get users to subscribe. However, in order to get a user to subscribe, we found it essential for the user to view a demo of what they are going to get. Basically, instant gratification. Once the user is happy with what he sees, it’s simple to get him to pay. So our final flow was as follows:

Signup → Demo → Subscribe

What is your target audience?

Most startups usually have two or more possible target audiences. This is because our products usually cater to a wide variety of customers. In order to be able to provide a better experience to a single set of customers, it is essential that you decide your “real” target audience. For companies just starting off, this could be based on market research or “common sense”. For the rest, they can use their existing audience as indicators.

Apptuse can be used to create virtually any sort of mobile app/site. So effectively our audience was pretty much anyone and everyone even those who do not have anything to do with e-commerce. The problem with that was, we did not target our on-boarding to a single set of users resulting in a vague on-boarding process (as you can see in the screens above). So to begin with, we split the percentage of e-commerce to non e-commerce users in the last year.

From the graph it was obvious that we should focus on e-commerce users only. Now, there are two main types of e-commerce users that we want to attract.

1. Users who do not have any online store
2. Users who have an online store (e.g. are using Shopify, Magento etc.)

This information plays an important role in our new on-boarding flow.

What is your users’ level of expertise?

For most SaaS companies, there are two kinds of audience they can attract-
1. Product Owners (Non technical)
2. Developers (Technical)

It’s important to note that if you decide to target “Product Owners”, your on-boarding should also target “Product Owners”. You CANNOT have technical questions as part of the on-boarding.

Apptuse enables users to build sites/apps with no programming knowledge. So we decided to stick to “Product Owners”.

Do you really need to ask this question?

Only the bare essential information required from the user should be asked for during on-boarding. Now, some may differ from my opinion, but for any startup, I think it’s essential to keep the on-boarding process as friction-less as possible.

Make some (good) assumptions

You (just like us) may be proud that your product works for hundreds of use-cases. However, in order to be able to target a set of users, you have to focus on a set of users. For example, if you target “Product Owners”, then it’s difficult to target “Developers” using the same site/on-boarding.

For Apptuse, here are some of the assumptions we made -

  1. Since we decided to target only e-commerce users, we removed the option for users to create generic apps/sites. In other words, we forced them to select a platform (either Shopify, Magento etc. or ours).
  2. We assumed that each user will only have a single platform (e.g. Shopify, Magento etc. or ours) that they work with. So instead of having platforms in a marketplace (screen 4), we can get the user to select the platform at the get-go. Once selected, we can tailor the entire journey of the user accordingly (since channels differ based on the selected platform).
  3. We assumed that a user will rarely change the platform he’s using. If a user wants to change the platform he’s selected, he will have to go through the on boarding process for a new project..

Putting it all together

Screen 1: Platform

We immediately ask the user which platform they are using (or if they do not have a platform). This helps us identify what channels are available to that user.

Screen 2: Credentials

We ask the user for their existing platform information (things that a “Product Owner” will know and if they don’t we provide a ❓). Even if the credentials are incorrect, we proceed to the next step.

Screen 3: Contact

After the user has been invested into our step-by-step process, we ask him the final question i.e. the email address.

Screen 4: Preview

If the credentials are correct, we immediately show a preview of the mobile app. If the credentials are incorrect, we create a support ticket so that our on-boarding team can check the issue in the credentials and get back to the user.

Screen 5: Subscribe

Once the user has seen our preview, we prompt & email him asking him to subscribe.

Summing Up

TL;DR: We tailored our on-boarding process to cater to only e-commerce customers and improved our conversions by 3x.


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