Effective product onboarding and walkthroughs are critical components of the sales, customer success, and marketing functions within software companies. When done right, they ensure clear customer understanding and product adoption - thereby increasing loyalty while reducing the risk of churn.

But beyond simply reducing user frustration and general support burden, effective product onboarding walkthroughs can also reinforce value propositions and highlight unique features - forming an integral part of the customer retention and expansion experience.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to SaaS product walkthroughs, here are several best practices on how to design an effective onboarding experience, using popular tools like in-app tours or interactive product demos.

Best practices for engaging and user-friendly product onboarding & walkthroughs

1. Make onboarding interactive

Guide customers step-by-step instead of relying on un-engaging videos or static PDFs. For instance, guide them through a clear, cohesive flow of clicks, text entries, and feature benefits to drive engagement.

Here's an example onboarding flow that highlights key features and benefits through a self-paced interactive demo:

2. Make onboarding self-paced and async

Whenever possible, the customer should be able to snooze the product walkthrough and come back to it when they’re ready. Don't create an onboarding tooltip that the customer can't come back to after initially snoozing or dismissing.

Or better yet, embed interactive demos and guides in knowledge bases or support docs to make onboarding steps accessible to customers 24/7, whenever they need it.

3. Create multiple entry points

Similar to the above recommendation, the customer should be able to access the walkthrough via multiple entry points - essentially following the ethos of “meeting customers where they are”.

This includes making walkthroughs accessible in-app or out-of-app, like in support docs, onboarding playbooks, and help centers.

4. Keep onboarding walkthroughs concise

Make sure the product walkthrough is concise and to the point - ideally modularized enough to be less than 10 steps per walkthrough for maximum engagement;

5. Personalize product onboarding

Whenever possible, make your product onboarding experience contextual and personalized based on each customer.

This may include using dynamic variables to personalize your onboarding at scale, letting customers choose their own onboarding journey with conditional branching, or manually sending out onboarding materials based on each customer.

Personalization is an easy but highly effective way to increase product adoption, drive activation, and accelerate time-to-value.  

What is the future of product onboarding?

With the continued rise of PLG, customers will universally expect simple, interactive product walkthroughs within the tools they use (or are in the process of evaluating). With the growing pool of software options and shortening user attention spans, software companies will need to continually improve the walkthrough design to remain competitive.

Furthermore, as product-led growth becomes an area of focus for more companies, clear, async product walkthroughs will become more and more important.

Frontier technologies like Generative AI will unlock previously unforeseen ways to reinvent product walkthroughs - whether that be via synthetic AI voice overlays, conversational flows, or instant walkthrough creation based on viewer intent and prompt.

Conclusion: a great product onboarding experience drives user adoption and retention

At Supademo, we've analyzed hundreds of examples of how effective product walkthroughs directly translated to decreases in churn, time-to-activation, and customer support queries.

In fact, we leverage Supademo (example here) across our product on-boarding flow to help drive our customers to successful product outcomes.

Ready to start improving your product onboarding experience? Leverage the power of interactive product demos with a Supademo account - free and no credit card required.

Snapshot of interactive product demos in action

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