User Onboarding: 10,000 Signups Mean Nothing Unless They Convert to Paying Customers

StartupKit’s clever launch page reeled in over 10,000 signups, but they soon realized that successful user onboarding is all about getting the first 50 paying customers.

Before developing StartupKit about a year ago, Vlad Stan and his team reviewed 2,000 startups to see what the community needed in terms of entrepreneurial education.

What they came up with was a launch page with a form asking entrepreneurs a series of questions via Claire, an A.I. personal assistant. With the information you tell Claire, the StartupKit service comes back with personalized recommendations and tips on everything from strategy to software.

The form on the launch page is ever-evolving as the company continues to experiment and refine their user onboarding process. For the user, the whole process takes less than a minute, but it’s still more time than simply entering your email address.

So how and why did StartupKit get 10,000 signups in one year? And what user onboarding strategies did they implement to convert signups into paying customers?

User Onboarding - Email

Not Your Average Signup Page

Stan said that, in their extensive research of startups, they found that people love interactions, preferably human-to-human ones. That’s why they came up with Claire. Her language is simple and conversational without being too self-aware or obnoxiously quippy. And if you sign up for the service, she learns more about you as you go.

“The user must see the value with every interaction. With every click [they’re] making in the app, the user must get value. Don’t put the user to work for you … We are here to help first, not to create other problems for our users.”

Feedback on the launch page has been great. Stan said that growth hackers think it’s an inspiring new concept for user onboarding because it’s aiming to learn more about the user than just their email address. StartupKit wants to be more than just another subscription cluttering up your inbox.

It’s no surprise that people love talking about themselves. We love telling our story in multiple choice surveys and getting results that are tailored to us. Case in point: How many Buzzfeed quizzes have you taken this month?

StartupKit taps into that allure of self-gratification in way that’s actually useful. Instead of getting your results at the end of the questionnaire, you sign up for the service and they’ll send your personalized results. That is, they’ll send them if you pay.

User Onboarding - Pay First

Make Them Pay First

Recently, StartupKit updated their signup page to include a question asking people if they’d be willing to pay $9/month for their service. (This may change in the future as they figure out their pricing model.)

“We’ve had encouraging results so far,” Stan said.

The fact that StartupKit put a value on their own product shows confidence. They’re not just going to give you this personalized information for free, because it’s valuable. Even though it’s only the cost of two lattes per month, by making you pay up front, they’re saying “We’re valuable to your business.”

“[The] next step is to convince 50 people to pay for your product. I think this is the best way to validate your solution and the best way to collect relevant feedback about the product.”

User Onboarding - First 50 Customers

Onboarding the First 50 Paying Users

Fifty of the people who said that they were willing to pay for the service will get a link with full details about the StartupKit product. Then after they pay, they’ll get another interview for further customization. Stan explained, “We want to build a better product for them first.”

Whether you have 10,000 signups or a million, he said,

“You just need to get 50 paying customers, but make sure you have a big enough market to grow once the product is validated.”

He said they’re going to “make sure [the customer gets] value from our product, and they are willing to recommend it to their friends. Once this is done, we can go public.”

But this isn’t a process to be rushed. One thing about having people pay up front is that you have to get it right before you make more people pay. There’s much more accountability when you don’t go freemium because expectations are higher.

Stan said about your first 50 customers:

“These are your visionary customers. They can decide if the product is good or bad. That’s why I think it is so important to make them pay first, because you will get valuable feedback from them. If the solution is not validated, listen to their feedback and go back to the drawing board.”

User Onboarding - Twitter

Continue the Conversation

According to Stan, you should shoot for an onboarding process that gets you a conversion rate above 20 percent. He said, “Then if you can get 50 people to talk about your ideas, it is great. This can help you understand your customers.”

To keep up the communication with their potential customers, Stan said they stay focused on one channel: Twitter. That’s where they really follow the conversation and give out perks. “For example, to give [users] faster access to be able to join our ambassadors group, they had to tweet about us. We now have more than 1,000 people who tweeted about us, only because of that.”

But it doesn’t end there. After each interaction and interview, StartupKit follows up on Twitter to check the user’s interest. When companies are willing to put in the work to get to know you, that can be the difference between a happy user and a happy user who wants to tell all of their friends about you.

Have you implemented any successful user onboarding strategies? Share the love!


Icon images via FlatIcon here, here, here and here. Feature image via New Old Stock.

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