Strategies to Increase SaaS Onboarding Success

You’ve built a stellar SaaS platform. You have a solid amount of signups for the free trial. Then when it comes time for them to become paid subscribers, most of them jump ship. Why? In this first edition of our ongoing series Strategies to Increase Your SaaS Onboarding, we’ll help you answer that question and show you some key influencers who already have a high SaaS onboarding rate. There might be a few things you’re forgetting.

We’ll just go ahead and assume you already have a great free trial platform with exponentially increasing signups that users are enjoying.

The free trial experience should be kind of like watching a movie trailer. Your SaaS trial gives users a small snippet of awesomeness that they consume for free, leaving them wanting to pay so they can watch the whole movie.

While email is typically the main method of onboarding free trial users into paid users, it doesn’t have to be the only effective way. There are several tactics you can use, either coupled with your email funnel or on their own.

In our first installment of Strategies to Increase SaaS Onboarding Success, we’ll make sure your foundation is solid for converting free trial users into paid subscribers. In upcoming posts, we’ll go into much more detail and dive deeper into the technical sides of SaaS Onboarding Success. It may sound trivial to some of our readers, but you might be surprised how much some companies run into complications or failures because of their faulty basic marketing strategy. While our focus is on the SaaS industry, these tips, strategies and accompanying tactics can pretty much be applied across the board with any company, in any industry that wants to increase qualified leads and improve online business.

Give Them A Call

Believe it or not, a large number of today’s sales are still closed because of engaging human contact and customer service that puts their minds at ease. With today’s automated digital world, many users are left feeling devoid of human contact. Your business will break that mold. It has been proven time and time again that happy people buy more. If talking to a real, live person can keep them happy, why not do it for them? It really is a no-brainer.

A perfect example of effective phone follow-ups that increase onboarding and upsells is that of GoDaddy. Their formula is familiar to any marketer worth his or her salt: make it about them. GoDaddy doesn’t focus on how awesome they think their upgrade products are, they focus on solving customer issues. The best customer service reps can turn an angry customer into a champion of your brand.

If you call GoDaddy, their automated system features four easy options, three of which take you to a live customer service specialist. You can easily opt out of the follow up calls, but each website owner gets a free SEO consultation and review of business goals. The SEO and marketing specialists make it easy to see what you need to do to be successful, translating into trust building with the client and much easier upsells and return business.

Sure, you’ll have people complain that the follow up calls are annoying, but getting them to stop the calls is rather easy. Don’t feel like talking on the phone? No problem. GoDaddy ditched their email ticketing system in favor of live chat back in spring of 2014. Turns out, the Internet giant thinks even live online chatting is better than waiting for email responses and playing back and forth. We tend to agree.

We promise GoDaddy isn’t paying us to say these things. They’re just one example of how good, old-fashioned stellar customer service can win you new business now and for years to come.

Breaking it down… How do I translate GoDaddy’s model into an effective strategy for my SaaS business?

When users sign up for the free trial, make it optional for them to add their work phone number and best time to call in their contact information. Be sure to ask for their office number, not mobile. Calling their mobile could interfere with their lives. You want to meet them where they are. This might seem trivial, but those that are willing to give you their number gives you a level of qualifying the lead that you otherwise wouldn’t have. You don’t want to let that go to waste. If they give it to you, they are inviting you to call them. Do so.

Maintain A Stellar Social Media Presence

We don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence, but you might be surprised (or shocked) how much we see people overlook effective social media strategies. This comes after they’ve built up trust and established their brands as a thought leader in their industries. While this of course, will never change, every successful business must adapt to evolving markets.

It all starts with a blog. According to HubSpot, 82% of businesses that blog earn new clients from their blogs or other social media. Maintaining a blog with consistently solid readership is a long-term commitment based on how well you answer questions, solve problems and entertain. As experienced marketers, you already know this, but time and again, otherwise competent professionals shock and surprise us with their lack of understanding of this.

Keep It Simple

While detailed marketing plans featuring niche target demographics can be a great strategy to increase sales and onboarding users, sometimes keeping it simple is just as effective. Like we mentioned before, people are inundated with crap online that they don’t care about. Don’t be that.

A good example of simple, yet extremely effective onboarding is Task Management software Asana. As you explore Asana’s on-boarding process, the signup requires just one email and that’s it – onto the next screen.


After you enter your email, you are redirected to a welcome video that will introduce you to the product. Spot on. People love videos. The interactivity makes it more fun than just reading boring FAQ text.


Lastly, a simple design gets users to invite their colleagues and friends to the app. Simple, but effective upsells and spreading the message to others with ease.

Noticing a trend yet?

Yep, you guessed it. Engagement. From start to finish — personalized, targeted and valuable content is imperative to grow any online business, not just SaaS companies looking to increase onboarding numbers. This brings us to our last, totally not redundant point.

Engage, Engage and Engage.

Here are some expert onboarding tips from heavy-hitting SaaS industry influencers…

“Drip Marketing clearly works and isn’t that expensive. Tools like Marketo, Pardot and Hubspot, enable you to on a recurring basis — but without being a total nudge — remind your sign-ups about how great you are and to consider trying again / buying / etc.  If you aren’t doing drip marketing over an extended timeframe (months and then years), you’re leaving a ton of money on the table. Some users / leads will take years to convert.  For us, sometimes even 7+ years!” –  “The SaaS Guru”, Jason Lemkin  [Quote]


Jason M. Lemkin is Managing Director at Storm Ventures. Co-Founder and CEO of EchoSign. Served as VP, Web Biz Svcs at Adobe. SaaS enthusiast behind SaaStr.com. Also built nanobatteries implanted inside your body. @jasonlk  saastr.com

“Shorten your trial period. In our experience, 99% of B2B SaaS products should limit the trial to 14 days, max. People don’t really try something for a full month. Only a tiny minority will use your SaaS trial for more than three days in a row. This is typical conversion behavior: Just like you’ll never get 100 percent of people to buy your product. Ask yourself, ‘How many times have I signed up for something I never really gave a shot or used at all?’ By keeping your trial short, you actually increase the likelihood that your customers will take the time to get to know your product. Not to mention, you’ll lower your customer acquisition costs!” – CEO of Close.io, Steli Efti  [Quote]


Steli Efti is CEO and Co-Founder of Close.io (a platform that makes calls, sends emails, and conveniently automatically tracks all activity) and ElasticSales, where he helps thousands of startups succeed in scaling their sales efforts. @Steli  Close.io

Make it easy for them to say yes by asking better questions. Think of it like your next meal. Which question is easier to answer: What do you want to eat? How do you feel about eating at that Japanese place for lunch? Of course the second one is easier. Why? People are already making thousands of decisions everyday. If you can ask questions that simplify things make thinking easier for others, you’ll get better responses to what you ask.” – Co-founder of AppSumo Noah Kagan


Noah Kagan calls himself “Chief Sumo” and runs AppSumo.com. A SaaS service pormoting products.  @noahkagan  okdork.com

We’ll have some more examples of SaaS rock star influencers and what makes them effective in upcoming posts in this series. What are some of your favorite SaaS influencers?

What do you think? Was there something we missed when it comes to an introduction to increasing SaaS onboarding and improve online sales? We want to hear what you think! Let us know in the comment section below. Stay tuned to our blog for future installments of our Strategies to Increase SaaS Onboarding series.

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