In the beginning, customer onboarding was formless and dull. Impersonal flows and exhaustive product tours ruled the land of SaaS. But then there was light, and now, things are a whole lot better: You have customer onboarding software that is truly the thing of miracles.
Want to send targeted emails to bachelors in their mid-30s who like dogs? No problem!
Want to hear the thoughts of users as they complete your flows? You got it!
Want to experiment with new flow designs on the fly without the need for a dedicated dev team to make it happen? Way ahead of you!
In today’s world of engaging onboarding flows, customers expect more than just your average, everyday introduction to a product. They want to get a personalized experience that shows them how your product can change their lives (or at least make them a wee bit better).
These 12 customer onboarding software each uniquely help you level up your onboarding by giving you more data, more tools, and more feedback to wow your customers with. They can’t quite complete your onboarding for you (yet), but they’ll help you take your onboarding out of the dark ages and transform it into the revelation you always dreamed it would be.
The benefits of customer onboarding software
“Okay, so customer onboarding software are advanced tools that revolutionize how I onboard users, but why else would I want them?” you ask. Good question. You’re running a business, and the money it costs to buy these tools could go to something else. (But just because it could go elsewhere doesn’t mean it should.) Here are three benefits of customer onboarding software that’ll prove their worth more than your company’s hard-earned cash.
1. They’re going to save you time (and money)
Most of the benefits these tools bring to your customer onboarding process could be done by hand, either by intensive coding or pain-staking, mind-numbing repetitive tasks (think: sending custom one-off emails for every new user). Instead, you’d be better off using these tools to create a customer onboarding experience that amazes customers and doesn’t take an army to implement.
Having the right tools in your arsenal lets your team focus on tasks that actually move the needle, leaving the repetitive and time-consuming tasks (like data mining and product tours) to machines. That means more time experimenting with new onboarding flows, improving customer experience, or providing actual human support during the most critical moments in the customer journey.
Using machines to automate parts of your onboarding also better positions you to keep your team lean and agile. You’ll save money on people doing rudimentary tasks and invest it where it really matters: skilled personnel, better product adoption platforms, and sweet swag for the office. <Insert Appcues sweet swag humble brag image>
2. They’ll boost your pirate metrics
You can’t spell onboarding without the AARRR (though we’ve yet to consult a dictionary on that). AARRR, of course, stands for Acquisition, Activation, Revenue, Retention, and Referral, collectively known as the pirate metrics. (Who says product managers aren't fun people?) Investing in better onboarding materials and experiences is key to boosting three of these metrics. Here's how:
Activation: Personalized onboarding flows made possible through customer onboarding tools make it far more likely for users to achieve their aha moment or activation event. This way, your flow can be targeted and to the point. No more forcing everyone to sit through a one size fits all onboarding that was obviously designed for multiple use cases and audience segments.
Revenue: Better onboarding and training materials show off what your product can do. As customers become more familiar with your product’s different use cases, the more likely they are to renew their subscription or upsell to a better plan.
Retention: Onboarding isn’t just about what happens on the first day a customer uses your product. Onboarding can last weeks as you feed new users drips of content, emails, and encouragement introducing them to what they can do with your product. Customer onboarding platforms make it easier to nail the timing for these communications, improving your retention rates of new customers.
Want to learn more about pirate metrics and how they impact your bottom line? Try out our pirate metrics calculator to see firsthand how a boost in any of these metrics means big bucks for your monthly recurring revenue (MRR).
3. They’re going to help you convert more trials into customers
Many SaaS products use a free trial to encourage users to try their product before selling them on a paid plan. However, these free plans don’t always perform as intended—but personalized onboarding is a surefire way to make sure your free trial is doing its job.
Product managers can use customer onboarding tools like Appcues to design their onboarding flows to show personalized value to potential customers. Custom emails, in-app messaging, and UX copy (all battle-tested with user feedback) transform your free trial experience into a customer converting machine. Just ask Storyboard, which improved their conversion rate by an astonishing 112% using Appcues.
Best customer onboarding software for in-app experiences
This first section of tools is all about helping you build a better experience for your customers. Not only will these pieces of software give you the superpower of creating flows, but they’ll also help you monitor them, providing you with crucial feedback on how changes affect your most important metrics.
1. Appcues: No-code flow builder and adoption driver extraordinaire
Appcues’ raison d'être is to make your onboarding flows as flawless as a perfect pinot noir on the Seine. However, your client onboarding flow shouldn't just be easy for your customers—it should also be easy for you. That's why we created the easiest no-code flow builder, so a team with any level of technical knowledge can design the perfect flow for their users. At your team's disposal are UI patterns like slideouts, tooltips, hotspots, checklists, modals, and NPS surveys so you can build a flow that is equal parts engaging and educating.
Appcues isn’t just easy, though. It’s also plenty smart. Product analytics is baked into our system so you can easily see sign-up rates, track flow completions, and create custom events like conversions. With this data, you can keep going back to the drawing board until you’ve created the perfect flow ready to propel your product into the stratosphere.
- Build flows with no coding required so your whole team can experiment with optimizations on the fly.
- Easily add a range of UI patterns to engage and educate new customers.
- Quickly see engagement and completion statistics for your flows to determine how well recent changes are impacting customer success.
- Still no mobile app (but it is coming soon)
2. Whatfix: Powerful digital adoption generator
Whatfix is another digital adoption platform that doubles as an analytics tool and flow creator. Whatfix does have its benefits, one being its support of multilingual flows. However, their analytics package is lacking because it doesn’t allow data integrations with more powerful data apps.
- Allows for multilingual support.
- Easily create simple onboarding flows to engage users.
- No way to customize filters in their analytics.
- Some of their UI patterned designs look dated, which can distract from an otherwise beautiful onboarding flow.
3. WalkMe: Intuitive digital experience delivery system
WalkMe is an onboarding platform similar service to Whatfix and Appcues. However, WalkMe stands out by trading ease of use for customizations. WalkMe requires technical knowledge to really get the most out of it, but once you’ve got it going, you can do truly unique and powerful things with this product.
- More flow customization options than most people would know what to do with.
- Provides more in-depth analytics than the competitors.
- Requires technical integration with your systems before you can use it.
- Setup can be prohibitively costly in terms of time and resources.
WalkMe pricing isn’t published so you’ll need to talk to their sales team to get a custom quote based on your needs. However, there are demos available upon request or a free version if you want to jump right in and give it a go yourself.
Best customer onboarding software for data analysis
Data is the backbone of any SaaS product. These tools will get you the onboarding data you need to impress your users right out of the gate.
4. Amplitude: Product analytics guru
Amplitude bills itself as #1 in product analytics (a truly bold claim). However, they back up this claim with some serious features like digital journey analysis, predictive personalization, and in-depth behavior analysis. Whether it’s #1 will be up to you, but with companies like Ford, Atlassian, and Peloton working with them, they must be doing something right.
- Hard to get more in-depth behavior analytics without asking the CIA politely.
- A solid free plan for teams that are just setting out.
- Well-written playbooks help get your team ready to go quickly.
- Pricing plans can be expensive.
- A bit of a learning curve getting your analytics set up for your specific purposes.
Amplitude pricing starts at $0 for their Starter plan, which includes core analytics, unlimited data retention, unlimited seats, and 10 million actions per month (solid value for the price of signing up). Want more than that? You’ll need to have a chat with their sales team about what prices might look like for your product.
5. Segment: Customer data collector and activator
Segment is the conductor that gets the most beautiful music out of the rest of your tech stack orchestra. Their customer data platform takes all the data noise from across your site, app, and stack and turns it into something actionable and helpful to you. If you’ve ever felt like you’ve had all the data in the world but no idea how to turn it into insights? Well, that’s what Segment can do for you.
- Easy to toggle integrations from their dashboard.
- Acts as a central data warehouse for all of your customer data.
- Pricing per user can get costly very quickly.
- Can take time to update because it often deals with so much data.
Segment pricing starts with a free version that’s limited to two sources, 300 integrations, and 1,000 visitors per month. They also have the paid Team plan (starting at $120/month) or the Enterprise plan (custom pricing) if you want to kick things up a notch. These paid plans add higher visitor volumes, data warehouse destinations, and more sources.
6. Mixpanel: Universal product analytics super tool
Mixpanel is here to teach you everything there is to know about your product and how your customers interact with it. It’s especially powerful because it operates across your website, web app, and mobile app to collect data wherever your users may be. That way, you can access product analytics insights like which users stick around (and for how long) and which features are driving your sales and conversions.
- Can help you comply with HIPAA compliance laws.
- Captures data on mobile apps, web applications, and websites.
- Complicated to set up and requires expertise to keep it running.
- UI can be complicated for non-technical users.
Mixpanel pricing starts at $25 a month for their paid plans. However, they also have a free plan for you to take a test drive. It comes with unlimited data history but only the most basic reports.
Best customer onboarding software for feedback
You know that old adage, you’ve got two ears and one mouth so you should listen more than you talk? That’s what these products are for: listening to your users directly and indirectly so you can make your product even better.
7. Optimizely: Digital experience supercharger
Optimizely is all about A/B testing. It gives you all the tools you need to run multiple sophisticated A/B tests so you can quickly discover the best possible version of your landing page, website, or onboarding flow.
- Enables feature flags so you can toggle different features on and off without messing with the code.
- Allows for in-depth A/B testing capabilities that are second-to-none.
- Running several A/B tests can slow down site performance for users.
- Expensive if you are only running the occasional A/B test.
Optimizely pricing requires a call or two to their sales team. All prices are custom based on your product and the features you want. For an idea of your options (and there are many), take a look at their pricing page. There is no free trial, but you can request a custom demo to get an idea of whether Optimizely is right for you.
8. Qualaroo: Customer feedback driver
Qualaroo helps product managers design and implement product surveys. Why spend time agonizing over every last data point to understand your users when you can just ask them? Qualaroo’s surveys are pretty special, allowing you to conduct user research through website and app nudges when users are actually using your product.
- So easy that even a kid could do it.
- Nudge feature makes it easy to get customer feedback in the moment.
- Analytics lack sophistication. There aren’t any advanced options to dive into customer sentiment, and it’s known to use its salad fork in place of its dinner fork (a major social faux pas).
- Doesn’t include a free version, and the trial is very limited.
Qualaroo pricing starts at $80 a month for their Essentials plan. Move up to Premium or Enterprise levels, and you’ll get a ton of features like exit surveys, mobile nudges, and custom integrations. If you’d like to try it out, you can also opt for a 15-day free trial for any of their plans.
9. Hotjar: (Nearly) magic customer behavior analyzer
Where Qualaroo is about being upfront with your users, Hotjar is the exact opposite. Hotjar collects user behavior data in the form of heat maps, anonymized visitor recordings, and click maps. Using this data, you can see how users actually react to your website or app so you can optimize the UX for better conversion rates and engagement.
- Perfect for optimizing landing pages and customer flow.
- Visitor recordings are a particularly useful function that allows you to view recordings of actual users going through your site.
- Requires background knowledge to use what you learn from the data patterns in Hotjar.
- Doesn’t allow for segmentation in its data.
Hotjar pricing starts at $0 for their Free Forever plan. Paid plans start at $31/month, and you’ll get more daily and monthly users plus the ability to track custom events. There’s also a 15-day free trial if you prefer to try it on before buying.
Best customer onboarding software for everything else
Some things just resist labels and don’t fit nicely into any one box (or at least that’s what most teens seem to believe). However, just because they choose to be different doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be appreciated for what they can bring to a product manager. So here they are, the best of the rest for customer onboarding software.
10. Zendesk: Customer retention and support hero
Zendesk helps you onboard new users and existing customers by providing a one-stop shop for customer support. Zendesk makes it easy to respond to customer queries, build self-help knowledge bases, and even employ AI to help stave off churn due to customer frustration, no matter what time of day it is.
- Fully customizable, so you can design the customer support system that’s right for your brand and audience.
- Allows you to handle support tickets en masse so you can improve customer retention rates.
- Lots of key functionalities (like custom apps and multilingual support) require you to upgrade your plan.
- Ironically, getting good customer service from them can be like pulling teeth.
Zendesk pricing starts at $19 a month per agent on their foundational support plan, which gives you access to their integrated support ticket system. If you prefer to opt for their full suite, that starts at $49 a month per agent. You’ll get access to goodies like live support, AI-powered responses, and a self-service portal. Free trials are also offered for each of their plans.
11. Customer.io: Not-your-grandpa’s email platform
Customer.io takes email marketing and makes it fit for the 2020s. While other platforms are thinking about what email you're sending today, they’re planning out what email a specific segment needs to see three days after they hit their activation event. It’s sophisticated stuff that can help you boost customer engagement among your newly onboarded customers as they learn the ropes of your product.
- Focuses on email automation, so it can do this one thing really, really well.
- Great segmentation tool to send the right emails to the right people.
- Requires a developer to get your system up and running.
- Lacks some key functionalities that would allow you to work smarter, like template duplication across workspaces.
Customer.io pricing starts at $150 a month for their Basic plan and $995 for their Premium plan. Ultimately, the final prices will be determined based on the “maximum number of uniquely identified users (profiles) in your account.” Basic plans will be sufficient for most businesses except those needing HIPAA compliance or access to a dedicated customer success manager.
12. Soapbox: Video masterpiece creator
Video is an under-utilized medium on websites because it’s hard. Well, that’s no longer true, so throw away your excuses and start making all those videos you’ve been putting off. Soapbox allows anyone to fire up their Chrome extension, hit record, and create a video that can cycle between screen capture and your front-facing camera. You won't be making Kubrick-level films, but it’ll be more than enough to put one of your new features in the spotlight.
- Super easy to create engaging, professional-looking videos.
- Simple screen capture is particularly useful for SaaS companies looking to shoot videos of their product in action.
- No desktop app support.
- Lack of editing features limits how creative you can be.
Soapbox pricing starts at $0, but you’ll only be able to share your videos to your Wistia account (not so useful). Most teams will want to opt for either a Solo plan (starting at $300 a year) or a Teams plan (starting at $420 a year). With these plans, you can download and export your videos, track engagement, and book meetings directly from the clips.
Customer Onboarding Software FAQs
After all that, you still have more questions? (Don’t worry, you’re in good company.) We rounded up answers to the most common customer onboarding questions from people just like you.
What is customer onboarding software?
Customer onboarding software are dedicated platforms purpose-built to help you create a better onboarding experience for your customers. These tools are usually highly specialized to one aspect of onboarding. For instance, Appcues helps you create onboarding flows complete with in-app messaging like tooltips and modals. In contrast, Customer.io lets you target new users with personalized emails triggered by actions they’ve taken.
What should I look for in customer onboarding software?
You want to look at functionality and price. What will this customer onboarding software allow you to do, and how much will it cost? If your product is straightforward and gets relatively few service tickets, then paying a high price for customer support software like Zendesk might not be a great choice for your business.
However, if your retention and free trial conversion numbers are low, investing in a product like Appcues makes a lot of sense. For a relatively modest price, you can improve your customers’ onboarding experience and make back your money in increased MMR in no time.
Looking for customer onboarding software that's as serious about your success as you are?
At the end of the day, priority #1 is designing well-made onboarding processes that increase the likelihood of your customers committing to your product vision. Appcues can make that happen by helping you create beautiful onboarding flows completely code-free. It’ll also help you perfect those flows, giving you access to user data to experiment, adjust, and repeat until your user adoption rates look less like minimum wage and more like retirement age.
Interested? Give us a try for free. There are no commitments, and you get to build unlimited flows for two weeks (we’re cool like that).
In more of a learning mood? We get it. If you’re looking for some light onboarding reading before bed, may we suggest our ultimate guide to user onboarding. It’s a real page-turner, and you just might learn something you can put to use when you get to making your next great onboarding flow... we can’t wait to see it!