How to create an onboarding checklist

Help users get to that “Aha!” moment faster with easy, step-by-step onboarding.

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Jonathan Anderson
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Making sure that customers know how to use your product seems like a no-brainer, but it’s easier said than done. It turns out that eight in ten users have deleted an app simply because they couldn’t figure out how to use it. You might automatically reach for guided tours to get users up to speed, but there’s an even more powerful tool in your arsenal — checklists!

The right onboarding will reduce churn by making activation a cinch, and there’s no easier way to onboard than with a checklist. Checklists offer customers a clear, step-by-step process for getting started with your product. And, when done right, they get users to that “Aha!” moment faster, helping them to understand exactly what your product can do for them.

Let’s take a look at how to create an onboarding checklist that guides users through to activation and gets them to value faster. And, just to prove our point, we’ll do it step by step. 😉

1. Define the user journey

In order to determine the key actions to include in your checklist, it’s important to fully understand your customers’ needs, and you can do that with a little user journey mapping. A user journey map is a visual representation of the touchpoints between your customer and your product. It essentially creates a timeline of how a user interacts with your product from their perspective. To create one, start by conducting interviews with users who aren’t totally familiar with your product yet. What’s their process like now without your product, where would they begin with your product, and what steps would they expect to do one after another?

2. Create a path of “Aha!” moments

Once you’ve defined your user journey and gotten a better grasp on your customers’ needs, it’s time to orchestrate some "Aha!” moments. It may all sound a little kumbaya, but these moments are when users see the value of your product, and your job is to line them up. So, what are the key actions that you want your users to take along a path? Would you need users to import their content in order to create an account list?  If yes, then there you have it; you’ve got your first “aha” moment and your first checklist step!

Going forward don’t get caught up on making your steps perfect. They can be further refined down the road.

A customer journey map for an onboarding checklist
Miro has customer journey templates to get you started.

3. Build out your content

Now it’s time to create content that corresponds with each step in your checklist. This is perhaps the most critical part in the process because this content will support users throughout each part of their journey. The goal is to make content that is  both engaging and crystal clear, so consider which format is best for each step. Is it a product tour to show where to click? A video explainer to help users understand why they should care? A how-to article with detailed options? Again, if you don’t have data to back up your choices, go with your gut, and iterate once you’ve seen what works. Which brings us to...

4. Measure your success (and iterate)

There are three key metrics for measuring the success of your onboarding:

  1. Activation rate —  What percent of new users reach that “Aha!” moment in the first few days?
  2. Time to value —  How much time does it take to get to the ”Aha” moment (minutes/days)?
  3. Adoption rate — What percent of users at an account are actively using your product?

With these metrics, you’re simply looking to get a baseline. Then adjust your onboarding content based on what works and what could use some improvement. A no-code tool like Candu makes it super simple to build an onboarding checklist, measure dropoff at each step, and then iterate on the fly without having to get developers involved.
Want to learn more about creating onboarding checklists with Candu? View our easy-to-use template to start building.


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