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How to build a churn busting user onboarding experience

Pulkit Agrawal | Co-founder and CEO of Chameleon

  • | Activation | Engagement | Growth | Metrics | Onboarding
  • April 2019
  • EP7

User onboarding is the art of activation

Learn how to set your users up for success

We all know the importance of user onboarding in SaaS, but when does onboarding really start and end, and what’s its relationship to churn and retention?

On the show today we welcome Pulkit Agrawal, Co-founder & CEO at Chameleon, a platform that helps companies build user onboarding without writing a line code.

Tune in as we discuss why you should care about your user onboarding experience, its relationship to churn and retention, and user onboarding tests you can run in your business.

Enjoy!


Highlights

Time
Why should people care about user onboarding 00:00:33
User onboarding, churn and retention. 00:06:32
Measuring success. 00:08:54
Aha moments and moments of delight. 00:10:21
The role of product marketing in user onboarding 00:26:46
When does user onboarding really start? 00:22:58
Segmentation – Is it important. 00:30:00

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Pulkit Agrawal

Co-founder and CEO of Chameleon

About the podcast

My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.

In the real world tackling churn and increasing retention is one of the hardest problems a subscription business faces.

In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.

Transcription

Andrew:
Hi Pulkit. Welcome on the show. It’s a pleasure to have you today.

Pulkit:
Hi. Yes, excited to be on. Thanks for inviting me.

Andrew:
It’s a pleasure. So user onboarding. What is it and why should people care?

Pulkit:
That’s a good question. Often people think user onboarding is just part of the setup flow. So maybe those are the swipe screens on mobile or some tour on your web app. But I think we believe user onboarding goes beyond that. It’s the process of introducing users to new value in the product.

Pulkit:
Now, that can mean right in the beginning when they first sign up, the whole product is new and so there’s a lot of new value to be gained, but it extends across the lifecycle of a user because every time you launch a new feature, or you make a change to the product, then there’s some component of new value that you’re adding and the user needs to be onboarded to that until they discover and internalize that value.

Pulkit:
So it does extend across the user lifecycle, and it can have many formats. It doesn’t have to be specifically as narrow as some screens or some tour, it’s a whole system and that can include different channels, including email in-product, and the various messaging that you’ll send. So I don’t know, that’s a longer definition, but I think it’s valuable as you think about how to leverage user onboarding to drive growth.

Andrew:
Absolutely. Yourselves specifically obviously, so you must have seen a lot of different user onboarding of your time at Chameleon. What has been some of the standout takeaways that you’ve seen from companies that are really doing user onboarding well?

Pulkit:
Yeah, so I can talk about a couple. So we can talk about something like Duolingo, which is a language learning software, and it’s great because it’s very playful, it’s very active. As you begin your journey, you’re starting to do very quickly. That’s a good takeaway is you want to help users take actions early in their process and their journey.

Pulkit:
User onboarding isn’t about showing people your product or giving them a full on tour of all the functionality. They haven’t come to your product just to learn how it works. They’ve come to solve some need or fulfill some desire. So the quicker you can get people to take action, the more effective your user onboarding can be. So that’s one reason why Duolingo is really good.

Pulkit:
I can also talk about a very common example that people reference, Slack, but one thing I’ll reference in Slack is the fact that they use very bright and bold colors, and a very friendly and warm aesthetic. The reason that’s valuable is because they are really confident about their user onboarding. They very explicitly present that as something that’s valuable and that users should pay attention to.

Pulkit:
It’s not something that they relegate to ugly design because they feel like it’s a chore or something that they’re compelled to do. And so, by embracing the idea of a product tour with these toul tips that Slack traditionally used, then they’re making it a beautiful experience that users can really resonate with.

Pulkit:
So that’s another takeaway when you’re building your user onboarding, be confident, be proud, and build something that’s really lovable, rather than thinking of it as something that comes right at the end of the product and it’s something that’s not given much love.

Pulkit:
Scott Belsky, who’s the founder of Behance, and chief product officer at Adobe always talks about, “The first mile of product,” and how that should not be designed at the end. It should be designed really early on, and it’s something that should continue to evolve as your new users change. So that’s another reason why Slack has done a good job with its user onboarding.

Andrew:
Yeah, I think Slack is an excellent example in terms of the seamless experience as well. Just signing up, inviting new users, simple things like the password. Having the ability to be able to send you an email to log in, as opposed to remembering passwords.

Pulkit:
I have a funny story about that. That’s something that when we were early on, we kind of decided as well, we said, “Hey, look, no one likes passwords. Let’s get rid of the passwords.” So if you’re going to sign up for Chameleon, then you don’t need a password. All you’ll do is you’ll get a magic link, and that’ll keep you logged in. If you ever want to log in again because you’ve been logged out or you’re in incognito, just request a magic link.

Pulkit:
It was very funny because so many people asked us about passwords, they’re like, “Why doesn’t this have a password? I want a password.” That was surprising to us because we were trying to make the experience more seamless. That was an interesting learning for us around, the best design isn’t the design that you believe is the coolest or the simplest, or the latest, or the most progressive.

Pulkit:
The best design is the design that speaks to your users and helps them cross a bridge. And so, in so many instances with very savvy tech forward people, maybe magic links are the way forward. But for other people they’re so used to passwords, it’s such an ingrained pattern and that’s what they expect.

Pulkit:
If you provide them something very unexpected then it’s difficult, it creates confusion and it creates friction in the journey. So it’s just a funny thing that sometimes design will be counterintuitive and everything just needs to tested and evaluated to decide what’s best.

Andrew:
Absolutely makes a lot of sense, there’s some areas that you don’t want to innovate. I guess, it does like you say, speak to the early adopters, potentially a feature like magic links that people are a bit more accustomed to trying out new things.

Andrew:
So when it comes out to trying out new things and testing new products, obviously user onboarding is a big influence in user adoption and in turn leads to retention. How do you see the role of user onboarding when it comes to metrics like retention and churn?

Pulkit:
Yeah, user onboarding is incredibly important for long-term retention. I first noticed that working, before my current company on a mobile consumer product where we spend a lot of time doing user research tests, trying to drive type of funnel growth. Mobile and consumer is really hard.

Pulkit:
But one of the biggest impacts we saw downstream for 90 day retention was this user onboarding project that helped people really understand how to use our app. So that was the first penny drop for me and my co-founder around how valuable user onboarding is, and not just for activation, but for long-term retention. So that coupled with this idea of continuing to onboard people to new features and updates really contributes to people staying engaged.

Pulkit:
Because think about it this way, as your product evolves multiple things are happening. One is your sphere or scope of functionality is increasing. If you’re not onboarding your existing users to that, they essentially are using less and less of your product overall, the percentage of the features that they’re using.

Pulkit:
And so, that leads them to be a churn risk. So you want to continue to engage your existing users with new features. That’s why we’ve seen the evolution of the product marketing discipline or the renewed focus around customer marketing.

Pulkit:
The other thing that’s happening is that over time your new users are also changing. They’re not the same type of user that signed up for your service in the early days or way back when.

Pulkit:
So you have to continue to adapt your user onboarding for this new user, whether it’s because they’ve got a different understanding of the market, or whether your product has different value proposition. So it needs to be something that’s always there, always evolving to help drive continued retention and reduce churn over the long-term.

Andrew:
Very nice. Then how would you say … so I understand the point it needs to be constantly evolving. You always want to be updating and showing that existing users are kept up to speed. How do you measure success when it comes to user onboarding? What are sort of the metrics that you look to be able to say, “Okay, this is a successful iteration”?

Pulkit:
Yeah, it’s a good question. There’s a couple ways to think about this. I mean, obviously you want to long-term drive engagement, whether that’s how we measure engagement, 30 day engagement, or weekly active, monthly actives, et cetera.

Pulkit:
But you also want to think about leading indicators versus lagging indicators. If you’re looking for 90 day retention and you’re using that as the key metric for driving improvements and onboarding you’ve got a three month cycle before you can evaluate impact.

Pulkit:
So you’ve got to find something that’s a bit more leading and that could be an activation metric. So you might want to think about, okay, well we know that people who are 90 day retained typically take some of these key actions in the first seven days of usage. It might be some kind of something to do with the account set up. It could be something to do with invites. And so, those may be correlations.

Pulkit:
Ideally you want to find causations, like if people take these actions that’s what helps them find more value and stick around. If you can find a causation metric or a causal relationship between engagement and some activation metric, that should be your goal to get people too.

Pulkit:
Now, I want to make a clear difference or distinction between this metric that you’re trying to drive as a product manager or product owner, and actually what the user journey and experience should feel like. So for a user, they don’t care about this metric, right? You can’t have that as the goal, “Hey, I want you to invite somebody.” And so, my user onboarding is all about invitations.

Pulkit:
What they care about is aha moments. So that’s points of value where they really internalize … or points of delight and surprise when they really internalize the value that your product is providing them.

Pulkit:
So on their level, you want to be thinking about aha moments that can give them some of this delight and value, and that will provide them sufficient motivation to continue on their journey, continue using a product, continue exploring, such that they eventually get to this metric that you’re trying to drive.

Pulkit:
So there’s a difference between the metrics that you want to care about and track, and the user experience journey that you want to design such that users find your product fulfilling, engaging, and want to continue exploring.

Andrew:
Okay. Let’s get a little bit more specific then as well. Maybe take the use case of Chameleon. How did you guys go around figuring out what your activation metric was and then again, looking at the aha moments as well? What was the methodology behind that?

Pulkit:
Yeah, sure. So for us, Chameleon is a software platform to build in-product guidance, in-product marketing, that drives steeper product engagement and product growth. For us, a core component of this is building a step or a tour with the user.

Pulkit:
If they build a step or a tour, and if they continue to build tours and steps, that for us, defines them as engaged and active. So one of the early … and there’s multiple activation goals, but one of the key goals is to have them build a tour, that way we know that they were likely be engaged.

Pulkit:
Now, on that path, we thought about what are the aha moments to them getting to the point of building a tour. A couple of aha moments include when they actually are able to see the Chameleon editor inside of their application, and they can create a step, and it’s super easy to see something that they’re creating in real time on their screen in a WYSIWYG way. So that’s really cool. We know that people find that fascinating, and so that was an aha moment.

Pulkit:
Another aha moment was being able to select an element on screen and highlight that element. So without writing any code you can apply a highlight, and that’s something that people love. Another aha moment included being able to add your own branding and styling. So one cool thing that we have is you can just type in your font into the font box input and all of the kind of the fonts automatically just adapt to your native font.

Pulkit:
You don’t have to pick from our list. There’s no limitations, and even a unique font that you’re using on your page appears, and that’s because we’re just pulling it from your page, which is kind of cool and people aren’t used to it.

Pulkit:
So we looked at the mapping out, okay, well these are the aha moments, what should happen first? What we’ll give them delight to continue moving on? And so, then we designed our onboarding around encouraging people to do those things.

Pulkit:
So the first thing when they download the Chrome extension, we’re like, “Hey, add your brand. Add your styling.” It’s really easy. We pull the colors from the page, so again, that’s another moment of delight. They click in the dropdown, they see their own colors, and they can choose which one for which piece of the design.

Pulkit:
I think adding that brand and personalizing that content for yourself also gives you the investment to then actually take another action. That’s part of developing kind of this habit or the “Hooked model,” that Nir Eyal talks about. So that’s how we thought about the journey, but of course the overall goal is to help them build a tour as part of their onboarding.

Andrew:
All Right. So interesting just to take another step, and a deeper step looking at the three aha moments that you mentioned, how did you go about figuring out those moments? Was it just something like intuitively internally that you decided on, or was any other research involved in figuring those out?

Pulkit:
Yeah, so the aha moment I think … there’s the aha moment. There’s also this other concept, the magic number. The magic number is things like the 7 friends in I think, 10 days, that Facebook talks about, that’s more of the metric that you want to try and drive to. That’s different to the aha moment. I think the aha moment is very kind of touchy, feely and it needs you to do user research, qualitative user research to figure out moments of delight.

Pulkit:
And so, the way that we went about that, of course intuitively we have a sense of what we think is cool, but really you want to go and do you user tests? So when you watch people using your product, then we did some of these tests, and we asked them what they thought was cool, what was really kind of interesting? They would reference these things.

Pulkit:
We’d also, if you have sales teams and you’re doing sales demos, or you’re having people … if you have customer success, or helping onboard people manually, then you can also record those, or watch for reactions to those.

Pulkit:
And so, if you can get a sense of like, “Oh people really like this,” or where they start clicking around themselves and starting to get excited and discovering the product, those are points where you can be like, “Hey, they said there was an aha moment here,” or this is something that they’re excited about and have motivation around.

Pulkit:
So we always have people tell us that it’s really cool when they’re able to pick their font. So they’ll start adding their brand and then they’ll pick that and think, “Oh, that’s really cool,” and say, “Okay, that’s like a light bulb moment, a light bulb going off.” So through user research, basically, through being really aware on demos or any customer conversations, that’s kind of how we narrowed down to these aha moments.

Andrew:
All right. Then you have that feedback and coming in from different team members based off of these calls, and the different research that you run into. On the flip side then you mentioned as well like the Facebook magic number, 7 friends, 10 days. In terms of like the more qualitative side of things, how did you go about approaching your activation metric and figuring out what that should be?

Pulkit:
Yeah, so I mean it kind of depends, the most rigorous quantitative methodology is to do regression analysis around the metric that you want to try and drive. So the engagement with various other metrics that you think are your magic number. So you want to go in with a hypothesis and test if that is a causal relationship.

Pulkit:
I think, when you don’t have the scale to do that quant analysis, then you can do … instead of doing a regression analysis, you can run experiments to see how something impacts downstream metrics.

Pulkit:
So for example, if you have an idea around two different actions that might impact long-term engagement, you can try and drive those two different actions with two different groups of people and see who is longer term retained and engaged.

Pulkit:
For us, it’s pretty simple. If people aren’t going to build a tour, they’re not going to be using the product, they don’t use the product, then they’re not going to be engaged. So it’s pretty simple that for us that they have to build a tour.

Pulkit:
Now, we did have a question around should it be a single step or should it be the whole tour? But we also saw that, if they don’t build a tour … well I guess there’s multiple phases to it.

Pulkit:
So you build a single step, then you want to actually have someone install the code snippet, and then they can build the full function, build the tour because they can connect their data sources. They can do a bunch of other functionality they couldn’t do just with a Chrome extension.

Pulkit:
So we have a couple of different stages, but essentially for them to be activated, and stick around, they need to have built a tour. We also evaluated churn post purchase, because many customers are self-service, and there’s a free trial.

Pulkit:
And so, there’s a two week free trial, and then some people will put a credit card down, and they’ll be fine to pay for the first month, but they’re still experimenting, and they’re still trying it out, and they’re not fully convinced. And so, they may even pay for a couple of months, but then if they decide it’s not something that would fit with them or for whatever reason, they may cancel it after that.

Pulkit:
We also looked at activation, not just simply in terms of charging somebody once, but post three months, are they happy and retained after that? So there’s more complexity or more subtlety in terms of which activation metrics for each part of their journey, but for the early phase of onboarding we really want them to build a new tour and build a step within that tour.

Andrew:
Do you separate when it comes to onboarding, user onboarding versus customer onboarding, and you see them as two different things, or are they one seamless experience?

Pulkit:
In certain cases they can be different for other companies, if you have a different buyer and a different user then I think there’s scope for difference. You might be having to onboard your customer who’s purchasing, but then for example, we see that there is software that is sold to a CTO or a CIO, but then they want all of the rest of the company to use it. And so, then there’s two kinds of onboarding.

Pulkit:
Actually, you can even look at one of our customers, Gusto, they have onboarding for customers like payroll admins and then onboarding for employees, and so there’s a difference there.

Pulkit:
For us, it’s not so much the case. We do have a little bit for larger customers where that we sell to product people. So the chief product officer or VP of product is going to be talking to us and doing a much more concierge or personalized onboarding. Then there’s a little bit of training people in the product, the people are going to be using the product.

Pulkit:
There is other differences in terms of how we separate customers, but I understand the difference between customer onboarding and user onboarding doesn’t apply to us so much, but I can see it applying to other companies.

Andrew:
[inaudible 00:20:23]. All right. What has been one of your biggest learnings when it comes to user onboarding? Maybe specifically in your case, what has been one big surprise that came out of it?

Pulkit:
Yeah, for us, one of the biggest learnings has been how simple it needs to be. How when we think something is simple, it often isn’t. So we had a page where there was a how to download the Chrome extension page.

Pulkit:
We thought it was a super, simple page. You sign up, you download the Chrome extension, and there was a couple of tiles, maybe three tiles that told you, click here to download, and then click here to open the Chrome extension, a little icon that you get. Then click the button to get started.

Pulkit:
So we thought that was a really simple flow, it’s like how you download Chrome extensions. That tripped a lot of people up. It just like they were clicking on one of the images, they couldn’t figure out once they’d downloaded the Chrome extension, they weren’t like really clicking into it.

Pulkit:
So we realized that they weren’t really reading all three tiles, and as soon as they saw something that they could click, they were trying to click it and then being frustrated if it wasn’t working.

Pulkit:
So I think it was like an interesting learning for us. I think it speaks to a really important principle, which is giving people a very simple action to take. And so, we updated that page and so all you see now is pretty much a single CTA. It’s like, download the Chrome extension.

Pulkit:
There’s nothing really else to read or do. And so, that’s much easier. They click that button, downloads the Chrome extension. Once the extension is downloaded and we can sense that, then we give them the second piece of information. “Okay, this is how you open it.”

Pulkit:
And so, that’s I think really key for many companies is to really simplify their experience, have one single action that a user should take. Don’t give them a tour of everything, just like, “What’s the next thing they should do?” I mean, there’s so many user onboarding lessons that we’ve learned over the course of our existence, but that’s definitely a simple one that I think anyone can take away.

Andrew:
Cool. So there was one thing you mentioned actually before we got on this call, and it was a really interesting concept, and I think we should touch on it now was, when do you see user onboarding actually starting?

Pulkit:
Yeah, absolutely. So I think user onboarding starts the time that anyone has an experience with your product or service. Now, it’s not just after sign up because before sign up, they’ve had some experience of you and what your company is or what your product is. That might be through an ad. It might be through an event. It might be through your website.

Pulkit:
Of course, you have a website. So it’s important to reflect or be aware that there are these other touch points where you’re educating users and helping shape their understanding of what to expect and what to be excited about.

Pulkit:
So I know there’s this, in our world we’re moving to a product first world where everything is kind of very product centric. I think it’s even more important in this instance to have a really good connect between all of the top of funnel or pre-sign up messaging into the products.

Pulkit:
Now, I’ll give an example from us. When we first started working on this a few years ago, the market for our space was so early, people didn’t really understand, and they were often the questions that we were hearing was, “Why should we have SaaS for this versus building it in-house?”

Pulkit:
And so, that’s what our marketing site had to speak to, which is what the benefits of SaaS and the benefits of continuous onboarding, the benefits of having a platform that allows non-technical people to build this.

Pulkit:
But then over time the messaging has had to evolve. And so, it’s no
longer about educating people why SaaS? Because more and more companies now appreciate the value. And so, then it became more about how the technology worked and what it looked like and what was possible. Because again, a lot of people were first time buyers, and so we adapted them.

Pulkit:
I remember creating these two very simple pages on the website. Like, “How does it work? What does it look like?” To make it super simple for people to really grock this is what the technology is, and as they’re starting to explore and understand.

Pulkit:
I think now the next phase of the evolution is that people have now understood this. It’s starting to be the case where they’ve had some experience with software like this. And so, then it’s now about why Chameleon? What makes us different? What makes us better in our opinion, and our customer’s opinion, and the different products that we have?

Pulkit:
So that’s an evolution of our marketing message and that’s really important as we go into the product as well. So I think where possible the user onboarding design needs to reflect where a user came from, what they’ve understood, and teach those concepts.

Pulkit:
If they don’t understand any concept, or say, if they’re clicking into your product and signing off your product without really having a good understanding, because people don’t read website pages as much now, then you need to start to re-explain some of those concepts.

Pulkit:
I often advise our customers as part of their welcome message for any onboarding, to restate the value proposition and restate why they exist and what’s really cool about them. Because you can probably bet that people haven’t understood this from the website or they haven’t read it on the website, and that’s not anyone’s fault, that’s normal.

Pulkit:
I don’t read websites. I’m so ready to click and sign up and play. And so, that messaging needs to flow into the product as well. That’s where we see product marketing also having a hand is how do you connect the dots between the marketing teams and the product teams?

Andrew:
Yeah, I think it’s very important that there’s a consistent message and also that you’re not misleading your users in any way, so at least there’s a clear understanding from the get go of what to expect. Then if you follow that on with an experience during your onboarding it just makes it for a seamless experience for your users.

Pulkit:
Absolutely.

Andrew:
You mentioned product marketing and user onboarding specifically. How do you see the role of product marketing when it comes to user onboarding? How do you see it evolving?

Pulkit:
Yeah, a great question. I actually recently wrote a blog post with the title, For Better User Onboarding, Switch to Product Marketing. The message around that was we need to have more of a marketing mindset when building user onboarding. Often teams will build user onboarding with the approach of, how can we teach people how to use our product?

Pulkit:
That’s really not what users are signing up for it. They’re not here for a training lesson. You’ll notice that a lot of people don’t want to be handheld. So what you need to do is explain to them the value and benefits inside when they’re in the product to help motivate them to take certain actions because they themselves appreciate why they’d want to take those actions.

Pulkit:
And so, if you go into it with a marketing mindset, you’re trying to explain the value, the benefits, rather than trying to teach and train. So it’s the focus on the why someone should do something, rather than the focus on just the how they should do it. So that’s one piece of it where really the marketing or the product marketing teams can help.

Pulkit:
I mean, I think we’re seeing an evolution of product marketing such that the role is a little transitioning from the traditional role, which was very much around looking at competitive positioning and defining the messaging around product as collateral for sales teams, or as campaigns for marketing teams.

Pulkit:
To where product marketing as a function and discipline is now taking more ownership of actually explaining the value of the product, whether it’s through external sources or other of product sources like blogs, but also in-product. So how do you start to use in-product as a channel for marketing, whether to existing customers or to trialists?

Pulkit:
There’s so many free trials now in software and there’s now this new phase of evaluation where previously when buying SaaS, you may be getting demos, and you might have purchased software based on a POC. But in many cases now consumers, or customers, even enterprise customers want to try the product out first.

Pulkit:
And so, you have this evaluation phase, and in that phase there’s another role for product marketing to help explain the value of the product, inside of the product as well through services like Chameleon and others.

Andrew:
Absolutely. I think it’s like something that we do quite a bit at Hotjar, and I’ll try is always ask them question, what’s in it for them and why would they care?

Pulkit:
Yeah. It’s a really important question to continue asking. I think it’s very easy to forget that and to focus a lot on your features because that’s what you’re really proud of, and that makes sense. But as much as we can think about the customer and user mindset, the better.

Andrew:
Exactly. Another aspect as well that we can touch on now potentially is segmentation when it comes to onboarding and making it a little bit more specific and personalized. So for us, again, similarly we ask the question why should we care? But then we ask it specifically to this persona’s use case. So if they are a marketer, or if they are in-product or UX, they have different use cases for our tour and we want to make sure that we’re speaking to the value that they’re going to get out of that tour. How do you see segmentation when it comes to user onboarding?

Pulkit:
I think it’s one of the biggest opportunities, and the lowest hanging fruit, to be honest. I think the one size fits all doesn’t work in most other transactions, and it doesn’t make sense for it to work when learning software because there’s so much software to learn and we’re learning software all the time. I don’t want a non-personalized experience.

Pulkit:
If I’m in admin for an account, for some software that I signed up for, the things that I need to do are very different to that if I’m just a team member, or like you said, if I’m a marketer, my goals might be very different to if I’m a designer.

Pulkit:
I think the segmentation or targeting of your either messaging or your in-product flow is such a simple solution to giving people that personalized experience. So those, I think we have the data now, the data is available to start targeting and segmenting.

Pulkit:
I understand there’s always a tension, in terms of deciding where to spend engineering time and whether it’s to spend on continuing to iterate and improve onboarding or user experiences, or whether it is to build new features and functionality.

Pulkit:
So I get that, and I think that’s why services like Chameleon exist. But it is something that I think every company should be doing. So find time for it in-house or use something that can help you do it.

Pulkit:
There’s other examples of segmentation. I can give an example from Chameleon where it’s not just about role, but it’s also about company size. We initially started off as a very self-serve oriented business. Anyone could sign up and try it out and get going. We believed in the product, but we’ve learned over time that actually for different personas, different kinds of onboarding is relevant and valuable.

Pulkit:
So for an enterprise buyer, they’re actually expecting to have a demo call. They’re expecting someone to show them the product before they get going and try it out. So we’ve had to adapt and change our approach so that for smaller companies you can go ahead and try it out because that’s what our experience tells us smaller companies want. They’re very quick, so they want to try everything out. So for them, yes, go ahead, download the Chrome extension, get going.

Pulkit:
For larger companies, we have encouraged it to be, let’s have a quick discovery call. Understand your use case, understand your stack, understand how you’re thinking about this, what your timeline is, and have a conversation.

Pulkit:
So it’s not all about self-service onboarding for everyone, or the same kind of channels even for everyone. I think you do have to think about what are your personas and what do they expect and where can you segment for them?

Andrew:
Yeah. How did you go about discovering that in the beginning? Is that part of your onboarding flow? How do you understand the size of the company? How did you figure out that they wanted a more tailored experience?

Pulkit:
I think it was, part of it is we were trying different things. We spoke to consultants. We spoke to other folks that had designed and built flows, or design and sold to different kinds of companies. I think also just what resonated when we were able to have a conversation with the larger buyers, we ended up succeeding a lot more.

Pulkit:
And so, that was kind of part of the learning. There wasn’t a silver bullet, it was kind of an evolution of understanding. We’ve tried different many different ways to proceed. We had a point where no one could sign up. We had a point with everyone could sign up.

Pulkit:
We had a point where we used a chatbot to help decide what you’d be interested in. We had a point where there was multiple paths based on a native experience. We’ve used videos. We’ve tried a lot of different things.

Pulkit:
I think right now it’s based on a flow on the website where it’s you get a little introductory video, and I’ll say a little bit about video in a second, you get little introductory video. Then you get to ask them, “How big is your company?” Then we choose your path for you based on that. So that’s the current process.

Andrew:
Very nice. It definitely sounds like you’re experimenting and testing different things constantly. How important do you feel testing and iterating is when it comes to user onboarding? So you touched on earlier the experience is evolving for different users and you having different sets coming in, and different cohorts coming in. How much time do you think companies should be dedicating to experimenting with onboarding?

Pulkit:
I think ideally there is a growth team, a product growth team, or at least a product growth person, or an owner, who can think about growth, and product growth across the user lifecycle. One component of which is user onboarding. That’s worked really well. We’ve spoken to companies like Pinterest or DocuSign, and that’s how they roll.

Pulkit:
If you can’t have an owner, I think we do need to find ways to make it less of a waterfall process. I think what we saw in the early days was that teams would dedicate a lot of energy to building these, or onboarding by having a cross functional project. They do user research. They do a lot of great designs. They’d do the build.

Pulkit:
But then once it was done, then maybe there would be a little bit of iteration, but then they would move on, and then they wouldn’t think about user onboarding for another nine months or a year, and then it would become a real big priority again. They’d be like, “Oh, we need to fix our user onboarding. It’s been too long, and it doesn’t work.” And so, then they would undertake this whole process again.

Pulkit:
I think that’s represents an older way of designing software, which was more of the waterfall approach. I think now you do have the means to design more of an iterative an evolutionary approach where you’re continually changing and improving, and tweaking, but really to help enable that, you need an owner.

Pulkit:
I think if it’s not someone’s job to think about this on a regular basis, it’s very, very hard to make that happen. So yes, I think we do need continuous user onboarding or continuous improvements, and dynamic user experience to drive product growth, and for that we do need someone to own it.

Andrew:
Yeah, absolutely, it definitely needs one. I think as well what you mentioned, when it starts to sit between departments and with different teams, you tend to sort of see less iteration and less things happening.

Andrew:
Talking about growth though, let’s touch a little bit about Chameleon. So you’ve given us a brief intro to what you guys do, but maybe shed and a little bit more light of how long you’ve been going? Where you’re at? What’s your current status?

Pulkit:
Yeah, absolutely. I think, we got started because I was trying to use Asana, and I had to watch videos to learn how to use it. I remember having to have two different tabs on two different monitors open, where I’d be watching a video and then I’d play it, pause it, go into the product to replicate that, and then go back to the video.

Pulkit:
It was a little difficult. I thought that most people probably are not doing this. And so, that’s kind of where the idea came about is, how do we make it easier for product teams and growth teams, or product marketing teams to build some of this user onboarding and in-product experiences without having to rely on engineering?

Pulkit:
And so, that’s what Chameleon does, is it allows you to create these targeted experiences for user onboarding, for product adoption, for reducing support tickets inside of your product without writing in code.

Pulkit:
We have 200-odd customers. We are seed funded by True Ventures. So we are still a startup, and we like working with startups, but we know that there’s a lot of potential, and in this space that needs to be built.

Pulkit:
One thing that we’ve seen recently as a trend is that so many people build tours that users maybe aren’t ready to take immediately. So they will kind of dismiss it, and so people want a more on demand way of discovering product and figuring out what is new.

Pulkit:
So users may not take a tour, they may not read an announcement that you make because they’re in the middle of a workflow, they’re in the middle of something that they want to complete. But once they’ve completed it, they may have a few minutes to go back and double-check and see what’s new and explore, and play.

Pulkit:
And so, we’re launching a new product soon around that functionality to help provide more ways for self-discovery, or a simpler, easier experience where users can go ahead and review the latest releases, or learn some pro tips, or complete some kind of checklist.

Pulkit:
So that’s something that’s evolved, and we’ve understood. And so, that’s what we’re releasing a product for. So we’re still early in our journey. There’s a lot that needs to be built and we know that this is valuable, and so we’re excited about continuing on this.

Andrew:
Sounds very exciting Pulkit. I think definitely there’s a lot in there. As you mentioned earlier, like SaaS application, that’s almost a perfect way to sort of cater to those users. Growth product marketers not needing to write a line of code in to be able to iterate and constantly test their user onboarding.

Pulkit:
Yeah, Thank you.

Andrew:
I just want to say, thank you very much for joining the show today. It’s been a pleasure hearing your experience when it comes to user onboarding, which is definitely a critical component when it comes to tackling churn and increasing retention long run. It’s a pleasure having you today and best of luck going forward. Hope to hear of the success in the new year.

Pulkit:
Thanks Andrew. Yeah. It was a pleasure. I love to chat about this stuff. So thanks for having me on, and looking forward to speaking again soon.

Andrew:
Thanks.