April 26, 2024
min read

3 Onboarding Tips To Drive Product Adoption

Onboarding can make or break your entire product adoption journey. Good onboarding instantly generates value for users and is the first step in developing stickiness, raising user engagement and reducing churn. Here we show 3 ways you can improve your onboarding via 1) Identifying Clearly Your Activation Criteria 2) Contextual Content Offering In-application Guidance 3) Ongoing Onboarding Design.

Written by

Marc Chia

Product adoption is a term that goes beyond simply purchase and usage. It is when users take on a product and make it fully their own, committing to using it. You can have the best product in the world but if users are coming on board and only scratching the surface of functionality they are not likely to stay for long.

Onboarding can make or break your entire product adoption journey. Good onboarding instantly generates value for users and is the first step in developing stickiness, raising user engagement and reducing churn. In the following we focus on tips for onboarding users that will push them further in their user adoption journey

Identify Your Activation Criteria

The first step in any onboarding design is to identify clearly your activation criteria. The activation criteria are the things that customers do that will improve the likelihood of them sticking around.

An example of activation criteria may be:

1) Xero (Accounting Platform): Issuing your 1st Invoice

2) Hubspot (CRM): Import your customer list and organise it

3) Linkedin (Social Media): Add your first 10 contacts

Ah-ha moments are where users discover value.

The exact activation criteria will vary depending on the key value proposition of your product and there may be more than 1 activation criteria. Activation criteria, also called Ah-ha moments are intended to be an easily accessible experience that straight away offer value to users showing them exactly how your product can serve their needs.

Measuring activation criteria will require some kind of analytics platform to do so. A simple example would be using Google Analytics but other examples include using platforms like Heap or Hotjar.

Contextual Content

There tends to be a load of content created to teach users how best to make use of your product. Oftentimes this can be in the format of videos, blogs, webinars or more. While these are great, one issue with having content in such format is that it takes users away from your product. Users often have to toggle back and forth between your content and the product to slowly execute a process step by step.

Contextual content is intended to address this by directly offering contextualised guidance within your product itself. While this can take a number of forms, a common one is to use tooltips. These are in-application guidance that pop up in a unintrusive way.

A common way that this can be done is via hovering over information icons. This offers the opportunity for application designers to add contextual information that is available on-demand for users.

Tooltips can provide contextual information by hovering over on-screen elements.

Alternatively for more complex processes, a series of tooltips can be chained together into a walkthrough to guide users through a complex process. These can be set up to run automatically upon first log in or on-demand by users for refreshers or self-service support purposes.

A series of tooltips creates a walkthrough for in-application guidance and onboarding.

Usertip’s digital adoption platform enables you to set up these kinds of contextual support via a no-code platform within minutes. We operate seamlessly to provide contextual information when your users need them. Do click here if you would like to find out more.

Ongoing Onboarding Design

As your product evolves and grows, so too does your customer base and their needs. For a fuller understanding of customer needs at different stages of the product adoption cycle do check out our article on  Leveraging the Product Adoption Curve For Growth Hacking.

What worked in onboarding at the early stages will not work as your users become more sophisticated and your product becomes more complex. As a rule of thumb here are some considerations.

First, segment your users by their usage and needs. Accordingly offer a differentiated onboarding experience that most quickly brings each segment to their Ah-hah moment.

Second, the type of proactive engagement such as check-ins or support chats required varies depending on the type of users. Laggards or late majority type users may require more handholding while innovators and early adopters want an introduction but also the freedom to experiment and learn.

Third, as new features are rolled out, reconsider your onboarding journey design. New features may change the sequence of how users use your product and thus should be relooked at consistently.


While it is always cool to chase the next great feature or carry out the next great sales and marketing campaign, onboarding to drive digital adoption is as important and deserves our attention. A well-designed onboarding journey is critical in driving users to activation events and eventually contributing to higher retention and accelerating growth.

UserTip is a Digital Adoption Platform offering no-code builders for product walkthroughs and tooltips that can be pushed to your platform within seconds. Click here to find out more, or click here to speak to a product specialist.

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