5 tips for improving user onboarding with session replay
Tips and Tricks · 6 min read

5 tips for improving user onboarding with session replay

Amy Ellis
Posted December 12, 2016

Onboarding. The first thing potential customers see, and the most important part of your product. Don’t believe us? We’ve got evidence.

AppCues spent over 120 hours digging through stats, case studies and onboarding flows to show how critical onboarding is to building lifetime customers and building a successful SaaS business. They’ve found that new user onboarding is the most impactful metric on your bottom line revenue… by 74 percent!

We’re flattered that AppCues thinks FullStory is a great product for improving user onboarding (we think so too!). When they asked us to contribute to their epic SlideShare with our own tips for improving onboarding, we enthusiastically agreed! Here’s how we get the most value out of FullStory session replay when evaluating onboarding flows:

1. Start watching from the beginning.

If you’ve designed a product, you know how it works. It’s hard to turn that innate knowledge off and see your product with “beginner eyes.” Watching users from their very first interaction with the app will give you new insights to what could be confusing for someone brand new.

Using our pre-built New This Week segment, you can quickly view sessions from people who were first seen in your application during the last seven days.

2. Isolate the most frustrating customer experiences.

In addition to watching sessions for specific types of users, you can also watch a segment of behavior we call Rage Clicking. What are Rage Clicks? Rage Clicks are series of clicks in which your users are pummeling their mouse buttons in frustration. It’s like punching your site in the face, usually because it’s not doing what the user wants or expects it to.

(Read up on how to turn Rage Clicks into actionable insights here.)

Focusing on the ragey-est of user interactions will help you understand where customers are confused by your onboarding UI and wasting time wallowing in uncertainty, instead of smoothly sailing towards activation.

3. Identify obstacles encountered during the Aha! Moment.

The "Aha! Moment" is that specific instance when your customer encounters and totally understands your unique value proposition. It might be something simple like inviting a friend to join them on a game site, or the first time they download an expense report in half the time it normally takes. Customers who experience your Aha! Moment are much more likely to activate, continue using your product and… sign up!

Credited to the Apptimize blog.

Naturally, it’s pretty important to get users to their Aha! Moment in your app quickly and smoothly. Reducing frustration here will have the biggest effect on how many potential customers activate and continue using your app. Before discovering the Aha! Moment, customers are coasting on curiosity and good design, making them particularly sensitive to friction and a bad UI. Often, just knowing how many people make it to the Aha moment isn’t enough to understand how to improve onboarding. That’s where FullStory comes in.

Set up a segment of users who encounter your Aha! Moment and watch what the experience is like for them. Whether that key moment is clicking a “create first project” button or making it to a specific page, you can use FullStory to find those sessions.

You can also filter by additional information like the age of the user and length of session to see exactly the type of sessions you need. Then just settle in and start watching. Take note of the things that hinder the user from accomplishing the end goal and the things that help them along the way. Watching real users on their journey will give you actionable insights into how, specifically, you can change and improve the onboarding flow.

4. Compare sessions that convert with sessions that fail.

In order to find hidden Aha! Moments, you’ll need to compare similarities in user sessions that convert with user sessions that fail.

You can do this quickly and easily in FullStory by creating a User Funnel Searchie. Simply add the steps you’re hoping your customers will complete and you can see a visualization of how many are successful on each step. Then, to view those who got lost along the way, simply change the “has” search operator to “has never” on the final conversion step. You’ll be able to click through and watch specific user sessions to see what went wrong.

Combining user sessions with user interviews can help you get inside your customers’ heads and understand the why behind their actions. Once you’ve isolated your segment of users who’ve converted (or failed to convert), you can export the list and contact them for win/loss interviews. By already knowing what interactions they’ve had with the product, you’ll be one step ahead.

5. Outline proposed solutions based on your findings.

Perfect onboarding flows are rarely (make that never) created on the first try. They need iteration to keep getting better. I’ve always thought of iteration as the business version of the Scientific Method: Make a Hypothesis, Test with an Experiment, Make Observations, Analyze and Repeat. Following this cycle is critical to building great user onboarding.

From the Appcues slide deck.

After you’ve isolated the frustrating experiences and identified the key obstacles to your user’s success, you’ll likely have several potential solutions to bring to your team. In FullStory, you can do that right on the user session by annotating moments with your thoughts (and sharing them in Slack, HipChat, Trello and more).

The benefit of commenting directly on the playback is that you’ve got real life examples to back up your proposed solutions. Suggestions that come partnered with context are much more powerful than those without.

Onboarding with FullStory.

Time spent improving onboarding has a huge effect on lifetime customer value. Improved activation rates cascade over time. If you dedicate the time to nailing your onboarding flow, you’ll see a 74% better return on investment than time spent on retention or acquisition.

When we design and build a product, we’re almost always too close to it for critical analysis. Watching the user journey happen in real time, isolating those Aha! Moments (and those Oh no! Moments) shows you the experiences real people are having. What seems obvious when creating can be confusing to users in reality. Building the best onboarding experience requires seeing your product through your user’s eyes.

Using FullStory for onboarding flow optimization pulls back the blindfold and lets you make decisions based on what’s actually happening. And that is a great way to improve.

View the full SlideShare on Optimizing User Onboarding.

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