Mobile Marketing

6 Things to Consider for Your Mobile On-Boarding Strategy


Once an app is downloaded, as the developer or brand, your work is not complete. It is the first 3-7 days that are the most telling of whether or not an app will be successful. A study by SimilarWeb found that the average app only retains 23% of its daily active users after it’s third day. So what does this mean for brands? What can be done to try and limit or prevent uninstalls all together?

To ensure that you get past the honeymoon phase, (where the majority of apps see their demise) you must hook the user on their initial visit to show that you provide value to them. This is where mobile onboarding comes into play. Onboarding – often done through tutorial and sign in screens – is a way to introduce users to the app and its features.

Have an onboarding process that is too long, and you risk the user losing interest. Have an onboarding that is too short, and the user may miss out on seeing the value of the app. Although still an inexact science due to the thousands of variables that go into making an app, there still are a number of foundational elements that should be followed when developing an onboarding strategy. Here are 6 of the rules that our designers and developers live by:

Choose a strategy that works for you
Depending on the objectives for your app, there are 3 common strategies for mobile onboarding, and it is important to recognize which one is right for you.

  • Benefits-oriented onboarding: explicitly state the benefits that the app can bring the user
  • Function-oriented onboarding: highlighting specific, often core, features of the app
  • Progressive onboarding: offer guidance to users while they actively work through the app

Welcome the user
The onboarding screen is the first date of the mobile app world, and as with first dates, impressions matter. By simply welcoming the user with a positive greeting, you are starting the relationship off on the right foot, and put them in a better mood for the rest of the onboarding.

Give choice
The level of familiarity with your app will vary greatly between users: by giving them choice on how much of a tutorial they need, you can eliminating the barrier for those users who like to learn via exploration.

Without validation, you cannot truly know how users will truly respond to your onboarding experience. To create the best process possible it is important to do user testing techniques such as touch heatmaps and live usability tests.

Get them going faster
For apps which require more information from the user to get set up (Eg. in apps which focus on personalization) they should think about integrating the customizable features into the first screens the user sees. This is so that they can get thrown into an experience of their choosing once onboarding is done.

Onboarding is ongoing
You should not look at onboarding as a one-time thing. Although it is most important during the user’s first interaction, it is also an important way to introduce and explain new features.  For example, if a banking app were to introduce “Tap to Pay” into their current app, they could use onboarding screens to make users aware of the new feature and teach them how to use it.