S2E8 – How to improve your user onboarding? with Ildefonso Prieto

How to improve your user onboarding?

How do you improve your user onboarding? Effective user onboarding is crucial for driving user engagement and retention on your platform. A seamless onboarding process welcomes new users, guiding them through your product’s key features and benefits, while minimizing any potential hurdles. By implementing a user-centric onboarding strategy, you can ensure that users quickly grasp how to navigate and utilize your platform, leading to higher satisfaction levels and increased usage over time. Tailoring the onboarding experience to address user needs and pain points not only accelerates their journey to becoming proficient users but also cultivates a positive and lasting impression of your brand. In this episode, show host Joran Hofman speaks to subject matter expert Ildefonso Prieto to discuss how to improve your user onboarding. Ildefonso is a product growth consultant who helps SaaS companies grow their free-to-paid conversions.

  • Importance of User Onboarding:
    • User onboarding is crucial to guiding new users through the initial stages of using a product to ensure they understand its value and functionality.
    • It helps prevent churn by addressing issues that lead users to drop off during the free trial phase.
    • Early focus on user onboarding helps establish better retention rates and overall product-market fit.
  • Challenges and Reasons for Drop-Off:
    • Many free trial users never return after the initial interaction with a product (40-60%).
    • The main reasons for drop-off include a lack of understanding of the product’s purpose and an inability to see its value.
    • Users often have specific expectations about a product’s functionality and might churn if their expectations aren’t met.
  • Considerations for Improving User Onboarding:
    • User onboarding should not be an afterthought but rather a foundational element.
    • Depending on the stage of the company, user onboarding priorities may differ:
      • Early stages: Focus on improving retention rates by refining the user onboarding experience.
      • Later stages: Shift focus to optimizing free-to-paid conversions and maximizing lifetime value.
  • Key Areas to Tackle:
    • First User Experience: Concentrate on perfecting the first interaction users have with your product. This initial experience greatly influences retention rates.
    • Growth Hacks for Onboarding: Implement strategies that enhance the first user experience and encourage user engagement.
    • Sign-Up Conversion Rate: Ensure that your product’s value is clearly communicated during the sign-up process.
    • Product Analytics: Utilize user onboarding principles to inform your product analytics and make data-driven decisions.
  • The Metaphor of Baking a Cake:
    • Prioritize improving the core experience of using your product (baking the cake) before implementing growth hacks or additional features (adding icing).
    • A fantastic icing (growth hacks) won’t mask a poorly baked cake (negative initial user experience).
  • Addressing the challenges of user drop-off during the free trial phase requires a comprehensive approach to user onboarding.
  • By focusing on the first user experience and strategically implementing growth hacks, companies can improve retention rates and increase user engagement.
  • Introduction to User Onboarding: Joran and Ildefonso explore the challenges SaaS companies face in terms of user onboarding. They use the analogy of baking a cake to explain the importance of helping users achieve their goals from the start.
  • Challenges with Empty Dashboards: Ildefonso highlights common mistakes such as dropping users into a dashboard without guidance, leading to a lack of value. He emphasizes the need to guide users through a clear path in their first experience.
  • Understanding the Product: Ildefonso discusses the mistake of assuming users will understand the product after signing up. He suggests streamlining value communication before sign-up and improving the sign-up process itself.
  • Complex Sign-Up Paths: The hosts talk about the importance of simplifying sign-up paths, sharing an example of a client’s overcomplicated sign-up form.
  • Importance of Tracking: Ildefonso emphasizes tracking user onboarding to improve it effectively, despite the misconception that it’s a complex process. He also suggests removing unnecessary elements before adding new ones.
  • When to Seek Help: Joran asks about the right time to reach out to a growth consultant or user onboarding expert. Ildefonso advises seeking help when you recognize the need for user onboarding improvement but aren’t sure how to approach it.
  • Special Offers for Listeners: Ildefonso announces special offers for podcast listeners who mention they heard about him from the podcast, including discounts on his services.
  • Frameworks for Improvement: Ildefonso shares two frameworks for enhancing user onboarding: the Communications Framework for improving user understanding of the product and the First User Experience Framework for optimizing the initial user journey.
  • Value of Frameworks: Joran emphasizes the value of Ildefonso’s frameworks, recounting how their previous conversation resulted in valuable insights for their company.
  • SaaS Growth Stages – Early Stage: The hosts discuss user onboarding advice for SaaS founders in various stages of growth. For early-stage companies, they emphasize focusing on retention and using qualitative data for insights.
  • SaaS Growth Stages – Scale Stage: In the scale stage, Ildefonso suggests personalizing user onboarding for different personas and diving deep into quantitative data to improve the relationship between cost per acquisition and lifetime value.
  • Final Thoughts: Ildefonso emphasizes the importance of being user-centric and focusing on delivering real-world results in the user onboarding process.

The podcast episode concludes with a summary of the key takeaways, including the significance of user-centric onboarding, frameworks for improvement, and advice tailored to different SaaS growth stages.

Key Timecodes

  • (0:30) Show and guest intro
  • (1:12) Why you should listen to Ildefonso Prieto 
  • (5:35) What is User onboarding?
  • (8:17) Why do most users drop off?
  • (12:50) What you need to have in place before Improving User Onboarding.
  • (16:00) Steps to take to improve your user onboarding
  • (18:18) Know how to bake your “cake” properly
  • (25:58) The right time to reach out to a growth consultant
  • (32:41) Growth level SaaS Advice (How to grow to 10K MRR and 10M ARR)


[00:00:00.000] – Intro

Welcome to Growing a B2B SaaS. On this show, you’ll get actionable and usable advice. You’ll hear about all aspects of growing a business to a business software company. Customer success, sales, funding, bootstrapping, exits, scaling, everything you need to know about growing a startup, and you’ll get it from someone who’s going through the same journey. Now your host, Joran Hofman.

[00:00:28.900] – Joran

Welcome back to another episode on the Grow Your B2B SaaS Podcast, where we discuss all topics on how to grow your B2B SaaS no matter in which stage you’re in. You can only make one first impression, which means it has to be good, as it is very likely that 40% to 60% of your free trial users never use the product a second time. That is what we’re going to talk about today, how to convert more signups into loyal customers, aka how to improve your user onboarding. My guest today is Ildefonso Prieto, is a product growth consultant who helps SaaS companies to grow their free-to-paid conversions. Welcome to the show, Ildefonso Prieto.

[00:01:06.840] – Ildefonso

Thank you so much, Joran. I’m happy I’ve been in the show. Super excited to geek out on user onboarding with you today.

[00:01:11.950] – Joran

We already did it before, so I know why people should listen to you, but I always like to ask this question, why should people listen to you today?

[00:01:19.920] – Ildefonso

Yeah, for sure. That’s a super short question I like to answer with a little story about myself and how I came up to be where I am. Basically, I studied entrepreneurship in my undergraduate program for the Wall Center of Entrepreneurship in the University of Houston, which is the number one program for the school for entrepreneurship in the US. On my last semester, I started a marketing agency, a growth hacking agency, in which I started doing free stuff, like some simple what I could get, some emails, for example. But then slowly but surely I got a paying client that again, I was doing some simple stuff, email with, but they were super happy with that and they opened up the door for me to start doing product analytics for them. With that, I was able to not only have amazing email campaign that their customers are super happy with, but I ended up identifying a bunch of gaps in their products using their data. They gave me raw data from their purchase list on Excel spreadsheets and I installed Mixpanel. Together, I cross-checked the data to make sure it was good. Then I identified that they had a gap in their funnel that was huge.

[00:02:25.610] – Ildefonso

Basically, we came up with a strategy of eliminating one page and the next page change it with copy based on user feedback. From there, we got a 32 % conversion rate on that landing page alone. Because we eliminated the step, it turned out to be a three % increase in net bottom line, which was huge. We were also able to calculate their proof of retention, which was 90-day repurchase rate, also 30 days and two weeks. But we calculated that, and they ended up getting a bunch of funding and around. Anyways, that was my first taste of this journey. From there, it was just doing all sorts of things. I ended up doing social media marketing, SEO, content management. I did a little bit of paid marketing. A lot of marketing, a lot of product analytics. I was all over the place. I had a mentor who was just talking to me about all this stuff and teaching me. One of the things he mentioned was that for SaaS products, user onboarding is huge. I was like, Oh, user onboarding. Okay, cool. Let me see what this is all about. This is just another growth hacking realm that I need to get into.

[00:03:35.210] – Ildefonso

I started studying it and I thought, Whoa, this is so crucial. This is so important. My mentor was like, This is at the foundation of growth for SaaS products. Then I really wanted to dive in, but I wasn’t there yet to go all in on it. I was still more in the content management side. Then I had a meeting with a partner of my mentor and my mentor, in which he’s a data analyst and he has his own software tracking tool for B2B software products. Basically, all of his data analytics is based on onboarded users. Their whole philosophy is based on onboarded users. To me, that just clicked. I was like, All right, this is the moment that I have to pivot from doing anything for everyone to doing one thing for one persona, which is B2B, SaaS, product. That when I identified that that was like the huge opportunity. I was like, All right, complete focus all in. This is no longer just like a fun thing to study and geek out on, but this is real. Since then, I went hardcore. After that, I just went hardcore into user onboarding and became the user onboarding guy.

[00:04:35.740] – Ildefonso

Everybody here is the Hacker Dojo, knows a user onboarding guy. Ended up getting a bunch of clients. I’ve had over 12 user onboarding specific clients or clients specific to user onboarding. Basically, that’s how I got into this realm. I started from everything, but then narrowed it down all the way into realizing that user onboarding is the thing for me. I forgot to mention there was a specific case study that made me have a turning point for me, and it’s a Twitter case study. And basically, he’s talking about user onboarding before user onboarding is a term, and how he applied it to Twitter, and how he was responsible for Master’s growth. So that was my favorite case study all the time since before I even knew what user onboarding was. So when I saw that and I realized, Oh, this is user onboarding. What? This is definitely my thing. So that’s how I got into becoming the user onboarding guy. I hope that gives you a little bit of understanding into my realm and who I am and how I can help you with user onboarding. I’m the user onboarding geek.

[00:05:33.970] – Joran

Nice. We’re going to start with the simple questions first for the user onboarding guy. I guess let’s start here. What is user onboarding in your opinion? What does it actually entail?

[00:05:44.350] – Ildefonso

There’s a lot of definitions out there, but to me, my opinion onto what is onboarding is helping new users get started with your product and moving forward into their goals. They came to you for something, and user onboarding is all about getting them started and getting them to that something, to that value. You do that by teaching them how to use that product and guiding them through the actual path that is the fastest towards value. If I had to summarize it, I would say it’s all about helping new users get started with a part of your product by teaching them how to do it and guiding them through the fastest way to value. That’s the thing. I would add something here that I like to use because again, there’s so many different issues out there. But sometimes I’d like to drive in what user onboarding feels like with an example. Imagine that your users are like Tony Starke. Your software is the actual Iron Man suit. It’s a super powerful software that will make him super powerful. Together, your user plus your SaaS become a super powerful person. You’re just making a better version of the user that he already is.

[00:06:51.960] – Ildefonso

You’re just making them better. You’re giving them superpowers. In that metaphor, user onboarding would be like Jarvis explaining and helping and guiding Tony Stork through how to learn to use the suit in a way that he gets progress and that he ultimately actually becomes that superhero that he wants to be. Because obviously the first time Tony Stork gets on the suit, you see it on the movie, he doesn’t do it. The first task he talks about is just to do a little flight test, and you see him. Just that quick win, that first win that he gets, it’s like in his brain, Oh, I’m already seeing that it’s likely that I will be able to do this. And again, user onboarding would be like Jarvis or the Iron Man suit helping Tony Stark understand how to use the suit itself and help him to become the superhero that he wants to be. That’s the example I like to use for user onboarding.

[00:07:44.700] – Joran

Yeah, and I think you explain it really nicely as in helping them to get started to get value out of your tool. So we’re going to dive into mistakes a little bit later on. But I think this is one thing where a lot of companies do make the mistake, including ourselves after our conversation last week where we asked them a lot of questions, but we’re not actually helping our users to get value out of the tool. We’re asking a lot of information, but it’s actually not helping them. It’s helping us, but not helping them. I think that’s definitely a good point to help them, guide them towards the value. I stole one of your lines, right? 40-60 % of free trials users never use the product a second time. Why do most users drop off?

[00:08:25.980] – Ildefonso

Yeah, for sure. This is a super scary statistic, and let me just dive a little bit into and then tell you why this happens. Just to give you context, that’s basically half of every new user churn. And this happens so quickly. They sign up, play with your product for five minutes, and they never come back. So it’s super scary. 40-60 % half. This is a killer. This is a killer. Churn is a killer. Many of the reasons why so many suffer product in a plateau is because they have the profits, but the churn is eating out of those profits, and they’re not able to grow because it’s just stagnant. Basically, to target this, there’s another study that goes into why this happened. This one is by Dan Walshnuck. Basically, he was working for a product that was bought by HubSpot, recently acquired by HubSpot. He was working on the user onboarding experience without still knowing that it was called user onboarding experience. But he was basically working on the user onboarding experience. The research he did was that he found out that there was a bunch of new users that he would call drive-by users.

[00:09:29.460] – Ildefonso

Drive-by users is just a user that signs up and plays within the first few seconds and drives by, just leaves. That’s literally what the other quote was about, right? He goes deep into this and he tries a bunch of things, and he’s able to figure out how to unlock growth. But what he’s able to understand and discover and what helps him make that jump is that he asks these drive-by users in an experiment, why is it that they’re not coming back? He finds out several reasons, but the two main reasons that make up over half of the new users that answered the research was, number one, is that the users didn’t understand what the product was about. Number two is that the users didn’t see the value of the product. Let me break down those two for you a little bit. Problem number one is that people have a mental model of what your product does, and they’re trying to understand what it is. Maybe they make a mental model in which they think that your tool does something, but in reality it does not. Or in reality, you’re a tool that does so much more, and that’s just a little part of your product.

[00:10:38.450] – Ildefonso

They sign up expecting it to be this big thing specifically for that problem that they’re trying to solve. Then in the user onboarding experience, they just see a bunch of other stuff and they don’t understand what’s going on. I sign up for this and not even this. It’s a whole bunch. I don’t want to do this. Bye. In fact, actually, this is hilarious. Yesterday I was talking with and I was working on some stuff and literally it happened to me. I was looking for a tool that all I needed to do was to change the color white to black on a logo. That’s all I did. I ended up going through at least 2-3 products that I would sign up and they would talk about the inversion of the color and how you would be able to do this Hex thing. Then I would sign up and it was like this whole Photoshop thing with a bunch of things. Yes, you can do that, but the whole onboarding experience was not about that at all. Everything was like… Anyways, my point is I had an expectation of what it was going to be. It wasn’t what I thought I understood wrong.

[00:11:41.510] – Ildefonso

Then, therefore, when I get there, if this is not what I want, I churn. It’s just not what I wanted. Making sure that someone understands your product before they even sign up is huge. That’s one of the main reasons why people turn after the first experience. The other second one is that they don’t see the value of your product. What this means is that they sign up with your product, they play with your product, and they’re not convinced that you’re going to get them to where they want to go. They’re just not. They just don’t think you’re going to get them there. This is because they didn’t see the value. You’re not up. You sign up, you play with the thing for five minutes, you are not seeing any progress in your problems. You just feel like this is a waste of time because I’m just clicking a bunch of buttons. They’re taking me through a bunch of skippable tours. This is not going to help me. I don’t see the value. I’go find somewhere else. I go find my solution somewhere else.

[00:12:33.890] – Joran

Let me ask you one question first. Now we know the problems, right? They didn’t understand the product, they didn’t see the value. But it’s, I guess one more basic question maybe. People now think, Hey, I really need to change my onboard, user onboarding because we’re not actually helping them to guide towards value. But what do they need to have in place before even thinking about improving their user onboarding? Are there any things you need to have as a B2B SaaS first before you can even start thinking of improving?

[00:13:01.870] – Ildefonso

This is a hard question because honestly, I would say that you need user onboarding. User onboarding shouldn’t be an afterthought. That’s what I should say. User onboarding shouldn’t be an afterthought that you have your product and you put it and then now you’re going to maybe add some stuff, a lot of people think about it like user onboarding that it’s all those product tours that you add on top of your UX. And that’s honestly not user onboarding. It’s one thing that you can do, but it’s not encompassing everything. Honestly, with that in mind, at any point of your stage, you should be thinking about user onboarding. It just depends on various things. What’s your priority right now as a company? And also the other thing that I will say is that the bigger you are, the higher our priority starts becoming. But since the beginning, you should be thinking about user onboarding. Even if it’s just a team meeting in which you say, All right, this is going to be the first experience for the product. We definitely have to take this into account. And this is for early, super early SaaS companies that basically they have to focus on retention.

[00:14:05.500] – Ildefonso

And why I say this that even on early stage you should focus on user onboarding is because user onboarding is tied to early retention. And early retention is a huge deal. Because if you make changes in week one, retention, on the retention curve, those results will cascade over time and carry on for the rest of the lifetime value of your users. So it ultimately raises up your entire retention curve. And by doing that, the area below the retention curve is bigger, aka, you’re making money. But again, for earlier stages, they would focus on how the user onboarding will impact their retention. Then after that, once you’re a little bit bigger, you probably will change your focus into… Because you have already proven retention at this point. Once you’ve already proven retention, then you’re moving into more virality stages and revenue stages. When you get into those, that’s when you’re starting to look into, All right, I need to get the most lifetime value out of my customers. How can I make sure that my free-to-pay conversion rate is higher? And also that my upgrade sequences are higher. Revenue sequences can be done in a way to increase more lifetime value.

[00:15:17.350] – Ildefonso

You can do all these. Basically, I don’t know if you can see the angle when I’m talking like that, but basically one angle is like one is focused on, Hey, I just need to increase retention and make sure I’m getting closer to product-market fit. And the other one is more like, All right, we’ve established quite a bit of product-market fit. We have retention. We need to focus more on getting more buck out of each user, basically. And that goes along with pricing, strategies, and all the sorts of other things. But user onboarding is definitely a part of it. To answer your question on a rant, basically, we were at the start of it yesterday.

[00:15:47.210] – Joran

Yeah, that makes sense. Don’t wait too long. Let’s just dive in, indeed, into improving the user onboarding. So we had the study of then, so the drive-by users didn’t understand the product, didn’t see the value. I guess if you would come in or if you would recommend now other SaaS companies to improve their user onboarding, which steps should they take?

[00:16:08.090] – Ildefonso

It always depends on the company, that’s the problem. But I can tell you the main things that I see that I like to tackle. The first thing I like to tackle is the first user experience. Like I said, like we said, 46 % of users turned after the first experience. That first experience is extremely important. I focused, the first thing I should focus on, the 20 % that gets 80 % of the results, the first user experience. After that, there’s some growth hacks that you can do that once you’ve optimized your first user experience that you can add on top of that. Otherwise, that doesn’t work. But basically, there’s some growth hacks that you can do to guide your users in that first user experience and even to call them back. For example, trigger emails is a good one that I like and super powerful. But basically, first user experience, growth hacks that help the first user experience. Then you go into sign-up conversion rate. This is all about people having a problem getting visitors to sign up. They’re not communicating what their product does. They’re not getting people to understand what the product does.

[00:17:04.530] – Ildefonso

They’re not getting people excited about the product does. Finally, the other area I really like to tackle is product analytics. That’s tied with the fact that your product analytics should be tied with user onboarding. Your retention is based on onboarded users, and your revenue is also tied to onboarded users. Just basically product analytics with a user onboarding philosophy behind it, like the data analyst guy that I told you guys at the beginning. Those are the things I tackle. If I was to suggest to the people hearing is to try to identify which one you’re struggling most with and go all in. To most of you, I would say 90% of you, it’s the first user experience. Just the first user experience. Just polish that. If you polish that, you would be set, basically. I like the metaphor of baking a cake and the icing. The first user experience is baking the actual cake and the sponge cake. If that is good, then that’s awesome. If you add good icing on top of it, amazing cake, right? But if you have a terrible cake and then you add amazing icing on it, doesn’t matter how amazing the icing is, the cake is going to taste horrible.

[00:18:09.510] – Ildefonso

So if you don’t fix your first user experience and you add a bunch of growth hacks on top of it, it’s still going to be horrible. So basically focus on that first user experience.

[00:18:17.110] – Joran

Yeah, that makes sense. And maybe one question here I think the most common thing a lot of SaaS companies have is they have a dashboard and when people land into the app, it’s going to be empty, right? You have zero numbers, you have no charts, no graphs, nothing, because everything is going to be zero. So I guess talking about the cake, you have that shape of a cake, but you don’t actually know how to bake it. So how do you help people to actually make that cake in the first place?

[00:18:42.160] – Ildefonso

Yeah. So again, to me, it all comes down to that first user experience. It’s like the main hitters. If you need to just focus on one thing, focus on that man. And I do have a framework that I want to share here. But before I do that, I want to mention some of the common mistakes that I’ve seen from my clients, maybe some of you are experiencing and maybe you can relate to and see if it can help you guys out. But the first one is literally that that you just said. That’s also what I thought it was a good segue, because my first common mistake that I see is that people would have… They have an amazing product. This is literally something a client told me. If they would only spend the time and effort to get to know my product, they would fall in love with it and never leave. I was like, Yeah, but no one’s going to spend the time and effort to do that. You need to make it easy for them. It shouldn’t be a whole bunch of time and effort. But this is a big problem because what ends up happening is that you drop the new user into a dashboard with zero direction.

[00:19:42.960] – Ildefonso

Zero. You just hope for them to find value. And just the probability, sheer probability on just the amount of clicks they have to make is just negligible. The likelihood is that they will finally find value in your product. So that’s why you need to guide them. You need to basically create a road for them that they’re going to follow in that first user experience, and that you make sure that you clear any obstacles are in the way, make sure that the as-fault is the best possible that they go fast in it, you make it as easy as possible for them. Ideally, what you need to do with that problem, the problem is not people just being dropped off in the dashboard or in your product, whatever. It doesn’t have to be a dashboard. They maybe just get dropped in your product randomly and for them to hope to find value. That’s a huge mistake. And the way to fix it is to give them direction, give them a path that they need to follow to get value, help them that you know how to get value more than them. They just met you. They don’t even know what’s happening.

[00:20:43.790] – Ildefonso

Way better. Help them through that. So that’s a big mistake I see. Another mistake that relates to Good Seyway is that people don’t even understand your product, right? We talked about this before, but people don’t understand your product before they sign up. This is a huge problem. They should understand what your product does before they sign up, this is a big mistake. A lot of people are hoping that people are going to understand, Oh, they all understand what my product is all about once they use it. They’re never going to use it because they never understand it. So you need to get them to understand before they get to use it. It also streamlines the whole value to them. They’ll be able to get through the road faster because they know how to use the skates. But that’s a common mistake, not getting people to understand. And that’s when I focus on sign-up conversion, like I mentioned before. The other thing is the sign-up path is often super difficult. A lot of people make sign-up path super complicated. I don’t know why, but it’s a common problem. For example, I had a client that asked for 14 things for a sign-up.

[00:21:40.680] – Ildefonso

I was like, Yes, I know you’re still selling. It’s a B2B thing, and I get it. You still want to ask for quite a bit of detail. But man, 14 things is a lot, when in reality all you needed was two. If you really wanted to minimize it, you really could do it with two. I understand. Maybe you want to ask three or four. But the more you add, the more friction. In this case, it was a lot of friction. They were like, Why are people not signing up? I’m like, Man, do you have a huge problem here? Let’s focus on this and stream. That’s one thing that I also see. First UX. I keep hammering the first UX. This is because another big thing I see, and actually the narrative across user onboarding is that user onboarding is product towards tool tips and checklist and all these little tools because there’s so many user onboarding task tools out there. Yes, they can help. These are the icing on the cake, like I was saying. But most people don’t treat it like the icing on the cake. They treat it like the cake itself. They just have a broken UX.

[00:22:32.710] – Ildefonso

That’s a problem. That they have a broken first experience, they have broken user onboarding, and they just add on top of it more UI. That just makes it worse. On that note, the idea and the suggestion in my consult always is, remove everything and test how your funnel is doing without any of that. Identify where your gaps are. Once you remove this, you’ll be able to identify, they’ll be very clear where people are not moving forward. In there, that’s what you need to fix. It’s basically a signal of, hey, this is where it’s broken. This is what you need to fix this. Then once you know it’s fixed, then you can add other growth hacking tools that will make it better. But for now, I would suggest turn it off and do an experiment. Turn it off, test it, see where the broken stuff is, fix it, and then add again your stuff. But it would be a super valuable thing to do for your team in general with the first UX problem. Another mistake is that I don’t see people tracking a lot of user onboarding, and I think that’s also understandable just because, like I said, the guy who basically instilled that philosophy in me is super underground and not many people understand, and he’s a super data analyst.

[00:23:41.230] – Ildefonso

God, I would say. He knows so much about it that I can see why not everybody knows that, and why I can see why he’s like an industry leader on this thing. So I can see why not everybody, but it’s a thing and super valuable. And then how you track the improvement on the first user experience changes. Another thing I see a lot is mistaking activity for achievement. What I mean by this is that even when you’re trying to craft the first user experience, I’ll be in a workshop with the team and they will struggle. Their mindset is, All right, I need to get them from point A to point B in my software. What are the steps within my software? That is the wrong mentality. The shift you need is what’s the path in the real world for my users? What’s the value path in the real world? Then from that path is how you craft the clip. But you’re not focusing on getting them to click as much in your software. Nobody likes clicking on stuff. Nobody’s doing clicking for fun. Everybody’s doing it because there’s some value behind it that they’re going to get.

[00:24:42.490] – Ildefonso

Don’t mistake, activity for achievement. By that, activity is just clicking stuff. Achievement is that in the real world, they got value. They moved forward in their journey. Maybe they’re an email marketeer. They sent their first email campaign and got an answer in the real world. That’s the vibe. But those are some of the mistakes that some of you can identify with and hopefully I addressed ways to help.

[00:25:05.600] – Joran

You with those. Nice. And I think I might steal a sentence now from you here, but the one thing you mentioned to us as well as in basically map out the entire funnel. Indeed, as you’re mentioning right now, how do people actually get value out of your product? So which steps they need to take? For example, in our case, we basically started at the website and we just tracked everything. So what do they need to do? What information do they need to fill out? And what do we actually need? And the recommendation he gave us is if you don’t need it, scrap it. And in the end, we scrapped a lot. We still need to implement it. So the sign-up is if you’re going to go now, then it’s still the same. But we put it on the roadmap. I think within four or five weeks, we’re actually going to change stuff. We’re basically scrapping most of the onboarding things we’re asking, and we’re going to make a huge overhaul on it.

[00:25:53.330] – Ildefonso

Wow, I was super excited to hear that. You have to definitely let me know when you do, and I’ll check it out.

[00:25:58.180] – Joran

Nice. We had a chat, right? When should other companies reach out to a growth consultant or a user onboarding guru like yourself? I guess I think people know already what you can offer them, but when is the good time to actually get some outside help in?

[00:26:14.010] – Ildefonso

Yeah, so it just depends a lot. But normally, people reach out to me when they already know. It’s like they already know that user onboarding is a problem for them. That’s the feel I get every time someone reaches out to me. It’s like, Hey, I know, I studied it. I understand that this is important. I understand that it helps me scale my business. I understand all this stuff, but I don’t know how to do it. That’s when I feel like that’s the most valuable. It’s when the person has identified that the user onboarding is a thing and they want to at least try to make something for it to improve it. They’re stuck and they’re like, Oh, I don’t even know where to begin. Or I’ve had other people where I’ve made changes and I just don’t see the needle move. I’m like, Yeah, this because of this and that. I guess it’s when the need arises that you identified it. But like I said before, user onboarding shouldn’t be an afterthought, and it often is. Honestly, it just depends. It just depends, man. Like I said, for example, early-stage companies, if they notice that they need to focus on retention and they are looking for ways to improve retention, user onboarding is one of them.

[00:27:19.670] – Ildefonso

If that’s a priority, let’s go. If you want to improve free-to-paid conversions and more revenue sequences that extend lifetime value, then definitely go in. It just depends. At each stage of the companies, there’s different things you can do for user onboarding, and it’s different at different stages. A small company will basically most likely have one persona or very few personas, and it’s very focused to a niche. The product is normally doing very few things. Whereas into a bigger company, then they’re serving multiple personas. Now they have to customize each onboarding experience to each persona and personalize the new user experience. They also have to personalize a bunch of other events, tracking and stuff that need to be specific to that. They also have to have a better support team, but it’s a different mindset. It’s almost like you never stop looking at marketing, you never stop looking at product, but there’s definitely different things you should do at different stages. But yeah- Makes sense. Basically, I have two frameworks for the two problems that I highlighted before, the understanding and seeing value. I want to share with you two frameworks very quickly that will help you with these two problems.

[00:28:27.940] – Ildefonso

First framework is all about getting people to understand your product, and I call it the communications framework. Step one, define your target market and your personas. Pick the most important one. Step two, define the current situation of your potential users. What are they doing right now? How are they solving their problem today? Then you define the desired situation where they want to be. Where is it that they want to go with your product? Step four is defining in detail how your product reaches the gap from current situation to desired situation. Then the last step is to, once you have that summary, try to lift it out in three to five steps, a high-level steps. This way, you easily can have a section on your landing page that will communicate how your product would take them from current to desired. For the rest of your landing page, only talk about the desired state of your product, of your users. Only talk about the desired state, show testimonials and proof, and make the sign-up flow easy. That’s getting people to understand your product and getting them to sign up. Then the other framework that I have is the first UX, which I explain a little bit, but I’ll do the three steps very quickly.

[00:29:30.640] – Ildefonso

You define a goal for the first user experience of your product. This has to have a certain criteria, but basically you work with your team to define this goal. Then you map out the steps from the moment that a new user signs up to the moment they achieve this goal. Finally, with this list of steps, you look at each step and you ask yourself three questions. Is it absolutely necessary? If it’s not an absolutely necessary step, remove it. Can you automate it? If you can, then automate it. But if you cannot remove it because it’s absolutely necessary and you cannot automate it, then you need to find creative ways to simplify it. An example of this would be instead of giving someone a link code to embed on their website, why not just giving them the published link of their website ready? That’s just one example that I threw in quick. But that’s the two frameworks. Hopefully, that helps out. Yeah, just wanted to make sure that was in there because I know that big value for some people. Every time I share that, people say most of the value is there, so I want to make sure that was in there.

[00:30:26.840] – Ildefonso

Nice. I don’t know.

[00:30:28.270] – Joran

Definitely very well. It’s definitely valuable. It is better than I explained it. But that’s what you mentioned to us the other day where we went through it and we got a lot of value out of it. So I would definitely recommend other people doing it as well.

[00:30:40.090] – Ildefonso

I did want to mention that for anybody that’s listening to this podcast and anybody that comes from Reditas, I will be giving them special offers. So just to run you down, I do free consults in general. So if you just want to be hearing about me from before Reditas or anything, you just want a free consult, I’m happy to do this. Just go to sasparowards. Com and you can book your free consult. But for the people with Reditas, actually trying to take in some new case studies so that I can have some good testimonials and data proof that built some good case studies. I want the person that works with me to agree on that term, which means basically like a testimonial, just tell me when things are changed so that I can look at it and see, and if you can share any data on the results that we provided. That’s the thing for the case study. If you’re good with that, then I basically extend the offer to 80 % discount on people on my services for people that come with Reditas. That’s like for most of my services, but there are some services I would have to give you a different discount.

[00:31:47.670] – Ildefonso

But again, if you come from Reditus, just say that, and then I’ll give you some very cool offers, basically.

[00:31:53.920] – Commercial Break

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[00:32:33.410] – Joran

When we talk about user onboarding, what advice would you have for SaaS founders in different stages? And to begin with, if somebody was just starting out in Croke to 10k monthly recurring revenue.

[00:32:44.840] – Ildefonso

On the 10K MR thing, you are looking more into retention. You’re trying to prove retention as much as possible, and that’s actually how you’re going to get more money overall in the long term. On that stage, and I like to use Lean Analytics as a framework to understand how growth stages for startups work. Basically, their way of thinking is, first you empathize with people that you understand their problem and a solution that is working. Then you strive for stickiness, which, aka, is retention. After you have retention, and only after you have retention, do you focus on virality? Do you focus on revenue? And then you finally focus on scare. But at this stage, retention. Everything about retention. So if you’re focusing on improving the user onboarding for any reason at all, it should be to get better retention. These are inherently tied together. Like I said before, it’s the first user experience. It’s half of the news we’re going to churn. Retention, it’s already there. It’s almost impossible to get… Your retention curve is going to churn some people. But user onboarding will focus is on making that handoff from marketing to product and getting people to actually experience the value of your product so that they stay.

[00:33:59.340] – Ildefonso

So for early 10:00 PM, I would focus on your user onboarding efforts, helping retention. Some of the tips here, because I also wrote some tips, specifically, I would focus on keeping the user onboarding short to the point, teaching the users by doing. Don’t just tell them stuff, get them forward and moving, but make it quick. Also at this stage, qualitative data is more important. You don’t have enough quantitative data to pull the big guns on data, but qualitative data is super important, and you can get in under 24 hours, five-user tests for the first user experience of your product almost instantly. That’s another service I do, by the way, if anybody is interested. I do usability testing for the same reason. But basically, you can go yourself and do it. There’s a bunch of tools that do remote usability testing. That’s the data you should be focusing on for early stage. And then, like I said, focus on retention.

[00:34:50.110] – Joran

Nice. Exactly. We’re going to go past 10K MR. We’re going to grow towards 10 million. How would the advice change, basically?

[00:34:59.440] – Ildefonso

Yeah, for sure. This is when things start getting more complicated. You’re starting to reach out to different channels, even for your marketing. There’s even more user personas. Your product does more things. In this realm, the first thing I recommend is personalizing the user onboarding by personas. Each persona is there to do something. If you can craft that journey for them specifically, they would quickly get to value. You know how I mentioned before that sometimes you land in a product that has all these other things and you don’t even know where to start? You basically are putting blind folds on them so they don’t see all the other stuff, and they can just go towards their value. And then once they attain their value, then you can be like, Oh, by the way, we do all these other stuff. But you got them to value, and that’s for each persona. And because you’re bigger and you do have more futures for your product, you’ll have more things to tailor. Personalizing is a huge thing once you are bigger. Another thing is you start focusing more on revenue. You know how before I was focusing on retention?

[00:36:07.760] – Ildefonso

At this point, you’ve already proven retention, and you can start looking more into data, quantitative data. That’s when I would start diving deep into quantitative data. It’s a shift. But then you’re looking for ways to increase lifetime value for customer, but also decrease cost per acquisition by activating more users. So if you’re able to activate more users, your cost per acquisition decreases, therefore making your business more scalable. That’s literally at that point you’re trying to scale. So the main focus is to improve their relationship between cost per acquisition and lifetime value. That’s the metric that you hear a lot about scalability, and it’s one to three, I think, the recommended one. For every one dollar you spend, you get three dollars, but that’s what makes it super scalable. That’s what your user onboarding should be focusing on. You all have different metrics. At that point, you need to define the specific metrics. You need to have the onboarding form. Data becomes the biggest part here because you have it. You can’t do usability testing with everybody. It’s still useful, but at this point, you have so many users that they’re literally telling you with the data what you need to fix.

[00:37:19.680] – Ildefonso

That would be my shift in mindset. I don’t know, I think you would start looking into data analytics, and some of the metrics that I would recommend, by the way, it should be onboarding conversion rate, time to onboard, so how long does it to take people to onboard? At this point, you’ll be able to check literally what features of your product are leading to further engagement and which actions within the user onboarding experience are leading to churn. If you’reat first, they almost look like correlations, but you might be able to see some patterns and even maybe with your gut feeling and everything. But basically what the data paint, it would paint if a user is using these features, it’s more likely for them to onboard correctly than if they use these other features, and then you would have to track it by the persona. So that also depends. But it gets more complicated, basically. It’s much more about data than it is what it was before. I think that would be my summary.

[00:38:14.740] – Joran

Nice. We are going to wrap things up. I think this is now the longest episode. I guess what we’re going to do is we’re going to add a couple of links, like the study you mentioned by Dan, the two frameworks, the Lean Analytics. We’re definitely going to link that. We’re going to link, of course, to your LinkedIn profile and to your site and then people can reach out to you. And as mentioned, you’re going to give them pre-consultation if they want because I think everybody can hear you have a lot of knowledge to share and you can really help people. That’s one thing for sure. And I can say that from our own experience as well from our conversation last week. And I think that’s how I wanted to wrap things up. Any final short thoughts from your side before we end the recording?

[00:38:58.400] – Ildefonso

Here’s the final thought. Be user-centric, especially in that first user experience. Just focus as much as you can to get them real-world results. Real-world results, user-centric. That’s it. I think that’s the main ideas that I would like to drive.

[00:39:13.780] – Joran

That’s a really good closure. Thank you very much for coming on today, the Fonzo. And it was again a pleasure.

[00:39:20.630] – Ildefonso

No, it was amazing. Thank you so much for having me.

[00:39:22.740] – Joran

Cheers. Thanks.

[00:39:24.600] – Speaker 3

You’ve been listening to growing a B2b SaaS. You’re on has been ahead of customer success before founding his own startup. He’s experiencing the same journey you are. We hope you’ve gotten some actionable advice from the show, and we hope you had fun along the way. We know we did. Make sure to like, rate, and review the podcast in the meantime. To find out more and to hook up with us on our social media sites, go to www. Getreditas. Com. See you next time on Growing a B2B Sass.

Joran Hofman
Meet the author
Joran Hofman
Back in 2020 I was an affiliate for 80+ SaaS tools and I was generating an average of 30k in organic visits each month with my site. Due to the issues I experienced with the current affiliate management software tools, it never resulted in the passive income I was hoping for. Many clunky affiliate management tools lost me probably more than $20,000+ in affiliate revenue. So I decided to build my own software with a high focus on the affiliates, as in the end, they generate more money for SaaS companies.
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