Lesson 6
8 mins

Build momentum pre-signup

At this point, your onboarding flow is pretty well optimized. But you can still elevate it to the next level by letting your visitors start the onboarding process before they create an account. We’ll dig into that more in Lesson 6.

Andrew Capland

Former Head of Growth at Postscript and Wistia

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Build momentum pre-signup

Ungated product experiences

User onboarding is all about creating opportunities for people to try your product, experience the value, and fall in love with it.

We’re seeing innovative SaaS companies adopt a new playbook. They're not gating product value behind a sign-up form anymore. Instead, they're leading with value and embedding an interactive version of their product directly on their site. 

The ungated product experience approach attempts to remove anything standing in the way or slowing users down.

This involves embedding an ungated interactive version of the product directly on the site so visitors can play with it and get a feel for how valuable it might be for them. No form fields are required.

Then, after some meaningful interaction––maybe the visitor is using it for a few minutes or for a specific number of interactions––that is when the suggestion to try out the real version of the product pops up. 

Because this approach helps site visitors engage with your product without having to fill out a form first, it is like a SaaS version of “try it before you buy it.”

This is effective for a few reasons: 

Number 1

The ungated experience engages a larger percentage of visitors.

Users can't experience the value of your product without signing up. That's a problem—because most SaaS websites only convert 2-4% of their visitors into new accounts.

That means 96–98% of SaaS website visitors don't sign up—and don’t get to experience the value of your product.  And even for the 2–4% of users that do sign up, it doesn’t mean they’ll automatically have a successful experience and activate.

Instead of 2–4% creating an account, your product gets shown to everyone, typically with double-digit interaction rates. You deliver value sooner and to more people.

Number 1

This approach drives fewer total signups, but more total activated accounts

When visitors do sign up, they’ve already received a ton of value—and built momentum. They’re way more likely to become active users & paying customers.

Number 1

More actionable usage & retention data by weeding out the “pokers”

After removing the noise in your numbers, you’ll be able to make much better decisions about which use-cases and features lead to conversions and retention. Sharing this feedback loop with marketing enables them to run campaigns to find more of your best users.

Examples of onboarding that start pre-signup

Veed’s ungated product experience

Video editing tool Veed is a great example of this approach in action.

The primary CTA on their homepage is to “Upload Your Video.” Instead of making you create an account to get started, they specifically encourage visitors to “Try it now, no account required.”

BMAT Model

Dooly’s ungated product experience

Sales rep tool Dooly also has a great example of this in action.

They offer interactive tours of their product that are available directly on their site. They encourage website visitors to get a self-guided tour of their product before filling out any forms.

BMAT Model

They walk you through their product, encouraging you to interact like an active user. 

BMAT Model

Throughout the ungated experience, they have CTAs allowing users to sign up for a demo or start their Dooly trial.

How to get started with an ungated product experience

The most effective way to implement these kinds of experiences is to create a lightweight version of your product and then embed it on your website. If you have the engineering resources to make it happen, it’s worth doing.

But for many SaaS brands, engineering resources and product constraints make that hard. Or maybe you just want to ensure this concept provides value for your brand before investing too many resources into it.

If that's the case, there are some great no-code tool options––like Navattic––to help you get started. Going the no-code route gives you the ability to build interactive product demos and embed them directly on your site without dev help.

The future of user onboarding is really exciting. 

Most companies are still focused on implementing the fundamentals, but those who’ve been executing & refining this playbook are welcoming in the next generation of onboarding experiences. 

Want to take your onboarding to the next level?

Well, that’s all for this course!

If you want to stay in touch with me (Andrew Capland), here are a few ways to do so:

👉 Follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter. Make sure to mention that you took this course from Appcues so I don’t ignore your request.

👉 Check out my full video course and coaching program on value-first onboarding. It comes with step-by-step training, pre-made experimentation templates, a private onboarding review session, and a whole bunch more.

👉 Schedule a 1-on-1 call with me about improving your onboarding experience.

Of course, I can’t emphasize enough how big of a fan I am of Appcues.

It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to launch and iterate on onboarding flows for your product. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for a free trial to see it for yourself. 

See y’all later!