That’s why it’s so crucial to obsessively perfect your onboarding flow. Without a rock-solid user onboarding experience, your new sign-ups won’t stick around. User onboarding is your window of opportunity to build the behaviors and patterns of use that will lead to long-term retention and real growth for your company.
We put together the following list of the 33 best user onboarding tools that will help you engage and educate your new users.
Tools that improve user onboarding through product marketing and signup
At the earliest stage of their journey, users are just evaluating your product. These evaluators are looking for proof that your product is a solution to their most pressing problem. In order to realize your product’s value, people need to use your product. But to get to that point requires effective marketing and a frictionless signup experience.The following tools will help you deliver that.
1. Add live social proof with Proof
You and your foodie friend are walking down a street packed with bars and restaurants, and you’re getting hungry. Are you more likely to choose the restaurant that’s empty at 6pm on a Friday, or the popular spot with a 10-minute wait?
Social proof is a powerful psychological driver when it comes to making decisions. It’s a form mental shortcut—others trust this option, so we should trust it, too.
With a tool like Proof, you can display live social proof on your marketing site with real-time notifications that others have viewed a product demo or signed up.
2. Enable single sign-on with Auth0
When it comes to user onboarding, your goal is to reduce friction and drive users into your app as quickly as possible. The results of doing this effectively can be dramatic: Some companies saw up to a 20% increase in conversion rates when they implemented social login.
But that doesn’t mean you should allow the rush to turn your app into a security hazard. With a tool like Auth0, you can activate users immediately during onboarding and personalize their experience with single sign-on (SSO) across platforms, and social login through Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
3. Get the demographic info you want with Clearbit
Somewhere during onboarding, you’re going to want to collect your users’ email addresses. That’s a great piece of information to have, but to qualify leads like a pro—and tailor your onboarding for a more personalized experience—you need more data. Clearbit can provide you with essential data like location, job title, industry, and more.
User onboarding tools for in-app experiences
Onboarding is designed to help your users learn the ropes while they use your app for the first time. It’s essential that you make a great first impression—the average app loses 77% of its daily active users after just 3 days. Here are some tools to make that first experience a magical one.
4. Codeless user onboarding with Appcues
Unsurprisingly, we’re huge fans of Appcues as a user onboarding solution. Appcues allows you to build onboarding experiences without coding—which means marketers can get their hands dirty with onboarding without having to hit up developers, while developers can pour their time into the product.
You can use a combination of full product tutorials and less-intrusive tooltips and hotspots to propel users to the hot-zone of user engagement and get them to realize the value of your product.
You can also leverage branching logic to create multiple paths into your product with persona-based onboarding.
If you do have the time, development resources, and the will to roll up your sleeves and code your user onboarding, there are a wide variety of tooltip plugins available to help you do that.
Above is an example of Tipr's simple, flat jQuery tooltips that you can integrate into user onboarding to focus users’ attention where it matters most. Looking for more? Here’s a list of 21 free, open-source tooltip plugins
User onboarding email tools
Email remains one of the most flexible and versatile communication tools out there. When it comes to onboarding, it’s crucial that you don’t overwhelm new users—there’s a thin line between providing too much information and not enough of it.
The asynchronous nature of email is perfect for this. Launch a drip campaign that staggers important information to make sure users are getting the juiciest parts of your app, when they need it.
Drip campaigns have been around for a while—it’s definitely not a new user onboarding method. But a conventional drip email campaign puts all of your customers on the same schedule.
A better alternative is to send your users emails triggered by actions they take in your product. This allows you to deliver the right email to the right customer at the right time, depending on what they do (or don’t do) during onboarding. With a tool like Customer.io, you can segment your audience based on real-time events and confidently send personalized emails as part of an omnichannel user onboarding experience.
7. Create, automate, and monitor beautiful newsletters with Mailchimp
It’s fitting that a company called Mailchimp is the 800-pound gorilla in the room when it comes to email marketing.
Thanks to their awesome templates, handy automation, and powerful analytics, Mailchimp is a powerhouse in the email space. Try using Mailchimp to automatically sign up recently onboarded users for your newsletter while their interest remains high.
8. Personalize outreach with Close
Automated emails are great, but sometimes it takes a human touch to get customers properly onboarded.
After you sign up for for the Close sales CRM product, you’ll receive a personalized email from a living, breathing member of the Close team. According to Steli Efti, that email—combined with a phone call to every new user within 5 minutes of sign-up—can increase conversion rates by 66.7%. That experience is exactly what you can deliver to your own new signups with the Close tool.
9. Segment like a pro with Vero
You ever wish you could email ONLY people who quit mid-way through onboarding and also happen to like Jay-Z? Then check out Vero. Like some kind of online Sherlock Holmes, they collect customer data from a bunch of different sources and let you segment customers however you want—whether that’s according to emails they’ve opened, where they’re located, or even the music they listen to.
Improve user onboarding with A/B testing tools
With its scientific approach and focus on cold hard data, A/B testing is the modern marketer’s best friend. Here are some tools to help you run more effective tests on your onboarding experience.
10. A/B tests your emails with HubSpot
Successful email marketing is all about discovering the formula—of subject lines, email layout, CTA, cadence, etc.—that works best for your audience.
You can use HubSpot's email marketing software to run A/B tests on your emails to find out which CTA or subject line resonates with your readers. You can dig deeper into the data to learn who is reading your emails, which links get the most clicks, and more.
11. Experiment with Optimizely
Your onboarding flow has limited real estate and users have limited attention spans. You want to use that space and time as best you can. But how do you know which version of your website or product experience is best? You test it!
Optimizely is a powerful, enterprise-grade A/B testing tool that lets you run front-end, multi-page experiments on your web experience. They also offer a full stack solution that gives product teams the power to A/B test products and features.
Experiment further with analytics tools
You don’t just need to know when users are coming and going—you need to know why. You have a narrow window of opportunity to capture people’s attention and nudge them into sticking around. These analytics tools will give you a more data-driven approach to onboarding.
12. Make your product stickier with Amplitude
Long-term retention doesn’t start months down the road—it starts with onboarding, on day 1. Improving retention requires a solid understanding of the user journey and patterns of behavior.
Amplitude specializes in analyzing data based on behavioral cohorts—groups of users organized around specific actions and usage patterns. You can use Amplitude to help identify your aha moment, and then focus your onboarding around driving users to it.
13. Optimize onboarding with Mixpanel
You can use a behavioral analytics platform like Mixpanel to run tests on the effectiveness of individual UI elements in your user onboarding, like slideouts and tooltips.
Desk.com (now a Salesforce product) did exactly that. They used Mixpanel to collect thousands of different data points and do a deep dive into their onboarding. Their split test compared the performance of modal windows and tooltips in the user onboarding process. Tooltips proved the clear winner—Desk found that if users didn’t skip the tour and got past the first hover tooltip, 97.06% of them would get through the rest of the funnel.
14. Analyze data retroactively with Heap
Is there an action (or a sequence of actions) in your product that a new user must take to get to their aha moment?
You can use a product analytics tool like Heap to identify these critical activation events. Heap autocaptures behavioral data, allowing you to go back and analyze patterns in user behavior retroactively—which is useful when you’re trying to validate hypotheses about things like activation events or conversion points within your product. Once you’ve identified the critical actions in your product, you can shorten users’ time to value (TTV) by honing in on them during the onboarding experience.
15. Centralize data with Segment
You need data to run tests, analyze what works, what doesn’t, and make smart product decisions. But it’s easy to get buried under a mountain of data.
Customer data platform Segment allows you to centralize all your user data with a single API. You can keep track of user actions such as features they’ve used, emails they’ve opened, support tickets they’ve submitted, etc. And Segment integrates with hundreds of different apps, making it easy to consolidate data from a wide range of sources.
16. Optimize every onboarding touchpoint with Localytics
How many of your new mobile app users start their onboarding? How many reach the end? At what point do they drop off? With a mobile app analytics tool like Localytics, you can run A/B tests based on your goals and unique conversion events. By monitoring changes in engagement, conversion rate, and opt-out rate, you can identify which parts of your onboarding work well and which can be tweaked.
User testing tools for qualitative feedback
You almost never get something right the first time you try it—and your app’s onboarding experience is no exception,no matter how much you’ve poured into it. Dive deeper into user behavior with qualitative feedback tools that give your customers a voice and let them tell you in their own words how to improve onboarding.
17. Watch and learn with Inspectlet
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your product—you’ve poured your blood, sweat, tears, and time into it, after all. You amass mountains of user data, but sometimes you need to actually watch how users interact with your app to develop the qualitative insight you need to ramp up onboarding. Session replay tools can show you points of friction in your user onboarding.
By using a tool like Inspectlet, you can watch your real, live users as they proceed through each stage of onboarding—every keystroke and click of the mouse. Are they skipping certain parts of onboarding, or maybe staying on some steps longer than expected?
18. Test the aha moment with UserTesting
There’s just no substitute for actually listening to what people have to say. User research platform UserTesting allows you to record sessions of users interacting with your app. Not only can you see what they do, but you can also hear them think aloud as they go through user onboarding step by step. What seems obvious to you isn’t always obvious to your users, and thorough testing provides you with the insight you need to reduce friction and ramp up UX, getting new users to that aha moment even faster.
19. Get their opinions at the right moment with Qualaroo
Surveying your users is always a good practice—it removes the risk that comes from making assumptions. But the best data comes from asking the right questions to the right people at the right time.
User research and feedback tool Qualaroo promises the ability to do exactly that. You can segment your customers by attribute, schedule exactly when you want questions to pop up, and get the hot takes at each step of the onboarding process.
20. Visualize user behavior with Hotjar
There’s nothing worse than seeing your users drop off and not knowing why. Hotjar offers invaluable insights into your users’ behavior through heatmaps, session recordings, and conversion funnels. Uniquely, it also lets you gather feedback from users on specific page elements and visuals. This feedback can not only help you identify issues, it can also help you identify the exact things that users love about your product (so you can do more of it!).
You can track all the feedback in a visual dashboard and monitor sentiment across your onboarding process.
21. Tackle points of friction with FullStory
To you, your product is self-explanatory. You know exactly what to click after signup and where to go from each screen. But the actions that feel intuitive to you may be less so to your users.
FullStory is another tool for analyzing heatmaps and digital experiences. Grow, a startup that adds feedback forms to Slack, had an onboarding conversion rate of 10%. When they used FullStory to analyze the potential causes of this low conversion rate, they identified 2 clear barriers to value—users weren’t logging into Slack after installing Glow (and therefore weren’t able to see value) and they weren’t sharing Glow with their team. After getting insights from FullsStory, Glow focused their efforts on smoothing out these points of friction—and increased their onboarding conversion rate to 80%.
22. Create a free Typeform survey
Listening to your users should always be a priority, but getting user feedback can become time-consuming and expensive very quickly.
If you’re strapped for cash, but still need to get the answers you need, use a simple form creation tool like Typeform. One advantage of Typeform is its conversational, interactive survey style. Another benefit is the ease of creating a survey—it’s similar to typing in a notepad, with no coding required.
23. Create segmented in-app surveys with Appcues
Okay, okay. We know this our second appearance on this list. But Appcues isn’t just for onboarding. Our flexible product lets you create targeted in-app surveys to gather feedback from the right user at the right moment.
You can create and save user segments based on behaviors and attributes to target your flows for a more relevant, timely experience. You can further segment users based on their survey responses and follow up with relevant messaging to deepen your in-app communication.
24. Test your user onboarding with Helio.app
Testing new UI elements, design changes, and copy can be hard if you don’t have a group of users willing to provide feedback on small details.
With a design testing tool like Helio, you can get results to your proposed onboarding changes within hours instead of weeks. They have a global audience of 300,000 panelists ready to test your onboarding flow. You can select the demographics you need and get the data about your user onboarding quickly.
Support tools to power up your user onboarding
Most companies suck at customer support, so there’ a huge opportunity to set yourself apart if you can excel at it.
And the right support tools can save you a ton of money in the long run. For example, you might initially think an issue during onboarding would surely lose you a customer. But if you can solve it effectively and efficiently, you can actually increase their trust in your product.
25. Have a chat using Olark
Interrupting your users—even just to check in—while they go through onboarding or complete key tasks is an easy way to frustrate them and add unwanted friction. The solution? Make sharing their experience an organic part of your user onboarding. You can do this with a live chat tool like Olark. Olark lets you live chat with customers who run into a problem using a chat box that matches your branding.
Plus, you can set up live chat automation rules so you can automatically ask users for feedback at critical moments during the onboarding process. It all happens in-app, so you get their honest reactions at the very moment that they’re succeeding or failing at a task. Bonus points if you use searchable live chat transcripts later on to uncover actionable insights and patterns.
26. Unlock the data behind the issues with LiveChat
LiveChat is another great software tool for talking to customers and solving their issues in real-time. Use it to talk to your users and solve their issues as they occur. LiveChat’s rich analytics show you where in their onboarding (or elsewhere in their journey) your users experience the most roadblocks. Use LiveChat to monitor your onboarding process and identify the moments of friction that trip up your customers.
27. Use Help Scout’s customer support tickets
Use a help desk tool like Help Scout to automatically create a customer support ticket for any user who has an issue during onboarding and beyond. You can also build unique customer profiles, categorize customer correspondences with issue tags, and integrate the help desk software with tons of other tools.
(One of our favorite features is the ability to add GIFs to your responses so you can walk the user through a problem without clogging the chat with multiple screenshots.)
And remember: You need to make a good first impression, so set up an “onboarding” tag and tell your support team to prioritize those tickets.
28. Let users serve themselves with Zendesk
When they hit a roadblock, many users are more likely to give up rather than jump through hoops to contact your support team. Enabling these folks to access the information they need to solve their own issues can go a long way toward preventing churn early on.
A self-service approach will remove this risk. Knowledge base tools like Zendesk, allow you to create an online help center where customers can access FAQs, fixes for common issues, step-by-step articles, and community-curated solutions. Help your customers help themselves—before it’s too late.
Help customers spread the word
Your best customers are also your best marketing asset. Users who love your product can become valuable champions if given the opportunity. While it’s often a good idea to target referral and review campaigns to your power users, the moments after onboarding can also be a great time to reach out, while users still have that post-onboarding glow. These tools will help you leverage your users’ motivation to create buzz and refine your inbound channels.
29. Onboarding is the perfect time to ask for a referral with Extole
Referrals from happy users are among the most powerful and viral drivers of growth—just ask Dropbox or Paypal. Help new users to spread the word when their interest is at a peak and their aha moment just behind them.
All the tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t know what to do with them. The following resources include tried, tested, and true strategies for building exceptional onboarding. Read through to get inspired and keep learning.
30. Learn with The User Onboarding Academy
Every product deserves exceptional onboarding. That’s why we’ve put together The User Onboarding Academy. We’ve analyzed more than 10,000 onboarding flows and helped our users onboard over 65 million users. The User Onboarding Academy gives you the complete course—binge-able in under 60 minutes. And each lesson comes with homework so you can apply what you learned right away.
You’ll also get bite-sized videos in your inbox once a week for 5 weeks to keep you on track, and a weekly reading list for an even deeper dive.
31. Get inspired by ReallyGoodUX
Looking for examples of great onboarding? You could spend hours signing up for products, downloading apps, and going through their UX with a fine-tooth comb. Or you could check out ReallyGoodUX! There are hundreds of UX examples, including user onboarding experiences, product tours, tooltips, and modals to help you get inspired.
32. Follow a framework with the Product-Led Growth Flywheel
User onboarding doesn’t happen in isolation—it’s just one part of the larger user journey. Understanding each stage of this journey feeds into the next is critical for creating a seamless user experience that delights in the long term.
To help you visualize user onboarding’s place in this journey—and how it affects users downstream—we recommend diving into the Product-Led Growth Flywheel. The Flywheel is a framework for growing your business by investing in a product-led user experience. Read up on the Activate section, in particular, to learn how to optimize the early stages of the user journey to turn causal evaluators into active users.
Set your users up for success
User onboarding is a crucial step that shapes your entire user lifecycle. The best onboarding experiences not only help users reach their aha moment quickly, they also set new users up for long-term success. Like everything else about your product, effective user onboarding requires that you listen to your users, track what works, tweak what doesn’t, and generate momentum.
Margaret Kelsey is the Director of Brand & Creative at Appcues. Before Appcues, she built content programs for InVision’s design community for 3.5 years and has roots in painting and PR. She’s a big fan of puns, Blackbird Donuts, and Oxford commas—probably in that order.