Best Practises for App Onboarding

It is essential to keep users engaged and attract new customers in order to grow your app. It’s even more important to remain competitive in an ever-growing market. App onboarding is a great technique to ensure the success of your app, regardless of whether you are in the entertainment, Fintech or hospitality space.

App onboarding can increase user retention by up to 50%. How do you create an onboarding experience that teaches new users the basics of your app, convinces them about its value and allows them to start to enjoy its benefits as quickly as possible?

What is App Onboarding?

App onboarding is the initial contact that a user makes with an app. It is the most important phase of the user’s experience. The app onboarding process is basically the first impression the user has of the app. If it’s well designed, users will return more often. 25% of app users abandon an app after just one use, and 77% drop it within 72 hours.

Why is App Onboarding Important for Your Users?

App onboarding is critical for users because it sets the tone for your app and encourages user interest. The first user experience must achieve three key goals.

1. Onboarding guides new users through registration, log-in details and other necessary steps.

2. App onboarding teaches about the app’s benefits, how to use it, and other tips and tricks.

3. After creating a profile, this information can be used for personalizing the user experience such as recommendations and notifications.

Three Common Types Of Onboarding

There are many types of app onboarding. This can make it difficult to choose the right strategy. These are the three most popular types of app onboarding. You can choose which one is best for you app.

1. Benefits

Onboarding or feature promotion highlights the benefits of your app as well as how they can benefit your users. This benefits approach is designed to increase your conversion rate and encourage more people to use your platform. This type of onboarding allows you to explain the app’s purpose rather than just how it works.

2. Functions

This type of app-onboarding explains the most common functions of your app to users. Instructional-based apps, also called function-based, go deeper into the functions that achieve the app’s goals. A demo is usually added to allow new users to see how the app’s interface will work.

3. Progressive Onboarding

Progressive onboarding allows you to show more complicated workflows within your app. This includes gesture-driven interactions as well as new information that appears as the user navigates through each step of onboarding.

App Onboarding Best Practices

Here are some tips to help you implement a successful onboarding strategy if your goal is to increase engagement on your app.


72% of app users believe that completing the app-onboarding process in less time is a key factor in their decision whether to continue using the app. Make the app onboarding process quick and simple to make a first impression and increase user retention. You can ask only for the most essential information and limit the number of permissions you require. Also, make sure to stick to the UI elements and key features that are necessary to allow users to experience the app’s value.

A movie ticketing app might request location access. It should explain that this is necessary to locate nearby theaters and showtimes. However, it should not ask for access to contacts or cameras. In later sessions, you can add additional features such as enrolling in rewards programs or connecting to social networks.

Also, you should aim to use fewer words to keep users engaged. You should keep the user experience first and foremost simple. Don’t ask for anything more than you have to.

Give the user the option to skip

Some people don’t want to carry the app through the onboarding process. Tech-savvy users may prefer to explore the app without having to go through the entire onboarding process.

Vevo, a music streaming app, found that adding a skip option in their onboarding process increased logins by almost 10% and the number of sign-ups was up by almost 6%.

Consider running an experiment to allow users to skip certain steps or portions of the onboarding process to determine what works best for your user base.

Use Permission Priming

There has been some debate recently about whether push notifications should be pre-prompted. However, we have found that users who know exactly what they are signing up for increases opt-in rates.

A recent survey by Clutch, a B2B research company, shows that 82% of users believe it is very important to understand why apps ask for personal information, such as payment info or device permissions. This is more than 4 out 5 mobile app users.

Value immediately

Each user downloads your app because they have a reason. You must demonstrate that your onboarding process will meet their expectations. Apps that don’t live up to expectations are one of the main reasons new users leave. No matter what your onboarding process is, whether it’s a product walkthrough or new user registration, the main focus should be on benefits and not features.

Incentivize First Conversions

Offering something to people who have downloaded your app is a great way to encourage them to use it. This could be filling out a profile or choosing a subscription. Incentives can be in-app currency, rewards points, free shipping, promo code or access to special features or content.

Preview App Content

Do you want to streamline the process of getting new users to discover your app’s core value faster? Allow them to experience the app before you ask them to sign up. Our Progressive Web blog app is a great example of this — you can use it browse content without needing to register. Let users experience the app and see how it works. This will help them decide if they are worth signing up or onboarding.

Multichannel use

Onboarding users doesn’t happen just inside your app. To encourage users to explore your app, you must engage them on multiple channels. To help users feel the app’s core value, they should receive push notifications and in-app messages. To encourage users to take the next steps, send personalized messages that are based on what they have done in your app.

Whatever channel you use, your onboarding messages must be clear and concise with a call-to-action. You shouldn’t bombard users with multiple messages of engagement and try to cover all features or benefits in one email.

Rules are made to be broken

Users can be unpredictable, and not all users are the same. Every app vertical and user base is unique. Smart mobile marketers understand the importance of A/B testing your onboarding experience to determine what works best for your users.

8 App Onboarding Examples

These app onboarding tips from the most popular apps today can be used as an inspiration for activating and retaining new users.

1. WhatsApp

WhatsApp detects SMS and simplifies phone verification. Users don’t need to leave the app in order to search through their messages for a code. This speeds up onboarding, makes it easy for users to get distracted and helps them complete their onboarding process faster.

Takeaway – Sign up with SMS detection to simplify your life.

2. Mailchimp

Many apps offer skip options at the beginning of their onboarding process with a “Skip to tour” button. Mailchimp’s Onboarding ux allows users to choose the option on any screen. This allows the user to take control of the flow and can exit the onboarding process whenever they feel ready. It also gives users an “out” option if they become frustrated or bored with the onboarding flow. Instead of closing the app entirely, they can exit the onboarding process.

Takeaway – Give users options by adding a button that says “Skip the Tour”.

3. OfferUp

OfferUp is an app that allows users to sell and buy used items. It focuses on streamlining the selling process by providing users with a simple way to communicate with potential buyers and sellers. Each of these goals requires convincing new users to opt in to important permissions such as camera access and notification. OfferUp offers a reason to opt in to notifications. You will receive a notification as soon as someone expresses an interest in purchasing your stuff.

Takeaway – Convince users that they can opt in for notifications and permissions.

4. Venmo

Venmo is a mobile payment platform that communicates its core value quickly and easily sharing payments with friends. It also offers strong social proof in one well-designed welcome screen. A live feed of Venmo transactions is the first thing that new users will see when they launch their app for the first time. This is a clever way to show off all the different uses of the app and its popularity. It’s a smart way to showcase all the different uses of the app — and how popular it is. *

Takeaway – Communicate your core values right away on your welcome screen.

5. UberEats

UberEats is a successful delivery company in the crowded market. It knows exactly what its customers want, fresh food ASAP, and eliminates all obstacles to getting that first order. The app automatically collects information such as user location and displays a $20 coupon on multiple screens. It is simple: Get delicious food delivered quickly and cost-effectively.

Takeaway – Make it easy for users to reach their goals without any obstacles

6. YouTube Music

YouTube Music is a membership-based music streaming app and requires users to create an Account and subscribe to the Service. However, YouTube Music offers a free trial and users don’t need to log in or create new accounts tht first time around.

Takeaway – Offer users a free trial when you sign up.

7. Ixigo

Ixigo sends an email to new users within 10 minutes of them signing up for the app. The subject line tease a welcome gift and receives an remarkable 54% open rate. Onboarding emails feature dynamic visuals and flattering copy that treat signing up as a success. The email’s main purpose is to persuade the user to book their first flight.

Takeaway – Attract users with an email sign-up verification that teases you with an intriguing offer.

8. call a BOX

call a BOX is a self storage system build with a progressive web app. The onboarding takes place on the web page and users can directly go into the app – without having to install the app from the app store.

Takeaway – Use Progressive Web Apps for a seamless user experienve getting users from your web landing page into your app.

5 Common App Onboarding Mistakes

App onboarding can come in many forms, and can increase user engagement if done correctly. There are some mistakes that you should avoid.

1. Too much focus on features

App onboarding’s main purpose is to not only show features but also how they will benefit users.

2. Unclear instructions

Clear instructions for how to use the app during onboarding are a must. Users will be more likely to get lost and not install the app. You can include a brief walkthrough or step by step guide but don’t spend too much time explaining the obvious.

3. Creative design

While creativity is great for distinguishing your app from other apps, it is not a good idea to use it in onboarding. Your UI may frustrate new users, which could affect their ability to navigate the app.

4. All at Once

Too much information can overwhelm, confuse, and even bore users. It can also give users the impression that your app has too many features. Only show them what is necessary to convert the first one.

5. Not recognizing users success

After a user completes a key step of the onboarding process, such as creating a profile, uploading a photo or creating a playlist, you might consider setting up an informal party to celebrate.

Follow us on our blog app or book a meeting with us if you want to learn more about how we build optimal onboarding experiences for apps.

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