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    Which of the 3 Common Onboarding Methods is Best for Your App?


    Using a new app is like meeting someone for the first time. Your initial interactions could be awkward and confusing or there could be an instant connection. In both of these settings, first impressions are everything!

    Onboarding is one of the most critical phases of an app user’s journey, as it is that first point of contact with your app and it is crucial in terms of keeping your users happy and increasing your MAU and LTV of your user-base. On-boarding can and should perform a number of key functions in the user journey such as exposing and educating the new user to the brand, the app-functionality, the app-benefits, and app navigation. With numerous competing business goals to choose from, it is important to pick the right on-boarding style for your app. Here are the most common three to choose from. 

    Benefits Oriented App Onboarding

    As is implied by the name, this type of onboarding demonstrates the benefits the user will get from your app, in an attempt to encourage conversion. Additionally, it is also one of the most appealing forms of on-boarding for the user, and thus, can potentially have a greater chance of tutorial or onboarding completion rate. As your users interact with your app for the first time, how they visualize your app has tremendous importance, therefore setting up a benefit-oriented onboarding approach gives the users an understanding of your app’s value. Some tips to execute this type of onboarding method effectively are:

    • Focus on key, specific and unique benefits
    • Present the benefits in a way that the user can easily imagine being integrated into their lives
    • Don’t over-sell the benefits, be confident in your app’s value proposition
    • Know your market! Don’t present what benefits you think your app has, rather, present the benefit that your core target markets will care about!
    • Try to highlight a reason to come back. For example, a great game is awesome, however, you might want to highlight some of the awesome swords and monsters they will encounter as a tease. 

    Function Oriented App Onboarding

    Again, this is going to be super technical (not). Function orientated onboarding is simply to orient users to your app, based on the functionality and usage of the app, and how to best navigate through these and execute these. Usually, this will involve visual instructions, which are designed to make your app more easily understood and explained. The potential result is an app experience for your users that is uniquely visualized yet easy to understand. Additionally, whilst highlighting important functionality and features, this light should shine through the complex features, i.e. the more complex features of your app should not disrupt this onboarding process. Some tips to getting your users on-boarded onto your app’s functionality with ease:

    • Don’t assume anything. Most communication issues are rooted in assuming too much prior knowledge. Always remember that your user might have no prior experience with your apps functionality, category or subject matter. 
    • Visuals are key. A picture says a thousand words. Words are mentally consuming. Don’t waste your user’s mental energy on basic onboarding processes. 
    • Review. Get somebody totally unfamiliar with the app to review. If they don’t understand, neither will your users. 
    • Market research. Conduct minor research to reveal potential pain-points or more confusing aspects of your app. Consider including these as a part of the onboarding.  
    • The goal of your app. There should be one key behavior or piece of information you want you the user to acquire after this onboarding. For example, for Twitter, it might be; teaching users how to tweet. Thus, Twitter might want to slightly mention other functions, such as re-tweeting, following hashtags etc, but not to the extent that it disrupts the over-all message. 
    • KISS. Don’t ever forget to Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

    Progressive App Onboarding

    Progressive onboarding is a little more extensive as it shows users new information as they progressively navigate through the app. The instructions displayed on the screen pertaining to the page the user is on, like a live walkthrough. Instead of getting the instructions upfront, the users will learn as they explore the app. The key point here is to make the instructions about the functionality of your app easy to understand so users can get themselves familiarized with the app as they go through it. Another thing is that as the studies suggest, a clear and easily understood UI design, is a great way to get your users initiated. Some tips to progressively onboard like a pro. 

    • Which app type suits? This onboarding type might be particularly useful for games. Especially those with level-locked features. In general, the type of app that suits this onboarding type, are apps that expect that all functionality will not be used initially. 
    • You can deep-dive. As the onboarding will be broken up into chunks, separated by time, the user will have built up their capacity to tolerate such information (many users have a low tolerance for tutorials and other onboarding experiences), thus, with each stage, you can be slightly more in-depth, than if you were to have this onboarding content in one chunk. 
    • Opportunity to re-engage. This is actually a great opportunity to engage, or perhaps, re-engage your users. Pick specific touch-points within your app’s user journey to highlight. Perhaps they are difficult functions that need explaining, or high-points in the user-experience you want to promote to show your app’s value proposition. Think of this as an opportunity to increase your app’s LTV, DAU or MAU. 


    One study shows that 28% of apps were uninstalled globally within 30 days. Thus, user-retention remains a key pain-point for marketers and user-acquisition managers. This pain point can likely be lessened by a positive onboarding experience.  Additionally, onboarding users to your app, enables a smooth and healthy user experience, which can potentially impact LTV, DAU or MAU, ultimately leading to brand loyalty. Thus, when designing an app, or preparing to go to market, it is important to think about how you will onboard your customer. Which onboarding method is best suited to your app? Consider the business goals you want to achieve, and what message you want your core target audience to acquire and then align this with the most appropriate onboarding method. 

    Onboarding is not the only method to increase DAU, check out this case study showing how App Samurai increase Paperclip’s DAU by 250%. Or, don’t take our word for it, test out App Samurai yourself, by getting started here. 

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