Leveraging User Onboarding To Increase Retention

Onboarding isn’t just to help your users navigate in and around your product; it can help you with retention exercises as well.

As soon as a user gets on to your product, the onboarding process starts. So does retention. (src)


Traditional onboarding process (what we were just talking about) does have its upsides. What are your users supposed to do? Where are they supposed to go? Questions like this, if left unanswered, can end up making your users feel overwhelmed and intimated resulting in them leaving the system before they have had the chance to even perform their first action. Any action. This is why so many users drop off during their first ever usage itself, never to return.


You have already taken care of getting your users to ‘get’ what is it that your product does. Now comes the part where you try to Wow them. Users that you are able to wow would be the ones who would end up using your product for weeks and months. They would be the ones who would be the social influencers, telling their friends about your ‘core offering’ — and that is the best kind of marketing any startup can ask for. But for that to happen, your user doesn’t just need to understand your core offering, he also needs to relate to it and understand it in a way that he is able to explain it further in as few and crisp words as possible.


A minimum 7 friends within the first 10 days of signing up.

We are all well familiar with this, aren’t we? This is a trend the growth team at Facebook identified by doing an analysis on their engaged users vs non-engaged ones, and a trait that they identified for their preferred type of users — users who were beneficial to the business in long run vis-a-vis their levels of engagement. Why is this important? Because they let go of all the noise, and with a laser-focus and precision identified the one key metric which if tried to improve during the onboarding process helped them predict future behavior for their users. This one goal — get new users to add 7+ friends asap — could be the single greatest force that drove Facebook’s growth engine.

  • Did the user upload any pictures?
  • Shared links?
  • Liked/commented?
  • Check-ins?


Woot woot.

You want your consumers to feel amazed by some part of your product — which would be your core offering. Unless they are amazed, the chances of them continuing to use your product for an extended period of time takes a huge hit, and the probablity of them acting as your brand influencers falls down to 0.

PRO TIP:Never make the mistake of ‘knowing’ what your core value or wow moment is. Walk in without a bias and analyze user behavior to discover what is the core value that is resonating with your base.


Now this part is actually fun. Here is what you want to do:

#1. Lay out the ground rules

You would need to identify your performance metrics — what are your objectives, what does success look like to you, what constitutes a positive attribute when it comes to retaining a user or converting a signup → prospect consumer.

#2. Measure everything

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Measure everything. Look at every action your users take within your system.

#3. Go all nerd on the data

Data, if you don’t put it to good use, is meaningless. So you now need to find out some sort of a correlation between the actions that your users are taking within your system versus the success parameters you had identified.

PRO TIP:It’s better to have a pool of 2–3 wow moments at minimum. Would help you weed out the less helpful ones.Always remember, correlation ≠ causation


Once you have your wow moments, get on with your experiments. Try bringing the attention of more and more users to these as a part of onboarding. See what sticks.

PRO TIP:Most startups think of their core value or their wow moment as just that - a value. Which essentially makes it a product feature. Don't make that mistake. Your wow moment needs to be a very specific action. And your onboarding process should be designed in a way to encourage the user to take that action.

That’s it for today; see you tomorrow.

I am Abhishek. I am here... there.... Everywhere...Medium | Twitter | Facebook | Quora | LinkedIn | E-mail



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Abhishek Anand

Helping businesses grow 10x faster, and scale efficiently. Top Writer — Quora, Medium. Drop in a line if you’d like help with yours. mail@abyshake.com