Customer Experience

How to Improve User Onboarding With Powerful 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 directing 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, I didn’t understand a certain component, or I kept tapping elements that were never meant to be interactive.

Fight app abandonment with powerful onboarding

About 79% of users abandon an app after the first use. One of the biggest reasons of all: a poor onboarding experience.

Details matter during onboarding. In a constantly evolving and competitive app ecosystem, capturing user attention isn’t always straightforward. Luckily, we found a hack involving your product copy. It means getting a little creative and using power words

Say what?

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 latest Mobile Marketing Trends report, we reveal the most powerful words to use in your mobile messaging. 

120 power words list

There’s no better time to experiment with power words than when it matters most: during onboarding. Harness power words in your messaging to boost the chances of users successfully engaging with your app. Below, I outline the best ways to use power words during the most critical moments of the first-run user experience.

Profile creation

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. 

etsy onboarding copy

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. Airbnb uses this tactic to showcase its value and shorten the time to “aha”! 

Use power words to drive urgency

For example, consider suggesting something like, “Found a deal you love? Activate your profile now to make booking a trip easy and fast!” By injecting a sense of urgency, you can light a fire to encourage users to create their account.

Try using these power words to encourage account creation.


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 help users discover new artists, a retail app 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.

soundcloud onboarding
soundcloud power words
Soundcloud leverages power words 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, personalization goes a long way. Users don’t want to browse generic content that just anyone would like. They want to know this is exclusive to them. So help users understand that you care about their interests. 

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

Push notification opt-ins

To communicate with users beyond the 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 will not get a user to opt-in if you display the default iOS prompt when they first open the app.

Maximize your opt-ins with 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. They’re successfully able to market to a larger percentage of their user base, positively impacting retention, loyalty, and monetization.

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 the opt-in.

power words exclusive

First conversion

Everything in your app leads up to a conversion point. There are many ways you may want to 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 cross-channel messaging: push notifications, in-app messages, email, App Inbox. Even better is when you trigger messages in response to individual user actions. For example, if someone begins booking a flight, but forgets to check out, send a personalized push notification the next day, including their name and a deep link to the booking section. If they don’t engage with the push notification, send an email with a discount to incentivize conversion. 

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

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. 

power words conversion

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 to enhance a user’s first impression of your app.

To get more power words insights, download our guide, 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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