4 ways to customize your SaaS onboarding

4 ways to customize your SaaS onboarding

June 08, 2016

Every customer that comes to your product is different. They have different needs, job titles, work habits, budgets—the list goes on. Wouldn’t it be awesome to give each of them a personalized experience right from the start?

Well, you can. And it’s not as hard to implement as you might think. There are a number of cool ways to use data to remove friction from your product and improve the experience for your users. Here are a few ways to finally put all that data you’ve been collecting to work -

1. Shorten the signup process

People hate filling out forms. Companies want more data on their signups. The eternal conundrum.

If your signup form creates friction, potential users will convince themselves they don't really need your product. That's how much people hate forms.

At the same time, all the data you gather from people actually helps you improve your product and make their experience better. So here's an interesting, automated middle ground that can help both parties win.

Media monitoring app Mention replaced several fields on their signup form with the Clearbit Enrichment API. Once the user provides their email, Mention simply populates the other fields using data from the API, including name, job role, company size, and company location.

Mention Clearbit Form Fill

Mention Clearbit Form Fill

The API call returns data on the company as well as the individual's role and title. The result not only makes for an impressive experience, it shortens the form most users have to fill out, and actually provides Mention with even more data than they used to collect in their longer form.


Using this method, Mention saw an increase in signup conversion rates of 54%. And conversion rate wasn’t the only thing that improved. The lead quality also increased since Mention now has enriched data for all their new users.

In addition to the data presented to the user, Mention can pass the other Enrichment data to a CRM or email marketing tool.

2. Put a progressive profiling strategy in place

There are other ways to shorten your signup process to increase conversion rates. Progressive profiling allows you to have a short form for initial registration, then ask for more detailed data during subsequent logins.

In the first interaction, just ask for the name and email. Grant them access to the product to give them an idea of just how valuable it can be. When they sign in a second or third time, you can trigger an email or pop up a modal asking for a bit more information.

At this point, you have momentum. It's the right time to ask for more detailed data. Repeat one or two more times and you will build up an enhanced profile of the user.

Auth0, an authentication provider, suggest this scheme for onboarding new users:

Progressive Profiling with Auth0 and Clearbit

If you are using social or enterprise logins as an option for registration, then information can also be pulled from those sources. Once a user signs up, you can reference their social provider's API for the data they need. If it returns a valid result, the user continues on to the product. If not, the user is directed to a form asking for it.

The same flow could work for the Enrichment API, and these two strategies could be used in tandem.

Progressive profiling with appended data

Data collected in the signup process can then be passed on to your marketing automation system. And that's where it starts to get really useful.

3. Customize your welcome emails

New users will be expecting a welcome email. This is great opportunity to build momentum and put some of your data to work.

The problem with most welcome emails is that they are catch-alls for every type of user. A sales rep who just signed up for a $20/month plan might get the same welcome email as the enterprise product manager. This is a huge missed opportunity.

We learned this the hard way at Clearbit. Here is one of our first welcome emails, which was ironically sent to email marketing expert Janet Choi when she was at Customer.io.

Initial Clearbit Welcome email

OK. Let’s start with the obvious. Janet is a marketer, working for a marketing company, but the email makes zero references to either of these facts. Fail.

Customer.io definitely cares about preventing credit card fraud, but that has nothing to do with getting them up and running quickly. And while Janet's work overlaps with sales, she probably isn't interested in notifications about sales leads.

Contrast this with the type of email we send now:

Based on the data we collect during signup, Janet gets an email designed specifically for a marketer. Integrations with other marketing tools are immediately useful and provide Janet the direction she needs to start using the product.

If she were in sales, she would have received an email about CRM integrations. And if she were a developer, she'd have gotten a message about getting started with our APIs.

Wherever you draw the data from, be sure to put it to work in your marketing. We've had great results internally from segmenting and personalizing the user experience. And as you collect more data from your marketing—opens, clicks, in-app engagement, inactivity, etc.—employ that as well. The effect is a tight feedback loop that allows your marketing to get better as you learn more about your users.

4. Customize your product experience

Product customization is the most powerful because it tailors the core customer experience to just what the user needs. If you can customize your product for every new user, then you dramatically increase your likelihood of getting them quickly to an Aha! moment.

Instead of static experience...
dynamic customer onboarding
...consider a dynamic one.

Why collect data in the signup process if you aren't going to use it right away? This is the window of opportunity. Double down on personalization:

Personalization of onboarding flows

This is a minor change for your developers to make, but it completely changes the experience of the new user. Instead of being taken to a common page, users are presented with information and guidance relevant to their role.

User onboarding service Appcues allows you to customize these in-app experiences without the need for code. A few extra modals are added to your site asking for a bit of information. Appcues uses the data to help users navigate through the most useful and valuable route.

Appcues <3 Clearbit

In this screenshot above, new user Cersei identifies her role as “Marketer,” so she's taken dashboard where she can track her metrics. Then a Tooltip, one of Appcues best features, starts guiding her through the most interesting parts of the page to a marketer.

With Clearbit's API, you can find new users' roles and then magically send them to the right page.

Clearbit makes Appcues even better

And this idea can be taken farther. Much farther.

Segment VP of Growth Guillaume Cabane, is the master of personalized onboarding. He believes that every new customer should get as close to a unique experience as possible.

One of the many ways he makes this happen at Segment is the Clearbit tech tag. When you run an email through the Clearbit API, it can tell you what tools the company is using on the website. Any tools with tracking codes on the domain—think Google Analytics, Amplitude, Optimizely, etc.—will be returned.

"tech": [
"google_apps" ]

If a new user's company is using an app that Segment already integrates with, the customer will be sent directly to the right page for that product.

Clearbit + Segment

This is incredibly powerful, but Guillaume starts personalizing even before the user signs up. He uses link tracking parameters in the rest of Segment's marketing to know where the user came from. Whether the user came from a Facebook ad or an email campaign, Guillaume can use the same strategy we explained above to segment users into buckets and personalize landing pages and signup forms.

This is just the beginning

Data is like investing. Once you have some money, it's easy to get more if you put it to work.

A simple email address can be the source of hundreds of data points, each of which can lead be used to level up your personalization. Instead of creating one experience for all users, you can start building a unique experience for every user.

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