Contributed post by Karl Wirth
The other day, I finally got around to checking out a certain recently launched inbox management app. A couple friends had invited me (and they were raving about it), so I thought I’d join them.
After being “sold” by their amazing intro video, the sign up to onboard process was so broken, I lost interest within minutes.
First, it asked me to OAuth using numerous unnecessary accounts and then confirm an email address. All of which I did.
When I jumped into the product, it was so unintuitive I was expecting an “owner’s manual” to be delivered to my front door. What a mess! This app broke every onboarding rule imaginable.
Customer onboarding is about more than just converting your website’s visitors into paying customers. It’s about ensuring a fantastic user experience from the first point of contact. It’s about building trust with visitors and cementing customer loyalty as early in your relationship as possible – something that inbox management app definitely did not do (so much for making life easier).
I’ve had a chance to experiment with many of the available onboarding tools. I know the good, the bad and the ugly. This post will share some of the things I’ve read and discovered about onboarding… all while busting 7 onboarding myths that will drive down your conversion rate.
Myth 1: You only need to worry about support when you have paying users.
Don’t assume that you need to wait until you have a critical mass of customers to start worrying about customer experience and support. This belief can easily make you miss out on sales and potentially lose some of the people who have already become your early adopters.
While numerous lean startups and businesses may not have the cash or the revenue to hire a full-time support person, you can start to ingrain the importance of an amazing customer experience very early on.
Here’s a solution I really like. Make sure everyone on your existing staff is trained in customer support and have them take turns filling that role. Think of it as your customer support batting order. Regardless of their role (developer, marketing expert or CEO), each team member needs to take a turn in the customer support hot seat.
Why? It will not only allow you to fill the position, but it will quickly give everyone on the team a first-hand account of what the customer is going through. By getting that immediate customer experience feedback, everyone will get a better understanding of the importance, or lack thereof, of their tasks/goals/strategies.
Myth 2: It’s too expensive.
Your onboarding plan is an investment and you need to know that even small investments can have huge payoffs. Sometimes the only investment you will need to make is your time! Many great onboarding tools offer free versions to help you while you are just getting up and running.
When deciding what tool (always choose an all-in-one tool) to use, there are three major things to consider:
1. Decide how much you are able to invest in this tool on a monthly basis.
2. Identify the areas where you think an onboarding tool would be the most effective. Do you want tutorials? Customized content? A better ear to the social web? A tool to help customers learn how to use your company’s tools as effectively as possible? Something to help with email nurturing? You need to figure out which areas are a priority for your business.
3. Focus, test and optimize. Select the areas that are important, test various tools, figure out which works best and adjust accordingly.
Myth 3: Email marketing is king.
Email marketing is important – very important. However, it’s not the only tool you should have at your disposal. Not all customers like email or want to receive more (that’s why I signed up for the inbox management app, after all). They get enough as is. So how can you still keep in touch with your community and be top of mind?
Increasingly, customers want to communicate with your company and staff on a more interactive level. I have found that providing a variety of communication options is the best way to keep your customers as happy as possible.
And the best option? The use of dynamic, smart messaging (i.e. popups, bars and blocks of text on your website that adapt to your customers’ behaviors). This approach provides customized messaging for your visitors and is an excellent complement to a well thought out email campaign. (Shhh, no secret, but it’s what we do here at Evergage. Sign up for a free trial today!)
Myth 4: Wait to collect and analyze data.
Start collecting and analyzing data from day one. Even if you don’t have too many paying customers, by analyzing your visitors’ activities, you will have enough insight to start working with. It can help you craft a better offer, test your messaging and really see what works.
With your little amounts of data, or servers full of it, there are three steps to follow when optimizing the onboarding process:
1. Learn. Look at your website’s data, track behavioral analytics, and, if you have paying customers, analyze the relationship between their behavior and your sales data.
2. Predict. Find a tool that will help spot patterns so you can adapt your efforts. I firmly believe that you always need to be testing and measuring. You might find your ideal customer is not who you expected or maybe you assumed the wrong social channel was the best for generating leads. You never know!
3. Adapt. As your database of information grows, so will your ability to measure, learn and predict. Grow with your data!
Myth 5: No one uses the phone anymore.
There are numerous ways to communicate with your customer and the phone is becoming increasingly important. Often, picking up the phone to talk to your customers is the best way to see if they are actually satisfied. Don’t be afraid to put a voice to the name.
There are several tools you can use with the phone to make sure you keep your customers as happy as possible when they are coming onboard:
1. Project management tools can help you if your business depends on large, complex projects with many people involved.
2. Online meetings can bring the face-to-face element that is normally lacking from web-based communication.
3. Customer service through social networks like Twitter and Facebook is a growing trend. Listening to the conversations people are having about you can help quickly resolve an issue before it gets out of hand.
4. Instant messaging tools and live chats are a great way to quickly resolve problems your customers may have while browsing your website.
Myth 6: Content is a luxury.
Even with the explosive growth of content marketing, some people still do not believe it’s a necessity. Maybe people think it’s too expensive, complicated or time-consuming.
Whatever their reason for not producing content, I don’t buy it.
There’s a good reason for my strong belief in content marketing. Even if you have an innovative product, there is a good chance people don’t know it exists. You need to focus on educating people to bring them onboard. And educational, informative content (e.g. web copy, blog posts and eBooks) is a very powerful tool.
Stop finding excuses and get writing. If you really don’t have the time, hire a freelancer, an agency or an employee.
Myth 7: Your product will sell itself.
I hate to tell you this, I really do, but your product isn’t that good.
You need to focus on all aspects of customer acquisition, conversion and customer experience if you want your business to succeed. Your product won’t sell itself. So, you need to make sure that, at the very least, the first touchpoint your customers have with your onboarding process is so incredibly seamless that they can’t help but want to sign up and share your product.
It takes just a few little errors or one too many questions during sign up to lose 25% or more of your leads.
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) has never been as true as it is with onboarding new customers.
What myths about customer onboarding did I miss? Mention a myth and bust it below to help others learn from your experience.
About the Author
Karl Wirth is the CEO & Co-Founder of Evergage. He is passionate about helping businesses improve their conversion rates through relevant, in-context communication. See for yourself and sign up for Evergage today!