Why is onboarding the most important part of your app launch strategy?

Promatics Technologies
Published on Sep 01, 2017 in Mobile App Marketing
Why is onboarding the most important part of your app launch strategy?

Onboarding is one of the important phases of a mobile app user’s journey. Think of onboarding as meeting someone new. In the world of mobile app development, it is the first point of contact with your target audience where you are required to make a good impression. Mobile application development companies like Promatics need to make app onboarding as seamless and simple as possible.

It is no secret people prefer mobile apps to mobile websites. But it is a well-known fact that it is difficult for new users to navigate a newly launched app, understand its different features and get the most out of the app. This is where onboarding comes into the picture. Onboarding is an important aspect/process that helps you guide the user and get them familiarized with the app. This process allows companies to strategically communicate with users, helps them gain a positive user experience and helps your business express the app’s usefulness and value in the process.


The onboarding process is a series of screens that help users understand the app interface. Often referred as walkthroughs, these screens have three objectives.

  • Educate the user about the benefits and different functions of the app.
  • Help the user to register.
  • Gather profile information that can be used to present customized content and notifications.

Mobile app onboarding plays by the 80/20 rule. The app boarding is successful only if you focus on teaching a subset of features to the users they will use 80% of the time. Besides guiding them to use these features, you also need to tell them why the features being discussed are so useful.

Onboarding is successfully achieved by displaying brief messages that demonstrate how the user should interact with an app to solve a particular problem or show app’s killer features or main idea. On boarding process can take several forms.
  • Interface tour
  • Introductory video or slides
  • Tips
  • Content samples

The above discussed forms of onboarding are effective for strategic communication with the users. You need to select the onboarding form that makes sense for your app’s functions and also works best to educate your audience.


There are three different mobile app boarding techniques:

  • Benefits-oriented onboarding: it describes the benefits of using the mobile and also informs the user how to use the app to get the benefit listed.
  • Functions-oriented onboarding: it focuses on the main functionalities of the app and teaches the user when to use them and how.
  • Progressive onboarding: it is the most popular onboarding technique based on the fact that users learn more about the app by doing something within it. The information is presented in the actual stage of using the mobile app’s different features. For example, if the user is on a screen that allows them to record video, the instruction related to recording the video appears on the screen and points towards the camera icon that starts the phone’s camera.


  • How often do you expect the target users to get value from your app?
  • What is the key action?

The target frequency refers to how often people will use the app to perform a key action. For example, if you are building a food service app, placing a food order is key action and how often, is the target frequency. To know the right target frequency, you need to look at offline analogs. People generally eat once or twice outside in a week or month. So you can take the benchmark frequency as one month and then move on to weekly metrics. The benchmark frequency also depends on the nature of the business and how central it is to daily life.

Determining key action can be difficult and it also depends on your business. You need to keep a watch on a specific period when the users sign up and whether they perform the key action within frequency target after sign up.

If a large number of users do not perform a key action within target frequency, you can draw the conclusion that your mobile app does not offer value to your target audience. To ensure the mobile app offers more value, you need to follow the best practices in mobile app onboarding.


Getting people to register for a new service or app is often difficult. Businesses have to invest a lot of money, energy and time and yet many businesses lose a large number of the hard won users after the first app using experience. You would certainly not want such thing to happen with your mobile app.

Every business wanting to gain benefit from their mobile app want their first-users to become full-time users when they adopt the app product.

Keep user tutorials short

“Short is sweet; why say more when less can convert more”. This old adage fits perfectly to mobile app on boarding. You should focus on reducing friction in user’s app journey by following this simple principle – show less and provide more.

Today almost every app offers a swipe through the tutorial at its first launch to educate the user about the app’s important functions. However, swipe through tutorial are not contextual and make them momentum killers. Users don’t have time or patience to swipe through multiple screens and they start exploring the app on their own. Also, people don’t download and use a new app to read the manual. They do it because they think the app solves one of their problems.

Avoid upfront tutorials

Upfront tutorials serve no purpose because users normally skip them or don’t read all the information given on a static screen. Also, users are known to forget the instructions or information once the tutorial screen goes away from their eyes. The solution to this problem is following a contextual app tutorial that provides information only at the point of action. A contextual tutorial can be designed in different ways by app developers like Promatics.

  • Sample data: presenting the user with sample data helps in explaining in an easy way the features and the way to do any specific action. For example, if you are having a to-do list app, you can present the user with a pre-populated list of items with each item explaining different interactions within the app. Such static screens are helpful in educating users at the right time with very little information.
  • Focused tips: during the first interaction within the app, you need to focus on keeping the user’s attention on a single action or functionality. You can use instructional overlay to explain an unfamiliar interaction to the user. The hints can be displayed, one at a time as the user navigates through the app interface and reaches a new screen or functionality.
Focused tips

Maximum empty states

Maximum empty states

Content provides value to the app and it is also one of the important reasons for people using apps. Empty state refers to a stage where the screen does not have data yet and the user is required to go through a few steps to populate data on the screen. Besides showing the user what content will appear on the screen, the empty state also teaches the user how to use the app. An effective state is the one that prompts the user for next action. You should follow a minimalist design approach while designing an empty state as complex designs will only add to the confusion.

You should put in efforts to make the empty states look different so that users take notice and experience the difference in the product offering.

Introduce the success states

Completing an important task is a moment of rejoice for the user and you need to cash on such opportunities by taking the interaction between the user and the app to the next level. The success states raise the level of the app experience by acknowledging the progress of the user. Good success states give the app a personality and the user is able to relate to it in a better manner. Personality is what makes your app stand out and makes it memorable.


Defining success metrics can be helpful to know the effectiveness of the app onboarding process and find out if it needs improvement. You should fix activation metric and track the inputs seriously to determine the onboarding success.


Effective app onboarding is a key element in the success of the mobile app and you should pay attention to it. The word of mouth publicity or good customer reviews are byproducts of good app onboarding where users realize the value of your mobile app and spread a good word about it.

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About the author
Promatics Technologies
Promatics Technologies
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Promatics is a young, rising software development agency from India. They have wide expertise ready to take on the most demanding projects on web and mobile app development, e-commerce, digital marketing, cloud solutions, quality assurance and IT consulting. In the mobile field, they have expert app developers ready to work on Android, iOS, HTML5 and wearables projects.

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