State of SaaS
Onboarding 2023

As we do every year, our team at Userpilot reviews the onboarding flows of over 100 SaaS Tools to uncover the trends, best practices of… you guessed it – user onboarding!

Read our 2023 report below to learn how your product compares to other SaaS companies and where we can take some inspiration.

Why should you read this report?

Pricing & Strategy Expert

"User onboarding should be on top of mind of any person working with SaaS. Everything can be changed except the first impression - make sure to make it right!
That's why, we have discussed this topic back and forth with majority of our clients and there are some clearly visible trends coming in 2023

  • The best SaaS products will offer personalized product just right after onboarding - it means that introduction survey or even your email domain, will help the product to navigate your situation and you will have it pre-set-up 1 minute after registration. Can you imagine how many pain points you kill and how much fatigue you take from the user?
  • It also means that onboarding might get more complex, so it can start far before you become a customer and will come to an end right after you sign-up. In my opinion the most advanced companies will gather the data about the potential clients through different methods, from the very beginning of customer journey so the customers feels like home with the product.
  • Lastly, I believe the winners will work on onboarding accessibility - I hope onboarding in the future will be tailored to the user needs / preferences - as for now, I have the feeling there is no market standard, and I believe 3-4 types of onboardings that user can choose from will be there soon - thinking about, it is present in many different industries nowadays.

Overall, given the market situation, you really don't want to lose the money you invested to convert your client, and it is likely to happen if your onboarding s****s - that's why make sure users can adopt your product smooth."

Download the Report Summary here:

Report Summary - SoSo 2023

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Importance of User Onboarding

Senior PM

"User onboarding is evolving to become more visually appealing and concise, with SaaS products transitioning away from overlay tutorials and aiming for shorter yet effective experiences."

State of SaaS Onboarding
Source: Fairmarkit
Often, SaaS companies don’t treat User Onboarding as a priority. But this attitude can backfire:

Yi Lin Pei

Director of Product Marketing
Head of Growth

"Next-gen onboarding will focus on creating shorter and more engaging experiences, implementing rewarded sharing (like Airtable and Notion), offering optional and replayable onboardings, making a wealth of content easily accessible, and providing ultra-personalization through templates, emails, and wizards"

Improve your user activation

Build interactive onboarding flows, personalized experiences and more!

Product Coach & Value Rebels

"The future of user onboarding lies in AI-driven, dynamic processes that learn, adapt, and guide users while being transparent about the learning mechanisms behind it, making AI an interesting and useful aspect for customers."

Free Trial vs. Freemium vs. Demo

2023 – The year “try before you buy” went mainstream
This is good news for the users – but if SaaS companies want to use their products as a self-serve growth channel, they need to radically improve their UX and UI.
Out of the 100 SaaS tools we’ve investigated in 2023:

Yes, there was an overlap – 15% of companies offered both basic plan free accounts, and free trials of higher-tier accounts and 1% more for some tools.

Compared to 2022: only 43% offered a free trial!

Compared to 7% last year.

Play Video
Head of Product

"Self-serve experiences continue to gain momentum over sales-led ones, leading to a shift in the role of sales teams from closing contracts end-to-end to primarily supporting clients with onboarding and driving expansion revenue."


More and more companies are aware of Product Led Growth and are utilizing their product as the acquisition channel.

Frictionless Signup Flow

In times when attention is a scarce resource, a shorter Time-To-Value is extremely important for winning over prospects in SaaS.
One way to reduce the Time-To-Value is to provide an easy, frictionless signup flow. We’ve defined “frictionless” as:
Now, there’s a caveat: sometimes, some friction in the signup process might actually be good (read more about good friction here). If your product is only suitable for companies of a certain size, or in a certain industry, you may want to repel the unqualified leads with survey questions in your signup flow.
Still – in most cases, the less friction the better. And it turns out that in 2023, we’re still living in the world of friction…with nearly 79% of the SaaS products tested having a friction-based signup flow (compared to 76% in 2022):

Typically, we encountered two friction points: 

Single Sign-On, allowing your users to sign up and log in using their Google Accounts, is another way to effectively remove friction from the signup process. In 2023, over 53% of tools used it for the signup process:
21% – frictionless signup, 79% – friction-based signup.
54% yes, 45% no, 1% – yes for login, no for sign up
Play Video
CEO & Head of Growth

"In my experience as the CEO & Head of Growth at LTV, I find that using templates for onboarding is highly effective. It's also essential to give value to users before they sign up, which can encourage them to engage with your product. Moreover, I've observed that incentivizing activation and sharing during onboarding plays a crucial role in user adoption and growth."


Quick tips for reducing friction in your sign up flow:

  • Avoid asking the user to confirm their email address before getting to see the dashboard. Even if you need that step for legal compliance/identity verification reasons, you can still show them around before allowing the users to perform any actions in your tool (e.g. sending an email campaign)
  • Use a “confirm your email” announcement bar inside your app with a sniper-link to the confirmation email
  • Same with asking your users additional questions in the signup flow - ask only the ones you immediately need to use to personalize their new user onboarding flow
  • Use Single Sign-On (SSO) to make the signup process easier for your new users

"The best way to reduce friction? Use magic links. Not sure if convenient, fast, or a little annoying! In a way, it certainly makes sense and cuts down on trying to come up with a password/save something on 1pass"

Andrea Saez

Writer, Speaker, Advisor | Head of Product Marketing

Welcoming Your Users

This one should be a given by now. The way you greet your users can set expectations for what’s coming up next in their onboarding and how they can get the most of your product.

How many SaaS products have welcome screens in 2023?

Play Video

Welcome screens are a great way to segment your new users by Jobs-To-Be-Done. Knowing the goals your users want to achieve, and customizing the onboarding flows accordingly can be game-changing for the Time-To-Value. You will get them to accomplish their Job-To-Be-Done faster, reduce their time-to-value, and generally help them activate much sooner than if you drag them on a one size fits all 20-step-long product tour. It’s a win-win - your users will get value faster, and you will retain and convert more trial users.

"We are seeing that the onboarding flow is more based around the value that the users will get from the product including the newly introduced AI capabilitie, rather than the features. Hence, the onboarding focuses on experience, not explanations."

Karapet Gyumjibashyan

Senior Director of Product

You can do this by asking your new users 1-2 questions about what they want to accomplish, or adding buttons that would allow them to “choose their own journey”:

Want to build welcome screens like this without coding? Book a demo with us.

Rally Your Whole Team Around Your Product Growth Goals.

Rally Your Whole Team Around Your Product Growth Goals.

Microsurveys in the Welcome Flow


"It's crucial to ask questions that help understand users' needs and desires to provide them with a personalized onboarding experience. I also believe in using checklists to help users get started with the tool quickly and reach the value of the SaaS product faster. Additionally, offering free 1-to-1 onboarding sessions or calls can effectively assist users during the onboarding process."

As discussed above – adding a micro survey to your welcome flow can significantly reduce your time to value and increase trial-to-paid conversion rates.
No wonder 76% of MarTech SaaS companies used some form of microsurveys.

Lena Sesardic

Founder at Salter Creative

Videos in the onboarding flow

“A picture is worth a thousand words… Well how about a video? Onboarding videos are an effective way to quickly explain complex processes, and add a personal touch to the onboarding flow.

Here are some best practices of using videos in your welcome flows:

  • Use only short (< 1-2 minute clips)
  • Don’t use video tutorials as a replacement for interactive walkthroughs that take users through the required actions first-hand - only use video to enhance them
  • Use video whenever it makes more sense to show rather than tell

"SaaS companies will be increasingly utilizing videos over text documentation for tutorials. Some SaaS products eschew an onboarding tutorial with one video. The video walks through all parts of the product for the customer. Broadly this fits in the theme of preference of users to watch video tutorials over text documentation."

Onboarding Guides, Product Tours and Interactive Walkthroughs

When it comes to in-app user guidance, there are two main ways to do it: linear product tours, and interactive walkthroughs.
Product tours point out the elements and steps users need to take in a series of tooltips or modals on the user’s screen. The user can usually quickly click through or dismiss tours easily. The downside of traditional, linear product tours is that they front-load all the information and increase the user’s time to value.

Interactive walkthroughs, on the other hand, take users step by step to perform the key activation points, at their own pace. Sequences of the onboarding process show only after the users have successfully completed the previous steps.
Hint: this takes more effort to build, but is way more effective for onboarding users.

Founder at Valuabl

"Gamification and other psychological techniques focused on motivating users to get to their first activation points. Rewards, progress bars, checklists, teasers, confetti celebrations... It's simple, it's powerful and I'm a big fan of this trend."

If you want to learn more about product tours vs. interactive walkthroughs – watch the video below:
Product tours point out the elements and steps users need to take in a series of tooltips or modals on the user’s screen. The user can usually quickly click through or dismiss tours easily. The downside of traditional, linear product tours is that they front-load all the information and increase the user’s time to value.
Interactive walkthroughs on the other hand, take users step by step to perform the key activation points, at their own pace. Sequences of the onboarding process show only after the users have successfully completed the previous steps.

Product Tours vs Interactive Walkthroughs

Director of Product Management, Bain Public, & Cohost, Product for Product Podcast

"We can't ignore the elephant in the room - GPT in all it's versions and OpenAI - and think whether there is a place for it in helping onboard users to SaaS products? Other than that, I would say that it's mostly about connecting everything together in one place - in-app onboarding process, access to knowledge base and customer support, reporting issues, requesting enhancements - give me everything in one place so I don't need to think where to go.

Another trend I started seeing more is Continuous Onboarding - the revealing of new functionality as I am more familiar with the product. This makes the initial onboarding simpler as the product is less busy, and the more I use it, the more features are revealed."

Shockingly, 36% of the tools we tested didn’t have any in-app guidance at all.

This shows there’s still a big opportunity for your SaaS tools to stand out by simply providing a great onboarding experience.

Play Video

Learning by doing is better than front-loading information: that’s why, whenever possible, opt for interactive walkthroughs instead of product tours.

Onboarding Optimizations
- Checklists and Progress Bars

Last but not least – there are certain small optimizations you can implement to make your onboarding even more effective.
For example, adding an onboarding checklist, ideally with a few items already ‘ticked off’.
Play Video

An onboarding checklist not only lists all the key activation points your new user should reach to get value out of your product, but it also pushes the users to complete these tasks by employing the endowed progress phenomenon and Zeigarnik effect (relying on our human urge to complete unfinished tasks).

Make sure you have 1-2 elements on the checklist already “ticked off” (for examples: “created account”, “confirmed email”) to foster that endowed progress effect.

"Onboarding is more than just checklists. It needs to be personalized to each user. Not one size fits all kind of onboarding with the same boring checklists. Also onboarding should just be a guesswork personalization.

You need to know your audience and their needs and tailor it accordingly. I'm seeing more and more companies moving away from checklists and adopting personalization in their onboarding efforts. I wouldn't recommend to just move away from checklists altogether. But it would be nice to add some personalization so the user feels that special attention and connection with the tool."

Sanjana Murali

Product Marketing Manager at Dealfront (Previously Leadfeeder)

Final thoughts

You’re now updated on some of the latest trends in user onboarding in SaaS! We hope you are able to take away some inspiration for how you can improve your user activation, first-month retention, trial-to-paid conversion, and other product metrics.
If you’ve finished reading this report till the end, write to [email protected] and let her know your favorite takeaway!
(Really, we’ve hard on collecting all this data so we’d love to hear your thoughts!) Lucky #7 will win a surprise gift from us!

Ready to Level Up your User Onboarding?

Measure, Experiment and reduce time to value for new users!
@UserpilotTeam We chose Userpilot because it offered the most bang for your buck. With the help of Userpilot’s driven actions, we created a seamless experience directly engrained with SciNote, which provides our users the ability to master it quickly and most importantly easily. But what we really love is the attention and support we receive from them. Their team strives to help us succeed in educating our users and are always there for us if we hit any snags on the road.
Matjaz Muhic
@UserpilotTeam Easy to use. Requires very minimal dev work to add new experiences. Empowers me as a product manager to do more without needing others to implement. Love the in app experience builder, WYSIWYG on steroids. We use it for contextual product education, NPS surveys, onboarding /activation walkthroughs, upgrade experiences, etc.
Emma Yee
@UserpilotTeam  Within minutes of signing up, we knew we found the right tool. It’s super intuitive, powerful and most importantly, the support is 10/10. We’re continuously ideating, validating and implementing our onboarding experiences with Userpilot without bothering the development team and that saves us a lot of time.
Fahad Iqbal
@UserpilotTeam It’s a very intuitive and fun to use platform. Provided all the tools that We needed to improve our users adoption. We’ve had great feedback from our costumers. We were able to make a very significant leap in the adoption of the new functionalities with the customers, making a process that was slow and boring, into something fun and fast to implement.
Miguel Espírito Santo