The most important thing for any SaaS offering it to make the user aware of your product. Advertisements, promotional campaigns, blog posts, review sites, industry press, the right marketing strategy, all can help with that. The second most important thing, though, is to make the user understand what your product does and how to use it.
Unless you are selling something completely trivial ― which most SaaS platforms hardly are ― you need to give people a clear picture of what your product is about, what its philosophy and capabilities are, and how its various features work.
This includes potential customers, IT decision makers, and users that have just subscribed to your SaaS platform and are still evaluating it. If you fail the former, they’ll turn elsewhere. If you fail the latter, they won’t be renewing their subscriptions.
This is where user onboarding ― the process of educating potential customers and new users about your SaaS product ― comes into play.
To make this happen, you will need a powerful training and onboarding platform, which will let you create your Saas onboarding material (or import it from an authoring tool) in the least time possible.
But how should you go about it from a content perspective, and what are some of the best practices and guidelines for SaaS customer onboarding? Well, this is what this post is all about.
1) Open it up
It would be better not to constrain your SaaS onboarding to users that have already subscribed to your service.
That would alienate potential customers and IT decision makers still evaluating your offering, and for whose your online brochure-like marketing materials might not be enough.
If those people are willing to devote time to study your SaaS onboarding material even before they have been committed to subscribing to your product, then by all means, let them!
They might or might not subscribe in the end, but they’ll surely have a better experience (and be more likely to subscribe) than if your documentation is hidden behind a payment form.
TalentLMS “Unlimited” plans only charge for active users, so you can let anyone interested in your product subscribe to your SaaS customer onboarding program without worrying about them opening an account and never following up.
2) Keep it simple
Having your SaaS onboarding material readily accessible is a good first step — but it also needs to be accessible in the “easy to understand” sense.
Whether it’s new subscribers or potential ones studying it, the vast majority of them won’t be rocket scientists (well, except if you’re selling a SaaS targeted at rocket scientists, which we’ll assume you are not).
So, keep it simple.
If you have lots of difficult configurations, or advanced use cases with elaborate procedures and features, consider splitting your material to a simpler guide (for SaaS onboarding) and a more detailed one (for full training).
Make it so that your users immediately grasp the value proposition and potential ROI from your service.
3) Make it relevant
Some SaaS offerings are only targeting a vertical industry niche. Others apply to multiple industries and in all kinds of contexts and use cases.
What I’m getting at is this: you need to make a new or potential customer understand why your product is relevant to them and their use cases, and to show them how they can set it up and start using it to achieve whatever it is they want to use it for.
If your SaaS has a few common use cases and lots of uncommon ones, tackle the most popular ones first.
If your SaaS applies to multiple industries, divide your onboarding material into different sections that cater to each one of them (each using the particular industry’s use cases as examples, adopting the industry’s terminology, etc.). Add indexes so that a customer can jump directly to the sections that concern them.
There are multiple ways you can achieve this in TalentLMS, from simply using different lesson units or courses, to devoting whole dedicated Branches (independent learning portals) to a particular industry or customer case.
4) Make it engaging
Making your content simple and relevant are important first steps to make it engaging.
There is some more you can do, though.
Split your content into logical sections. Don’t try to cram too much of it in the same lesson unit.
With TalentLMS, and especially its mobile counterparts, TalentLMS for iOS and Android, you can even take advantage of microlearning to give users straight-to-the-point, bite-sized information about your SaaS.
Plus, why not enable some light gamification options, such as badges, to give your users a sense of progress and accomplishment in their SaaS onboarding progress?
5) Help them out
The support that you offer potential customers during your onboarding needs to be just as good as the support that you offer for your actual SaaS.
You don’t want to miss a sale just because a potential customer got confused or frustrated during the SaaS onboarding process and didn’t have anyone to help them out.
In TalentLMS you can take advantage of its discussion forums and messaging system, arrange for one-on-one sessions with instructors and/or support persons (e.g. via its native support for teleconference sessions), and even use an integrated chat service (e.g. leveraging the popular Zopim platform) to answer user questions.
On top of the above, make sure that users have access to any contact details they might need (e.g. for your sales team) right from within your onboarding portal, without asking them to search through your regular SaaS site.
Having your sales and support contact details clearly present vs having users hunt for them can make all the difference between a successful sale and a lost opportunity.
You can also use TalentLMS’ Survey capabilities to ask users for their feedback on your SaaS onboarding program, and to gather any questions or suggestions that they might have.
6) Make it balanced
You need to keep your SaaS customer onboarding material balanced between being promotional material for potential users and helpful guide for new users.
You could, of course, create two different versions of your material, depending on whether the user has already subscribed to your SaaS or not, but instead we suggest that you tone down any obvious promotional references, and focus on useful advice, clear guidance, and practical instruction.
This works for both audiences: it makes your material more to-the-point and thus helpful for new subscribers to your service, while at the same time preventing it from giving a cheap “promotional fluff” vibe to potential customers.
7) Ask for referrals
Speaking of promotion, there’s no better kind than word-of-mouth or the online equivalent which is a referral.
So don’t be shy: ask your users to invite their friends, and encourage them into doing so by giving them special discounts on their subscription plans, or access to bonus features.
That said, don’t be spammy. Avoid constantly nagging your users for referrals, and don’t ask them to spam everybody they know either.
8) Keep in touch
SaaS conversion is not a fast process, especially for the more enterprise-y, expensive or complex SaaS products.
Users need to take their time to evaluate different solutions, see whether they work for them, and have their purchases approved by the IT department or the office of the CFO.
Sometimes, they might even start evaluating a new solution, but give up because of lack of time, or fall-back to their previous way of doing things.
Don’t let those users slip by.
Follow their onboarding progress (or lack thereof), check to see whether they are stuck or need help in working with your SaaS, send them the occasional offer or newsletter about your later version and its new features, and generally try to keep them in the loop.
TalentLMS makes it easy to check on their progress, and get reports on their onboarding activities. It also allows you to view reports and send custom messages to all SaaS onboarding users matching certain criteria (e.g. not having logged on for some time), and even export their details and email address in CSV format for further processing in your CRM or elsewhere.
You can even create a custom pipeline, using TalentLMS’ REST API support, for automating the whole process. Again: don’t be spammy, and offer them a clear way to unsubscribe from your SaaS-related emails.
9) Have a clear Call To Action
If your SaaS customer onboarding program extends beyond existing subscribers (to potential customers and businesses evaluating your SaaS offering), as we’ve suggested, then you should include a prominent Call to Action throughout the whole process (or, at the very least, at the end of it).
Give your users all the data and knowledge that they need to make an informed decision, and then ask them to make it.
In this post, we had a look at the best practices for SaaS user onboarding, and how TalentLMS can be used to deliver the optimal customer onboarding experience.
Being a fully loaded online training and eCommerce platform means that TalentLMS can prove useful in many more ways, from SaaS onboarding and training your own staff or your partner network, to offering commercial certifications for your SaaS platform.