SaaS Onboarding Checklist Best Practices & Examples

SaaS onboarding checklist

Do you know the difference between successfully onboarding new SaaS customers or them opting for the competition? 

The answer: an effective onboarding process. And you can use a SaaS onboarding checklist to make sure that the customer is effectively onboarded and understand the value of your platform. 

At Nickelled, we believe your SaaS company should have the tools needed to show its software’s worth. In this guide, we’re providing everything you need to know during the creation, implementation and review stages of using an onboarding checklist

What is a SaaS Onboarding Checklist?

An onboarding checklist helps a new customer gain knowledge of your SaaS software in the easiest way possible. The end result is that your users fully understand the value that the SaaS product has to offer, helping to improve customer retention. 

You can use a wide range of methods to create public and private onboarding checklists. But some work better than others. 

For instance, when developing public checklists for users, interactive versions (like Nickelled’s) are known to achieve high user engagement. This can be exactly what’s needed to enhance the onboarding customer experience. 

Importance of having a SaaS onboarding checklist 

To gain high adoption rates for your SaaS application, you need to have an easy-to-use interface and be able to produce tangible benefits for the customer. If you fail to do so, customers will simply opt for other options available. 

You most likely have already done the heavy lifting to provide these features. But what you may lack is the ability to fully onboard customers to showcase everything the software can accomplish for them. 

This is where an onboarding checklist comes into play. It ensures that the whole onboarding process has been covered from start to finish, so your customers know how to effectively use the software. 

SaaS account managers also benefit hugely from using this onboarding method as it helps streamline the process without any key factors being missed out. The outcome? Your customers receive high-end support that leaves a great impression. 

How to create a great SaaS onboarding checklist template

  1. Collate all the things the user needs to know to have an outstanding onboarding experience

You first need to identify all features that are vital for customers to learn. Put yourself in their shoes: would you be able to figure certain aspects out without guidance? 

During this step, you’ll also want to note down the different workflows that produce the customer’s desired end result. 

Mapping out how they will use the application, from the first interaction to their end goal, will help your customers know what actions to take after they’ve successfully completed the onboarding process.  

Another key factor to consider in this stage is the type of delivery method you’re going to use for the public onboarding checklist. Whether you decide to use emails, interactive walkthroughs or videos, there’s a lot to think about. 

And you don’t need to limit yourself to one avenue. 

Here’s a prime example of Nickelled in action, highlighting important tooltips and hotspots that can be used to get your customers up to speed.

  1. Define your target audience, objectives and goals

You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of who your target audience is, what they’re trying to accomplish and the most efficient way they can reach their goals by using your software. 

Think about your onboarding assets

Collect analytical data that you already have to hand about your current customers. How best do they like to receive information? 

Interactive walkthroughs, video explanations, and instructional emails are great choices to use when creating an onboarding checklist, but their effectiveness may differ depending on the type of audience you’re targeting. 

Who will read the checklists?

Next, you need to identify all parties that will benefit from the checklist. 

The focus will predominantly be on the customer, so they can complete the full onboarding process. But other members such as customer success managers and account managers should be involved when you’re developing it.  

This will give you a more rounded view of what customers want during the onboarding experience. As a result, a list of customer goals can be noted to help guide how the checklist is developed, helping you to create the priority objectives of the checklist. 

Consider the timeline

Lastly, for this step, the onboarding timeline will need to be discussed. A few elements will affect the optimal length that it should be for your SaaS program. 

This includes how extensive the SaaS application is and how accustomed the target demographic is to new software. 

Here’s an example you can examine of the onboarding process over the course of a 30-day period, provided by The Predictive Index

As you can see, each phase of the onboarding journey contains different steps that account managers and customer success managers can take. 

Obviously, this isn’t a universal journey as steps will be customised depending on the SaaS program. However, it gives you the fundamentals to work with. 

  1. Draft the checklist 

There are two main types of checklist you can initially draft: 

  • A public checklist
  • A private checklist

Public checklist

The public checklist should be presented in a digestible manner that encourages your users to continue to the next step. 

Here’s an example from Growth Mentor:

Here, each step gets ticked off once completed. It’s simple and easy to follow.

Private checklist

A private checklist is a little different. The whole purpose is that it’s designed for your internal onboarding teams rather than the customer. 

With this in mind, you need to make it clear and concise, listing all interactions and activities that should be made to provide a fantastic onboarding experience. 

You’ll need to include the initial steps when your customers sign up, such as onboarding calls that discuss goals, check-in sessions to gather feedback and KPI checks to collect analytical data to enhance the process. 

Template:

  • Ensure the sign-up process is frictionless
  • Schedule a call to discuss objectives the customers want to achieve, helping to tailor the onboarding journey to each individual
  • Decide which onboarding method will be used
  • Find a suitable customer success manager/account manager that will monitor customer goals
  • Ensure analytics are gathering actionable data
  • Make check-in appointments to see how the customers are progressing
  • Review KPIs and other feedback
  • Keep making adjustments to the onboarding customer checklist to improve the experience
  1. Publish Checklist 

Once your team has agreed that both onboarding checklists are good to go, it’s time to implement them. 

Distribute the private checklist among your account managers and other relevant internal teams that are active in the onboarding process, and make sure everyone knows how to use it. 

The objective is to get a consistent onboarding experience across the board, so making sure everyone sticks to the checklist will make sure this happens. 

Secondly, you must activate the public checklist. It’s a good idea to trial it before it’s live to ensure everything works as intended. 

  1. Track and benchmark the changes in the onboarding process

KPIs

Are the checklists you developed actually making a difference? This is the time to turn to your KPIs to figure out the answer. Below we’ve listed the various KPIs that indicate if a checklist has had a positive impact:

  • Completion rate
  • Views
  • Retention rate
  • Engagement rate
  • Activation rate
  • Feature usage
  • Customer churn

Each one will provide you with feedback in different areas of the onboarding journey. For instance, if feature usage is low for certain elements, this could indicate that your customers need further assistance to help them understand how effective the features are.  

Other KPIs such as retention rate will also give you valuable insight into how well-received the onboarding checklists are. A quick look at before and after they were implemented can provide empirical evidence of their impact. 

A/B Testing

If the feedback you received has highlighted areas of improvement, the option to use A/B testing is always available. By using this testing method, you can compare your original onboarding checklist with alternative versions. 

This should give you an insight into which one is seen as the favourable option for customers, helping to enhance the overall onboarding customer journey. 

Keep reviewing

Similar to SaaS applications, the onboarding experience you make should be a continuous process focused on achieving better results. It shouldn’t be left even if it’s viewed as “good enough”. 

This will ensure that when developments are made to the Saas application, whether it be adjustments to current or new additional features, the onboarding checklists you’ve made are still helping guide customers effectively. 

Conclusion

At Nickelled, we understand the pain points that come with you trying to create a top-notch SaaS onboarding process. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to offer simple yet effective tools that give SaaS applications, like yours, the success they deserve, such as easy-to-create onboarding checklists.

This includes interactive click-through guides that provide crystal clear steps to help your users learn the software they’re using for the very first time. Check out our onboarding services for more information on how we can help take your SaaS company to the next level.

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