UX Design

How to Improve User Onboarding With Powerful UX Copy


Apps do small and frustrating things every day that lead me to delete them. I feel no remorse.

Once, I deleted a news app that delivered a push notification without deep linking to the corresponding content (maddeningly, it directed me to the home page). I didn’t feel like manually searching for something I wanted to see immediately.

Another time, I deleted an app because interstitial ads constantly popped up in the middle of sessions. I deleted another because the app kept asking me to create a profile at inopportune moments. And others because I straight up didn’t understand how to use them. Maybe the navigation wasn’t intuitive, maybe I didn’t understand a certain component, or maybe I kept tapping elements that were never meant to be interactive.

Fight app abandonment with powerful onboarding

According to our research, up to 79% of users abandon an app after the first use. One of the most common reasons for abandoning an app? A poor onboarding experience.

Click here to go to the user onboarding academcy. The user onboarding academy is a free online course for marketers product managers and ux designers

Details matter during onboarding. In a constantly evolving and competitive app ecosystem, capturing user attention isn’t always straightforward. Luckily, at Leanplum, we found a way to increase user engagement using product and messaging copy. This user onboarding hack involves getting a little creative and using the right power words in your UX writing and microcopy.

Say what?

Use UX copy to drive engagement

At Leanplum, we analyzed over 2.6 billion push notifications to determine if single words could have an impact on engagement. It turns out, they can. In our 2017 Mobile Marketing Trends report, we reveal the most powerful words to use in your mobile messaging.

This is a list of 120 push notification power words that drive users to take action and increase engagement. The best push notification words include amazing activate date happy huge imagine opportunity reward and today.

Power words aren’t just for push notifications. In fact, there’s no better time to experiment with power words than when it matters most—during onboarding. Harness power words in your in-app messaging to boost the chances of successful user engagement. Below, I outline the best ways to use power words during the most critical moments of the first-run user experience.

The best UX copy for profile creation or login

Mobile apps often ask users to create profiles at the most annoying moments.

Avoid this mistake by offering to automatically pull credentials for users based on social login. This simplifies the profile creation process, while also letting you curate a personalized feed of content based on a user’s social interests, from the moment they log in.

This is a screenshot of Etsy mobile app sign up login screen. It shows an illustration of a door on an orange background and a cta that says "get started"
Etsy helps users see the value of creating an account with personalization.

Alternatively, if you want users to jump right into exploring your app, postpone the profile creation until after a user finds value. For example, let’s say you have a travel app. You can let travelers browse trip destinations, then once they find a flight they want to reserve, ask them to create an account for easier bookings. Apps like Hopper, Tablet, and Hotel Tonight use this tactic to showcase their value and shorten the time to a user’s aha moment!

Use power words to drive urgency

You could inspire users to action with copy like: “Found a deal you love? Activate your profile now to make booking a trip fast and easy!” By injecting a sense of urgency, you can light a fire that encourages users to create their account sooner rather than later.

Try using these power words to encourage account creation:

This is a list of power ux copy words that express urgency and promote users to action. The list includes: critical, immediately, important, instantly, quickly, reminder, today, don't wait

The best UX copy for content discovery

Most apps have content they want to promote. For instance, a hotel app might want to let users browse available rooms, a music app wants to help users discover new artists, a retail app aims to put new inventory front and center.

Set up a series of in-app messages that guide new users through your app’s navigation. Explain app functions that may be unintuitive, such as where to find sale items or how to build wish lists. This can help you create a customized feed from the onset, and tailor future product recommendations.

this is a screen from spotify's mobile app user onboarding. It shows a pink and purple gradient background and reads "finding music just for you, based on the artists you picked" and includes a loading symbol
Spotify creates a personalized feed for users based on their music selection.
This is an example of a lifecycle nudge in app messaging modal from spotify's mobile app. It says "brand new music for you" with a cta "go to album"
Spotify leverages power words in their lifecycle nudges to encourage listeners to discover artists they’ll love.      

Use power words to make users feel special

Try experimenting with an approach like, “Thanks for becoming a member! Tap here to browse curated playlists, hand-picked for you.”

Here, a little personalization can go a long way—like, a 4x increase in open rate kind of long way. Users don’t want to browse generic content that just anyone would like. They want to feel like their interested are being catered to with content that is exclusive to them.

Try using these power words to create a more personalized onboarding experience from the get-go.

The best UX copy for increasing push notification opt-ins

To communicate with users beyond their first app open, you need to convince them to opt in to push notifications. Unfortunately, only 40% of iOS users opt-in to push. Chances are, you won’t get many opt-ins if you display the default iOS prompt when users first open the app.

Maximize your opt-ins with permission priming. Use a pre-permission message that suppresses the default iOS prompt and instead explains the benefits of push at a time when users are more engaged, such as when they discover new content or share something with a friend.

We’ve seen apps increase the number of users who opt in by 182% with this method—which means they’re now able to market to a larger percentage of their user base, positively impacting retention, loyalty, and monetization.

this is a push notification permission priming screen from Airbnb mobile app for iOS. It is a full screen that asks "turn on nofications?" with two buttons that read "yes, notify me" and "skip"
Airbnb primes users for a push notification request by explaining what the notifications are for.

Instead of sending the default iOS prompt, try explaining the value of push notifications with product copy that encourages a 1-1 relationship.

Use power words to convey exclusivity

Before you display the default iOS prompt, test the waters with a message along these lines: “Can we alert you to amazing offers just like this? Opt into push to get updates when new items go on sale.”

Try using these power words to demonstrate value before asking for opt-in:

This is a list of power ux writing words that demonstrate value. The list includes: bargains, buy, money, offers.

The best UX copy for first conversion

Ultimately, all the elements in your app lead up to a conversion point. There are many ways you can nudge users past the finish line. You can:

  • Send personalized lifecycle nudges
  • Maximize gross booking revenue through upsells and cross-sells
  • Reduce effort by breaking up difficult tasks

This often involves multi-channel messaging through push notifications, in-app messages, email, App Inbox, etc. Even better, you can trigger messages in response to individual user actions. For example, if a media app user begins to upgrade their account from a free trial to a paid subscription, but doesn’t complete the process, send a personalized push notification the next day, including their name and a deep link to the subscription screen. If they don’t engage with the push notification, send an email with a discount on the first month or reminder of premium features to incentivize conversion.

Regardless how you compel users to convert, you need to make sure you persuade them effectively. Our favorite tactic: emotive messaging.

This is a screenshot of airbnb's mobile app that uses powerful ux copy with emotive words to inspire users to take action. It says "start planning your first adventure on airbnb" and the cta button reads "explore airbnb"
‍‍Airbnb uses emotive messaging to inspire users to embark on their next adventure.

Use power words to evoke emotions

Try playing to users’ emotional side. “Imagine jetting off to a faraway tropical escape. It’s time to indulge—book now!”

Emotive language engages your audience with a fun, fresh approach. Try using these power words to seal the deal:

This is a list of powerful ux copy words that use emotive language to engage users. Words include: believe, improve, dream, reward, wish, imagine, love

Tie it all together with power words

Users don’t need another reason (boredom) to abandon your app. Strong, compelling product copy is as important as anything else—like timing, channel, personalization—in the user experience. So don’t skimp on creative content.

Make great onboarding even better by using power words in your UX copy to enhance a user’s first impression of your app.

To get more power words insights, download the Leanplum guide to Push Notification Power Words, today.

Want to become a User Onboarding Master? Check out our free User Onboarding Academy!

Brittany Fleit is a Content Marketer for Leanplum, a fully integrated mobile marketing platform that improves app engagement and ROI.

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