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Boosting Referral Conversions with a better User Onboarding process

referral marketing ultimate guide

What makes you recommend your friends and family a product or service? First impressions or user onboarding is definitely the top reason!

When you like a product or service so much, you want your friends and family to benefit from them, and this is one of the most crucial reasons that make you recommend a product or service.

And, there may be a ton of reasons that you like a product or service. 

From its price to its quality or the smiling face of the employee who helped you benefit from that product or service, you consider some criteria when recommending a product or service to other people.

And, an excellent user onboarding experience is definitely one reason that makes someone be satisfied with a product and recommend it to their friends and family.

63% of customers said that they think user onboarding is a crucial aspect of their buying decisions.

Another reason you recommend a product or service to your friends and family is that you are encouraged by a referral reward that you can get by recommending a product or service. 

That is to say, referral marketing can be run both organically and through campaigns that encourage customers to recommend your product to their peers.

If you want your referral marketing strategy to grow organically, the best thing that you can do is to provide a quality product or service that provides value to your customers. Since the goal is to provide value to customers, you need to have an all-around onboarding process that helps customers find the value in your product.

In line with your efforts to run your referral marketing strategy successfully, you can use onboarding tools and referral marketing tools that can boost referral conversions.

Now let’s figure out what user onboarding is and how it can help you increase referral conversions.

What exactly is User Onboarding?

User onboarding is an ongoing process that starts with a user’s first interaction with your company and goes on by helping them find value in your product. User onboarding starts with attracting users to your product by clearly explaining how your product can solve their problem, then goes on with guiding first-time users to the value in the product and helping existing users keep finding the value.

Onboarding is often narrowed down to a product tour. And it is a huge mistake!

Yes, a product tour is a part of onboarding your customers. However, a satisfying user onboarding experience requires much more than product tours. 

Here are some fundamental aspects of a successful user onboarding: 

  • In the very first moment when a user finds out about your product, you should clearly and briefly explain to them what value they can expect from it.
  • Make it easy for users to sign-up. Do not ask for too much information. Only stick to what is necessary. You can always ask for further details down the road.

Short sign-up forms help you increase your conversion rates.

  • Send short and informative onboarding emails that are well designed with images or other visuals.
  • Provide an interactive product tour (product walkthrough) and make it optional for users to take it or not. (because some users may have already gone through the process).
  • Provide onboarding checklists and progress bars to help users better manage their time and know where they are on their journey.
  • Use in-app messaging and push notifications at the right moment to engage with your users.
  • Help users find answers to their questions through resource centers.
  • Finally, personalize each and every step for users. Personalization helps users better relate to the process and build a bond with your product.

When you take these into consideration when onboarding users, you will successfully increase acquisition and retention, therefore, your product adoption rates.

How can User Onboarding help boost conversion rates when doing referral marketing?

Let’s talk about two striking statistics:

55% of users said they had returned a product before because they didn’t know how to use it. 

This is striking because it shows what may happen when you can’t get your users past through the most crucial part. 

Another important statistic is that research by Nielsen shows that 83% of consumers suggested that they trust the recommendations from their family and friends when making their buying decisions.

Now, you should ask yourself whether you would recommend a product that you don’t know how to use to your friends and family or not.

I believe the answer is NO.

User onboarding helps you increase conversion rates when doing referral marketing because it is the ultimate way of convincing users that your product is the one that can provide value to them and solve their problems.

When you are able to help users find what they are looking for through a well-prepared onboarding flow, they will naturally recommend it to people around them.

User Onboarding practices you can apply today to boost referral conversions 

#1 Everything starts with an easy sign-up process

As I said earlier in the article, you will lose many users right at the beginning if your sign-up process is complex. So it is truly a crucial part of onboarding because you wouldn’t want to lose users without even having them get started in your product.

Integrating Google Sign-Up provides excellent convenience to users.

Users don’t want to deal with too much work when signing up. In this regard, you should only be asking for necessary information rather than aggressively asking for every detail.

If someone’s going to refer your product to other people, it’s going to be at the end of their onboarding process, and best onboarding processes start with smooth signups

#2 Offer Freemium/ Free Trial

One of the oldest and most powerful desires we have is to try a product out and compare it with another. It is a crucial criterion that people take into consideration when making their buying decisions.

Referral conversions may come to a dead-end when users are not able to see the value of your product with their own eyes, even if the referral is coming to someone very close to them.

Freemiums can help you increase referral conversions by simply convincing users further about the value of your product.

#3 Identify who your new users are

If a user signed up from a referral, it’s a good practice to understand who they are, how they’re related to the person who referred them to the product, etc.

This can help you clearly identify your referral marketing campaigns’ audience and optimize your efforts accordingly.

After an easy sign-up process, you should get to know your users by asking the necessary questions so that you can provide them with a better experience. 

Following these questions, you should constantly analyze product data and collect feedback. The more you know about your users individually, the better unique experiences you can provide them with. 

#4 Personalize the user onboarding process to maximize engagement

Personalization makes it ten times better!

It helps you encourage users to take action. 

When you educate yourself through product data and personalize your processes, your users will better relate to your product and find value in it.

Personalized welcome messages make your users feel at home. Using product data analysis, segmenting users, and examining user behavior, you will be able to create processes that each user uniquely relates to.

Here is a good example from ClickUp:

Personalization is a strong supplementary step for your referral campaign and plays an important role in increasing conversions.

#5 Remind the user about the referral campaign just a little after their Aha Moment

The Aha moment will be where your users find value in your product and think to themselves that their friends and family should know about it too.

This is why user onboarding should lead to an Aha, maybe even a wow moment that will amaze users with the value of your product. Making sure that they’re encouraged after the wow and Aha process will boost their chances of creating yet another virality campaign for you.


To put it in a nutshell, the best way to increase referral conversions is to provide value to users and help them find that value. 

In line with this effort, you should educate yourself through product data and customer feedback and provide an excellent onboarding experience. 

Following this primary drive (finding value) that makes people suggest a product to their friends and family, you should benefit from referral marketing tools, which makes it a lot easier for you to increase conversions.


This is a guest post written by our friends at UserGuiding

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