There are seemingly countless user onboarding software options available, so figuring out which is best for you is tough. You want to take users through a step-by-step journey, guiding them on how to effectively navigate your product and keep using it but need to figure out which tool is the best fit. I've got you! In this post I make things simple, leveraging my experience managing big, complex products, and using dozens of different tools to bring you this shortlist of the best user onboarding software.
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We’ve been testing and reviewing user onboarding software since 2021. As product managers ourselves, we know how critical and difficult it is to make the right decision when selecting software.
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How to Choose User Onboarding Software
With so many different user onboarding software solutions available, it can be challenging to make decisions on what user onboarding software is going to be the best fit for your needs.
As you're shortlisting, trialing, and selecting user onboarding software consider the following:
- What problem are you trying to solve - Start by identifying the user onboarding feature gap you're trying to fill to clarify the features and functionality the user onboarding software needs to provide.
- Who will need to use it - To evaluate cost and requirements, consider who'll be using the software and how many licenses you'll need. You'll need to evaluate if it'll just be the product management professionals, or the whole organization that will require access. When that's clear, it's worth considering if you're prioritizing ease of use for all, or speed for your user onboarding software power users.
- What other tools it needs to work with - Clarify what tools you're replacing, what tools are staying, and the tools you'll need to integrate with, such as accounting, CRM or HR software. You'll need to decide if the tools will need to integrate together, or alternatively, if you can replace multiple tools with one consolidated user onboarding tool.
- What outcomes are important - Consider the result that the software needs to deliver to be considered a success. Consider what capability you want to gain, or what you want to improve, and how you will be measuring success. For example, an outcome could be the ability to get greater visibility into performance. You could compare user onboarding features until you’re blue in the face, but if you aren’t thinking about the outcomes you want to drive, you could be wasting a lot of valuable time.
- How it would work within your organization - Consider the software selection alongside your workflows and delivery methodology. Evaluate what's working well, and the areas that are causing issues that need to be addressed. Remember every business is different — don’t assume that because a tool is popular that it'll work in your organization.
UserGuiding helps product teams create step-by-step user onboarding walkthroughs without requiring any coding. This helps to simplify the initial steps users need to complete to get up and running in a new software system, eliminating friction and potential frustration.
UserOnboarding transforms your onboarding to-do list into a simple and interactive checklist. A progress bar that indicates how long the checklist is also helps to keep users engaged and motivated to finish the workflow setup.
You can also use UserGuiding's product walkthrough feature to help increase the digital adoption of new product features. This is a savvy option for proactively avoiding user confusion if the changes to your user experience are substantial. In this way, you'll also improve your overall customer success rate for your software system's new features.
Integrations include HubSpot, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Intercom, MixPanel, Segment, Slack, and Woopra.
Paid plans start at $89/month when billed annually.
Absorb LMS is a learning management system that can be used to support user onboarding and improve customer adoption. It has a content builder that allows you to create, track, and manage trainings and courses for your customers. Multimedia elements like videos, quizzes, and interactive scenarios can be added for a more dynamic and engaging experience.
The product is built around creating interactive content and delivering an engaging end user experience. You can reward users with badges and certificates, helping to turn new customers into power users quickly. For onboarding more customers without overloading your customer success representatives, it can be a great tool for a self-serve option.
The software integrates with other tools like Google Suite, Microsoft Azure, Namely, Okta, Salesforce, WebEx, Workday, Zoom, and more. Pricing is available upon request, and a free trial and demo are both offered.
Product Fruits is a user onboarding software that helps customers learn a product via step-by-step guidance, in-app messages, tooltips, and walkthroughs. It offers behavior-tracking options, which can be used to monitor how customers interact with a product. Product Fruits' interactive guides are customizable, so businesses can tailor them to their specific products, brand, and audience. Product Fruits also enables the insertion of multimedia content such as videos, images, and GIFs.
Product Fruits captures and analyzes critical data such as engagement levels, time spent on each process, and user journey flow. Product Fruits allows businesses to create user groups with individual product preferences, personas, and other data-driven criteria. This feature enables businesses to create highly relevant user onboarding experiences that address the specific needs of each audience segment.
One of the coolest things about Product Fruits is that it incorporates a feedback widget in the tutorial process. This means that users can report bugs or errors, or even just make suggestions for future improvements. This sets Product Fruits apart, as it ensures that product adoption communications are a two-way street between the developer and end user.
Integrations include Segment, Mixpanel, Heap, Customer.io, HubSpot, Sessionstack, Smartlook, and Google Analytics. If you use another platform, you can use their JS API to forward events.
Product Fruits starts from $79/month and comes with a 14-day free trial.
Apty is customer onboarding and user adoption software for SaaS companies that houses intuitive walkthroughs designed to highlight your service’s best features for new clients. Apty has specifically positioned itself as a system that can propel free trial users into paying customers. They do this by helping you highlight tooltips and key features that your customers can’t live without.
With Apty, you can employ a straightforward interface and code-free editor to craft the perfect training/onboarding solution. You can design and implement on-screen guidance content dedicated to highlighting your must-have features. You can then track who is accessing your onboarding content as well as when, where, and how long. That way, you can continue to improve anywhere you see a bounce rate.
Apty is, by far, the best user onboarding software for SaaS companies looking to make the most out of freemium or free trial sign-ups.
Apty offers customized pricing upon request and a free trial for up to 45 days, where you can test out their workflows with full admin access.
Userpilot is cloud-based software that helps businesses improve product adoption and customer onboarding. Admins can segment users, based on certain attributes or in-app events. They can also create multilingual walkthroughs or add tips and hits to improve the client's overall experience.
The software gets new users up and running faster by offering a personalized user onboarding experience. Enterprises can add custom triggers or conditions and preview them across staging and production environments. To optimize performance, they can also perform A/B testing, set up milestones, and track engagement rates.
This tool integrates with platforms such as Google Analytics, Amplitude, Intercom, and Segment.
Userpilot costs from $249/user/month. A 14-day free trial is also available.
Appcues delivers native-looking onboarding experiences designed to engage users, increase activations, and improve retention. Using the no-code builder, you can drag and drop images, change text, or adjust buttons.
Segmenting and targeting users by persona, plan tier, lifecycle stage, or account owner is easy. You can track the impact of each onboarding flow, to better guide and support users.
Appcues measures how flows impact key business metrics, so you can identify areas where improvements are needed. You can make adjustments and iterations to maximize the number of free-to-paid conversions.
Appcues integrates with Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot, Zendesk, Slack, Intercom, Mailchimp, Heap, Mixpanel, Amplitude, Google Analytics, Segment, and others. Plus, a paid plan through Zapier can unlock even more integration options.
Appcues costs from $249/month (billed annually) and offers a free trial for up to 50 onboarding “flows” and 10 tracked events.
GuideCX is client onboarding software that turns the learning process into a series of tasks lists with status indicators for progress checking. Using the fundamentals of digital project management, GuideCX lets you build a customer onboarding workflow populated with learning materials that you set up yourself. You can white-label the system, so it’s all in line with your personal branding.
Key features include time tracking, resource management, a reporting/analytics engine, collaboration tools, and a client portal (no login required!). You also get a mobile app, flexible user permissions settings, private internal communications channels, automated dependency logic, end date forecasts, a timeline view, and storage/attachment capabilities.
GuideCX integrates natively with Salesforce, Hubspot, Gainsite, Slack, and Jira. You can unlock more integrations through Zapier, but this may require a paid plan.
GuideCX offers customized pricing upon request. They offer a free trial and a free demo.
WalkMe is a cloud-based interactive guidance platform that helps you manage customer experiences on your company website. Using automated tip balloons, the software drives customers to specific walkthroughs. You can play these automatically or allow the user to initiate them.
You can use segmentation to change the display based on a user's role, location, and language. You can also embed content into walkthroughs such as videos, articles, and more. Thanks to the analytics feature, you can track user interactions with the platform and modify the way they are guided through the site.
WalkMe integrates with Salesforce, AWS, Segment, Gainsight, Google Analytics, Heap, Slack, Google Workspace, LiveAgent, Intercom, Livechat, Zendesk, and other apps.
WalkMe costs from $2-3000/annually. It comes with a free demo.
Intercom is a sales, marketing, and support solution that helps businesses acquire, engage, and support customers. The software includes a bot-based algorithm, targeted emails, push and in-app messages, and an integrated helpdesk.
Intercom includes a product tour function designed to produce polished, engaging onboarding tutorials. Simple to use, this feature makes it possible for anyone to create an effective, engaging onboarding guide.
For more complex apps, custom bots can be built. These automatically capture new users' intent, then send them on the appropriate tour directly from the bot conversation.
Intercom integrates with Stripe, Instagram, WhatsApp, Google Analytics, Segment, Heap, Outlook, Slack, Salesforce, and hundreds of other options. You can also access their robust API for additional DIY connections.
Intercom costs from $74/month (billed annually) for small businesses and increases from there. You can try it for free for up to 14 days.
Pendo personalized in-app guides help you create better product experiences with in-app web and mobile communication. Out-of-the-box user onboarding tours, product walkthroughs, and in-app support help optimize the user experience.
The software includes a visual design studio for building targeted in-app guide campaigns across both desktop and mobile apps. You can deliver tooltips and best practice advice in-app, to increase user retention and reduce customer support inquiries.
Marketing teams can serve tailored messages to users, based on their behavior and segmentation. In addition, Pendo’s retroactive analytics help you determine when, where, and how to guide users to successful activation.
Pendo integrates with apps like Slack, Zendesk, Confluence, Salesforce, Fivetran, Intercom, Segment, HubSpot, and Drift. Integrations are limited to paid plans.
Pendo is free for up to 1000 monthly active users. You can contact them for paid plan pricing when you’re ready to expand.
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Selection Criteria for User Onboarding Software
Selecting user onboarding software involves a careful evaluation of how well it aligns with the specific needs, pain points, and goals of guiding and educating new users. Throughout my experience of researching and trialing various user onboarding platforms, I've developed a set of criteria that are crucial for evaluating these solutions. Here is the framework I developed to assess each tool, with each criterion weighted to reflect its overall importance in the selection process.
Core User Onboarding Software Functionality (25% of total weighting score): To be considered for inclusion on my list of the best user onboarding software, the solution had to support the ability to fulfill common use cases. These include:
- Guided tours for first-time users
- Interactive tutorials for complex tasks
- Customizable onboarding checklists
- In-app messages for ongoing guidance
- Analytics for tracking user engagement and progress
Additional Standout Features (25% of total weighting score): Beyond basic functionality, standout features can significantly enhance the onboarding experience, making it more engaging and effective. This criterion assesses the software's ability to offer innovative solutions and capabilities that set it apart from competitors, thus providing a unique value proposition. These can include:
- Advanced personalization capabilities to tailor the onboarding experience to individual user needs
- Integration with other tools for a seamless workflow
- AI-driven insights to optimize the onboarding process
- Gamification elements to increase user engagement
Usability (10% of total weighting score): Usability testing is key to ensuring that both users and administrators can navigate and utilize the software efficiently without unnecessary complexity. This criterion focuses on the balance between offering powerful features and maintaining an intuitive, user-friendly interface that enhances the overall experience. When evaluating usability, I look for:
- A clean, intuitive interface that simplifies navigation
- Balance between powerful capabilities and ease of use
- Quick access to frequently used features and information
Onboarding (10% of total weighting score): A software's own onboarding process for new users is a reflection of its efficacy and user-centric design. I evaluate this aspect to determine how well the software supports new users post-purchase, ensuring they can quickly migrate, learn, and derive value from the tool. Evaluating a software's onboarding process involves:
- The availability of training videos and templates
- Interactive product tours and chatbots for immediate assistance
- Webinars and other resources to help users migrate and realize value quickly
Customer Support (10% of total weighting score): Effective customer support is essential for addressing issues and questions that arise during the use of the software. This criterion assesses the quality, availability, and range of support options provided, ensuring users have access to timely and helpful assistance. In assessing customer support, I consider:
- The responsiveness and availability of the support team
- The range of support channels offered (e.g., live chat, email, phone)
- The depth of the knowledge base and FAQs for self-service support
Value For Money (10% of total weighting score): Ensuring that the software provides good value for money is critical for businesses, especially those with limited budgets. This criterion evaluates the cost relative to the features, benefits, and overall impact of the software on user onboarding and long-term engagement.
- The pricing structure relative to the features and benefits provided
- Flexibility of plans to suit different sizes and types of businesses
- Free trials or demos to test the software before committing
Customer Reviews (10% of total weighting score): Customer reviews offer invaluable insights into the real-world performance and impact of the software. By evaluating these reviews, we can gauge user satisfaction, software reliability, and the effectiveness of the onboarding process from a diverse range of perspectives. Customer reviews are scrutinized for:
- Consistency in positive feedback across different user segments
- Specific mentions of how the software addressed particular pain points
- Insights into long-term value and user satisfaction
Through this detailed evaluation framework, potential buyers can make informed decisions, ensuring that their chosen user onboarding platform not only addresses the essential requirements but also offers a distinctive, valuable, and user-friendly experience. This methodical approach to selection guarantees that the software both meets immediate needs and supports future growth and user engagement.
Trends in User Onboarding Software in 2024
The evolution of user onboarding tools in 2024 reflects significant advancements in technology and a deepening understanding of user needs, with a specific aim towards streamlining the learning curve and boosting user engagement from the first interaction. Here are some key trends I have identified that shed light on the future direction of user onboarding technology.
Trends in User Onboarding Software and Technology
- Increased Use of AI and Machine Learning: There's a noticeable shift towards integrating AI to personalize the onboarding experience. This technology helps in predicting user needs and providing customized guidance, making the onboarding process more efficient and engaging.
- Gamification Elements: Incorporating game-like elements into the onboarding process is rapidly evolving. This approach increases user engagement by making learning fun and rewarding, which is crucial for retaining users beyond the initial stages.
- Advanced Analytics and User Insights: There's a growing emphasis on leveraging data analytics to understand user behavior better. This functionality allows for the continuous improvement of onboarding processes based on actual user interactions and feedback.
Novel and Unusual Functionality
- Voice-Activated Interfaces: An emerging trend is the incorporation of voice commands into user onboarding. This novel approach caters to the growing demand for hands-free navigation and accessibility, providing a more inclusive user experience.
- AR/VR Onboarding Experiences: Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are being explored for more immersive onboarding experiences. This unusual functionality can significantly enhance the understanding of complex software by simulating real-world applications.
Most Important and In-Demand Features
- Interactive Tutorials and Walkthroughs: The demand for interactive tutorials that guide users step-by-step through the software remains high. These features are crucial for reducing the initial learning curve and enhancing user confidence in navigating the software.
- Customization and Personalization: The ability to tailor the onboarding experience to individual user preferences and needs is increasingly important. Customization ensures that users receive relevant information, improving their overall satisfaction and engagement with the software.
Declining Importance and Demand
- Lengthy Text-Based Instructions: There's a declining interest in long, text-based onboarding content. Users prefer quick, visual guides that allow them to start using the software without extensive reading, indicating a shift towards more interactive and engaging formats.
- One-Size-Fits-All Onboarding Processes: Generic onboarding experiences that do not account for different user roles or levels of expertise are becoming less popular. Users expect more tailored experiences that recognize their specific context and goals.
The trends in user onboarding software for 2024 reflect a broader move towards more personalized, engaging, and technologically advanced features. As product management professionals, understanding these trends is essential for selecting and developing onboarding solutions that meet the evolving needs of users, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable introduction to software products.
What is user onboarding Software?
A user onboarding tool is software that guides users through the process of getting started with a product or service. It typically includes features such as tutorials, walkthroughs, and prompts that provide step-by-step instructions to help users understand the product's features and functionality. The goal of a user onboarding tool is to ensure that users can quickly and easily navigate the product and achieve their desired outcomes, leading to higher user engagement and retention rates.
User onboarding software can help build customer experiences that are more satisfying and intuitive for both the company and the user – ultimately improving user retention.
Features of User Onboarding Software
User onboarding software plays a pivotal role in shaping the initial experience of new users, guiding them through the features and functionalities of a product or service. This first interaction is crucial in ensuring users understand how to make the most out of the software, thereby increasing the likelihood of retention and long-term engagement. Below, I outline the most important features to look for in user onboarding software to effectively educate and guide new users.
- Interactive Tutorials: These provide step-by-step guidance within the software environment. Interactive tutorials are vital because they engage users directly with the product, making the learning process intuitive and memorable.
- Customization and Personalization: This feature allows the onboarding process to adapt to the user's specific needs and interests. Customization ensures that users find relevance in the onboarding content, which can significantly enhance their learning experience and satisfaction.
- Progress Tracking: By displaying users' progress through the onboarding steps, this feature motivates and encourages them to continue learning. Progress tracking helps users see their achievements, which can be a powerful motivator to explore further.
- In-App Support and Help Centers: Immediate access to support resources within the app helps users overcome obstacles without frustration. This feature ensures that users can resolve queries or issues on-the-spot, maintaining a smooth learning curve.
- Feedback Mechanisms: Enabling users to provide feedback during onboarding allows for continuous improvement of the process. Feedback mechanisms are essential for understanding user needs and refining the onboarding experience based on actual user input.
- Analytics and User Insights: This feature collects data on how new users interact with the onboarding process. Analytics are crucial for identifying drop-off points and areas for improvement, ensuring the onboarding process is as effective as possible.
- Multimedia Content Integration: Incorporating videos, images, and infographics can make the onboarding process more engaging and less text-heavy. Multimedia content caters to different learning styles and can simplify complex concepts.
- Mobile Optimization: Ensuring the onboarding experience is seamless on mobile devices expands accessibility and convenience. Mobile optimization is critical as many users prefer to access software through their smartphones.
- Language Localization: Offering the onboarding process in multiple languages can dramatically increase the software's accessibility to a global audience. Language localization shows commitment to inclusivity and enhances user comprehension.
- Seamless User Interface (UI) Integration: The onboarding features should blend naturally with the software's UI, providing a cohesive user experience. Seamless UI integration ensures that the onboarding process feels like an integral part of the software, not a separate or intrusive element.
Selecting user onboarding software with these features is essential for creating an engaging, informative, and smooth introduction to any software or application. These features not only help in educating new users, but also in building a strong foundation for their long-term engagement and success with the software, enhancing user satisfaction and retention.
Benefits of User Onboarding Software
By guiding new users through the functionalities and features of an application, these solutions not only enhance the user experience but also contribute significantly to the success of an organization. Here are five primary benefits of user onboarding software for users and organizations:
- Increased User Retention: User onboarding software significantly reduces initial confusion and overwhelm, encouraging users to continue using the software. This benefit leads to higher retention rates as users feel more confident and capable from the outset, directly impacting the organization's bottom line by maintaining a stable user base.
- Reduced Support Costs: By providing clear guidance and resources within the application, user onboarding software lessens the need for direct support. This reduction in reliance on customer service teams translates to lower operational costs for the organization, as users can self-serve many of their needs through the onboarding tools provided.
- Faster Time-to-Value: User onboarding software accelerates the process by which new users become proficient with the application. This speedier ramp-up time means users can achieve their goals more quickly, enhancing their perception of value from the product and, consequently, their satisfaction and loyalty to the brand.
- Enhanced Product Adoption: Through interactive tutorials and guided tasks, user onboarding software encourages users to explore and utilize more features within the application. This deeper engagement leads to enhanced product adoption, as users discover functionalities that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, thereby maximizing the utility they derive from the product.
- Data-Driven Insights for Improvement: The analytics capabilities of user onboarding software provide organizations with valuable insights into user behavior and onboarding effectiveness. These insights allow for continuous improvement of the onboarding process and product itself, ensuring that both align with user needs and preferences, thereby fostering a culture of innovation and responsiveness.
For users, investment in user onboarding software means a smoother, more engaging introduction to software, leading to greater satisfaction and proficiency. For organizations, it represents an opportunity to enhance user retention, reduce support costs, and gather insights for ongoing improvement. By prioritizing the user onboarding experience, businesses can ensure that their digital products are not just used, but embraced by their target audience, setting the stage for long-term success and growth.
Costs & Pricing for User Onboarding Software
Choosing the right user onboarding software is a pivotal decision for businesses looking to enhance the experience of new users. With a variety of plan options available, it's important to understand the differences in features, functionalities, and pricing to ensure you select the best fit for your needs.
Pricing and features typically vary based on the size of your user base, the complexity of your onboarding needs, and the level of customization and support you require. Here, we'll explore the common plan options for user onboarding software, providing insights into the average pricing and features included in each to help guide software buyers who may be navigating this landscape for the first time.
Plan Comparison Table for User Onboarding Software
|Common Features Included
|$50 - $100 per month
|Access to standard onboarding flows, basic analytics, email support
|$100 - $500 per month
|Advanced customization options, integration capabilities, enhanced analytics, priority support
|$500 - $2000+ per month
|Full customization and branding, dedicated support and training, advanced integration and analytics, access to all features and premium support
|Limited onboarding flows, basic analytics, community support
When considering which plan to choose, it's essential to evaluate the scale of your needs against the features and support offered by each option. Keep in mind that while a free plan may be appealing for budget-conscious businesses or those with minimal needs, investing in a paid plan can provide valuable advanced features and support that can significantly enhance the user onboarding experience.
What is user onboarding?
User onboarding is a process in which you aim to improve the experience that a user has while using your product for the first time. Did you know that 55% of people admitted to returning a product simply because they didn’t understand how to use it? Improving the probability of success for a user is key to keeping them (retention rate) and providing a satisfactory user experience.
The user onboarding process may include:
- Interactive tutorials
- Training videos
If you are interested in tools that can help guide your users through the use of features, look at our digital adoption platforms list.
Why use user onboarding software?
User onboarding software can be used to create interactive video and/or text onboarding workflows to walk a new user through your product step-by-step. However, there are plenty of reasons! To name a few:
- 86% of consumers say that they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience
- 40% of users now prefer self-service tools over human guidance
- 60% of companies use between 4-6 tools for user onboarding (so you are not alone!)
User onboarding software can help reduce churn rate, gather customer feedback, encourage feature adoption, increase net promoter score (NPS), boost customer engagement, and support the user journey. Products and consumers are becoming more tech-oriented, and we need onboarding apps that can keep up with this demand.
You might also like: What Is Customer Onboarding? Tips And Best Practices
What are other barriers to product adoption?
Although user onboarding is one of the main reasons why users will leave shortly after interacting with your product for the first time, here are five more barriers to product adoption:
- Limited brand recognition
- Lack of product awareness
- Failure to perceive the value
- Misguided support strategy
- Insufficient motivation
We have a great guide that goes deeper into product onboarding that shows you five tips you can follow for a successful implementation. However, if your product is SaaS software, we have an article that gives you six checklists to optimize your SaaS onboarding.
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