We Increased Our Activation Rate by 2.5x in Just 15 Minutes. Here's How.

Written by: Julia Chen Julia Chen 

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There’s nothing like new step-function growth to make you introspective. You know. The kind that looks like this:

Appcues growth

Recently we grew our activation rate at Appcues in a huge way. And to be honest, we’re a little relieved about that—I mean we’ve helped hundreds of companies like ours improve their user onboarding experiences with our user onboarding software.So what kind of experts would we be if we couldn’t move the needle on our own onboarding experience!?

How We Identified Our Activation Opportunity

We onboard new users to Appcues with our own software, and our conversion rates from users signing up to reaching an Aha! Moment has always been pretty good. But just a few months ago, we realized that our activation rate could still be a little higher.

Not enough users who signed up for Appcues proceeded to build and publish their own user onboarding experiences—our Aha! Moment. Here it was at 12.6%:

Appcues old onboarding Mixpanel funnel

By looking at our Mixpanel funnel, we realized that the biggest dropoff occurred between users completing our welcome process and creating their own flow using Appcues. Only 31% of users made progress. Thanks to the data, we knew our biggest opportunity to improve.

The One Change that Skyrocketed User Activation

We knew that users didn’t have trouble starting or finishing our onboarding experience. We suspected instead that there was serious friction after the last step of the welcome flow. So we looked at that last welcome modal, which looked like this:

Appcues onboarding old modal

The modal gave users two options to get started. While both are important steps, putting both options on the table wasn’t the best way to streamline users’ attention towards their singular Aha! Moment.

Additionally, when the welcome modal was completed via the second option—create your first product experience—it dropped users straight onto their dashboard:

Appcues dashboard

This meant users had to click “create” to start building their first flow in Appcues. It was a small but real barrier that stood in the way of users making progress.  

We redesigned our new onboarding experience to end with this modal:

Appcues onboarding new modal

We took two links down to one, added a graphic, and dramatically cut down the text. Upon completion, the modal redirected users to start creating their first flow, which made all the difference:

Appcues new onboarding create flow

The Result: 2.5x Increase in User Activation Rate

We had high hopes for our experiment, but the eventual impact blew us away:

Appcues new onboarding Mixpanel funnel

We increased overall activation by 2.5x! And we increased retention between completing our welcome process and creating an Appcues flow by 132%.

This means that we were able to motivate more users to take a meaningful next step and start realizing value, which makes us all the more excited to deliver on that value. 

Never Stop Onboarding

Creating an effective onboarding experience is an iterative process that can always be subjected to reevaluation. We also know that onboarding extends far beyond the first time a new user logs into the product. So you can be sure that we’ll be back experimenting again soon.

For now though, we’re pretty happy that about 15 minutes’ worth of redesigning led to 2.5x more of our new users reaching their Aha! moment.

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