A Quick Win: First Impressions that Win You Lifelong Customers

Editor’s note: You’re about to read an extract from our new book “Product Mindset”. You can get the full book here.

We create relationships with everything we interact with. With all these relationships, first impressions count. Most Product creators neglect this first impression with their customers, but this is the one key chance to give an “aha!” moment and create a new, lifelong user. Enzo Avigo, Product Manager at Intercom, explains why good onboarding is powerful and how it can even change the economics of a whole industry.

Great Products Make Great First Impressions

Rebuilding your onboarding process can enhance your conversion rates from trial to paid customers by up to 200%. There are four steps to effective onboarding:

  • Capture users’ hearts
  • Get sign off from their minds
  • Pave the way
  • Align in-app touchpoints

Let’s explore this in detail:

Capture Users’ Hearts

A person holding a heart shaped light

This first and most crucial step itself breaks down into four key areas:

  • Your value proposition. Clear, inspiring, to the point. For example “Build your brand, sell more stuff” from MailChimp.
  • Context. Place the user in a familiar environment – MailChimp shows a picture of a mobile phone showing the user how their app works in daily life.
  • People. Sell the result, not the process. Don’t talk about the magic flower, talk about who Super Mario becomes after he eats the flower. Know clearly what your product is making people better at.
  • The “aha!” moment. This is the moment when your customer realizes what they can achieve through your product that they couldn’t achieve before. If you can put your “aha” moment in your onboarding, you’re doing something right. Don’t bury your “aha” moment deep inside your product. From the moment you open Uber, you see a map with the real cars around you. Only then, when you try and book a car, are you asked for your payment details!

Get their Approval

A bunch of sheets with nice drawings

Now that you have the emotional win, it’s time to get the intellectual win and validate the positive experience that you have created.

  • List Your Product’s USPs. List specific ways that your Product exceeds the competition. Think beyond features – think results.
  • List Testimonials. Provide evidence from other users who are getting benefit from your product as social proof that it works.
  • Transparency. Show ratings from review websites and any media coverage you have had.
  • The Numbers. Some companies list the number of users who join and install their app. How can numbers prove your value proposition or popularity?
  • Success. Claim success in numbers – Slack claims they reduce by half the internal emails their users receive. If you can prove your success in numbers, this is the Holy Grail.

Path the Way

Now that you have users sold on your value proposition, it’s time to let them “eat” it. There are two keys to pathing the way:

  • Remove the Frictions that Slow People Down. Are there unnecessary steps in your signup process? Do you really need that Captcha field, or their phone number, or for them to confirm their email? If you don’t need a step or a hurdle, drop it and your conversion rates will rise.

    If you do need to gather a lot of information, break it down. One screen for one question. Make it easy and fluid, and create a feeling of progress. Put the easy questions first to increase momentum – start small.
  • Don’t Let Users Drift Away. Think about what sends people away from your app or page. If people see a coupon field, they may open another tab to search for the code, and then they get distracted and you lose the sale. Asking someone to validate an email address has the same result – it asks people to leave your platform. If at all possible, keep people on your app/webpage – don’t send them away.

Align In-App Touch Points

A symmetrical picture of a pole light and birds

At this point, you have sold your users on your value proposition and removed barriers that may have prevented them from enjoying this. Now, you need to make sure all your ducks are in a row for maximum enjoyment. There are three “rules” here:

  • First Impression. Give your users immediate value. Ship the product. Order the taxi. Reward your users immediately for signing up. 
  • One Seat. If you can keep people “in place” – preventing them from having to move, close the app, or take a different action in order to get this value, then your users will appreciate it! 
  • Cut Steps. If it takes customers 5 steps to use your product, see if you can cut this down to two. Think about how Google Docs streamlined the process with their survey function. No need to save, no need to embed, just build and send! You don’t even need to name the doc – google automatically takes the first words and makes it the title.

Focus on the Concept of Activation

These three rules need to be aligned with your Concept of Activation. This is the action that your user needs to take in order to become an active, engaged user. For example, Twitter has defined that 30 followers is their activation threshold. Once a user reaches 30 followers, they are likely to be engaged in the platform. This is what Twitter focused on, for example by providing suggested followers right at the moment you sign up. What’s this for you?

Conclusion: Delight and Streamline

Giving a good first impression means you deliver against what you promise in the most elegant, streamlined way. You’ll find this is often about dropping steps rather than adding them, taking away what isn’t needed, and moving the reward and the “aha!” moment as near to the front of the process as possible. 

Meet Enzo Avigo

enzo avigo's pic

Enzo Avigo is a Product Manager with more than 3 years of experience in Product Management. Enzo has a strong entrepreneurial mindset and loves to build things to grow online businesses for the consumer world. A self-proclaimed Product guy, he covers the spectrum of product skills: Lean Development, Scrum, Kanban, UX/UI, and Business development are just a few in his impressive arsenal. He is currently working as a Product Manager for Intercom in their European branch and has worked at top European companies like Zalando and N26.

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