Onboarding & Conversion
Ever wondered how popular SaaS companies like Mixmax, Asana, and Buffer onboard their customers? What are the secrets to making your customers successful in using your product? Recently, I signed up for a range of popular software services provided by some of the top SaaS companies. In this blog post series, I will detail the onboarding process of each company, and provide some extra insights on how these companies try to convert a non-paying customer into a paid one. Without further ado, let’s dive into the very first SaaS company, Asana.
Asana – Background
Asana is one of the most popular web and mobile applications designed to help teams track their work, with various task management tools. Some of their high-profile clients include Tesla Motors, Harvard University, Airbnb, NASA and General Electric. According to Crunchbase, they have gone through five rounds of funding, raising a total of $88.2M.
When you first enter Asana’s website, it immediately prompts you to create a free account. Once you’ve filled in all the necessary information and verified your email address, you’ll be taken to Asana’s website, where the onboarding officially begins. For this blog series, the onboarding process will be considered as the first 35-40 days after signing up for the service. I have numbered the days for convenience’s sake, with Day 1 being the day I signed up for Asana.
Day 1 – Welcome Video
Most, if not all, of the online services I signed up for welcomed me to their platform with just an email saying, “Welcome to XXX!”. For Asana, I was initiated with both a video and an email. It was a refreshing change to get watch a video, instead of just reading an email with information that I would most probably ignore. The video was short, and gave me a very clear idea of what I could do with Asana.
Day 1 – Welcome Email
Asana’s welcome email is pretty standard, like most welcome emails. Its purpose is to teach users how to use Asana’s features, in this case, how add items to your tasks. What I particularly liked about this email was the fact that at the end of it, there was an indication that it was 1 of 4 in the ‘Getting Started Series’. Knowing how many emails to expect gave me a sense of security that I wasn’t going to get spammed, and didn’t make me feel that I wanted to unsubscribe right away.
Welcome Email/Email 1 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Day 3, 5, 7 – Getting Started Series
All of the emails in the ‘Getting Started Series’ were sent with the email address, email@example.com. This is useful because it makes it very clear that all emails received from this email address are intended for the sole purpose of teaching you how to use a particular feature of Asana. What was well done about these tutorial emails was that they were very nicely organized. Each email focused on teaching customers how to use a new feature, with a clear call to action at the end of each one. Take, for example, in email 2 of 4, users are taught how to create a task and then how to add details to that task. At the end of the explanation, there is a button entitled ‘Create a Task’, which directs you to create a task on Asana’s website. In addition, these emails were hard to ignore because the usage of screenshots and bright colors made them very attractive to read. They were also not too long, which is always a plus because, well, no one likes long emails.
The emails from this series were sent two days apart from each other. This seems like a decent schedule to adhere to because it is frequent enough to keep users interested, but not too often that it would drive users to unsubscribe.
Email 2 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Email 3 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Email 4 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Day 17, 27 – Email from firstname.lastname@example.org
After the initial 7 days of onboarding, the frequency of emails decreased. Instead of receiving emails every two days, I received emails every ten days. These emails were also sent by the email address email@example.com. The features explained in these emails were slightly more advanced than those sent out with the ‘Getting Started Series’. This makes sense because it is critical for your users to learn the basics features first, before attempting the more complex ones. Yet again, the usage of colors, images, and screenshots made these emails visually appealing and difficult to ignore.
Bonus: Day 18, 21, 24, 27 – Emails from the Sales Department
I received several personal emails from the Sales Department at Asana, offering a demo of Asana Premium. Though I didn’t reply due to my severe case of Banner Blindness, I was impressed by the persistence of Asana’s Sales team. The personal outreach from Asana made me feel like I was a valued user. And you know what they say, a valued user is a happy user.
Though Asana was successful in teaching users how to utilize their basic features, I feel that a lot of their more complex, but very useful, features – like the day & future planner, the dashboard, and the inbox – were not introduced at all. In addition, I feel that the onboarding process ended a little abruptly. I think Asana’s onboarding process could be improved if they introduced users to their resources page on their website. This would ensure that users are aware that there are many more features of Asana that they can learn and utilize. The resources page is extremely useful, as it has many guides and templates that can help users learn how to use the more complex features of Asana.
Here is a summary of the interactions that spanned the full 27 days Asana took to onboard me as a user.
Day 1 – Welcome video on the website & Welcome Email/Email 1 of 4 of Getting Started Series
Day 3 – Email 2 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Day 5 – Email 3 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Day 7 – Email 4 of 4 of the Getting Started Series
Day 17, 27 – Email from firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about a new feature
Day 18, 21, 24, 27 – Personal outreach emails from the Sales Department
That sums up how Asana onboards new users to their platform! I hope it provided you with some new insights into how you could structure an onboarding process in the future. Tune in next time, where I will investigate how a newer SaaS player in the market, Mixmax, onboards their users.