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User onboarding surveys: 3 reasons to ask new users questions

A well-made survey could be the ticket to creating an exceptional onboarding experience for your users.
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You’ll never know if you don’t ask. This rule is true for shy high schoolers asking their crushes to the Spring Fling Dance, and it’s true for SaaS companies looking to improve their onboarding experience.

When done well, onboarding surveys help everyone get more out of the experience. You get feedback from users, users get a more personalized experience, and your business benefits from a better understanding of the people interested in your product.

Although it might seem like an imposition, a well-thought-out survey can help your new users. It shows them you care about their experience and helps you improve user adoption of your product through better UX. So put on your best (only) dress shoes, buy that dollar store rose, and let’s learn about why user onboarding surveys are an integral part of wooing that special target demo.

1. Create customized onboarding flows

Yes, onboarding is a learning experience. But that doesn’t mean new users want an in-depth walk-through of every feature your product offers.

Instead, start your onboarding with a quick user survey to determine what they need to learn based on their use case.

For example, if your product handles company expenses, you could ask whether users are a(n):

  • Employee
  • Manager
  • HR Representative
  • Freelancer

You could then customize the onboarding flow to suit the needs of each role. Freelancers might only need a quick introduction on how to submit an invoice, while a manager may need explainers on viewing expenses across teams and approving spending.

One company that uses onboarding surveys to customize the experience for different use cases is HubSpot. At the beginning of the onboarding flow, HubSpot asks new users what field they work in and what their role is.

(Image Source)

Based on your answers, you’ll be given a product demo that’s catered to your needs. For instance, in the marketing demo, HubSpot walks you through how to run an email marketing campaign.

(Image Source)

If you want to learn more in the HubSpot Academy, it’ll also recommend courses relevant to your job field.

(Image Source)

When employing user surveys to customize the onboarding experience, don’t play coy. Tell people why you’re asking these questions, and allow users to have some control over the onboarding experience they want. For instance, you could let users choose between a short tour that highlights the most important features to them (based on your survey), a complete onboarding flow, or saying “maybe later” to the onboarding flow altogether.

Ultimately, onboarding flows don’t need to be one-size-fits-all, so talk to your users, get creative, and see how you can create a unique, personalized onboarding experience.

2. Collect relevant info about your users

You might have carefully thought out user personas that cover motivations for making a purchase, but reality doesn’t always match up with expectations. Use onboarding surveys to confirm what people who are actually signing up hope to achieve with your product. This information will be helpful for making their entire product experience more personalized down the road, not just during their onboarding.

For example, form and survey creator Typeform does a great job of learning a bit about its users before it jumps into onboarding. It asks what you’re using Typeform for (school, work, personal) and what specific activities you want to do with it.

(Image Source)

Typeform can use this data to segment its users, which can help it:

  • See which kinds of users ultimately adopt its product
  • Shape email campaigns
  • Develop additional features for specific user groups

When designing your survey, only ask questions that you can’t get the answers to anywhere else. For instance, a user’s country of residence might be important, but you could ask that in a later profile setup flow or find the answer through Google Analytics.

Good questions you could ask might include:

  • What was your reason for signing up?
  • How did you hear about our product?
  • What’s your job role?
  • What tool or feature do you most look forward to using?

Once you know a little more about your users, you can start to personalize both your onboarding and product experience as a whole.

3. Improve onboarding through feedback

Perfecting your onboarding experience takes time and feedback. We can’t do much about time, but you can easily collect feedback through post-onboarding surveys.

Keep these surveys short by focusing the questionnaire around what you want to learn most, such as:

  • A general score ranking their overall experience
  • Areas of improvement
  • Favorite sections

Regardless of what you ask, make sure your feedback surveys are brief—ideally, no more than 3 questions. If it’s too long or complicated, your survey’s gonna become the digital equivalent of confetti in no time at all.

(Image Source)

Consider a quick NPS survey or an on-page microsurvey to ask users about their onboarding experience. For example, PandaDoc, a document workflow tool, uses a 2-question microsurvey that pops up after users have completed their onboarding checklist.

(Image Source)

Since the microsurvey appears right after onboarding completion, it conveniently doesn’t interrupt users’ workflows. Plus, users’ opinions are likely fresh in their minds.

If you’re wondering when to send your own onboarding feedback survey, the sweet spot likely lies sometime just after your users finish onboarding. Depending on how comprehensive your onboarding experience is, users might not yet know how well your onboarding has prepared them to use your product if you ask them right away. Triggering the survey after they complete their first task on their own could give your users a more nuanced opinion.

Don’t feel like your feedback survey has to pull all of the insights you need. Depending on your strategy, you might also rely on analytics from event tracking to drill into areas for improvement in your onboarding process.

Create the best darn onboarding surveys you can

A well-made survey can be the secret sauce in your industry-leading onboarding experience. Luckily, making a good one is mostly common sense. Keep it brief, give users a chance to share their opinions, and be friendly. Do that, and quicker than you’d believe, your company will reap the benefits of onboarding surveys.

Author's picture
Lyla Rozelle
Sr. Customer and Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Appcues
Lyla is a marketer working on growth at Appcues. She works remotely from the hilltowns in Western Massachusetts where's she usually hiking with her hound dogs or researching antiques.
Skip to section:

Skip to section:

You’ll never know if you don’t ask. This rule is true for shy high schoolers asking their crushes to the Spring Fling Dance, and it’s true for SaaS companies looking to improve their onboarding experience.

When done well, onboarding surveys help everyone get more out of the experience. You get feedback from users, users get a more personalized experience, and your business benefits from a better understanding of the people interested in your product.

Although it might seem like an imposition, a well-thought-out survey can help your new users. It shows them you care about their experience and helps you improve user adoption of your product through better UX. So put on your best (only) dress shoes, buy that dollar store rose, and let’s learn about why user onboarding surveys are an integral part of wooing that special target demo.

1. Create customized onboarding flows

Yes, onboarding is a learning experience. But that doesn’t mean new users want an in-depth walk-through of every feature your product offers.

Instead, start your onboarding with a quick user survey to determine what they need to learn based on their use case.

For example, if your product handles company expenses, you could ask whether users are a(n):

  • Employee
  • Manager
  • HR Representative
  • Freelancer

You could then customize the onboarding flow to suit the needs of each role. Freelancers might only need a quick introduction on how to submit an invoice, while a manager may need explainers on viewing expenses across teams and approving spending.

One company that uses onboarding surveys to customize the experience for different use cases is HubSpot. At the beginning of the onboarding flow, HubSpot asks new users what field they work in and what their role is.

(Image Source)

Based on your answers, you’ll be given a product demo that’s catered to your needs. For instance, in the marketing demo, HubSpot walks you through how to run an email marketing campaign.

(Image Source)

If you want to learn more in the HubSpot Academy, it’ll also recommend courses relevant to your job field.

(Image Source)

When employing user surveys to customize the onboarding experience, don’t play coy. Tell people why you’re asking these questions, and allow users to have some control over the onboarding experience they want. For instance, you could let users choose between a short tour that highlights the most important features to them (based on your survey), a complete onboarding flow, or saying “maybe later” to the onboarding flow altogether.

Ultimately, onboarding flows don’t need to be one-size-fits-all, so talk to your users, get creative, and see how you can create a unique, personalized onboarding experience.

2. Collect relevant info about your users

You might have carefully thought out user personas that cover motivations for making a purchase, but reality doesn’t always match up with expectations. Use onboarding surveys to confirm what people who are actually signing up hope to achieve with your product. This information will be helpful for making their entire product experience more personalized down the road, not just during their onboarding.

For example, form and survey creator Typeform does a great job of learning a bit about its users before it jumps into onboarding. It asks what you’re using Typeform for (school, work, personal) and what specific activities you want to do with it.

(Image Source)

Typeform can use this data to segment its users, which can help it:

  • See which kinds of users ultimately adopt its product
  • Shape email campaigns
  • Develop additional features for specific user groups

When designing your survey, only ask questions that you can’t get the answers to anywhere else. For instance, a user’s country of residence might be important, but you could ask that in a later profile setup flow or find the answer through Google Analytics.

Good questions you could ask might include:

  • What was your reason for signing up?
  • How did you hear about our product?
  • What’s your job role?
  • What tool or feature do you most look forward to using?

Once you know a little more about your users, you can start to personalize both your onboarding and product experience as a whole.

3. Improve onboarding through feedback

Perfecting your onboarding experience takes time and feedback. We can’t do much about time, but you can easily collect feedback through post-onboarding surveys.

Keep these surveys short by focusing the questionnaire around what you want to learn most, such as:

  • A general score ranking their overall experience
  • Areas of improvement
  • Favorite sections

Regardless of what you ask, make sure your feedback surveys are brief—ideally, no more than 3 questions. If it’s too long or complicated, your survey’s gonna become the digital equivalent of confetti in no time at all.

(Image Source)

Consider a quick NPS survey or an on-page microsurvey to ask users about their onboarding experience. For example, PandaDoc, a document workflow tool, uses a 2-question microsurvey that pops up after users have completed their onboarding checklist.

(Image Source)

Since the microsurvey appears right after onboarding completion, it conveniently doesn’t interrupt users’ workflows. Plus, users’ opinions are likely fresh in their minds.

If you’re wondering when to send your own onboarding feedback survey, the sweet spot likely lies sometime just after your users finish onboarding. Depending on how comprehensive your onboarding experience is, users might not yet know how well your onboarding has prepared them to use your product if you ask them right away. Triggering the survey after they complete their first task on their own could give your users a more nuanced opinion.

Don’t feel like your feedback survey has to pull all of the insights you need. Depending on your strategy, you might also rely on analytics from event tracking to drill into areas for improvement in your onboarding process.

Create the best darn onboarding surveys you can

A well-made survey can be the secret sauce in your industry-leading onboarding experience. Luckily, making a good one is mostly common sense. Keep it brief, give users a chance to share their opinions, and be friendly. Do that, and quicker than you’d believe, your company will reap the benefits of onboarding surveys.

Author's picture
Lyla Rozelle
Sr. Customer and Lifecycle Marketing Manager at Appcues
Lyla is a marketer working on growth at Appcues. She works remotely from the hilltowns in Western Massachusetts where's she usually hiking with her hound dogs or researching antiques.
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