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Mobile App Onboarding

Mobile App Onboarding

Sergey Zubkov

Updated: July 27, 2023

6 min read


Mobile app onboarding 

The mobile app onboarding process involves a series of steps that new users take to get started with an app. This process of onboarding in app entails guiding users through the product, providing relevant information, and helping them set up their accounts. During onboarding, you may need to educate new users, collect consent for user information, and guide them through account registration.

This is the first opportunity for users to understand the value of your product. By the end of the mobile customer onboarding process, users should be familiar with the mobile user interface (UI), navigation patterns, and basic app functionality. A smooth app onboarding process can increase app usage as it reduces user uncertainty and frustration. Incorporating a well-designed onboarding procedure into your app can lead to positive reviews, more downloads, and higher engagement.

Types of in-app onboarding 

Mobile app onboarding can be tackled in various ways, such as the progressive approach, the functional approach, and the benefit-oriented approach.

Progressive onboarding

The primary objective of a progressive application onboarding process is to facilitate user learning by allowing them to explore the app and access new information as they go. This approach often employs pop-up screens that explain or highlight features in the user interface (UI). The main advantage of progressive onboarding is that it doesn’t overwhelm users, as they can take control of their onboarding experience. Each new piece of information is presented in context, giving them the opportunity to try it out. Progressive onboarding promotes a “learn by doing” approach and minimizes barriers that prevent users from trying out your app immediately.

This approach of mobile onboarding is particularly effective for apps with complex workflows, multiple sections, or gesture-based interactions. It provides users with an overview of what to expect without overwhelming them with too much information.

Function-oriented onboarding 

The function-oriented onboarding method quickly demonstrates to new app users how to use the app’s essential features and functions. This approach teaches users where to start and how to perform the most basic tasks. A visual tour with detailed instructions is an excellent example of this functional approach.

When using the function-oriented onboarding method, it’s critical to focus solely on the core features. Including trivial functionality is pointless and may even be detrimental. It’s best to limit onboarding to only 3-5 features as a general guideline. Additional features can be introduced later as in-app tips.

Function-oriented onboarding is ideal for apps with complex or unique features that are their selling point. This approach can also be a wise choice for apps that address challenging tasks.

Benefits–oriented onboarding

The benefits-oriented approach, also known as feature-based mobile onboarding, demonstrates an app’s value through benefits-oriented onboarding before anything else. Instead of focusing on how to use the app, it emphasizes what it can do. For instance, users can opt to receive push notifications or allow the app to access their device’s location in this type of onboarding.

Benefits-oriented onboarding is highly impactful because it appeals to users’ emotions. Instead of explicitly stating the benefits, real user testimonials can be included. Social proof is especially powerful because it psychologically communicates to the user that the benefits are achievable. After all, if an average person can do it, they can too.

How to improve mobile app onboarding

There are various options to improve your app onboarding process, such as:

  1. Use a video to grab attention
  2. Keep the onboarding process short
  3. Maintain consistency in your branding
  4. Emphasize the value of your app right away
  5. Add an element of fun to the process
  6. Allow for personalization by users
  7. Make the onboarding process optional
  8. Only request necessary information
  9. Use annotations to provide additional guidance
  10. Make the process progressive

It’s essential to determine which technique works best for your app niche. For example, a video tutorial may work better for social media or lifestyle apps, while popup instructions might be better for financial or utility apps. To find the optimal approach, avoid design and information overload and beta test onboarding for your apps. Customize the onboarding process for different user segments, and roll out the new version based on a data-driven approach instead of relying on gut instinct.

  1. Start your mobile onboarding optimization process by visiting Adapty’s free-access library, which has a collection of mobile app paywalls featuring the best paywall examples from successful mobile apps worldwide. Check Adapty Paywall Library.  
  2. Choose a paywall design and add products, then set up and conduct A/B testing for your onboarding paywall within the Adapty platform. Learn more about Paywall A/B testing.
  3. View detailed analytics on user behavior during onboarding and gain insights into retention and monetization via the Adapty dashboard. This comprehensive analytics can help you make data-driven decisions about the effectiveness of your onboarding process by showing how your new users convert to paying customers after onboarding.

Find out how Union Apps used Adapty to experiment with onboarding and paywalls, growing their ARR from $205k to $1M within three months.