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How to Create a First Run Experience That Leads to Sales

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of assuming that user onboarding is an easier process. That it just involves convincing customers that your product can help them out and solve their issues at hand.

However, research say that 40-60% of users who sign up for a free trial of your software or SaaS application will use it once and never come back, which means that successfully getting the users onboard is a hard earned asset.

The majority of users who never come back turned off not because the product was inferior, or it doesn’t help them achieve their goals and solve their problems. The SaaS churn occurs because they cannot find value the product adds to their lives, which  is the primary goal of user onboarding.

You have to engage them right after they signup, if you hesitate, your first run experience sucks for your customers, and they might turn their back no to your product.

So, What Exactly is User Onboarding?

User onboarding is the process of helping prospects become successful by adopting your product.

Many entrepreneurs do this by explaining the features of their product, while others show the benefits of the features to the customer. Of course, it’s the latter one who wins, but user onboarding takes a lot more than just sending information about your product’s features.

You must be ready to answer all questions that the customers may ask about the product and ensure that they not only successfully adopt your product but also enjoy their experience.

Why is User Onboarding Important?

Saas products are designed to help apps and website owners run their businesses easily and efficiently.

Truth be told, not many business people care about not being able to add hashtags to their tweets as much as they care about knowing how your product works, integrates into their platform and adds value to their business.

If you cannot help them understand any of the above then your user onboarding process tends to fail. It’s not appropriate to say that people won’t sign up for a free trial, but it means that not as many people will graduate into paid customers after the free trial is over.

The ultimate goal when onboarding new users during the course of a free trial is to help your customers reach the Aha! Moment.

That moment when they realize that they can’t continue without your product. The faster you help them reach the climax, the higher the chances of a customer successfully onboarded.

Here are some of the best practices that will streamline your customers’ First Run Experience (Successful User Onboarding).

User Onboarding Best Practices

1.     Keep it Simple and Clear

Maintaining a SaaS business is not easy, so ensure that you are helping the people and not complicating their busy lives even more. You should also demonstrate that your sign-up process is as easy as possible

You can achieve simplicity by asking for only the essential details that you need about your customers to onboard them successfully.

People don’t like filling out long forms so keep your’s to the minimum possible. Here is an example of a company that keeps their signup form short and simple.User Onboarding best practices(source)

Notice how chargify asks for only one piece of information, defying the common practice of asking for more than five fields.

2. Reduce the Number of Steps a User Needs to Take Before Using the Product.

Just like signup forms, the steps that your customer needs to take to start using your product should be minimal and simple.

For example, if your customers need to install some code on their website, you don’t have to ask them what software they use. Cut down this step by asking for their website in signup form and finding out what they need for integration then giving them a simple how-to’s for that integration.

Your onboarding process shouldn’t be treated as an interrogation, so keep useless questions out of their way to help them achieve the Aha! moment quickly.

3. Reserve Credit Card Information for the Final Stages

Given that less than 40% of customers who sign up for the trial period will graduate into paid customers, it is unwise to ask for payment details during or right after the signup.

Always ask yourself this simple question, if I were a door-to-door salesman, would I take the money first before letting them test whether my product is a good fit?

The answer is certainly no, but if you say yes, there is a very high chance that you will retire before making any sales.

Hold off the payment details until you have convinced your customers to graduate from your free-trial to the payment subscription. Be smart!

Cornerstone doesn’t mention payment details on their first step of the onboarding process, allowing users to signup without being overwhelmed by payments.

User Onboarding best practices(source)

4. Identify Your Product’s Aha! Moment

People can’t pay before they have experienced the product and finds a need for it in their lives.

The Aha! Moment for your product is reached when your customer realizes the value of your product in their business and can almost regret not having found it earlier.

You have to identify this point so that you can help each of your customer reach that level, the sooner the better. The best way to do this is to identify which feature of your product can really benefit your customer and then sell them as showcasing the benefits during the onboarding process.

Help your customers realize this benefits and how it add value for them, and you are one step closer to making a sale.

5. The Power of Referrals

  1. User Onboarding best practices


Getting people to view your offer is the most difficult step of a product launch. Yes, you can survive by relying on your social media fans and blog readers to buy from you, but there will come a point when you will run out of the new prospects.

This is where referrals come in. When you sign up at LinkedIn, one of the first step after registering for a linkedin account is to invite your email friends to connect with you.

This means that as long as there are people registering, then there are more people being invited to join LinkedIn, and the process never runs out of new subscribers.

Why not employ the same principle to your offer?

Make it easy for every prospect to share your products launch with their friends on social media and even their email friends. This can be as easy as adding social media sharing button and encouraging them to share.


The user onboarding process or the first run experience for each product may vary, but the best practices are applied to all the SaaS products.

You have to streamline your onboarding process with the best practices to remain afloat and improve the percentage of customers who upgrade into paying clients after their First Run Experience.