Using a new app is like meeting someone for the first time. Your initial interactions could be awkward and confusing or there could be an instant connection. In both of these settings, first impressions are everything!
How do you make sure your app falls in the “instant connection” category? App onboarding is the holy grail when it comes to ensuring a great first impression. Onboarding is one of the most critical phases of an app user’s journey, as it is that first point of contact with your app.
What is app onboarding?
The onboarding process is essentially a series of screens that guide users through the app’s interface and functions. App onboarding allows businesses to strategically communicate with their users, as well as facilitate a positive user experience. These onboarding screens have three purposes:
- Educate the user about the functions and benefits of the app
- Allow the user to register their login details
- Collect profile information that can be used to deliver personalized content and notifications
Types of onboarding
There are different types of app onboarding that you can implement, depending on your business and type of app. What all of these onboarding methods have in common is that they empower users and encourage them to learn through exploring the app.
1. Benefits-oriented onboarding
As the name suggests, this type of onboarding demonstrates the benefits or value the user will get from the app, in an attempt to encourage conversion. This approach focuses on what the app does, rather than how to use the app. These onboarding screens will also include permission requests that the users can opt-in for, such as accessing location and sending push notifications.
2. Function-oriented onboarding
This approach focuses on app functionality by teaching the user how to use the app. The user will get a tour of the app with specific instructions on how to get started and how to perform certain actions.
3. Progressive onboarding
Progressive onboarding is a little more extensive as it shows users new information as they progressively navigate through the app. The instructions displayed on the screen pertain to the page the user is on, like a live walkthrough. Instead of getting the instructions up front, the users will learn as they explore the app.
Why does your app need onboarding
While you probably already see the need for app onboarding, let’s dive a little deeper into the science behind it.
It is difficult for new users to intuitively know how to navigate an app, especially if the interface is different than what they are accustomed to. Creating a positive first-time user experience is fundamental to an app’s success, as well as ensuring ongoing app usage. The truth is that users lose interest when an app takes too long to figure out.
Note that 21% of users will only use your app once. While this may or may not be due to the complexity of your app, it is an important statistic to hone in on. Including an app onboarding process will help make the first-time use as seamless as possible, minimizing potential drop off of users. In other words, businesses can increase their app retention by using appropriate app onboarding.
Hubspot breaks down retention into three phases: short-term retention, mid-term retention, and long-term retention. In the context of this blog post, we will be focusing on the first phase of short-term retention. In terms of app use, this refers to Week 1 after a user has downloaded the app.
According to their research, the biggest drop-off in usage happens during the short-term retention period between Week 0 and Week 1. Retention drops nearly 75 percentage points down to just above 25% in a single week.
What does this mean? There’s much more room for improvement early on, such that small changes in user onboarding will have a massive impact in that week, and the weeks to follow. Your goal in “Week 1” is to ensure that your app is used more than once. By implementing user onboarding, you can get more early usage and, as a result, increase app retention over time. Localytics saw app user retention rates increase by 50% after implementing a solid onboarding.