Buffer: Background

Welcome back to yet another post in our blog series covering the onboarding strategies employed by various SaaS offerings! This week, we’ll take a look at how Buffer, a social media management platform, approaches onboarding.

Buffer is a social media management platform that helps users share social media content by scheduling online posts ahead of time. It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and other social media platforms. Buffer also contains features that give post suggestions to users, and gives information on the number of clicks, retweets, likes, favorites, mentions, and potential views each post has. To this date, they have raised $3.9M in 3 rounds of funding from a total of 29 investors.

Onboarding

Day 1 – Welcome Email

After signing up and verifying my email address, Buffer sent me an email welcoming me to their service. The email was signed off by Joel, the co-founder and CEO of Buffer. I always think it’s great when onboarding emails are signed off by CEOs or co-founders because it establishes a relationship between them and a user. It also endorses the message, and makes users more inclined to try a new feature – in this case, downloading the browser extension. I also liked how Buffer included ways to reach out to the Buffer team, as it gives users a direct line to the company. In turn, users feel more connected to Buffer and are less likely to stop using the product when facing difficulties. As mentioned before, a call to action button is always a good touch in emails, as it increases click-through rates.

Day 5 – Get the Browser Extension

Caro, the Chief Customer Officer took over the onboarding process from Day 5 onwards. The email I got on Day 5 was repetitive, as it prompted me to download the Browser Extension, something that was already introduced to me in the welcome email.

Day 9 – Get the App on Android and iOS

The email I got on Day 9 informed me about the Buffer mobile app that’s available for download. The interesting thing to note is up until Day 9, Buffer didn’t introduce their features to me as a user. As a result, I had to figure out how to use Buffer on my own. For non-tech savvy people, this could be a real struggle and it can also result in them not fully utilizing the product.

I took the liberty of looking up Buffer’s website to find a resources page of some sort that could teach me about some of Buffer’s features. Under the ‘Help’ tab on Buffer’s dashboard, there is an ‘FAQ’ button that takes you to a page with many articles that teaches you in great detail about most, if not all of Buffer’s features. This page is incredibly useful not just for new users, but even for long term users, as it has in depth information on both the basic and more complex features of Buffer. I feel that this page could’ve been introduced during the initial onboarding phase, perhaps via email, so that users are aware that they can refer to this resource whenever necessary.

Day 39 – Buffer Analytics

Several weeks later, Joel, the CEO of Buffer, sent me another email to introduce Buffer’s analytics tools. I thought this was helpful, as it gave me information on what I could do with this tool. Also, there was a button that redirects users to the Buffer Dashboard so they can immediately start using this tool. This was actually the first time Buffer introduced a feature to users. Buffer’s onboarding could be greatly improved if they introduced more features to users.

Summary

Here is a summary of the interactions that spanned the full 39 days Buffer took to onboard me as a user.

Day 1 – Welcome Email
Day 5 – Get Browser Extension
Day 9 – Get it on Android and iOS
Day 39 – Buffer Analytics

That sums up how Buffer onboards new users to their platform! I hope it provided you with some new insights into how you can structure an onboarding process in the future, and possibly also what might not be as helpful.

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