Last update: May 2021

5 mins to read - 2019/08/02

Mobile App Onboarding: Top Tips and Helpful Hacks

When you launch your mobile app and the downloads start rolling in, you may feel like you’ve made it. The hard part is over now, right? In fact, the chance of users abandoning your app after a single use is worryingly high. Customer retention is your next big challenge in the continuous marketing funnel of growing your brand. Studies have shown that there’s a 60-70% likelihood of selling a product to an existing customer, as opposed to 5-20% likelihood of selling to a new customer. What’s more, user acquisition can be costly and time consuming. So it’s crucial to give your customers such a great experience that they want to stick with you. The first step in achieving this is offering them a great mobile app onboarding experience.

Download our Mobile Marketing Playbook to perfect your user engagement game!

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Mobile App Onboarding: Fomenting a Relationship With Users

Onboarding is that moment in the marketing process in which you’ve already piqued a user’s interest with your great idea, stellar brand name, advertising, or what have you. Your onboarding process is the one chance you get to wow new users right off the bat, so make sure your first impression is a good one! Here are a few helpful tips for onboarding flow to get you started…

Start Off With a User Profile

Everybody wants to feel like they’re an individual, and giving your user the chance to customize their space in your app can give them a sense of ownership. This is crucial in forging that first bond with a new user, and can help them establish the persona with which they will engage with your app and other app users. Not to mention it can be an easy way to provide you with data needed for personalizing your push notifications.

Provide them an intuitive, gamified process for filling out their profile, and they’re more likely to want to come back and explore what else your app has to offer. If they leave without finishing their profile, shoot them a friendly push notification as a reminder. If you don’t hear from them for a day, send them a special offer or an invitation to check out some of your app’s features to get them interested again.

Value of money grows!

Mobile App Onboarding Should Communicate Your Value

Once your user has completed their profile, now is your time to come out swinging. Your mobile app onboarding process is your chance to educate users. Highlight how your app will be beneficial to their lives. Showcase your strengths and particular ways you will provide value to the user’s daily life. This might be in terms of an invoicing function you provide, new streaming content you offer, or simply a mobile game they can entertain themselves with while commuting.

If you have any unique features that could make the difference between a good app and a great one, be sure to provide your user a walkthrough of these. For example, creative selfie filters for a photography app, special avatars for advanced players in a mobile game, etc.

Spur Users to Action

If your app involves users completing an action or creating content, rather than passively consuming, this is especially important. Try to leverage your mobile app onboarding process to motivate users to actively engage in a certain function. This will not only get them exploring all that your app has to offer, it can also get them excited about what else your app enables them to do. For example, for a video streaming app, you could give them the suggestion to record a quick introduction and share it with their followers.

Another example is the notoriously pro-active Duolingo app. New users have barely signed up for their account before the Duolingo owl is encouraging them to pick a language and start learning. Note: make sure you start off small, by suggesting only a small, quick task. The last thing you want is for engagement with your app to start feeling like a chore!

Action! Fist bump!

Prioritize Personalization

Personal details and preferences don’t end once your user has completed their profile. In fact, there’s space for ongoing personalization in any app, no matter what the niche. Of course, this is particularly relevant for an app which provides content for users to consume, such as a blogging community or a streaming app.

In most cases, users will find the sheer amount of content presented to them daunting, so they will appreciate any suggestions you can offer for tailoring what sorts of content they are exposed to. Your best method for approaching this is to start generic and slowly get more specific. For example, if you’re a music streaming app, ask them to select from a list of music genres which they’re interested in listening to. From that, you can then narrow it down to individual artists you can invite users to follow. Finally, you can suggest playlists for specific days, moods, and activities. 

Ask for Push Notification Permission

Obviously, this is only for iOS users, as Android phones automatically enable push notifications (for now). As any mobile marketer knows, push notifications are key for communicating with your app users and eliciting their engagement in return. So sending that initial request for permission can be a make-or-break moment for your app.

A lot of users can be a bit wary of push notifications. So it’s important that you explain to them right off the bat what purpose the notifications will serve, and how they will help optimize their app experience. For example, say you’ve just launched a gaming app. Notifications can be a helpful way of expanding the gaming experience beyond the confines of the app. Notifications can alert users when their friends are online to interact with. Or when there are certain items they can purchase in-game.

Similarly, with streaming apps, notifications can tell them when one of their favorite artists has dropped a new single. Or when a new episode of a show they’re watching is available to watch. The iOS 12 also offers users a way to ease themselves into receiving push notifications, allowing the delivery of provisional notifications in a “stealth mode” directly to their notification center.

When it comes to mobile app onboarding, this can be your one chance to make a great impression on new users. Sadly, poor onboarding UX is where a lot of users churn after downloading an app. OpenBack offers a comprehensive onboarding experience for our mobile engagement platform, with tutorials and troubleshooting help from our experts. Get in touch if you have any questions, or check out our Docs section for more information on platform integration

For a definitive compilation of push notification best practices download the OpenBack Mobile Marketing Playbook 2020 here: 


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