Customer Experience

How to Onboard Invited Users and Fast-Track User Engagement

5 minute read

“I’ve heard so much about you.”

This is one of the first things we say when we meet a good friend’s friend or significant other.

It works best as an icebreaker and compliment when we’ve truly heard so much about someone that we feel like we already know them. The sense of familiarity often helps us get off on the right foot and bond quicker. 

Luckily for product teams that want to fast-track engagement, the power of shared connections appear all the time in software. Invited users sign up because they've heard great things about the product. Chances are, they really want to like your product, and thanks to the loyal user who introduced you guys, you have a head start in impressing them. 

Acknowledging and building upon this familiarity in the user onboarding process helps you develop an emotional connection with an invited user quickly. Plus, impressing the invited user gives you bonus points with the original user who championed your product. It’s a double win in user engagement.

Here are 4 tips for onboarding invited users to leverage familiarity and start off on the best foot possible. 

Invite users with a succinct email

Users typically receive an invitation to join web-based products through email. Since users could know a lot or very little about your product at this point, it’s important to keep these emails short and descriptive.

Invitation emails contain 3 key pieces of information: 

  • Who invited the user
  • What the product is
  • CTA to create an account


Here’s an invitation from Quip that follows this standard format. 

Quip email invite

Who invited the user can be included in the subject line to ensure that the invited user opens the email. A common formula for the subject line is: 

[Original user] invited you to join [organization / shared content] on [product]

This may be the first time that the invited user hears of your product formally, so it’s important to explain what the product is. A pithy, one-sentence description is enough to get the user started. 

Finally, the goal of the invitation email is to get the invited user to create an account, so the CTA needs to be clear and simple.

Create a more personalized onboarding experience

After a user accepts the invitation and creates an account, it’s time to welcome them with a great user onboarding experience.  

Before the invited user takes any action, products typically know the invited users’ email, organization, and perhaps role, based on information that the original user has provided either directly or through permission setting. This can help you create a more personalized user onboarding experiencethan you might be able to for brand new users.

For its Sales product, HubSpot's onboarding flow for new sign-ups includes a number of upfront forms before a new user can get to the product.  

HubSpot account creation onboarding.png
HubSpot user onboarding new user profile
HubSpot user onboarding company information
HubSpot user onboarding information install

In contrast, the invited user onboarding flow skips directly to the value of HubSpot. They're first greeted with a nice welcome page. The page welcomes the user to the team, not HubSpot, which fosters a sense of collaboration and further indicates that existing teammates are already making use of Hubspot.

HubSpot invited user onboarding

HubSpot gathers additional, new information to determine the level of guidance the user needs. This information can probably help build a highly personalized experience long after the initial user onboarding experience. 

HubSpot invited user onboarding setup

All in all, the invited user onboarding experience is more personalized, seamless, and even prettier than the onboarding experience for direct sign-ups. 

Remain helpful to users who skip the tour 

Since invited users may already know about the software from their friend or colleague, they may be eager to dive right in. Give them the option to get started immediately without the standard onboarding experience, while still remaining helpful.  

Slack acknowledges that users may already be a part of a Slack team and provides the option to go skip the tour, but not without a friendly wave first. 

Slack invited user tutorial welcome

Slack also immediately gives the option for users to return to the tutorial if they changed their mind. Even without going back to the tutorial, users have slackbot there to help.

Slack invited user tutorial welcome

Help users find and join their teammates

If a new user signs up for a workplace product without being invited by a teammate, let them know where to go. While this strategy is technically not for invited users, it runs on the same principle of guiding with familiarity in mind. New users will probably appreciate knowing what’s up with the rest of their team.

Asana does this in a super sleek way. When users sign up with their work email, Asana detects whether or not there’s an existing account for that domain on the welcome page and directs users to their company.

Asana welcome new user company

Asana then expedites the onboarding process by pre-populating profile fields with information they already know. 

Asana onboarding profile completion

Users can then choose to join their company’s teams, which have already been created in Asana by existing users. 

Asana team user onboarding

Whenever a new user requests to join a company, Asana alerts the account administrator and asks for their approval. 

Exponential impact on user engagement

Invited users aren't strangers to your products. They're like friends of a very good friend. Welcoming them in a way that acknowledges pre-established familiarity expedites bonding and primes them to become loyal advocates for your product further down the line. 

Just as powerful, the original inviter also stands to be impressed further. 

These loyal users love your product enough to rally their friends and colleagues around adopting it. They’ve put their name out on the line because they believe that your product can change the world. Welcoming the people they invite with a good onboarding experience does their recommendation justice. They’ll be all the more happy that they were able to help others and feel even more connected to your product. 

With a strong invited user onboarding plan in place, you can impress loyal users and their network. Doing so will increase engagement exponentially. 

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