According to a survey by The Manifest, 46% of customers would be more likely to increase their investments in products or services after successful user onboarding experiences. Yet, the idea of onboarding content is often an afterthought for many product-focused companies. Typically, many companies rely on their Customer Success Managers or Onboarding Specialists to walk customers through a product during a live training session or recorded webinar, but users may feel overwhelmed or forget this information quickly.  

Changing customer expectations is leading to heightened awareness of user onboarding best practices. Customers are demanding companies help them succeed with their products as soon as possible; if not, they will take their business elsewhere. 

The ideal user onboarding program should consistently communicate the benefits of using your product to learners. Ideally, users should get a quick overview of your product, its key features, along with a demonstration of how this will improve their own businesses. Ultimately, users should be incentivized to learn more. They should come away feeling empowered by your user onboarding experiences, rather than frustrated or confused.

External Training Programs Deliver User Onboarding Best Practices

External training programs can host content targeted at your customers and other external stakeholders. In most organizations, the training team, learning design specialist, or Instructional Designer outlines the curriculum and picks the optimal delivery method. 

External training programs support multiple areas within the company, including customer support, sales, and marketing. Using an external training program to develop and host your user onboarding content results in decreased customer support calls, higher product adoption and retention rates, and an improvement in time-to-value for your customers.

Here are some tips for using an external training system to implement user onboarding best practices and create effective content for your customers.

Related: How to Measure the Impact of Your Customer Education or Training Program

7 User Onboarding Best Practices to Ensure Customer Success

If you’re building out your onboarding content and program, here are a few best practices you should consider as you plan and create your content.

1. Understand in-product prerequisites

Depending on the complexity and specific use case of your product, your users require some degree of product knowledge to accomplish specific tasks. You can think of this information as in-product prerequisites. 

Instead of providing a conglomeration of all the available features in no thoughtful order, consider the concept of learner “groups” and plan onboarding content around them. Provide a solid understanding of several essential features in the product, in a deliberate order. Covering prerequisites makes the learning experience more effective and productive for each group, bringing the following advantages to your user onboarding experience:

  • “Level sets” each new learner with basic information every users needs to know about your product
  • Covers vocabulary that might be unique to your product
  • Provides expectations on what users can expect from the onboarding experience 

At Skilljar, our onboarding starts off with an overview to help users learn their way around the platform followed by more detailed courses on implementation, setting up your environment, and creating, publishing and promoting your content. These are all presented in the order in which the user is expected to complete the courses for the best user onboarding experience.

Skilljar Academy

2. Consider how to best communicate product information

Different methods of teaching improve learning and absorption of certain types of information. Instead of creating a standard onboarding process for everyone, embrace this reality and develop varied training resources. 

Consider the following;

  • Do users prefer to consume content through articles, videos, live or on-demand webinars, or some other format, or a mix of each? (For more technical information, consider video.)
  • Do users prefer to learn with an instructor or through self-serve options on their own time?
  • Can information be chunked so that a long-form piece can also be broken down into smaller units?
  • Is there content that gets updated on a regular basis that you can communicate through a training course module?

Skilljar customer Solver uses a course module to announce monthly updates (see light blue box in the image) so their users know to expect this, and can then link to find more information about what’s new each month. 

Solver Academy

3. Don’t share all of your training content in onboarding 

You may think that providing all the information to your customers on day one after their purchase is a user onboarding best practice. However, this can become an overwhelming content experience and your learners will be unlikely to retain the details as they continue to work with your product. 

Counterbalance this by practicing content restraint and segmenting the knowledge. Think about what users require to gain a basic understanding of the product and entice them to dive in further and engage in self-discovery. This can include a “just in time” learning approach in which content is delivered to the user at a stage when it’s most relevant to them. For example, a Skilljar user doesn’t need to learn about how to create a lesson at the same time they’re learning about how to create a course – this can be overwhelming to present too much information at the same time. 

If you are not sure if you included too much or too little information at the start of the onboarding process, you can test your onboarding program and gain feedback from users after they’ve gone through it.

Here is an example of how Skilljar groups different content after the onboarding process so users can take trainings they need – when they need them.

Skilljar Academy

Related: Success Strategies for Scaling Customer Education, Training, and Onboarding

4. Consider different use cases 

It’s likely you’ll have different personas and use cases, especially as your company grows. You’ll need to craft your materials in a way that can accommodate varied users’ needs.

Creators regularly spend hours preparing content for different use cases, but a little bit of planning can make things considerably easier later on. Evaluate what use cases have in common, then create your materials so trainings can swap pieces as needed. 

You can use an online training platform created for external use to thread together learning pathways and surface them to different groups of learners based on their needs. 

5. Emphasize quality 

Developing quality content is essential as a user onboarding best practice and requires a roadmap. Start by focusing on the content you already have (articles, PDFs, audio, video, etc.) Learn what content is working, and create more of it. 

An essential best practice for creating new training content is to review your support team’s most frequently asked questions and open tickets, as well as which marketing content pieces users download most. The training content you create in response can significantly enhance your onboarding content library while helping to reduce support tickets. 

6. Track metrics 

Implement measures to track the success of your onboarding program content effectiveness right away so you can establish benchmarks for success. Track learner registrations and course completions and match these against customer renewals, churn rates, and ROI in terms of product usage later on to evaluate success.

By monitoring these metrics for a period of time, you can identify which materials in your onboarding program work and which ones don’t. Keeping training content current and relevant is a user onboarding best practice, and it requires regular evaluation, iteration, and updates. The importance of analyzing these data points is critical to finding ways to improve.

You can accomplish this user onboarding best practice with the help of a comprehensive online learning management system (LMS) which can help automate these tasks for you and your team.

7. Promote your training 

Proactively marketing training is crucial. With a leading LMS, you can easily set up automated processes to send new customers an email invitation once they sign up. Upon completing a course, the system can confirm completion, send a badge/certificate,  and recommend options for what they may like to explore next. 


Wondering if there’s a single online platform to make these user onboarding best practices possible and more? Skilljar is the leading enterprise Customer Training Platform with all the tools and features for successful customer engagement and enablement. Start driving adoption, increasing revenue, and scaling customer success with Skilljar today.

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