Getting a visitor to land on your webpage is one thing. Convincing them that it is worth signing on for your product or service is another.

    But guiding them through the process of getting started? That’s often the difference between a looky-lou and a confirmed client.

    It’s known as onboarding.

    What is Onboarding?

    According to Samuel Hulick of, onboarding is “the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product.”

    Simply put, it is everything that you do with a new user to ensure that they understand, use, and progress with your product. The onboarding process starts on your website, but can extend to drip-fed tutorials, email campaigns, and the application of advanced analytics to separate users into groups with similar needs.

    A successful onboarding process means that new users quickly become fans, some become power users, and many share their experience with your product and drive additional sign ups. This virtuous cycle ensures visibility for your brand, a larger user base, and – significantly – an active user base, too.

    Best Practice Onboarding

    Getting onboarding right is neither entirely art or entirely science. That said, there are certain attributes that the best onboarding processes share and developing an onboarding process of your own based on these attributes is a sure-fire way to lift your onboarding game. has done a good job pulling together the most important of these attributes, presenting them in a simple list of onboarding best practices. The GrowthDevil list includes:

    1. Make onboarding an easy experience from the start.
    2. Ensure the call to action (CTA) is compelling.
    3. Make sure the onboarding procedure saves the new user time.
    4. Welcome the new user properly.
    5. Make it worthwhile for the new user to stay.
    6. Encourage referrals as part of the onboarding process.
    7. Streamline the onboarding process as much as possible.

    GrowthDevil goes into detail as to what each of these best practices entails, but perhaps the best way to illustrate each practice is to measure a company’s onboarding process against the entire list.

    Which company? Well why not one of the very best in the world of social media: Twitter.

    Let’s go through these one by one…

    Make onboarding an easy experience from the start? Check.


    Twitter’s onboarding process starts by asking for minimal information up front, encourages new users to choose a username but explains they aren’t stuck with it forever, and helps users through every step of the process with clear explanations and help buttons.

    Ensure the call to action (CTA) is compelling? Check.


    Describing Twitter to someone who doesn’t know anything about the service can be tough. Do you mention hashtags and retweets? What about streams and followers? Twitter manages to distill their product down to a couple of lines, communicating effectively what Twitter does and why you’d want to use it.

    Make sure the onboarding procedure saves the new user time? Check again.


    Finding people to follow on Twitter can take time, and an empty Twitter feed reduces the interaction and might turn users away from the channel altogether. Twitter helps new users save time by suggesting accounts to follow that align with the new users own interests and fills up that feed from the start.

    Welcome the new user properly? That’s another check.


    Twitter welcomes you during the onboarding, again in their email confirmation request, and again after the email is confirmed. New users are also drip-fed emails in their first weeks using Twitter to encourage them to tweet regularly, follow others, and learn more about the platform.

    Make it worthwhile for the new user to stay? Check.

    Twitter used to automatically assign new users 20 accounts to follow. This was great on day one, but users often didn’t feel engaged and would not use the service much after that. To gets new users tweeting, Twitter now works hard to encourage users to select 10 accounts to follow all on their own. Engagement improves and new users have motivation to keep tweeting.

    Ryan Holiday considered this exact example in his bestselling book, Growth Hacker Marketing. Here’s a blink:


    Encourage referrals as part of the onboarding process? Not so much.


    Twitter does not ask for referrals directly in their onboarding process. They do offer the opportunity to check whether a users contacts or friends are already on Twitter but warns users they won’t email their contacts without additional permission. This could definitely be improved.

    Streamline the onboarding process as much as possible? Check.

    Twitter’s onboarding process was updated in 2014. It’s good – perhaps even great – and there is a not a lot of additional streamlining to be done. As TechCrunch reported last year:

    Twitter’s VP of product growth Christian Oestlien outlined how Twitter has completely overhauled its onboarding process for the first time since 2011. It’s significantly shorter, adds context about why people should want to use Twitter, and quickly builds their Instant Timeline.

    So How Does Twitter Measure Up?

    Almost perfect.

    Twitter is exhibiting almost all the best practices you’d expect of a world leading social platform, with a little work to do on asking explicitly for referrals during the initial onboarding process for new users.

    Onboarding is an essential part of every online marketing campaign, whether you are offering a service or selling a product. After all the cost and effort expended to attract visitors to your landing page you owe it to yourself and your customers to offer a smooth onboarding process to secure customers and transform users into fans, and even ambassadors.

    Do you know of a great onboarding process? Let us know on Twitter or in comments below!


    1 Comment

    1. Alessandro on

      Hi Dylan, I think Twitter has a good onboarding pratice (unfortunately the rest as social media we all know how is ending…). Another good practice for onboarding I can suggest is creating a tutorial for the user as soon they login in the platform, that’s help a lot in terms of sticking on the website reducing the churn. There was also a good tool to do it but I can’t remember the name at this moment

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